By Dusty Overby
on 12.15.09

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There’s a reason that fans commandeered $550 million (yeah, you read that right) worth of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 within the first five days of its release. As the follow up to its hugely popular predecessor, the prelaunch hype was at a fever pitch, to say the least. As we tend to do with much-ballyhooed games like this, we at Gear Patrol chose to reserve judgment until we could sit with the title for a bit. A few weeks in, having thusly sacrificed about five whole days of our collective lives to the multiplayer component alone, we now feel qualified to render a verdict.

As Soap MacTavish might say, the whole package is bloody brilliant. Hit the jump to for our breakdown on the game’s trilogy of offerings, beginning with the multiplayer experience.

Multiplayer: A. Huang

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Modern Warfare 2’s multiplayer component is the f*cking sh*t. We could wax poetic about it all day long, but there just isn’t a better way of saying it. As a firm believer that only the even Call of Duty titles are worth playing (read: those developed by Infinity Ward); thus, skipping Call of Duty 5 to wait for the IW’s Modern Warfare 2 was not a difficult decision for me. My patience has been well rewarded. This title picks up where CoD4 left off, then cranks it to 11.

Adding to the outstanding gameplay and perk classes already innovated by the series, Infinity Ward takes Modern Warfare 2’s multiplayer to a whole new level. Modern Warfare doubles the amount of attachments to your weapons and adds the likes of thermal scopes, heartbeat sensors, and holographic sights to an expanded arsenal of primary and secondary weapons. Unlike previous editions, perks can now be upgraded to Pro versions by completing associated challenges, giving you additional added abilities. That’s not to mention the game-changing effects of some of the more radical perks, such as Bling, which allows you to add two attachments to your weapon.

Best of all, Modern Warfare 2 finally brings host migration to the game. Instead of getting dumped back to the lobby whenever the host bails, host migration keeps the game going and get’s you back to cooking frags in no time. MW2 multiplayer is the very definition of replay value.

SpecOps: P. Tuttle

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Where MW2 really stands out for us (beyond its normal insane glory, that is) is in the newly minted Spec Ops mode. Here, two companions can team up to take on individual missions ranging from defending a fortified position, to a gillie-suited romp in the woods, to frantically destroying vehicles on a bridge while defending yourself against an onslaught of enemy fire. Yeah, we love that one too. This is a great take on crafting a unique experience for local, splitscreen co-op play.

The depth of mission variety really showcases the gameplay elements and environments from both the campaign and multiplayer modes. Mission difficulty mimics campaign mode, and you’ll earn more stars for completing missions on harder difficulties. Earning stars unlocks more missions, so best to jump right in and crank it up. Unlock all 69 stars (from 23 missions) and you will be in elite company indeed.

While you can play alone, we’d strongly recommend that you pair up with a buddy and share some male bonding while you’re running for your life and annihilating hordes of juggernaut baddies (read: crazy armor and an ill disposition). The highlight for us was running and gunning though a Brazilian ghetto, guns blazing akimbo-style and yelling out, “tango on your six” or “man down”. Eric even let out a little shriek as an attack dog chased him thought the barrio. Now that’s something to be proud of.

Single Player Campaign: D. Overby

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Not content to cobble together a worthless smattering of cut-scenes serving only to distract you from load times, Modern Warfare 2 picks up the engaging storyline right where it’s precursor left off. In the wake of Imran Zakhaev’s death, his lieutenant Makarov is poised to continue the reign of Ultranationalist terror. To each his own, as we understand that some of you have or will likely just straight into the multiplayer mayhem, never to look back. I’d caution against that, however, as the single player mode is an outstanding experience in it’s own right.

Infinity Ward gets it right by challenging the player (more or less, based on the difficulty you choose) with some of the most intelligent AI behavior yet seen in a first-person shooter. There’s a lot of variety in cover and terrain from one mission to the next, and sections of vehicular combat (snowmobiles!) are well paced and executed, preventing them from feeling forced. Don’t miss out your chance to blast entire squads of foot-mobiles into next week Predator-style, which is a unique satisfaction in its own right.

Each one of these three modes is a blast to play (pun intended), but when combined there’s absolutely no doubt that Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 is a must-play experience. Consider yourself informed.

Cost: $50