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aka: 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. Not to be confused with Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II, a second game of the rebooted Modern Warfare series released in October 2022.


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.
  • 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.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: Going guns akimbo is cool but it takes away the players ability to aim down their sights, making accurate shots beyond point blank range extremely difficult.
  • Actor Allusion: Keith David who previously voiced The Arbiter in Halo voices Sergeant Foley, who's comparable to Halo's Sergeant Johnson, in terms of appearance, personality, and role within the story as a Sergeant Rock leading a squad of other battle hardened soldiers against seemingly impossible odds during an invasion on the home front. This vibe is especially felt when Foley confidently exclaims to a distraught Dunn that they can "still kick some ass" after the EMP from a Intercontinental Ballistic Missile affects Washington DC.
  • 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: Makarov's "Remember, no Russian" line is supposed to mean "Don't speak Russian so the authorities think we're Americans." The Japanese version translated it as "Kill them all, they are Russians", which makes little sense considering how Makarov himself is a Russian Ultranationalist.
  • 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 and Japanese versions, however, turn 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. 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.
  • Chromosome Casting: Not a single female character appears in the entire game, not counting unnamed civilians mowed down in "No Russian" and "Takedown" and a single civilian corpse in "Exodus". Other Call of Duty games generally have The Smurfette Principle, with a more gender-diverse ensemble in games made after the late 10's.
  • 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", any variant of "We're spotted! Take them out.", "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 while sitting in the back of a truck; in Modern Warfare 2, the player is doing the chasing by piloting 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 (a pistol thrown to him by Price in Modern Warfare 1, a knife the bad guy stabbed him with 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, he serves the same role as the Number Two, and his name is "Ghost". As in dead. Both even die by being shot in the head with a Hand Cannon.
    • 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 vain 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 like with his addition to "One Shot, One Kill" in CoD4's remaster, 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", Roach, Soap, and their unnamed driver are trailing a van that's meant to lead them to the right-hand associate of an arms dealer they're searching for. The van stops and several men get out and approach the right-hand man, who suddenly draws a gun and shoots them. He then shoots at the car Roach and Soap are in, killing the driver of their vehicle, who slumps forward. The honking is audible as they 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 every other game since. 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: Snake Eater (for killing an unconscious Ocelot after a cutscene in the prologue), and also similar to an achievement in Modern Warfare: Remastered for killing Makarov during the Pripyat mission.
  • 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.
  • False Flag Operation: "No Russian" centers around Makarov and his squad gunning down civilians inside a Russian airport and pinning the attack on the United States. To achieve this, they use American weapons, speak in English the whole time, and leave behind the body of a CIA agent who was among their ranks.
  • 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.
  • Heavily Armored Mook: Juggernauts make their first appearance in the Call of Duty series in Modern Warfare 2's arcade-like "Spec Ops" challenge mode, wielding LMGs and wearing bomb suits that let them soak several dozen rounds of assault rifle fire before going down. In the 2020 remaster, the Juggernaut's bomb suit is replaced with a heavier variant of the armor worn by the Gulag shield troopers, and only one appears in the entire game (in the Museum post-credits level) due to the removal of Spec Ops mode along with Multiplayer.
  • Hold the Line:
    • "Wolverines!" 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.
  • Lightning Bruiser: Juggernauts sprint a bit slower than regular troops, but they still move at a sprint (unlike later games where they use The Slow Walk), and will relentlessly charge your position until they get close enough to mow you down with their machineguns.
  • 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.
  • Model Museum: The game features a literal museum for this purpose. It's initially shown in the end credits and afterwards becomes a playable level, showing off a selection of characters and vehicles in dioramas representing the game's various locations. Approaching the character dioramas makes them play out a short animated routine. Just don't press the red button at the front desk.
  • 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.
  • Our Lawyers Advised This Trope: The 2020 remaster is prefaced by a disclaimer informing the viewer that the game is a faithful recreation of a 2009 game and reflects the norms of that time period, most likely as an acknowledgement of the massive cultural shift that took place in the middle of the 2010s (the 2016 remaster of the first game notably has no such disclaimer), and to preemptively explain any questions that might come up such as the complete absence of female soldiers, the somewhat more optimistic view of The War on Terror (which would ultimately come to be regarded by many as a defeat for America by the time they pulled out of Afghanistan in 2021), to emphasize that the U.S. vs Russia storyline was fictional and not a commentary on any current political events, and possibly to address Russian criticisms linking the original game to the 2011 Domodedovo International Airport massacre.
  • 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 the "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.
  • Press X to Not Die:
    • At the beginning of "Takedown" you have to press the Crouch button to avoid getting shot by Rojas' right-hand man.
    • The second half of "Endgame" features a cutscene battle against General Shepherd. At first, you have to pass a few quicktime prompts to crawl towards his dropped revolver, after which you have to do some rapid button pressing to have Soap pull a knife from his chest and throw it at Shepherd.
  • Prison Level: "The Gulag" has Task Force 141 storming the titular Russian prison in search of a man known simply as Prisoner 627, later revealed to be a captive Price, and get him out. Roach, Soap, and Price successfully escape via air extaction, with the US Navy and Air Force destroying the Gulag in the process.
  • Ranger: The American campaign(s) focus on the 1st Battalion's 75th Ranger Regiment. You play as PFC Allen for three missions (albeit one as a CIA deep-cover operative instead of a Ranger) before the rest put you in the shoes of PVT Ramirez; SGT Foley and CPL Dunn are also constant companions throughout the campaign.
  • Rewatch Bonus: The music which plays throughout the first few minutes of "Wolverines!" is incredibly tragic and mournful, which—on first viewing—really serves to play up the tragic nature of seeing Virginia being destroyed by the invading Russians. However, this same piece of music plays much later in the game—when Shepherd callously murders Ghost and Roach in "Loose Ends" so as to prevent them finding out that he was collaborating with Makarov to purposefully set off the whole war between Russia and America. Given that Shepherd's goal was to drum up a war filled with patriots, the choice to use the same music in "Wolverines!" as in "Loose Ends" takes on a new meaning: it's not tragic merely because the East Coast is being destroyed—it's tragic because of how pointless it all is; how these terrified soldiers—fighting and dying for their country—are callously seen as nothing more than disposable pawns in the eyes of their leader—just like Ghost and Roach.
  • Shield-Bearing Mook: Heavy assault troops with riot shields appear leading the FSB counter-terrorists in "No Russian", in the shower room during the prison break in "The Gulag", and amongst the Shadow Company soldiers in "Just Like Old Times".
  • Shot for Shot Remake: The 2020 recreation is called a "Remaster", but is more of a complete remake, given that, like the Call of Duty 4 remaster before it, it was completely rebuilt from the ground up with new code and assets but remaining completely faithful to the original's story and gameplay. Improvements include modern graphics, support for modern features such as 4k and ultrawide resolutions, gameplay improvements such as the addition of (optional) hit markers and the ability to examine your held weapons, and the addition of certain subtle details tying into the plot of later games in the series, such as Yuri appearing behind you in "No Russian".
  • 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 (and your own, but you have a heartbeat sensor to track them through it).
    • 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. Notably this is completely absent from the 2020 remaster; the ANA soldier is blindfiring and needs a Ranger to tell him when to duck, but is at least contributing, and the Rangers in the back are shown to be mapping coordinates on a satphone.
  • 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, particularly in that the CH-46 Sea Knight still seen in a few instances was fully retired in 2015, the year before when the game takes place. The Universal Camouflage Pattern worn by the Rangers has also been retired as of 2019, and the USS Dallas was decommissioned in 2018.

 
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Alternative Title(s): Modern Warfare 2

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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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