Credit: Infinity Ward

Next up on the list was Modern Warfare 2 Remastered, which is the most recent Call of Duty if we’re not counting Warzone… which we’re not. Released in March 2020 – before things really hit the fan – this remaster of the 2009 campaign was so well made, it nearly fooled me into believing this was a completely new game. Seriously, when put up against the original version, the differences are outstanding. Modern Warfare 2 Remastered’s graphics should be a new benchmark for shooters, and I do not say that lightly. Everything from explosions to facial animations has been redone, and the lighting effects and sounds are exponentially greater than ever before. This game is a genuine milestone for the Call of Duty franchise, and it’s a real shame there’s no sign of remastered multiplayer on the horizon. Compared to the more futuristic installments of recent years, I could easily see myself revisiting this multiplayer in a remastered format. This game itself was a breath of fresh air that not many people saw coming, and it still sits near the top of my Game of the Year contenders so far.

As for the plot itself, Modern Warfare 2 holds up a lot better than I’d envisioned. Going on, I could only recall memories of the final mission, where the player’s perspective is constantly shifting between each protagonist, playing out a full-scale attack on their common enemy. However, after finally taking the plunge and giving it another go, I finally understood why this game took my middle school by storm back in the day. I used to be so jealous of all the guys talking Modern Warfare 2 at lunch, and I with only my Wiimote to keep me company. The campaign in this game had my jaw consistently dropping with so many memorable moments I’d left behind in my youth. From racing down an icy mountain on a snowmobile to defending Burger Town to that epic betrayal out of nowhere? Yeah, that one. The game is just absolutely thrilling, taking risks all over the place and repeatedly knocking them out of the park. Modern Warfare 2 is worth revisiting over a decade later, and I must say the remaster is the way to go about doing so.

Credit: Infinity Ward

To finish off our trip down Infinity Ward lane, I might as well talk about the epic finale to the epic trilogy: Modern Warfare 3. Now, I should preface this with a disclaimer: I have spent nearly nine years of my life absolutely loathing this game. From the moment credits rolled on my initial playthrough of Modern Warfare 3, I thought it was a steaming pile of garbage. Because of this, I had no desire to replay it – not even to finish off the trilogy following my mini-marathon of the first two – and truly had no intention of digging it out of the attic. However, once the thought entered my mind that a Modern Warfare 3 Remastered is almost certain to exist in, say, three years’ time, I figured why not give it another chance to see if that’s deserved?

Well, dear reader, I come to thee in a moment of weakness and humbly hang my head in shame as I deliver these words: Modern Warfare 3 is not as bad as I remembered. There, I said it. Is it perfect? Certainly not. In fact, I think I’ve finally figured out exactly why this game never left a positive impact on me. You see, compared to the former games in this series, Modern Warfare 3’s color palette feels like a shabby little shack on a street full of skyscrapers. This game is full of nothing but muddy browns, gray’s, and greens. Nobody is going to look at Modern Warfare 3 and ever think “That’s a pretty game!” It’s as if someone made the Call of Duty rainbow out of nothing but “sand” and “water.” And “explosion.” Visually, the game is hard to look at and coupled with the massive amount of action sequences, this really takes me out of the experience.

I must say, however, that the game contains more than just action – a note I have come to hate Modern Warfare 3 for over the years. All this time I’ve spent disliking the game for never stepping back and being somber, something every Call of Duty does in its own capacity, making it stand out from the plethora of shooters on offer. But I must now retract that statement and say: although Modern Warfare 3 may have a lot of action – there’s a freaking train chase, for crying out loud – this doesn’t make the game any less of a worthy contender amongst the Call of Duty lineup. I’ll admit, that final mission full of sacrifices and quick-time event struggles still gets me in my feels, and after replaying it again I can honestly say this game deserves to be remembered for more than just the fun I had in Spec Ops mode.

Credit: Treyarch

While Infinity Ward may have been the latest to dabble in this beloved franchise – which we’ll get to in just a moment – Treyarch has always been my favorite of the two, nay, three COD developers. As previously stated, the Black Ops franchise is one I hold dear to my heart, though in the grand scheme of things this is mainly because of my love for the first installment. Black Ops 2, which I also replayed in this marathon, is where the series starts to diverge from the norm, and with it derails my love of the series. Black Ops 2 was the first Call of Duty to make a significant time jump, taking the entire franchise into the literal future, and dabbling in new technology that simply does not exist. This angered a lot of people in later years, what with Advanced Warfare and Infinite Warfare really stretching the world of sci-fi military weaponry to its limits. However, with Black Ops 2, COD fans were still hanging on. In fact, I know quite a few people who hold Black Ops 2 in such high regard, it remains their favorite installment to this day.

Personally, my memory of Black Ops 2 comes in bits and pieces. Essentially, I went in remembering Cordis Die, Menendez and his burned sister, and Michael Rooker’s character. What I completely forgot about, however, was the entire choice system, which aimed to shake up Call of Duty’s gameplay drastically. In practice, the choices really fall flat, making it feel more like baby’s first Telltale game. Characters can die, but this has barely any impact on the plot itself. There are multiple endings, though none of them are good, per se, and in the big picture this is quite the letdown, seeing as Black Ops 2 serves as a continuation of Frank Woods and Alex Mason’s story – the protagonists of the first game.

As I said back in the beginning, and this will be a big thing to remember when talking about the Modern Warfare reboot, memorable characters are at the heart of Call of Duty. Neglecting them, or messing their writing up in any way, can lead to major problems on a personal note with the player. As you can probably tell, I feel Black Ops 2 seriously mishandles the established characters, though new ones like David Mason and Menendez did leave a lasting impression on me. It’s just a shame the writing affects my feelings on this game, as the levels themselves are some of the best, from going on revenge-fueled killing sprees with a shotgun to riding freaking horses! It’s a blast while it lasts, but in the end, Black Ops 2 is underwhelming and forgettable.

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