Infinity Ward’s Call of Duty franchise had successfully usurped Medal of Honor as the premier WWII FPS franchise. Unfortunately, it also took MOH’s place as the poster child for genre burnout. Thankfully, developer Infinity Ward realized this fact, and took the next COD game into a whole new era, or more specifically, the modern world. While players were initially worried that Modern Warfare will be exploitative of the War on Terror, they were happy to learn that the game took a different route. Instead of basing it on the current conflicts in the Middle East, Modern Warfare thrust players into an epic conflict that takes its cue from action movies as opposed to the evening news.

Throughout most of Modern Warfare, you’ll be playing as British SAS member John ‘Soap’ McTavish, although you’ll routinely take the roles of other characters. The United States military is battling a renegade Middle Eastern leader. While things seem to be cut and dry on the surface, a link is discovered between the leader and a Russian Ultranationalist leader, and suddenly you’re involved in a race against time to prevent a nuclear war. The story, while short is delivered at the pace of an action movie, and long winded cinematics are eschewed in favor of real-time triggered events a’la Half-Life 2. For instance, shortly after the game’s first mission, you take control of an unnamed kidnap victim who is bound, gagged, and thrown into a car. You are taken to a town square where your character is executed. Things like this drive home the story in ways that you can’t get in a 15-minute mission briefing. That’s just one of the many water cooler moments which has become the trademark of the Modern Warfare series. Just when you think things are slowing down, something else happens that blows you off your feet.

Oh, and the rest of the game isn’t bad either. The enemy AI keeps you on your toes, the game’s visuals and audio sucks you in, making you part of the conflict. The missions have a good amount of variety. In one level you may be running a siege in a middle eastern town and in another you’ll be using a helicopter to take out ground-based targets. While the FPS action may not have anything you haven’t seen before, its presentation is something that is, and even though the campaign is short in length, you’ll be hooked every second from your first gunshot to your last dead terrorist. The other half of the package is the excellent multiplayer which in many aspects rivals Halo. By earning experience points, players unlock new weapons and items, and the downloadable map packs kept the game in rotation for months after the single player campaign is completed. In fact, people were playing it all the way until, oh yeah, MW2 came out last year.

Speaking of MW2, that game kept the intensity of the first game, making it an instant classic amongst gamers. As you may or may not know, Activision ‘rewarded’ Infinity Ward for its success by firing 2 of the company’s senior employees. These two employees (who were then followed by 46 other Infinity Ward staffers) went on to form Respawn Entertainment. It will be interesting to see what they come up with. If their past record is anything to go by, then the success and popularity of Modern Warfare 2 will ‘respawn’ with Electronic Arts.