To say that the expectations for Modern Warfare 2 were high would be an understatement. Ever since the release of Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, fans have been clamoring for the sequel. Two years later and the wait is over, Infinity Ward and Activision have finally released Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 and it’s a doozy. Does it live up to the hype or is it one of the biggest disappointments in the history of gaming? Well, ultimately that’s only something you can decide, but I’m here to tell you that it most certainly lives up to the expectations.

Modern Warfare 2 is broken up into three distinct parts; the single player campaign, the multiplayer that millions have grown to love, and Spec Ops, a co-op mode that brings a new factor to the game. Each mode has a certain level of replayability, with some more than others. At its core, Modern Warfare 2 remains largely the same from its predecessor. Infinity Ward has tweaked it a bit, and given it a nice polish, but fans of the first Modern Warfare will be able to jump into the game and not have to worry about learning the controls, it picks up right where it left off.

The single player campaign in Modern Warfare 2 picks up five years after the first game, bringing you up to speed with a montage of events. Old favorites like Captain John “Soap” McTavish and Captain Price play a major role in the game, as well as newcomers Sergeant Simon Riley, Sergeant Gary “Roach” Sanderson (whom you play as) and the mysterious Ghost. You’ll still find yourself embodying the roles of other characters in different situations, the same way you did in the first Modern Warfare. This time the locals are bigger, better and far prettier to look at.

From the dusty roads of Afghanistan to the bustling streets of Rio de Janeiro’s favela and the icy mountains of Kazakhstan, Modern Warfare 2 has created some of the most visually pleasing locations to fight a war. Drudging through a rain soaked Northern Virginia as you try to reclaim Washington, D.C. it’s clear that Infinity Ward put a strong emphasis on the environments, destructible objects and textures. The action is fast and heavy and nothing ever lags on screen. Modern Warfare 2 looks and feels like an action movie, with the production values being some of the best ever seen. Truth be told, the single player campaign is a bit short. I played the entire campaign on the Veteran difficulty, the hardest there is, and it took around 8 hours or so. Easier difficulties were able to be completed in shorter times. Still, it shouldn’t deter you from an excellent gaming experience.

And while the campaign may be short, the addition of the Spec Ops mode helps lengthen the life on the game considerably. Spec Ops is a co-operative mode that will pair you up with a friend either online or locally. Various missions and objectives are presented for each level. There are five tiers, each with missions that have a possible three stars to gain based on the difficulty of the level in each of the 23 missions. If you’d like, you can also play Spec Ops solo, but there are a few challenges that require co-op play.

Lastly there’s the infamous multiplayer, which has received a nice boost in looks as well as gameplay. To say it looks great would be an understatement. It looks like an extension of the campaign rather than some tacked on multiplayer experience. Familiarities like the class system returns with new and returning weapons, perks, and customizations. Players can now customize their killstreaks, using rewards such as the powerful AC-130, stealth bombers, EMP blasts, and even a devastating 25 killstreak nuke that ends the game then and there. The level designs are also improved with the terrain more navigable and more weather effects. Infinity Ward dedicated an entire team of developers to the multiplayer mode and it shows.

Up to 18 players, 9 vs 9, can take part at any time in various match types which include Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, Free-For-All, Search & Destroy, Domination, Capture the Flag, and the new Demolition. Maps are varied, and as they’ve done previously you can expect Infinity Ward to release some new remaps via DLC. As stated earlier this year at E3, Microsoft’s Xbox will receive two map expansion packs prior to PS3 owners.

As previously mentioned, the production values for Modern Warfare 2 are outstanding. The character models are quite impressive, with fluid movements and reactions in the various situations. The cut scenes look absolutely outstanding and really bring it all together. Sound wise, the game is extremely impressive. Each weapon has it’s out distinctive sound, adding a level of realism to combat. You’ll hear a lot of radio chatter from squad mates, and the voice acting is about as perfect as you can get. Celebrities like Kevin McKidd, Lance Henriksen and Barry Pepper lend their talents and really bring the game to life. The game also boasts a wonderful cinematic score by composer Hans Zimmer.

All told, Modern Warfare 2 could have been a must have game. While it may continue in the tradition of a compelling story mode, an unmatched online multi-player experience, and the addition of the new Spec Ops mode, its extremely short campaign leaves a somewhat sour taste. And while the addition of the co-op and multi-player modes makes up for it, I’m left a bit disappointed. Still, if you’ve ever played a first person shooter then you have to play this.