A great game all around, but the story falls a bit short.
The campaign mode is single player only. I've heard Infinity Wards's reasoning behind this (that it would hurt the narative and scripted moments) and was excited for some intricate storytelling. Mostly I felt the game failed to deliver on that count and that I would have been more satisfied with a true co-op experience.
A strange game. The only winning move is not to play. How about a nice game of chess?
The story is a bit muddy and doesn't make a whole lot of sense on many levels, a fact which while dissapointing, doesn't take much of the fun out of just shooting bad guys in the face with speed and precision virtually unmatched in a console FPS. I'm not sure if IW was trying to make a point about war not having clear good vs evil in modern times or what, but I rarely felt like a hero in the game. Every victory achieved seem to have vast unintended consequences and betrayals at every turn. Which left me with a strange feeling of having enjoyed playing through the game but not wanting to play through it again. An interesting take, if on purpose, on the war game genre.
A larger problem for the campaign is that it is so short. I put just over 5 hours into the campaign mode to beat it on the normal difficulty. 5 hours by a guy who, if multiplayer is any indication, sucks at this game. I died a lot during those 5 hours. If you've been playing the first MW recently and are any good at it, you should be able to pwn this game in about 3 or 4 hours. If you're only interested in the solo campaign mode, you really ought to rent this game rather than buy it. Not because it's not good, it was a lot of fun for those 5 hours, but because you'll then be done with it and not want to play through it again. MW2 could have really used one or two more levels. There is one of the main bad guys in the story who you never get to fight really and the game doesn't say much about what happens to him. Perhaps this was to leave an opening for MW3, but I still felt like I had some unfinished business at the end.
There were several moments in the original Modern Warfare that left my mouth hanging agape at what just happened, or how great a scene looked. Who could forget the nuke, or crawling out of the downed helicopter aftward? The AC130 gunship level looked like it was ripped from CNN. The missle launch. The gun sliding accross the pavement into your hand allowing you to defend yourself at the last second through blurred vision in slow motion. MW2 had some great level design, but I can't really pick any awe inspiring moments out like those from the first game.
Multiplayer comes in two flavors: spec-ops and the traditional compettitve multiplayer featuring deathmatches, CTF, and territories games.
The spec-ops features some set pieces from the campaign that you can play with a friend. It is only 2 player, which in today's world seems a bit lacking. While playing some of these missions co-op in the main campaign would have indeed hurt the storytelling a little bit, I just don't feel satisifed with having them out on their own. Also no leaderboards, WTF?
The traditional multiplayer allows up to 8 on 8 team action, and is basically the same game you played in the original MW with a few refinements. The maps are a bit more spread out and grenades are more restriced, so there is much less grenade spam. (Cole Hamels' plea must've worked.) You constantly level up and unlock new weapons, titles and perks even if you suck, which is great because apparently everyone who plays this online is a professional. I played it the first night and day after the release and expreienced very little lag and no timeouts or host disconnections, though I did have one wierd instance where I was stuck on the lobby screen and my party was somehow playing at the time. Overall, this is the mode that will keep most users playing this game for some time to come.
Overall verdict: Buy it!