‘Spectacular’ is an easy word to throw around these days, but few times has it felt as justified as it does here. Infinity Ward’s massively-hyped sequel to the award winning, fan-favourite first game, itself a re-invention of the celebrated Call of Duty franchise, arrives with the kind of anticipation only normally bestowed upon a Hollywood blockbuster. But that’s exactly it … every part of this game, especially the finely tuned campaign is big-budget, glossy and packed with jaw-dropping set pieces. Graphically its one of the finest games currently available with unprecedented detail in the environments, life-like animation from your fellow soldiers, the enemy and pedestrians, and a wealth of particle effects that enhance every explosion and burst of gunfire. Add to this a sound design that raises your pulse to a ridiculously scary level, and the whole package is there – intense but amazing. My only real gripe with the single player experience is the rather scatter-shot narrative, where you are globe-trotting from location to location, and their link to one another is often vague and under-explored. Yet this is easy to ignore when every level seems so well crafted and filled with heart-in-mouth moments. Yes it’s linear as hell (never a real gripe for me) and you’re always following someone, so exploring the environment is not only limited but often not even allowed. The game falls into the same trappings of the whole franchise, where sometimes your squad mates are so good, they can nearly complete a level for you, but this is better disguised here compared to the last game, and the constant re-spawning of enemies until you press forward can get annoying, but is probably necessary to not make the game too easy. Saying that I personally recommend playing it on ‘Hardened’ if you don’t want the campaign to be over in a weekend.
Now onto the multiplayer, and this is certainly the reason this game will stay in your collection for months. It’s deep, more rewarding than before (a wealth of awards and achievements are handed out all the time to keep you playing even if you’re not getting that many kills) and the experience is customisable to a major degree, especially when you start unlocking the perks and new weapons, tailoring the game to your own taste. This time around we also get an immersive ‘Spec-Ops’ mode which has you battling through various task based missions either single player or in 2 player co-op (!), and this is another reason to keep this game around well after the 8-10 hour story mode is finished.
So overall I’d say this is easily the best game released this year (which has been a bit underwhelming for us gamers, I think!), and has plenty of value for money. I got the Hardened edition as previously reported, and this also comes with the original Call Of Duty, re-done in HD and on a console for the very first time – even more gameplay awaits!!