Considering I was lucky enough to get this early I thought I'd post a 'quick' review. Although I'll try not to spoil anything too major, there might be information in here you haven't read elsewhere so hit the back button if you don't want to see it.
I'm going to split this review into three sections as you are essentially getting three separate games for your hard earned. First up is the Single Player Campaign.
This is basically your typical Infinity Ward affair, that is to say you can expect excellent level design, graphical prowess, jaw dropping set pieces and polished gameplay. A few levels stand out in particular, those being the Favelas, for its tight corridor alleys and multi tier design, and the levels wandering about a decimated America. At the beginning of the game you are asked if you are easily offended and if you would like to skip a particular mission. I won't spoil this for you, but DO NOT skip it, and DO NOT watch it on youtube. This is definitely something you'll want to experience yourself and will test your moral fibres like never before.
The storyline is a direct sequel to COD4, where a badass named Makarov has filled the power vacuum left after you killed everyone in the previous game. Needless to say, he's doing a good job of sending the world out of control. Here in lies the problem. The OTT nature of the plot leads to some very odd sets of objectives, one level in particular sees you defending a suburb and has you running between a burger joint, restaurant and cafe picking up Stingers and Predators (your average Cafe menu then!) and there were a lot of times I wasn't really sure WHY I was doing the things I was being asked to do.
Add to this a campaign is easily finished in less than 6 hours and I was left somewhat disappointed after.
But that's not really why we play COD is it...
From the outset a number of things are notable. Namely the Americans already well into Prestige, the level cap of 70 and the complete reworking of XP. If you have any skill at COD4 at all you will find XP lavished upon you at every corner. Kills net 100XP, headshot for a further 50, if you stop his killstreak you get more, if you get revenge you get yet more, in fact I managed to obtain almost 700XP from a single headshot. Obviously, gaining levels has been made harder to counter this, but you never feel like you're not making progress. In addition to in-game XP, the challenges have been re-thought. There are now many more unlockables per weapon, including Red Dot and ACOG sights, plus shotgun, thermal and heartbeat sensor attachments. You can now gain XP on secondary sidearms and there are even challenges for using different Perks and equipment.
As you level up you will unlock weapons and perks as normal, but you will also open up nicknames and emblems for your new call sign. This effectively your COD gamercard, and can be changed in the menus to anything you've already unlocked.
The maps are well designed, offering options for all the classes and yes, the sniper levels are still a pain in the arse.
Talking of classes, the defaults are very interesting. They offer you options that are not readily available until much later in your levels, giving new players both a fighting chance and a glimpse of what they can hope to obtain given the time effort.
My favourite part of MP is the Deathstreaks, a new mechanic which let people like me (who spend a large amount of time getting shot in the face) a fighting chance at a kill. If you die a certain amount of times in a row with no kills you are given a little boost to help you out, like the ability to copy your killers class, give a large temporary health boost or get access to our fabled friend, Martyrdom.
This mode will definitely have you busy long after SP is done.
Multiplayer not enough for you? Good.
Spec Ops is a separate mode designed to be played coop on or offline (thought you can play it single player) where you and a mate take part in self contained challenges, some based around events of SP and some not, to obtain stars and highscores.
Unfortunately, I haven't delved into this mode too much yet as I really want to experience it with the rest of the country on Tuesday night. So I'm afraid you'll have to wait and see what this mode has to offer!
So far I'd give Modern Warfare 2 8.5 out of 10
Although the MP is highly addictive and very well designed, I found the SP experience to be more centred around extravagant set pieces than well thought out mission objectives and plotlines. For this reason it feels like a Multiplayer game with a single player campaign tacked on to justify the pricetag