Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2

Game review by
Marc Saltzman, Common Sense Media
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Game Poster Image
Mature shooter with controversial terrorist mission.
Parents recommendPopular with kids

Parents say

age 12+
Based on 165 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 478 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive messages

This is a tricky one. While you are a "good guy," out to protect the free world, the game is heavily rooted in violence. You will kill and watch hundreds of people die, and in that process see that war is horrifying. The game actively encourages you to not shoot civilians and often penalized (by a game over screen) if you do. However, the game contains an (optional) mission where you go undercover to infiltrate the enemy. While undercover, you participate in a terrorist attack of an airport and must decide whether to shoot injured civilians or walk on by as the other terrorists kill them.

Positive role models & representations

The player is part of an elite military squad out to protect the world from a harmful (and heavily armed) organization. But the player fights fire with fire and must kill hundreds of people in this game. There is also an opportunity to make moral decisions when it comes to shooting civilians while undercover as a terrorist, so the player can guide this portion of the game.

 

Ease of play

The game is fairly easy to pick up, on both the console and PC versions, especially for fans of first-person shooters. The deveolopers have added special perks for non-expert players such as health bursts when they fail repeatedly and providing an (optional) easier way to target. There's also a good tutorial mode.

Violence

As with past Call of Duty games, Modern Warfare 2 depicts military violence in a realistic manner and is played from an immersive first-person perspective. Using machine guns and sniper rifles, gamers must shoot to kill, and blood can be seen on fallen enemies. There is also use of grenades and missiles. The game has scenes of civilian deaths, including a controversial (but optional) airport level in which the player goes undercover as an enemy terrorist. Cries of pain can be heard from victims in this game. Players are also rewarded for "killstreaks," where killing four enemies in a row, results in a bonus supply drop.

 

Sex
Language

The game does contain some profanity, such as the word "s--t," "damn" and "hell." Some Russian words are worse, translating to "motherf--ker" and "f--k," though most American players won't know what this means.

Consumerism
Drinking, drugs & smoking

The game makes some references to drugs, plus the multiplayer mode lets you unlock emblems tied to your gamertag, including one that resembles a rolled marijuana cigarette ("joint") and one that shows a cannabis leaf.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that, while not over-the-top in the gore department, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 is a modern-day military shooter that realistically and graphically shows violence and blood. Much of the game involves traveling to different areas of the world to take down baddies with an assortment of weapons, all played from a first-person perspective. One of the locations is Washington D.C., which is shown as being under attack by Russian troops. In a controversial optional mission, players go undercover to infiltrate a terrorist group and end up participating in a terrorist attack on an airport. As players witness the horrors of innocent civilians being shot, they must make the moral decision whether to join in by shooting bystanders or to walk on by and ignore their screams of pain (gamers are not rewarded or penalized for any action or inaction they take during this scene). The game does contain some profanity and references to drugs, but it's the realistic violence in disturbing settings that is of more concern.

User Reviews

Adult Written bynaildesigner May 19, 2010

Great game

If your not an aggressive parent like the ones who won't even let there kids watch Bambi, then this game is ok for your kids. There may be one level that p... Continue reading
Parent of a 14 and 15 year old Written byJparker August 9, 2010

Maturity and education are key

Call of Duty. My son's favorite game and on of my favorites to. Most parents today take one look at a rating and then make there choice. They do not take t... Continue reading
Kid, 10 years old July 2, 2015

Infinity Ward does it again!

This is an amazing game! Alright, don't just skip this because I'm 10 years old. VIOLENCE you can turn off the blood and gore and disturbing moments.... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written bythegeek June 22, 2015

just have common sense...

i have read a lot of reviews on this site. a lot of them act like kids are going to become terrorists. honestly, do you think your 12 year old is going to come... Continue reading

What's it about?

CALL OF DUTY: MODERN WARFARE 2, the hotly-anticipated sequel to Activision's Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, which has sold more than 13 million units to date, once again drops you into a fictional near-future world in which a Russian ultranationalist threatens world security. From an intense first-person perspective, this military shooter engages you in both open-environment and close-quartered fighting, with an assortment of modern weapons ranging from machine guns and sniper rifles to grenades and missiles. Along with playing as different characters spread across the 6-to-8-hour single-player campaign, many will take the game online to indulge in a myriad of multiplayer modes (cooperatively or competitively). With the latter, a new "co-op" mode called Spec-Ops is made up of a series of near two-dozen missions; one highlight is the AC-130 mission, in which one gamer mans the gunship and provides bird's eye instructions to the second player who sneaks across the terrain. The competitive games played online supports up to 18 players and includes mainstays such as Deathmatch (everyone out for themselves), Team Deathmatch, Capture the Flag, and others, spread across 16 unique maps.

Is it any good?

Yes, it is a very good game, but it's realistic portrayal of violence means parents need to take heed to the "Mature" rating (for players 17 years and older). The game's intriguing fiction, outstanding production values (including near-photorealistic imagery, an excellent musical score and voice talent), and most importantly, thrilling first-person gameplay, make this sequel one of the most explosive hits of 2009. Tackling enemies in huge and fully interactive environments -- ranging from the dusty towns of Afghanistan to the snow-capped mountains of Kazakhstan to the gritty streets of Rio de Janeiro to Washington, D.C. under attack -- also help this game feel like a cinematic action movie in which you're in the starring role. As with its predeessor, taking the game online gives it some serious legs and will sure to entertain for years to come. In short, if you liked 2007's Modern Warfare, you'll love Modern Warfare 2.

Online interaction: As with its predecessors, much of the appeal of these games is the online play with other gamers. Some might argue shooting other "humans," played by real players, is unhealthy while others might argue it's a harmless way to blow off steam after a bad day. Also keep in mind, many people also play with headsets and you can her some pretty intense language in these Call of Duty games.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about whether these games sensationalize violence, and thus, trivialize the role of U.S. troops who lose their lives in the call of duty. Or do games like this give us a taste of what American soldiers go through to protect the free world?

  • How do you feel about the inclusion of the optional "airport mission" where you, as an undercover agent, take part in a terrorist attack on an airport in which hundreds of civilians are killed.

  • Why is it important to keep violent media away from kids? Is there anything wrong with violence video games if you're of the age to play them? Or is it worse than "enjoying" a violent war film because you're actually doing the killing?

  • Game developer Activision Blizzard is using part of the money they will make on this game to create a one million dollar fund to help raise awareness of veterans' unemployment difficulties. What are some of challenges facing veterans?

Game details

For kids who love fast-paced games

Our editors recommend

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality and learning potential.

Learn how we rate