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Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (or Call of Duty 6: 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 the same storyline, with Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 set to end the 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 and it is the best-selling game of all time in the UK, and the second best-selling game of all time in the U.S.
The player assumes the role of various characters during the single-player campaign, changing perspectives throughout the progression of the story.
Each level is a mission that features a series of objectives that are displayed on the heads 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.
Call of Duty: 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 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 control an AC-130 gunship, or Chopper Gunner, after eleven kills. Some killstreak rewards earn kills that go towards your killstreak. For example, Harrier Strike will stay and shoot down enemies after it has bombed a general area. Players can also gain a tactical nuke if they obtain a 25 kill streak. The nuke will 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.
In 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). However an unofficial mod was released in Q3 2010, called alterIWnet, which supports dedicated servers along with a few other fixes which the PC community has asked for.
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 CIA under the alias of "Alexei Borodin". Private James Ramirez, a member of first 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 moment prior to the station's destruction.
Several NPCs 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 the West by committing acts of terrorism over the course of five years.
In Afghanistan, U.S. Army Ranger Private First Class Joseph Allen assists in taking a city from insurgents. Impressed by Allen's combat 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 Task Force 141, Captain John "Soap" MacTavish and Sergeant Gary "Roach" Sanderson infiltrate a Russian airbase in the Tian Shan mountains to retrieve an Attack Characterization System (ACS) module from a downed satellite.
Allen is later sent on an undercover mission in Russia for the CIA under the name Alexei Borodin, 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 behind to spark a war between Russia and the United States. 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 had already been compromised before its retrieval. Sergeant Foley leads his squad of Army Rangers, including Pvt. James Ramirez, in defense of a suburb in northeastern Virginia against the invasion. They then proceed towards Washington, D.C., where more U.S. forces are fighting against the Russians for control of the capital.
Meanwhile, Task Force 141 searches for evidence that implicates Makarov as the mastermind behind the airport massacre, as proof of Makarov's involvement died with Allen. Intelligence leads them to a favela in Rio de Janeiro, where the team investigates Makarov's contact, weapons dealer Alejandro Rojas. They find out from Rojas that Makarov's worst enemy, known as Prisoner 627, is incarcerated in a Russian gulag east of Petropavlovsk. Task Force 141 assaults the prison and manages to free 627, who turns out to be Captain Price. Price agrees to aid the 141 and Shepherd in tracking down Makarov, but argues that the war in America needs to end before the 141 can do so. To end it, he temporarily goes rogue, and leads the 141 to raid a Russian port to 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 unintentionally destroys the International Space Station]] and creates an electromagnetic pulse that cripples vehicles and electronic equipment on both sides, giving the Americans an 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 green-colored flares, aborting the air strike with less than thirty seconds to spare. 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 and kills them, retrieving the intelligence and taking it with him. Price and Soap quickly learn of Shepherd's betrayal and escape a battle between Shepherd and Makarov's men with the help of Nikolai. Price contacts Makarov on an open radio channel and makes a deal to kill Shepherd, with Makarov grudgingly revealing the location of Shepherd's mountain base in Afghanistan. Price and Soap raid the base in an attempt to take revenge on Shepherd in a suicide mission. During the infiltration, Shepherd destroys the base using the self-destruct system then tries to escape and a 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 Soap tumble over a waterfall in the process. After recovering from the fall, a dazed Soap follows Shepherd and attempts to kill him. Shepherd slams Soap into a rusted car, stabs him in the chest and prepares to kill him with his revolver. Just before he can, Price attacks Shepherd and the two engage in a hand to hand fight, with Shepherd slowly gaining the upper hand. Soap manages to pull the knife from his chest and throws it at Shepherd, piercing his left eye and killing him. Price inspects Soap's wounds as Nikolai arrives in a helicopter to extract them, having gone against Price's advice not to return for him and Soap. Nikolai warns them that they will be pursued, but Price insists that Soap receive medical attention. Nikolai mentions that he knows a safe place to go to.
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 2009 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 $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.
Sales and revenue
According to preliminary sales figures from Activision, Modern Warfare 2 sold approximately 4.7 million units in both the United States and the UK in the first 24 hours of its release. The total revenue from first day sales in the U.S. and the UK was $310 million, making Modern Warfare 2 the biggest entertainment launch in history, surpassing in revenue its predecessor, Grand Theft Auto IV, as well as items from other media types. After five days of sales, the game had earned revenue figures of $550 million worldwide. As of January 18, 2010, it has taken over $1 billion in sales. Activision also claims that Modern Warfare 2 had 8 million players online within the first five days, constituting the largest 'army' of players in the world. On March 8, 2010, Robert Bowling announced that the game had amassed 25 million unique players.
According to the NPD Group, Modern Warfare 2 sold approximately 4.2 million units for the Xbox 360 and 1.87 million units for the PlayStation 3 in the U.S. during the month of November 2009. In Japan, Modern Warfare 2 sold 64,000 copies for the PlayStation 3 and 42,000 copies for the Xbox 360 in its first week of sales. The game later sold 117,000 copies on the PlayStation 3 and 61,000 on the Xbox 360. Anita Frazer of the NPD Group reported in March 2010 that the game had sold slightly under 10 million copies in the U.S. alone.
A six-part comic book mini-series related to the game has also been produced. Announced by Robert Bowling on August 17, 2009, Modern Warfare 2: Ghost is focused on the backstory of the character Ghost, who appears in the video game as a member of Task Force 141. The series is published by WildStorm. The first issue of the series debuted on November 11, 2009.
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