Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 is a first-person shooter video game developed by Infinity Ward and published by Activision for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 video game consoles and the Microsoft Windows operating system. Officially announced on February 11, 2009, the game was released worldwide on November 10, 2009. It is the sixth installment of the Call of Duty series and the direct sequel to Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, continuing along the same storyline. It was released in conjunction with two other Call of Duty games: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare: Mobilized for the Nintendo DS, and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare: Reflex, a port of Call of Duty 4 adapted by Treyarch for the Wii console. In addition, a comic book series based on one of the game's characters was also produced, entitled Modern Warfare 2: Ghost.
Modern Warfare 2 has received very positive reviews from various gaming websites, attaining a 94% aggregate score on Metacritic, with praise stemming primarily from its in-depth multiplayer component. Upon its release, the game sold approximately 4.7 million copies worldwide in 24 hours. On June 15, 2010, Activision confirmed that the game had sold over 20 million copies worldwide, making it the best-selling game of all time in the UK , and the second best-selling game of all time in the US.
The player assumes the role of various characters during the single-player campaign, changing perspectives throughout the progression of the story.
Each mission features a series of objectives that are displayed on the head up display, which marks the direction and distance towards and from such objectives. Damage to the player is shown by blood shown on the screen. The player's health regenerates as time passes. Tasks vary in their requirements, having the player arrive at a particular checkpoint, eliminate enemies in a specified location, stand their ground to defend an objective, or plant explosive charges on an enemy installation. The player is accompanied by friendly troops who cannot be issued orders. Laptop computers that contain enemy intelligence appear throughout the campaign and may be collected.
Modern Warfare 2 features a cooperative mode titled Special Ops, which consists of independent missions similar in design to the "Mile High Club" epilogue mission from Call of Duty 4. These missions take place in a variety of locations from the campaign mode, but are not related to the campaign. Most of the Special Ops missions may be played alone, but all of them support two player cooperative play in which two players can play together locally or online. Scenarios included are a snowmobile race between the two players, one player providing air support from an AC-130 with the other player conducting operations on the ground, capturing an enemy compound, and searching areas for and eliminating 40 or more enemies at a time.
Special Ops is divided into five separate groups of missions: Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, Delta, and Echo. Each mission may be played at three difficulty levels: regular, hardened, or veteran. Successfully completing a mission earns the players stars; there are up to three stars available for each mission: one star for completing the mission on regular difficulty, two for hardened, and three for veteran. Once enough stars are earned, more missions are unlocked. There are a total of 23 missions with their respective 69 stars available for unlock. At the end of each mission, a statistics screen displays how long the player(s) took to complete the level and how many kills were scored by each player, amongst other data.
The online multiplayer mode of Modern Warfare 2 retains the same experience points and unlockable reward system as that of Call of Duty 4, with game modes that include Free-For-All, Search & Destroy, Demolition, Sabotage, Domination, Team Deathmatch, and Capture The Flag. Modern Warfare 2 introduces several new features. Aside from new weapons, equipment, and perks that upgrade to "pro versions" after meeting utilization requirements. The player can choose three of fifteen killstreaks, which are earned after getting a certain amount of consecutive kills. Among these is the ability to receive a supply drop after achieving four kills in a row, guide a Predator missile strike after five kills, and controll an AC-130 gunship after eleven kills. Players can also gain a tactical nuke if they obtain a 25 kill streak. The nuke will blow up the whole map and achieve victory in a match for the player or team that called in the nuke regardless of whether the team was winning or losing at the time the nuke was called in. Another new feature is the in-game host migration; if a match host leaves the game, or if the host struggles to support the game, a 'host migration delay' allows a new host to be selected and the game to continue. There is also the addition of an optional third person mode which can be used in certain game types.
n the Xbox 360 version of the game, the party chat system is disabled while the player is playing online in certain playlist types. This decision, designed to promote cooperation amongst team members, has caused some controversy within the Xbox Live community. The offline (splitscreen and LAN) multiplayer mode retains the experience and rewards system found online, a first for the series since the system was introduced. However, the rewards are separate from those that are earned while playing online.
For the PC version, Infinity Ward decided to implement a new matchmaking service: IWNET working through Steam. This system is nearly identical to the console version of IWNET. Dedicated server support is removed, eliminating the ability for mods or user-created maps to be incorporated. This removal has created anger among many PC gamers. Since the multiplayer aspect runs within Steamworks, the PunkBuster anti-cheat system utilized in previous titles has been replaced by Valve Anti-Cheat. In addition, the PC version shares the same 18-player cap as the console versions (matches are a maximum of 9 versus 9).
During the single-player campaign, the player controls five different characters. For the majority of the game, the player assumes the role of Sergeant Gary "Roach" Sanderson, a member of an elite, multi-national counter-terrorist unit known as Task Force 141. However, the player begins the game controlling Private First Class Joseph Allen, a Ranger stationed in Afghanistan, who later goes undercover in Russia for the Central Intelligence Agency under the alias of "Alexei Borodin." Private James Ramirez, a member of 1st Battalion 75th Ranger Regiment stationed in the United States, serves as the player character during the defense of the United States' eastern coast against a Russian invasion. John "Soap" MacTavish becomes the player character in the final three missions. In the five years since Call of Duty 4 took place, he has been promoted to the rank of captain in the Special Air Service. He now commands most of Task Force 141 and its field operations, acting as Sanderson's superior officer. The player also briefly assumes the role of an unnamed International Space Station astronaut during an EVA in the minute or so prior to the station's destruction.
Several non-playable characters play prominent roles in the story. As mentioned, Captain John "Soap" MacTavish (voiced by Kevin McKidd) returns as a NPC for a majority of the game and serves as Roach's superior officer and mentor. Captain John Price (voiced by Billy Murray) also returns from Call of Duty 4 to assist Task Force 141 after MacTavish, Roach, and other members rescue him from a Russian Gulag. The other primary member of the unit is the mysterious Lieutenant Simon "Ghost" Riley, (voiced by Craig Fairbrass, who also voiced Gaz in Call of Duty 4) who conceals his face with a skull print balaclava. Sergeant Foley (voiced by Keith David), along with his subordinate, Corporal Dunn (voiced by Barry Pepper), is initially Joseph Allen's squad leader while stationed in Afghanistan, and becomes James Ramirez's squad leader in the United States later in the story. Nikolai, the Russian informant from Call of Duty 4, returns to aid Task Force 141 at various points in the story. Lieutenant General Shepherd (voiced by Lance Henriksen) is the commander of both Task Force 141 and the Army Rangers, and becomes an antagonist after he betrays the Task Force members near the end of the game. Vladimir Makarov, a former protégé of Imran Zakhaev (the chief antagonist from Call of Duty 4), serves as the primary antagonist throughout most of the story.
Despite the efforts of the United States Marine Corps and the Special Air Service, the Ultranationalists seize control of Russia and declare Imran Zakhaev a hero and martyr, erecting a statue of him in the heart of Red Square. Meanwhile, Vladimir Makarov, one of Zakhaev's former lieutenants, begins a campaign against Europe by committing acts of terrorism over the course of five years.
In Afghanistan, U.S. Army Ranger Joseph Allen assists in the taking of a city from insurgents. Impressed by Allen's abilities, Lieutenant General Shepherd recruits him into "Task Force 141", an elite, multi-national counter-terrorist unit under Shepherd's command. Meanwhile, two other members of 141, John MacTavish and Gary Sanderson infiltrate a Russian airbase in the Tian Shan mountains to retrieve an ACS (Attack Characterization System) module from a downed satellite.
Allen is later sent on an undercover mission in Russia for the CIA, joining Makarov in a massacre of civilians at the Zakhaev International Airport in Moscow. Makarov has been aware of Allen's identity and kills him during extraction, leaving his body to spark a war between Russia and America. Angered by what was believed to be an American-supported terrorist attack, Russia retaliates with a massive surprise invasion on the United States after bypassing its early warning system, revealing that the ACS module MacTavish and Sanderson recovered had already been compromised before its retrieval. Sergeant Foley leads his squad of Army Rangers, including James Ramirez, in defense of a suburb in northeastern Virginia against the Russian invasion. They then proceed towards a war-torn Washington, D.C., where U.S. forces are fighting the Russians for control of the capital.
Meanwhile, 141 searches for evidence that implicates Makarov as the mastermind behind the airport massacre, as all proof of Makarov's involvement died with Allen. Intelligence leads them to a favela in Rio de Janeiro, where the team investigates leads on Makarov's contact, weapons dealer Alejandro Rojas. They find out from Rojas that Makarov's worst enemy, known as Prisoner 627, is locked up in a Russian gulag east of Petropavlovsk. 141 assaults the prison and manages to free 627, who turns out to be Captain Price. Price agrees to aid 141 and Shepherd in tracking down Makarov. Price decides that ending the war in America is their first priority. To end it, he temporarily goes rogue, and leads 141 to raid a Russian port and gain control of a nuclear submarine. Price uses the submarine to launch a submarine-launched ballistic missile towards Washington D.C. He sets the warhead to detonate in the upper atmosphere, which destroys the International Space Station and creates an electromagnetic pulse due to Earth's magnetic field that cripples vehicles and electronic equipment on both sides, giving the Americans a slight advantage. Back on the ground, Foley and his squad seek shelter from the disabled aircraft that are now literally falling from the sky, and proceed to the White House. There, they receive a transmission informing them that the Air Force is preparing to carpet bomb the entire city to deny the Russians a strong foothold. Foley's squad fight their way to the roof of the White House and set off flares in the nick of time, aborting the air strike. Flares are lit on the rooftops of other landmarks, signifying that the city is still in American hands.
Narrowing down Makarov's hiding place to two separate locations, Task Force 141 decides to split up. Price and Soap travel to an aircraft boneyard in Afghanistan, while Roach and Ghost raid Makarov's safe house on the Georgian-Russian border. At the safe house, Roach and his team obtain vital intelligence from Makarov's computer and escape with Makarov's men in pursuit. However, when they reach the extraction point Shepherd betrays them, retrieving the intelligence and taking it with him, murdering Roach and Ghost in the process. Price and MacTavish quickly learn of Shepherd's betrayal and escape a battle between Shepherd and Makarov's men with the help of Nikolai. After contacting Makarov and offering to kill Shepherd for him, Makarov reveals Shepherd's location at a mountain base in Afghanistan. Price and MacTavish raid the base in an attempt to take revenge on Shepherd in a suicide mission. During the infiltration, Shepherd tries to escape and a long boat pursuit ensues.
At the climax of the pursuit, Shepherd boards a helicopter, only for Price to disable it by shooting the helicopter's rotor, causing a crash landing. Price and MacTavish tumble over a waterfall in the process. After recovering from the fall, Price and MacTavish engage Shepherd in a fight. Shepherd is eventually killed, but MacTavish is severely wounded. Price inspects MacTavish's wounds as Nikolai arrives in a helicopter to extract them. Nikolai warns them that they will be pursued, but Price insists that MacTavish receive medical attention; Nikolai mentions that he knows a safe place to go to.
odern Warfare 2 was originally referred to under the working title of Call of Duty 6. The game was first announced under the title Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 by Activision on December 3, 2008. Activision subsequently retracted its announcement, stating that any information about an upcoming Call of Duty game was "speculative." Infinity Ward then asserted that it had not officially confirmed its latest project at that time. On February 11, 2009, Activision officially announced Modern Warfare 2 and set a tentative release date for "Holiday 2009." The game was tested in an internal beta by the development team. While both Call of Duty 4 and Call of Duty: World at War had been preceded by public multiplayer betas, no such beta was released for Modern Warfare 2 because it was determined that, according to Community Manager Robert Bowling, no public beta was needed unless the internal beta did not provide adequate feedback.
Infinity Ward announced on October 2009 that the PC version of Modern Warfare 2 would not support the use of user-run dedicated servers or in-game console commands. Such announcement was received poorly by some members of the PC community, a negative response that eventually drew Infinity Ward's own response on the matter in an effort to put the community at ease. During brainstorming sessions, an idea came forth on what if the ending of Modern Warfare was a loss, leading to the sequel. In an interview with Jesse Stern, he talked to producers of Infinity Ward with ideas such as "outbreaks, viruses, chemical warfare, and even outlandish things such as aliens and the living dead." Stern mentioned having the game based on real-life conflicts before they halted further planning at first due to events in the 2008 South Ossetia war and in the Mumbai terrorist attacks.
On August 20, 2009, Robert Bowling revealed through Twitter that Kevin McKidd, Craig Fairbrass, Barry Pepper, Keith David, and Glenn Morshower were confirmed voice actors for the game. It was later confirmed that McKidd would voice the protagonist, "Soap" MacTavish. Fairbrass, who voiced Gaz in Call of Duty 4, provided voice work for "Ghost". Billy Murray confirmed that he would reprise his role as Captain Price from Call of Duty 4. Rapper 50 Cent provided voice work for the Special Ops and multiplayer modes, portraying "one of the squad [member] voices." The main theme of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 was provided by Hollywood composer Hans Zimmer, while the soundtrack was composed by Lorne Balfe. The soundtrack was officially released on June 1.
The game utilizes the in-house IW 4.0 game engine, which is claimed to be a generation beyond the capabilities of the engine used in Call of Duty 4. Although proprietary, it is based on an unspecified id Tech engine, and can accommodate larger worlds, enhanced graphic detail, and more efficient rendering. Infinity Ward has addressed the issue of enemies that continually respawn at different points of a level. The developer demonstrated that the game engine uses a "dynamic AI," which has replaced the infinite respawn system and allows enemies to act more independently. These "smarter" enemies are designed to actively seek out and drive the player forward through a level, and can break away from set behaviors such as following a designated route in order to attack. The player cannot depend on enemies to be found in the same locations as a previous play-through because enemies will behave differently each time a level is played.
Marketing and release
On March 25, 2009, a teaser trailer for the game was revealed at the Game Developer Choice Awards ceremony in San Francisco. The teaser was posted on Infinity Ward's website, and released on the Xbox Live Marketplace and the PlayStation Network a short time later. A second teaser was released on May 10, 2009 and showed gameplay features such as snowmobile driving and underwater actions. The teaser announced that the game would be "revealed" on TNT during the NBA Eastern Conference Finals on May 24, 2009. The "reveal" was the first full-length trailer, which debuted extended sequences of actual in-game scenes and combat; the trailer was subsequently made available on the Modern Warfare 2 official website, which was kept updated for the occasion. A fourth trailer was released on July 27, 2009, and showed the first footage of the game's multiplayer mode. On October 4, 2009, a second full-length cinematic trailer was released and revealed that part of the game would take place in a war-torn Washington, D.C.
On July 21, 2009, Infinity Ward's Robert Bowling revealed through Twitter that a Modern Warfare 2 controller was in the works. Peripherals manufacturer Mad Catz was contracted by Activision to create a line of Modern Warfare 2 controllers and accessories for all platforms that the game would be available on. Activision stated, in its quarterly earnings report, that pre-orders for the game had broken a company record; more copies of Modern Warfare 2 had been pre-ordered than any other game that the company had published before. In September 2009, Monster Energy teamed up with Activision to bring special redeemable codes on the Monster Energy website, where people may submit codes included in Monster Energy packs to redeem items such as Xbox 360 Premium Themes and a Modern Warfare 2 Map Pack code.
The original teaser trailer confirmed that the game's title of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 was officially (and initially) shortened to just Modern Warfare 2. After photographs of the official retail boxes were posted by Robert Bowling, Activision confirmed that the standard-edition Modern Warfare 2 packaging would feature the Call of Duty brand logo in order to reflect the game's association with the Call of Duty franchise. It is speculated that the decision was influenced by findings that brand awareness for the game was significantly lower without the Call of Duty logo. However, the developers still prefer to simply call the game Modern Warfare 2 as they consider it a new IP. The menus in the game also refer to the title of Modern Warfare 2.
Modern Warfare 2 was released in four different retail versions across the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 platforms: Standard, Hardened, Veteran, and Prestige. The standard version consists of the game and an instructional manual, and is the only version available for the Microsoft Windows platform. The Hardened Edition consists of the game and manual (which are packaged in a steel book case), an art book, and a token that allows one to download Call of Duty Classic, a hi-definition version of the original Call of Duty game, from Xbox Live Arcade or the PlayStation Store (Classic was released individually on December 2, 2009). The Prestige Edition contains all of the elements of the Hardened Edition, but also includes a set of fully-functioning night vision goggles, imprinted with the Modern Warfare 2 logo, and a stand modeled after the head of the character "Soap" MacTavish. The goggles are powered by five AA batteries and can see up to 50 feet in absolute darkness.
On September 15, 2009, Activision and Microsoft jointly announced a special, limited Modern Warfare 2 version of the Xbox 360 with a 250GB hard disk. The unit is highlighted by special game product branding and includes two wireless controllers and a headset. This is the first Xbox 360 to come with a 250GB hard drive. On September 18, UK retailer GAME announced a Veteran Edition of Modern Warfare 2 that would be exclusively for the UK. It will come with a 12" (30.5 cm) tall statue of "Soap" MacTavish with interchangeable arms and weapons; has the same contents as the Hardened Edition. In September 2009, a Veteran Statue Bundle of Modern Warfare 2 was posted on the EBGames website and is available for all platforms.
Activision has announced that two downloadable map packs will be released for Modern Warfare 2. At E3 2009, Microsoft stated that these map packs would first be made available for the Xbox 360 via Xbox Live before they would be released for other platforms. Robert Bowling has stated that the community response to the game and the first ten downloadable map packs would be used in designing other potential map packs. 
The first map pack, titled the "Stimulus Package," was released first for Xbox Live on March 30, 2010 and for PlayStation Network and PC on May 4, 2010 in North America. The map pack is priced at US$14.99 (or 1200 Microsoft Points). The pack contains five maps: reincarnations of the Crash and Overgrown maps from Call of Duty 4, and three new maps: Bailout, a multi-level apartment complex; Storm, an industrial park littered with heavy machinery; and Salvage, an abandoned car junkyard in the middle of the snow. Within 24 hours of its release, it was downloaded over one million times. Within the first week it had been downloaded 2.5 million times, breaking Xbox Live DLC records. In addition to integrating the maps into all existing game types, the Stimulus Package adds two new game modes, randomizing the built-in game types in either normal or hardcore mode.
Activision released the second downloadable map pack, titled the "Resurgence Package", exclusively for Xbox Live on June 3, 2010 in North America. This release was followed by the PlayStation Network and PC versions on July 6 in North America and on July 7 worldwide. The package includes five new multiplayer maps: reincarnations of the Strike and Vacant maps from Call of Duty 4, and three new maps: Carnival, a desolated amusement park; Trailer Park, a mobile home park; and Fuel, an oil refinery.