Flashback to 2009, I was 16 years old, confused, hormonal and in the prime demographic for the Call of Duty franchise. The Modern Warfare series was very important in my formative years and I was a typical Call of Duty kid, spending an unnecessarily massive amount of time prestige-ing to the point that my still sponge-like brain was probably hampered where it was impossible for me to become something meaningful like a doctor or a scientist anymore.
But gosh darn it, I loved it. I just couldn’t get enough of shooting dudes and saying Oscar Mike even though I only vaguely knew what it meant.
Fast forward to 2020, I’m 27, stressed as all adults are and despite the decade of gaming that was behind me, I somehow got worse at aiming because the bones in my fingers are apparently turning into dust or something. But Activision has now provided me with the chance to relive those glory days. Go back to a simpler time when you could still leave the house without getting arrested. There was little anticipation or hype surrounding Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2‘s remaster and it pretty much just came out of nowhere. One day I was reporting a rumour that it was spotted on a Korean rating board and in essentially a week, it was released.
Only the campaign was remastered since Activision didn’t want to split up their player base and sure enough, that is all you receive in this package. You get the campaign, some bonuses if you collect intel and the Call of Duty Museum once you finish the game. No additional modes, no extras, just the campaign. So, I did what any reasonable person would do. I started it on Veteran and said to myself, “how hard can it be?”
Oscar who now?
Turns out, it’s very hard. But first, let’s talk about the story of Modern Warfare 2, one that is often cited as the best in the series by longtime fans. It earned that title because of the bombastic and shocking events that it depicts as well as the mishmash of wonderful characters that create this brilliantly action-packed story of war, betrayal and pushing the boundaries. Every top 5 list of shocking moments in games has the infamous No Russian mission in it, which often dominates the conversation whenever Modern Warfare 2 gets brought up and even a decade later, it still hits pretty hard.
All you had to do was enjoy the action, participate in some shooting galleries and have the lovely smell of nostalgia waft over you as you remember the summer of 2009.
However, the initial impact of its events has softened with time since our world and we as people have grown grittier and desensitised to horror. Someone who experiences this for the first time today might not be as blown away as we were a decade ago because the violence of the world has become a daily occurrence for us. Things that were once surprising are now mundane and that reflected when I experienced this story again.
But my musings on the collapse of our society’s morals aside, Modern Warfare 2‘s campaign is still incredibly entertaining. Its missions are frenetic, only slowing down once or twice for some stealth missions and then tossing you into the fray to go solve the problem and pontificate later. The series is the master of the action-packed setpiece and Modern Warfare 2 was definitely one of the blueprints.
Changing to your pistol is always faster than reloading
What struck me about the gameplay is just how often we’re following orders. There was definitely a bigger focus on holding a player’s hand back then and not letting them steer too far from the intended linear path. Lots of missions require you to stay uncomfortably close to the butt of your partner as you simultaneously snipe patrols from bushes. When you’re not doing that, you’re following uncomfortably close to the butt of a superior officer who is barking orders at you as your ears get flooded with military jargon.
But that’s also something that has been lost recently in FPS campaigns. In Modern Warfare 2, you’re a faceless voiceless soldier for the majority of the game and you’re barely even the big hero. You’re just there following orders as all the badass stuff happens around you with other characters even though you’re the one mowing down an endless swarm of enemies single-handedly like some kind of miraculous supersoldier. The glorified cameraman effect which was a vestige of our past.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Remastered is a great injection of nostalgia.
Honestly, it’s something I missed, even if it did become frustrating and overused back in the day. Everything was simple and you always knew what to do. This was also the case with the gameplay, you have two guns, some attachments, your grenades and flashbangs and that’s it, just kill the bad guys in front of you. No fiddling with additional fashionable mechanics, just go out there and have some fun and sure, here are some vehicle sections for you too, you deserve it.
All you had to do was enjoy the action, participate in some shooting galleries and have the lovely smell of nostalgia waft over you as you remember the summer of 2009. It doesn’t get more frictionless than that.
Hooah, it’s shinier
The game got the standard suite of remaster improvements including better textures, a higher resolution and some added polish to the UI elements. It’s tastefully done while still keeping the spirit of the original intact. For a while, I thought that it seems like not much has changed, but then I looked up some old footage and realised my rose-tinted goggles were definitely deceiving me. Even though it’s a solid remaster, I can’t help but feel it didn’t receive as much attention as its predecessor that got quite the makeover a few years ago, but what is on offer is more than serviceable.
I mentioned earlier that I started the game on Veteran as some sort of show of bravado and trying to relive my glory days where this was all I did. I forgot just how brutal this game can get, especially when they mercilessly throw enemies at you that can pop you with two hits out of nowhere. There were numerous points in the campaign when I held my controller like a boomerang, fantasizing about throwing it right into my TV but not doing it because it would be a grave financial error.
But I loved the challenge and I got these hits of nostalgia during certain sections where my 16-year-old self was also struggling his adolescent butt off. Eventually conquering the challenge felt like a personal reminder that I still got it. Even with my withering reflexes and piles of stress, I can still overcome a significant challenge and do it with gusto. I fell so in love with reliving the past that I decided to get the platinum for the game and after a few days, lots of shooting and using intel guides, I did it. And it felt so damn good.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Remastered is a great injection of nostalgia even though you probably won’t be playing it for too long and there isn’t much else available for you to do. But at the really reasonable price point and the fact that the remaster is so polished, it’s a cheap trip down memory lane and a retrospective glimpse into a bygone generation. It’s definitely Oscar Mike. Whatever that means.