A star rating of 4 out of 5.

This year's new Call of Duty game, a shiny 2022 redo of Modern Warfare 2, is out in the world today on all of the major gaming platforms - but does it do enough to justify a day one purchase?

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Players that pre-ordered the game have been trying out the CoD MW2 campaign for the last week or so, but now all of the launch-day multiplayer maps are available to enjoy as well. Of course, though, there is a lot more to come with Warzone 2 on the horizon and MW2 season 1 yet to begin.

Indeed, these days, a Call of Duty game is a more fluid thing than it used to be, with post-launch seasonal content (and crossovers with the free-to-play Warzone) keeping the game fresh for months or even years after the initial release. But we can only judge what's in front of us right now, so keep on reading and we'll tell you what we think so far.

One thing you can't criticise about Modern Warfare 2 is the presentation. Being the blockbuster new entry in one of the best-funded franchises in the gaming industry, it should come as no surprise that the new Call of Duty game has best-in-class visuals. But still, it's hard not to be impressed when you boot up the game for the first time.

Many players will be drawn to the MW2 campaign first, and there's no denying that this brisk story-driven mode is absolutely stunning, boasting utterly believable character models, photo-real locations and weather/water effects that would make any other video game blush. And again, as you'd expect, the gunplay on offer is some of the most fluid and fun in recent memory.

The same can't really be said for the campaign's story, which has more twists than a Saw movie box-set and a number of reveals that don't quite hit home. It's hammy stuff, silly even, but this is what gamers have come to expect in some regards. This won't be winning any Best Narrative gongs at The Game Awards, but that doesn't it stop it from being an enjoyable introduction to the game as a whole.

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Of course, when the totals are totted up, history will show that players spent a lot more time with Modern Warfare 2's multiplayer modes than they did with the story content. This multiplayer element is liable to change over time, but you'll want to know how it's feeling on day one, and that's why we're here. So, let's get cracking, shall we?

From our first few hours with it, we'd say that Modern Warfare 2 multiplayer is looking quite promising. After the World War 2 skirmishes of last year's Call of Duty: Vanguard, it felt like fans were crying out for a more hi-tech and modernised experience, and that's exactly what you get here. Although there isn't a Zombies mode at launch, there is a lot of other multiplayer content to keep you busy.

As ever, there are competitive and cooperative options to choose from, and you can also switch between online play and local split-screen if you have an extra controller (or a mouse and keyboard). There are rescue missions, invasions, defensive tasks and all the usual gameplay types you'd expect. If you're a fan of CoD in general, you'll feel right at home here, and it shouldn't take you long to relearn the basics and get good.

The graphics are stunning in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2.
The graphics are stunning in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. Activision

The addition of third-person gameplay is a very nice touch, allowing you to see the action from a whole new perspective (quite literally), although it does feel a bit jarring to switch between third and first-person when you need to aim down sniper sights. We've seen reports of graphical glitches as well, but we didn't experience any of these ourselves (and there was no hint of lag either, thanks in part to our speedy broadband connection).

Overall, we've had a very positive experience with MW2 so far, but that's not to say that we don't have qualms. Progression feels a little slow, for one thing, with each different weapon having its own mini experience bar that will level up over time to unlock perks. The menus feel a little fiddly too, but those systems could well be streamlined over time.

In terms of the minute-to-minute multiplayer gameplay, we've had nothing but a good time with MW2 at this stage, although we wouldn't say that the map design on offer here is on a franchise-best sort of level. Some of the maps feel a little cluttered, with spawn points feeling so random that it's hard to get into a proper flow.

When things go right, though, they really go right, and it's still obvious that CoD is the king of the castle in terms of first-person shooters in the multiplayer space. Whether you prefer to play locally or online, with voice chat on or off, with friends or strangers, we'd wager that you'll have a very good time when you load into this game.

Compared to recent competitors to launch (last year's Battlefield 2042 didn't have a campaign and its multiplayer felt a lot more wobbly), Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 feels vastly superior. It doesn't feel like a drastic overhaul for the franchise, not by any stretch, but it should do enough to keep those core fans entertained for hours on end until the next one comes out.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 is out now on PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One and Xbox Series X/S. We reviewed on Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S.

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