Modern Warfare’s multiplayer is legendary. Combined with a first-class story mode it was a package that had a lifespan way beyond most console titles - we’re still playing it now. So how do you extend that further? Add another huge mode like Spec Ops - a series of 23 specially designed two-player co-op modes that can be tackled online or offline in split-screen.
Above: Images from the 360 version (obviously)
Some require you to kill a set number of enemies against the clock, others are wave-based like GOW’s Horde or WaW’s zombie mode, or they might be small missions that can only be completed with co-operative play - specifically, as you can revive each other if one of you gets shot up. They use locations from the single player game, the original and a few are unique to Spec Ops - like a huge New York bridge in ‘Suspension’.
Once again, IW’s confidence in their game shines through - limiting co-op to two and only two players means they can be precisely designed to offer a serious challenge to each player. There are five ranks of Spec Ops increasing in difficulty from Alpha to Echo each earning you three stars - with the aim of reaching 69 stars.
This could probably be achieved in a few days of solid play, but much of the appeal lies in beating your previous records so there’s longevity way beyond just collecting all the stars.
Rather than just list the Spec Ops modes here’s our three favourites:
Breach and Clear
This begins as a breaching mission with you and your team mate required to bust a hole into an old two-chambered shower complex in a Russian Gulag. Ripped straight out of The Rock, you’re attacked from above and the front and face a wave of Riot Shield wielding enemies who push you back and draw your fire.
It’s one of the Charlie Spec Ops and insanely difficult despite the small amount of ground you have to cover to clear the room. Much of your success depends on sticking close together for quick revival purposes - run off into the second chamber and get shot down and the game is as good as over.
Like a snapshot of the Ghilli mission you undertake with Price in the original Modern Warfare this is a timed sniper evasion challenge with both players covering open ground and taking out enemy patrols as silently as possible.
Tension is ramped up with snipers taking pot shots at you from the undergrowth and enemy patrols going beserk (in the style of Metal Gear Solid) should you get spotted by a patrol. My partner and I managed this one in 17:37:40 - with the estimated completion time being 4:30:00. We’d had beers, though.
This is the best example of co-op we played as you totally rely on each other for progression. One of the team is in a Blackhawk Helicopter and the other on foot as you try to fight through the Russians to a checkpoint in an occupied US suburb. Obviously the guy in the chopper has the elevation and fire power, with the guy on the ground picking off stragglers.
Communication is essential so that the infantryman knows when to push forward or stay in cover. It’s no easier being in the helicopter either - if your man on the ground gets shot it’s game over for both of you.