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Return to Greatness
In fall of 2009, the popular Call of Duty (CoD) video game franchise released an entry that has remained one of the most crowd-pleasing of all time. Titled Modern Warfare 2, the game serves as a follow-up to Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. While the remastered CoD4 for current consoles in 2016 was greatly appreciated by many fans, others could not help but anticipate a remaster for the beloved sequel. Then, on March 30, 2020, Modern Warfare 2 Remastered was released.
The Fan-Favorite Story’s Origins
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare marked the first entry in the Call of Duty franchise to step away from the World War II setting. Instead, CoD 4 took players to a fictional conflict set in Russia circa 2011 as well as a simultaneous conflict in the Middle East.
In the Middle Eastern theater, the player assumes the role of a US Marine, while in Russia, the player takes command of “Soap” MacTavish. Throughout both regions, Soap and his fellow British SAS operatives, including fan-favorites Price and Gaz, along with the Marines, must stop a plot orchestrated by Khaled Al-Asad to wreak havoc in the Middle East.
Halfway through the story, the player learns through Al-Asad that Imran Zakhaev, a Russian ultra-nationalist who wishes to restore the country to the days of the Soviet Union, has actually been perpetrating both of the conflicts behind the scenes. The player then assumes the role of Price in two of the most famous missions in the series’ history.
Set in a flashback to 1996 Ukraine, Price and Captain MacMillan, his commanding officer, must crawl through the radioactive wasteland of abandoned Pripyat and assassinate Zakhaev. The attempt would fall through, however, as Price only managed to blow off Zakhaev’s arm. Fifteen years hence, Soap and Price eventually succeed in killing Zakhaev. Five years later, however, their actions would once again have repercussions.
The Story Continues
Set five years after the events of CoD 4, Modern Warfare 2 introduces new fan-favorite characters, such as Ghost and Roach, while reuniting players with old ones. Soap returns, now a captain in the prestigious Task Force 141. Commanded by General Shepherd, TF-141 comprises an elite group of agents from the US and the UK who are deployed around the world to undertake dangerous missions. The newest member, Joseph Allen, would be used by Shepherd in an attempt to tackle one of the most periolous yet.
What follows would be one of the most infamous and controversial levels in Call of Duty history. The player assumes the role of Allen, who has infiltrated the ultra-nationalists. Following Zakhaev’s death, his right-hand man, Vladimir Makarov, has taken over as leader. As undercover operative Allen, the player must earn Makarov’s trust. To do this, Allen assists Makarov and his men in a massacre of civilians at a Russian airport.
The level, titled “No Russian,” earns its namesake from Makarov instructing his men to refrain from speaking in Russian in an effort to convince the people into thinking that Americans conducted the massacre. Following the bloodbath, Makarov reveals he knew about Allen being an undercover agent and kills him. Makarov remarks to his men, “When they find that body, all of Russia will cry for war.” As a result of the massacre, Russia declares war on America, starting World War III.
Dark, Gritty Warfare
From this point, Modern Warfare 2 continues along a dark, gritty path. US Army Rangers must fight Russian troops in the Virginia suburbs and Washington, DC. The members of Task Force 141 begin their search for Makarov, which takes them from the favelas of Rio de Janeiro to the Georgia-Russian border. The game’s campaign features many world-renowned locations and landmarks, such as the Christ the Redeemer statue on the mountain overlooking the Brazilian cities below. Essentially, the game allows players to experience a type of “action movie” feel, while still maintaining the gritty warfare that the early games in the franchise were known for.
Why So Popular?
Modern Warfare marked a turning point for the Call of Duty franchise. For starters, this was the first game in the series to portray an action-movie theme. For the first time, players in a Call of Duty story could dual-wield sidearms or shoot enemies while riding on a boat or snowmobile. Aside from the fantastic narrative in the story mode, multiplayer saw a dramatic increase in material. Whereas CoD 4 and World at War offered players three different killstreaks for getting a certain number of kills in a row, Modern Warfare 2 greatly expanded these. Now, players could choose whether they wanted assistance from a Harrier, AC-130, or chopper gunner, among many others. If players were lucky enough to earn a 25-killstreak, they had the opportunity to call in a tactical nuke, ending the game and bringing their side out victorious.
While CoD 4 laid the root foundation for current CoD multiplayer, it was Modern Warfare 2 that allowed for the franchise’s framework as fans know it today. With Modern Warfare 2’s story mode having been remastered, many fans are waiting in anticipation for the legendary multiplayer mode to make a return as well. Nonetheless, the well-earned nostalgia for this beloved entry in the franchise can now be experienced once again by older fans, and new players can get a taste of the action as well.