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Video Game / Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2

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Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 is a 2009 First-Person Shooter video game, made by Infinity Ward and published by Activision. It is the sixth main game in the Call of Duty franchise, the second in the Modern Warfare subseries, and the sequel to 2007's Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare.

Five years after the events of the previous game, Imran Zakhaev's ultranationalists have fully taken over Russia, declaring their late leader a martyr. Vladimir Makarov, Zakhaev's successor and former right-hand man, begins a campaign of terrorism across Europe. A war with the US soon erupts when an attempt to infiltrate the ultranationalists goes horribly wrong.

A sequel, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, was released in 2011.

In 2020, a remastered version of the game's campaign mode was released for modern consoles.


Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 contains examples of:

  • Adjustable Censorship: You can skip the infamous "No Russian" level if you find the content too disturbing.
  • All for Nothing: "No Russian" ends with Makarov already aware of Allen's presence. He kills Allen and leave his corpse as evidence for the Russians to attack the US.
  • All Muslims Are Arab: The Karachi map features all of its text in Arabic, despite the fact that Pakistan's official languages are English and Urdu.
  • And Your Reward Is Clothes: Completing the "Ghillie in the Mist" (completed by getting one-shot kills with sniper rifles) challenges unlocks ghillie suits, which by virtue of camouflaging you actually make your sniping better.
  • Anti-Frustration Features: Due to the extremely controversial nature of the mission, "No Russian" has no achievements, unlockables, or completion percentage tied to it, and you are not only warned of its disturbing nature, you are even given the option to skip the mission entirely.
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  • Artistic License – Space: The destruction of the ISS by an apparent blast wave. Nukes don't have the same effects in space that they do on Earth. Even at most generous to the scene, the distance between the nuke's explosion and the station is too far to have the outcome it does.
  • Atrocity Montage: The infamous "No Russian" level involves a massacre at a Russian airport committed by Vladimir Makarov and his men, with the player playing as the undercover CIA operative Joseph Allen. The player can either participate by shooting unarmed civilians or refusing to shoot, but always confronted by the dying screams and blood trails of the victims. At the end of the level, Makarov kills Joseph Allen, aware he is a CIA agent, to ensure a pretext for Russia to wage war on the United States.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: Sure, Soap and Price have killed Shepherd, but that doesn't change the fact that his Batman Gambit has already succeeded. Amongst this chaos, Makarov escapes Shepherd's men and becomes the Big Bad of Modern Warfare 3, so he is the one who benefits from all this more.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Yes, you stopped the warmonger Shepherd, but Task Force 141 has been destroyed, Price and Soap are internationally wanted fugitives for "treason" — despite having done nothing against their home country — along with "global terror" and "violent acts against the government", the East Coast and Washington in particular are devastated, the US is still at war with Russia (as Shepherd intended, so he won even in death), and Makarov is still on the loose. There is a bit of a high note, though: Shepherd was presumably going to use his hero status and unlimited budget to perform unilateral military actions across the globe (as evidenced by his very well equipped "Shadow Company"). Even if he ends up a martyr, his death prevented his plan from going any further. Price and Soap are still alive, and as Price admitted, the key was both for Shepherd to die and for them to live.
  • Bland-Name Product: The restaurants in some of the levels are thinly-veiled versions of Taco Bell, TGI Friday's, Starbucks and Burger King.
  • "Blind Idiot" Translation: The Japanese version of the game translated Makarov famous "Remember, no Russian" line into "Kill them all, they are Russians."
  • But Thou Must!:
    • In "No Russian", even though you are heavily armed, the game prevents you from trying to thwart the terrorist attack by giving you a game over and telling you that you must go along with the massacre should you try and shoot the terrorists. The German version, however, turns this into "But Thou Must Not" by NOT allowing you to shoot civilians despite this being the whole point of the level (you get a Game Over for that). Considering that you still can't shoot your "allies," there's nothing much to do for you throughout the first half of the level, except perhaps shooting the skylights for the particle effects.
    • Also, thou must reach the top of the White House and then light a flare to prevent the bombing run, even though when you get there there's already at least four other soldiers signaling, one from the same position as you, and Ramirez doesn't have any further role in the plot. So you could have not bothered lighting your flare, or even died anywhere along the way up to the roof, and achieved the same result.
  • Bystander Syndrome: Shepherd's motivation in Modern Warfare 2. After the nuclear explosion in the original murders thirty-thousand American soldiers under his command, he is outraged at the apathetic response of the American people, which could only be exasperated by Russia's continued militarization. In an attempt to motivate his own country to war and bring about a new generation of willing martyrs with which to battle foreign threats, he manipulates Makarov into sparking an invasion of the US mainland.
    • In "No Russian", you're tasked as Joseph Allen with going undercover in a terrorist group led by Makarov. You don't have to shoot the civilians in the airport, but you can't turn against the group either, in which case you have no choice but to follow them through the massacre. Once you face the police, you'll be required to take them out.
  • Car Chase Shoot Out:
    • One mission ends with you and your partner having to use some snow mobiles to flee from an enemy compound. It wouldn't look too out of place in a James Bond film.
    • The finale takes place in a motor boat to catch the main villain. All the while having to dodge or shoot enemy forces.
  • Cavalry Betrayal: General Shepherd and Shadow Company showing up to take the DSM, then kill off the remaining Task Force 141 members in "Loose Ends".
  • Chekhov's Gun: The ACS module from the downed satellite which the Player Character and Captain Mactavish were sent to retrieve from the Russians in "Cliffhangar". After the false-flag terrorist attack in Moscow staged by Makarov was blamed on the Americans, the Russians used what they learnt from that to compormise NORAD's satellite surveillance systems, preventing the Americans from noticing the surprise invasion force heading towards American East Coast until they were quite literally right on top of them.
  • Climb, Slip, Hang, Climb: The beginning of "Cliffhanger" has you slipping and almost falling down an icy cliff.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • Sneaking through the snow with Soap as he supports you with a sniper rifle in "Cliffhanger" homages the level "All Ghillied Up" from the previous game, but the true call back comes in "Contingency," in which Roach and Price sneak through a forest sniping soldiers and dogs. Soap mentions that he hates dogs, and Price even says the dogs are nothing compared to the ones in Pripyat, echoing the feeling of many players.
      Soap: I hate dogs...
    • Price's lines during this level also reference many of Captain MacMillan's in "All Ghillied Up." Specifically "Don't do anything stu-pid", "gooooodnight". and "this one's mine."
    • The final level is one huge homage to Call of Duty 4's final level. Both have "game" in the title ("Game Over" and "Endgame"), both involve a vehicular chase (in Modern Warfare 1, the player is being chased in a truck; in Modern Warfare 2, the player is doing the chasing in a boat); both involve said vehicle being destroyed and the player (Soap in both levels) being wounded, and then even more badly injured; and both involve Soap desperately using an emergency weapon (pistol in Modern Warfare 1, knife in Modern Warfare 2) to kill the Big Bad before he kills Price.
    • Ghost is a callback to Gaz from Modern Warfare 1. He's voiced by the same actor, you never see his face behind his skull and his name is "Ghost". As in dead.
    • Once you rescue Price from the Gulag, Soap immediately hands over his M1911, telling him "this belongs to you, sir", echoing how Price threw his M1911 to Soap in the end of the first game.
    • In the remastered version of the game, the player can travel back to the beginning of "No Russian" to find Yuri, one of the player characters from Modern Warfare 3, bleeding out and trying to crawl through the airport in a vein attempt to stop Makarov's massacre. This in turn makes it consistent with Yuri's flashbacks in MW3, where the player witnesses the events of "No Russian" from his viewpoint. The player can shoot him, but doing so yields a Non Standard Game Over.
  • Controllable Helplessness:
    • The ending sequence has your character watching Shepherd brutally beating Captain Price in hand to hand combat, with you not being able to help because of a rather large knife in your chest. At least, until you realize that you have a rather large knife in your chest that you can reach.
    • And a bit before that, you get to see through the eyes of the mortally wounded Roach, Ghost being killed, and being burned alive after Shepherd has their bodies tossed in a ditch and doused in gasoline.
  • Dead Man Honking: At the start of "Takedown", the player character and his squad are watching a person of interest, who suddenly draws a huge gun and shoots wildly, killing the driver of their vehicle, who slumps forward. The honking is audible as you continue the chase on foot for several blocks.
  • Deceased Fall-Guy Gambit: Makarov kills Allen, who he knows is an American agent, after said agent takes part in a civilian massacre without realizing his cover's already blown, leaving the body so the Americans will be blamed. In a variation, the evidence is not forged, just taken out of context.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: The South American arms dealer that Task Force 141 chases in Rio is known to the men as "Alex the Red". This is said by Shepherd after he dramatically gives the man's real name as "Alejandro Rojas," which, in English, means..."Alex Red".
  • Dissonant Serenity: All the multiplayer announcers are appropriately freaked out when an enemy AC-130 is called in... except for TF 141's Ghost, who reports it matter-of-factly.
  • Easter Egg: The remastered version of the campaign adds in cheats which are triggered by collecting intel in every stage, restoring a feature that was present in both the original Modern Warfare (and its remaster) and absent in the original version of MW2. It also adds in two notable ones through achievements/trophies in the first mission, S.S.D.D.:
    • Hidden on the outskirts of the level are three clowns which can be sniped with a nearby Barret .50 cal introduced in this level; the rifle only has 3 shots - one for each clown, so the player needs to make them count.note 
    • As with the original game, it is possible to kill General Shepard inside the Pit, which causes a Time Paradox by preventing most of the story's events from happening and thus triggers a Non Standard Game Over. The difference is that the player is now awarded an achievement/trophy specifically for this moment, akin to a similar achievement from the HD version of Metal Gear Solid 3.
  • Et Tu, Brute?: General Shepard eliminates Task Force 141 to deal with any "Loose Ends" (Which is coincidentally the name of the mission).
  • Explosions in Space: During the sequence in which a nuclear warhead ICBM is launched by Price and detonates above the atmosphere over Washington DC, creating an Electro Magnetic Pulse that disables the invading Russian vehicles... and other things. Not only does the resultant explosion have a Planar Shockwave, but there's also a delayed air pressure shockwave that destroys the observing International Space Station.
  • Eye Scream: How Shepherd goes out. Soap pulls a knife out of his chest after being stabbed with it, then throws it knife at him. It hits him in the eye.
  • Gasoline Dousing: Shepard and his men light up Roach and Ghost by dousing them with gasoline from a jerrycan after they betray the team. Shepard uses his cigar to set them ablaze.
  • Golden Snitch: In multiplayer, you can choose to have your third killstreak be a Tactical Nuke, which immediately wins the game for you after 25 kills in one life, regardless of your team's score.
  • Guns Akimbo: You can get dual weapons in Story and Spec Ops Mode and unlock them in Multiplayer, up to and including dual P90s with Rapid Fire.
  • Gunship Rescue: When Roach and Ghost escape from Makarov's safehouse, chased by dozens of Russian Mooks. 30 meters from the extraction point, you get knocked out by a mortar right next to you, only to awaken while being dragged away by the collar by Ghost. As you try to take some more enemies down through your blurry gaze, the ringing in the ears turns into the unmistakably sound of miniguns warming up and a chopper flies over your head, completely shredding the pursuing soldiers to pieces. But once you're up on your feet and handed the retrieved data to General Shepherd, he shoots Roach and Ghost, and burns their bodies in a ditch.
  • Hold the Line:
    • "Wolverines!" in Modern Warfare 2 features a sequence where you have to defend a restaurant containing a VIP from Russian soldiers, who will climb onto the roof from two separate ladders while you're supposed to have a sentry gun pointed elsewhere.
    • "Loose Ends" has you holding a mountain estate while a portable hard drive with the worst transfer speeds ever takes anywhere from twenty-eight hours to four minutes to perform a file dump. It actually only takes around five minutes, but the file transfer status shown on the HUD makes you wonder why the manufacturer's building hardware for Task Force 141.
  • Irony: Considering how the Ultranationalists rose to power, you'd think they'd want the armed forces to exclusively use Russian firearms. Instead, they field a wide variety of foreign small arms, most of which were never used by the real-world Russian military and some are even American.
  • Iwo Jima Pose: Players can be rewarded an emblem resembling the flag planting at Iwo Jima for killing a bomb-carrier in Sabotage or Demolition multiplayer game modes.
  • Just Plane Wrong:
    • During the attack on the Gulag, the jets that appear to support (and sometimes hinder) the assault are F-15s. However, the group assisting you is said to be the Navy. The Navy does not use the F-15 and, if they could help it, would never do so even if there were a carrier-capable version.note  They also take out a set of perimeter SAM sites by firing AGM-88 HARMs, which the F-15 isn't compatible with, using the "Fox Three" brevity code for active radar-guided, air-to-air missiles, rather than the proper "Magnum" code an anti-radiation missile would be called with.
    • The MH-53 Pave Lows used in this game were already retired by the game's release, let alone in 2016 when the game is set, and was a Special Forces and Combat Search And Rescue helicopter. There was also no civilian variant, so there's no reason Nikolai, who isn't technically a combatant except by his connection to specific TF141 members, should be using one to pull the team out of Brazil.
  • Lord British Postulate: Try as players did, there was no way to permanently kill Makarov in No Russian (outside of outright hacking or modifying the game). He has thick Plot Armor that will let him survive any attack the player has at their disposal (then execute you for betrayal), and even tricking the game into thinking he's dead will prompt his corpse to immediately pick himself up and carry on with the level, upon which he will execute you for betrayal.
  • The Main Characters Do Everything: Whilst making the player character fill a wide range of combat roles to make the player feel important and vary gameplay is standard First-Person Shooter fare, Ramirez is required to become such an omnidisciplinary soldier that Sergeant Foley's varied commands to him have become a Memetic Mutation:
  • Misblamed: "No Russian" in Modern Warfare 2. The general consensus, before release, was puzzlement at an already wildly popular, M-rated game series going the Rated M for Money route, some even demanding that IW should remove it from the game. The game allows the player to choose to skip it right at the outset or during the mission, which does not count towards any Achievements/Trophies or towards the completion percentage, and no one would even think about making that demand of a book or a movie. The idea that they're doing it for the sake of the narrative barely seemed to cross anyone's mind. To quote Destructoid;
    Brad Rice argues that such a harrowing scene takes the will to fight out of him, that it makes him question if such a fight is worth the lives as stake. I can only see that as statement in favor of the game, rather than in condemnation of it. That a game could so powerfully affect Rice's state of mind, simply through watching it passively, is quite an amazing achievement if you ask me. Perhaps Infinity Ward hopes to raise and possibly answer the questions Brad throws up — is such sacrifice worth it? Should we fight such dirty battles for the greater good? How much loss of civilian life is acceptable in the name of American security?
  • Monumental Damage Resistance: The White House, Washington Monument, and Capitol building take a beating, but remain iconically standing. That said, they take quite a beating, and the White House's interior gets totaled.
  • Painting the Medium: To reflect the EMP knocking out satellite communications, which normally serves as the framing device for the load screens, the load screen for Whiskey Hotel is completely blank.
  • Posthumous Villain Victory: Even though every playable character knows just what General Shepherd did by betraying Task Force 141 to start a Third World War, by the time Soap and Price kill him, his plan is too far along to stop, and Shepherd dies as a hero like he wanted to. Partially subverted in Modern Warfare 3, where Task Force 141 is exonerated after Price reveals Shepherd's conspiracy with Makarov. Still, World War III did break out, so Shepherd still got what he wanted in the end.
  • Press X to Die: The Big Red Button in Modern Warfare 2's "Museum" level. It will make all the people in the exhibits in the room come alive and attack you. They do warn you, though. Go up to the button and a little message will pop up on screen that tells you NOT to press the button. It's also not as clear-cut an example as usual in that it is possible to survive the encounter, though this typically requires killing off most of the exhibits before pressing the button.
  • Ranger: In Modern Warfare 2, SGT Foley, CPL Dunn, PVT Ramirez, and PFC Allen are from the 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment (1/75).
  • South Asian Terrorists: The OPFOR in Afghanistan as well as the Karachi map in multiplayer, a blatant Expy of the Taliban.
  • Stealth-Based Mission:
    • The middle part of "Cliffhanger" has you infiltrating an ultranationalist base in the midst of a blizzard, which limits the enemies' vision.
    • The first part of "Contingency" has you sneaking through a forest, avoiding or stealthily taking down search parties and attack dogs.
  • Take That!: In the Afghanistan levels, the local ANA are less than helpful, and it's up to the U.S. soldiers to do all the work. The first combat mission begins with a team of Army Rangers engaged in a pitched firefight with insurgents across a river, while the sole local ANA ally present, instead of helping out, is calmly sitting behind cover eating a candy bar. Further down one can also spot a trio of Rangers looking at a cell phone. The entire sequence may be a reference to a similar scene in Generation Kill, where the Marines were engaging an enemy force across a river, with only some of the Marines firing while the remainder stayed in cover, resting and eating while waiting to be rotated into combat or receive orders.
  • Trojan Ambulance: During the events of "No Russian", Anatoly, Makarov's getaway driver, uses an ambulance to get the surviving Inner Circle members out of Zakhaev International Airport.
  • Videogame Cruelty Potential: "No Russian". If you choose to play the level, what you do with the civilians is entirely up to you — the game never gives you a single prompt to open fire.
  • Wham Line: Combined with Wham Shot in the intro cutscene for "Wolverines", marking the point when all hell broke loose in the campaign with the surprise Russian invasion of America.
    NORAD HQ: Sierra Delta, uh... we may have a minor ACS fault here. Do you have anything on your scope?
    Air Traffic Controller: THEY'RE EVERYWHERE!
    NORAD HQ: Sierra Delta, repeat!
    Air Traffic Controller: I'm lookin' at fighter jets over I-95! How the hell did they get through?!
  • Winter Warfare: We have the third mission "Cliffhanger" which even involves ice climbing and an escape on snowmobiles. Then there are the missions in Russia itself, one of which features a segment where Price and Roach have to avoid Russian patrols in the snow-covered forests. Several multiplayer maps also feature wintry conditions.
  • Zee Rust: In the years since its release, many things in the game are not so "Modern Warfare" anymore, such as the CH-46 Sea Knight, which has since been retired by the USMC, the SCAR-L has since been retired by the U.S. Army, the UCP ACU worn by the Rangers is no longer worn, and the USS Dallas has been decommissioned.


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Alternative Title(s): Modern Warfare 2


Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2

In the mission "Loose Ends", Roach and Ghost were rescued by Shadow Company reinforcements after losing most of their squad acquiring valuable data from Makarov's compound. But upon meeting with General Shepherd, both of them ended up getting killed as Shepherd enacts his plan to eliminate Task Force 141.

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