Calling Modern Warfare 2 anything but the "most anticipated game of the year" at this point would be a gross understatement. Any and all news on the game is considered monumental. All Game of the Year talks I have(not speaking for IGN mind you; just me) aren'tabout what games could win, but what games could win over Modern Warfare 2. Everyone's thinking it, but I'll happily be the one to actually say it.
Speaking of straight talk, I've said previously that I'm a huge fan of the game, I represent the gold cross holders out there on our weekly feature, and when it comes event time I'm out to find any and every piece of info on Modern Warfare 2. With that being the case, you've been forewarned: This is a long read, we go over a lot of content, so grab something warm to drink and settle in for a while.
Before you read on, check out our latest Rewind Theater for the Infamy trailer. Watching the Rewind makes you 17% - 24% more desirable to the opposite sex. True statement.
For our latest hands-on time with Modern Warfare 2 we headed on over to Infinity Ward and sat down in one of the huge demo halls the developer uses during meetings and gameplay sessions with Modern Warfare 2. We sat down to check out not only four missions from the game's Special Ops mode (the bulk of my hands-on write-up here) but also the single-player mission that was originally leaked on YouTube. Infinity Ward made it clear that when they show levels, they want to show them in the best light possible. Rather than watching replay after replay of crappy off-screen footage, we got to see the real deal, and it was intense and action-packed. The highlight of the show, however, was Special Ops mode.
First off, some notes on Special Ops specifically. If you don't know what it is, Special Operations mode (or Spec Ops) is a stand-alone experience outside of both single-player and multiplayer in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. The mode can be played either alone or with a friend via co-op, and is based on short-burst challenge missions instead of full-on story-driven levels. If story mode is your Silver Screen cinematic experience, Special Ops is your quick-burst arcade offering. More missions are unlocked as you play, but it pushes towards the goal of earning all three stars per level, and ultimately bragging rights among friends.
Infinity Ward mentioned to us that – while there's plenty of amazing content to be found in the game's single player mode – Special Ops is the new (and intense) third pillar of the Call of Duty franchise. You've got single player, multiplayer, and Special Ops. Everything in each mode is self-contained though, so those of you wondering if titles, emblems, perks, or online unlocks will be earned through any mode but competitive multiplayer, you thought wrong. Multiplayer is where perks, challenges, and all emblems and awards take place. Special Ops and single player are their own standalone package.
And that mindset rings true in a big, big way. Special Ops takes up one third of the games main menu. A handful of missions are unlocked from the get-go, and you can burn through all of Special Ops mode without going into single player or online at all. Infinity Ward also mentioned to us that Special Ops mode holds a special place in their hearts because, quite frankly, there's never time to get everything into story mode, or there's never a way to fit all the awesome concepts they have into the campaign itself. Special Ops, therefore, is a place where you can see all those awesome extra concepts. The airplane sequence in COD4 (Mile High Club, anyone?) was a concept they had for the main game, but with no place for it in the story, it was tacked on as an encore stage. That's what Special Ops is, but on a much bigger scale.
Special Ops mode is no pushover either. Rivaling the size of the single-player campaign, Special Ops has specific scenarios and set pieces built specifically for that mode. The Juggernaut, a new "heavy" unit that comes out to the sound of a beating drum much like Left 4 Dead's tank unit, is exclusive to just Spec Ops mode. In addition, a second player can jump into the game at any time, but there are also two player exclusive levels as well, which require a second player.
Special Operations mode is built on four levels of play – Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, and Delta – with tiers similar to how Guitar Hero works. Beat the Alpha levels, and you'll unlock Bravo and so on. In addition each mission has three stars based on what difficulty level you play with, and the actual parameters change based on what difficulty you use as well. In the first mission, "O Christo Redentor," the mission changed slightly based on the difficulty level. On Normal there were 30 hostiles to eliminate, and you could only mistakenly shoot six civilians. On Hardened there were 40 hostiles, dogs, and you could only tag four civies. On Veteran though, you had 50 hostiles, dogs, and could only hit three unarmed civilians.