If you've read my earlier COD reviews, you'd notice I'm a big fan of the series, especially when the game features the word "Modern" in it. Things haven't changed here. After being excited for a sequel for 2 years and REALLY wanting one for 9 months prior to release, November 10 was exciting to say the least. I was afraid the game was going to fail to live up the the high expectations I set up for it, but it passed in every way. Multiplayer hasn't been greatly changed, but its been fine tuned with many great, new editions. As before, you start out with only a couple of guns and perks (which are bonuses like reloading faster or doing slightly greater bullet damage), but as you earn kills and complete challenges (fall 15 feet and survive or kill an enemy, take his gun, and kill him again with his own gun), you earn EXP and level up. Leveling up gives you new perks and guns and game types to choose from. The create a class feature from the first game carriers over, allowing you to craft your perfect warrior using what you have unlocked. If you like sniping, you can choose your favorite rifle of the bunch and then perks that would compliment it. However, there have been some additions. Before, you got 3, 5, and 7 kill streaks for getting said number of kills in a row. Now you get to choose between 3,4,5,6,7,8,9,11,15, and 25 killstreaks (most of which also need to be unlocked by leveling up, this time in the order of your choosing). This opens up a nice risk/reward system, since earlier kill streaks tend to not be as good as the higher ones (a 25 kill streak calls in a nuke that ends the game and gives your team an automatic win). It may take more work to get an 11 kill streak, but calling in an AC-130 gunship to rain down fire from the sky is much more entertaining, thrilling, an enjoyable than calling in a UAV radar with 3 kills. There are also new attachments to put on guns, such as heartbeat sensors and holographic scopes (which again, are unlocked through getting kills with a specific gun, thus unlocking attachments for only that weapon). Another new feature is upgrading perks. Extra bullet damage against humans is nice, but you can now upgrade the perk that enables that to get extra bullet damage against aircraft and other killstreaks. There are other changes as well, but I think I've said enough. The multiplayer itself can't be beat by any game on the market. It has dozens upon dozens of hours of entertainment packed away and could be sold as a full game all by itself. Most maps are very well constructed. For every sniping spot, there is another place where you can counter the sniper. There are plenty of maps to play on and at least 80% of them are great, probably more. The multiplayer could be sold as a full game all by itself, yet it is only one of three modes you have to play. Spec-Ops is the new mode. It allows you and a friend to play through one of 23 challenges cooperatively. Missions could involve races on snowmobiles, to sniping stealth missions, to areas with a finite number of enemies that you can take down as you see fit. 21 of these challenges can be played solo, but things get fun when a friend hops in. There is no matchmaking for spec-ops, but it allows you to play with people on your friends list or split-screen. It would have been nice to have matchmaking, but odds are, you are going to have friends with the game, so there will be many opportunities to play with others. Overall, I found myself playing it the least and I think it is the worst of the three modes, yet it is still highly fun and some games would be lucky to have that mode as their best mode. Now for the story. As has been highly advertised, there is a skipable mission where you play an undercover CIA agent posing as a terrorist. I don't know how it got so controversial, as there are many films with much more gruesome takes on terrorism than this. I thought the scene didn't take it far enough to show off the true horrors of terrorism, but took it plenty far enough to be found as disturbing. I wasn't offended by it, but others may be. The single player mode is expertly paced, extremely intense, and most importantly, extremely fun. Unfortunately, it is a bit on the short side and ends in a HIGHLY uneventful cliffhanger, making the game feel shorter still, but the six to eight hours it'll take to finish are still highly memorable. Nothing comes off quite as big as a COD4 nuke, but many things come very close. Along with the short length, the story has one more problem: it is nigh impossible to piece together what the heck is going on. After analyzing it for awhile after beating it, you figure out that some corrupt American soldier decides he really wants to be a war hero, so he finds a crazy terrorist and secretly teams up with the terrorist while said terrorist (Makarov) blows the crap out of the American east coast. He destroys much of DC, along with many other locations. There are plenty of holes along the way, but to reveal them is to spoil a lot of the (nonsensical) story, so I'll leave them alone. If you want to find most of them, Gamesradar.com had a Modern Warfare 2 article that did an amazing job at revealing some of the lapses of logic that go on during the story. MW2 is lucky that story doesn't mean a whole lot when it comes to shooting terrorists and it is also very fortunate that you never pick up on most of the holes when playing the game. You move from one set piece moment to another so fast, that you never have time to think about what's going on in the story and you never have time to consider what amazing piece of action the developers are going to throw at you next. It acts a bit like a Michael Bay movie, plenty of explosions and shooting, but not a lot of plot. Considering how amazing everything else is, though, you may find it hard to care a whole lot about the story's shortcomings. If I have to choose between insane fun or an amazing story (especially for a first person shooter), I'll take the fun 10 times out of 10 and that is exactly what MW2 gives you.