The Modern Warfare 2 campaign offers much more than a photorealistic Amsterdam

The Modern Warfare 2 campaign offers much more than a photorealistic Amsterdam

Every few years, the Call of Duty series hits a new technical milestone – a definite moment when developers like Infinity Ward make a clean break from what came before them. Modern Warfare’s 2019 reboot was exactly that, its IW8 engine delivering a huge geometry improvement, new lighting model, updated physics, materials, and streaming system for large-scale maps. . It was a breakthrough for the series, iterated on in Vanguard last year and enhanced once more for the new Modern Warfare 2. Now dubbed IW9, Infinity Ward’s custom engine offers a host of upgrades, including stunning character rendering, enhanced water simulation and artificial intelligence. upgrades. However, it was the beautiful Amsterdam recreation of the game that grabbed the headlines – and rightly so.

Modern Warfare 2’s story gives the IW9 engine a superb workout. Each mission is truly a vehicle – a stand-alone showcase – bringing each of its new visual tricks to the forefront in a way that multiplayer modes cannot. Every set piece escalates, too, level to level: from upside-down gunfights to jumping between exploding cars, from dodging container units on a rocking tanker to swimming through waterways. ‘Amsterdam at night – there is a huge variety.

A highlight here is the Recon By Fire mission, where we see IW9 tech pushing out a sprawling misty landscape of greenery. He makes full use of his strengths. Any linearity is thrown out the window in favor of a more open design. You get to choose the dialogue, you choose which points to hit first, and you choose how to do it: stealth or all cannons blazing. It’s Call of Duty 4’s classic All Ghillied Up mission brought to a new generation, a brilliant reimagining with multiple ways to attack it. And while there are some missions that overstay their welcome – especially the top-down shooting in Close Air – more often than not, his set pieces at least hit the mark.

The Modern Warfare 2 campaign on PS5 and Xbox Series machines is getting the Digital Foundry video review treatment.

The most memorable mission – visually speaking – is the now iconic Amsterdam level. It’s a quiet story, a quiet moment in between the game’s more explosive action. As you wander through the red light district, every little detail here is almost straight from the real world: the styles of the cafe signs, the bikes flanking the canal, the road markings – even the proportions of its brick roads, the arched bridge, and the spire of the Old Church are precisely measured. There are exceptions, but the Infinity Ward team uses photogrammetry to take most real-world materials – every brick, every restaurant sign – and translate their properties into the game engine. It informs the lighting engine , while playing a huge role in delivering true-to-life results.

Perhaps most remarkable is the scale accuracy of this Amstderm level. MW2’s rendering of the streets of Amsterdam comes across as a direct, literal translation of the real thing, it’s even possible to compare the two directly – in 1:1 mode – and that’s a key part of the video embedded below. on it (and big thanks to Melhi Korkmaz for providing the actual images). Yes, there will be obvious differences: NPCs are still far from effectively capturing human behavior, while screen-space reflections are too prone to artifacts to capture how light actually reflects off bricks soaked in rain. Infinity Ward is still in cross-gen territory here – and even the PC version doesn’t benefit from the ray-traced reflections that would add so much more to the level of realism.

The campaign is a lock of nearly 60 frames per second on PS5 and Xbox Series X from start to finish. However, the Series S (shown here) is less stable, with more taxing scenes falling into 50-60fps territory with noticeable screen tearing.

Beyond Amsterdam, the first Wetwork mission introduces IW9’s new water technology, allowing you to dive into a simulated body of water, using it as a form of stealth when taking down the guards. The ripples and caustics as the water hits the bay are done well – and later missions even have you shooting guards while floating downstream in a wild setting. But again, the SSR is totally in place on console, with all the expected breaking on the highlights above.

Comparisons between the big three consoles – PS5, Series X and S – are something of a footnote at this point. Modern Warfare 2’s engine configuration retains vibrant 4K on PS5 and Series X – with infrequent drops in pixel count below the high-end target. Visually, there’s no difference between the two premium machines, making them a direct match. There’s dynamic 1440p on the Series S, with the pixel count dropping to 2250×1440 at its lowest, following the usual scaling on the horizontal axis only. Pitching the Xbox Junior against the Series X, there are only minor changes to the settings, with reductions in grass density and shadow quality. From a visual point of view, all three are very robust, however, but the more powerful machines offer more stability and better image quality.

In terms of performance, the PS5 and Series X versions both deliver a rock-solid 60fps in standard 60Hz mode, with only one part of a specific mission (a bridge collapse) causing issues on a single playback on the Series X sails smoothly on a second run on Microsoft hardware and no issues on PS5. The Series S generally performs well too, although the collapsing bridge sees a drop to 50fps, accompanied by screen tearing at the top of the screen. Generally, the Series S is less stable overall, showing near-constant tearing at the start of the Wetwork mission, for example. Performance is still good overall on the entry-level Xbox, and it’s a great way to play throughout the campaign. The only other noticeable performance difference is that the PS5 is fully v-synch, which means no tearing is present.

The campaign’s 120fps mode is hardly a lock on any of the consoles. However, the PS5 and Series X offer a good experience on a VRR screen – although the gains on the Series S over the 60Hz offering are marginal.

The optional 120Hz mode allows for up to 120fps performance, as you might expect, but may be more suitable for users with a VRR display. Clean 120fps playback is rare on any console, limited to simpler internal areas, while larger, more difficult levels tend to run as low as 80fps on the PS5 and Xbox Series X. The mighty Microsoft’s console runs marginally ahead of the PS5 in most scenes – by around 5 frames per second in total – although there are points where they trade lead position. The Series S offers limited gains in this mode, typically running 30-40fps slower than its more powerful counterpart.

Overall, Modern Warfare 2’s technological advancements are perhaps less revolutionary than the first reboot of 2019. “Iterative” is an apt description, much like Call of Duty Vanguard’s advancements, although there are here some clear highlights. The Amsterdam area forces a welcome change of pace, for one – it’s a slower moment that allows the player to soak up the technical prowess of Infinity Ward.

It’s all the more impressive bearing in mind that at a fundamental level, Modern Warfare 2 is designed to run well on the base PlayStation 4, so I can’t wait to see how the latest-gen versions hold up. – first impressions suggest noticeable reductions in detail and a noticeably less stable adherence to the 60fps target. It seems to be working though, which makes me wonder: if Infinity Ward can deliver such a beautiful cross-gen game, a new COD exclusively targeting modern hardware is an absolutely enticing proposition – and hopefully we’ll see that in the next one. major serial entry.

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