Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Multiplayer Preview

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Infinity Ward tonight unveiled the multiplayer mode for Modern Warfare 2 at a Microsoft-sponsored LA event.

The presentation began with a rundown on the Modern Warfare 2 Limited Edition Xbox 360 console, but quickly segued to a demonstration of several of the new multiplayer features making an appearance in the sequel. Customizable killstreaks were the first order of the day. Users can now choose which killstreaks they want enabled, with a list of unlockable streaks available in a pre-game menu. Killstreaks bonuses included the UAV at 3 kills, a care package at 4 kills--which either includes ammo or a random killstreak bonus--and the beastly AC-130 gunship at 11 kills.

Also new to the series are death streaks, or bonuses earned after dying several times in a row. These included "copycat"--which grants you the class and weapons of the player that killed you after four consecutive deaths--and a health boost on respawn after three deaths.

Finally, Infinity Ward reps detailed the new callsign system, which lets players choose their own callsigns and rank emblems. The system essentially allows you to mix and match various military titles and icons at will. While the initial unlocks will be obvious upgrades, later emblems will be more specialized, allowing for further ID customization.

I also got my hands on the beta version of multiplayer mode. Judging from a few rounds of familiar team deathmatch and bomb defusal, Modern Warfare 2 is a very attractive, refined version of the original Modern Warfare.

Beyond obvious graphical upgrades, there are a lot of little touches that Infinity Ward is throwing in. When a solider gets shot, you feel it--whether the victim is yourself or another player, a kill often results in a very satisfying "ping" of a helmet or a dramatic flail of the arms. Everything is a little bit punchier and polished, right down to minor audio cues and grenade/weapon physics.

As for the logistics of Modern Warfare 2 multiplayer, expect an experience similar to the first title, with a few refinements. Players can now see their multiplayer group leaders highlighted in-game on the minimap, while console host migration should seamlessly transition a group from one host to another in the event of a connection problem. On the PC, the server-based browser will remain, and LAN support has been confirmed. Unfortunately, Infinity Ward also told us that a public beta is no longer a possibility.

Of course, while we only got a quick look at a few modes and maps (which can be seen in the above screenshots), much is still being kept under wraps. In the meantime, look out for my interview with Infinity Ward's Robert Bowling, who shed a bit more light on the game after my play session.

Modern Warfare 2 hits PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 on November 10.