Editor’s note: has surpassed $1 billion in sales, according t its publisher Activision Blizzard and could very well surpass “Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas” as the best-selling video game ever. Why is the game such a hit? Local Tech Wire offers a review by freelance writer and veteran gamer Ryan Smith.

By Ryan Smith, special to Local Tech Wire

RALEIGH, N.C. – As most gamers know, Call of Duty’s sixth installment, Modern Warfare 2, has hit shelves recently, with high hopes and expectations everywhere. Does it deliver? Mostly.

Infinity Ward’s 2007 release Call of Duty 4: Modern warfare, was an unexpected and monumental game release. Infinity Ward finally gave the tired World War II shooter a rest and revitalized not only their own series, but first person shooters in general.

Therefore it naturally garners quite a bit of expectation in its direct sequel: Modern Warfare 2. What was so great about Modern Warfare 1?

Three major things: Cinematic and engaging single player campaign mode, highly addictive and repayable multiplayer modes, and an engine that runs smoothly and beautifully on both consoles and PC’s.

So let’s see how Modern Warfare 2 stacks up to its predecessor.

The single player campaign is once again incredibly cinematic and almost breathtaking. However a few problems arise in the new storyline that weren’t present in the original title. Firstly, the cinematic presentation of the story (at many times taking control away from the character in order to drive the story via cut scene) becomes a bit more irritating this time around. Many times the cut scenes force the player into helpless and impossible situations that end up detracting from the experience rather than adding to it.

Many of the plot twists happen in this manner, and ultimately it can drop the immersion right out of the story. If the cut scene takes the player through situations that are more fun to watch instead of play, then it adds to the experience. However if it merely is a catalyst to repeatedly stop the player’s character from succeeding, it becomes tedious.

The campaign also suffers from a number of ambiguous near-plot holes, and clocks in at less than 5 hours on a normal play through. However the gorgeous graphics that outclass even Modern Warfare 1, combined with nonstop action, a great cast of characters (with superior voice acting by Lance Henriksen, Keith David and others) and fantastic gameplay (far less grenade spamming than in previous Call of Duty games) ultimately make up for the noticeable flaws in it’s single player story.

Most of the attention Modern Warfare 1 received was for its supberb multiplayer and Modern Warfare 2 definitely approached this fact with zeal. MW2’s multiplayer is better than ever. The perk system that struggled to find balance in the first title has received a massive overhaul here.

Most of the old perks have been fixed (no more martyrdom spam!) with the addition of multiple new perks to take it to the enemy in style. It requires large kill (or even death) streaks to really bring out the perks this time around, which helps balance things out. Also with the addition of new kits, equipment and weapons to go along with the 17 total online game modes, the entertainment value of the multiplayer content really shines (not to mention the fact there are hundreds of thousands of ready opponents to take on at any time).

Also for those who choose to tackle the online mode, there is a big help to Xbox Live’s Call of Duty matchmaking is the addition of a host migration feature, which prevents a match from ending upon the host player’s leaving. Instead the game automatically finds a new host and continues the match after a 5 second delay.

The major new addition to MW2 is the addition of a gameplay mode called Spec Ops, which allows 1 or 2 players playing cooperatively to take no a large number of missions that range from stealth objectives, wave survival, even vehicle battle. As fun and challenging as Spec Ops may be, it has one enormous flaw. There is no matchmaking for online play. Therefore the only ways to play are to play split screen on one television or to manually invite a friend to the game.

If Spec Ops was easily tackled by one player, this wouldn’t be an issue, however many of the modes are far too difficult to take down solo, while some actually require two players to even start the mission. This makes it a bit disappointing ultimately since it can be difficult to sit down and play a few spec ops missions, you have to plan out ahead with other players to really get anywhere with the missions.

To Summarize: The game is nonstop action, has spectacular gameplay, beautiful graphics, fantastic fast-paced multiplayer, and even has a bunch of side missions to do solo or with a friend (no matchmaking for this though). It’s a bit weak on the offline side, but hundreds of hours of quality gameplay await those who wish to challenge their fellow players.

Rating: 4/5 stars. ****

About the author: Ryan Smith is a longtime gamer and freelance writer who lives in Raleigh, N.C. A graduate of East Carolina University with a degree in business and marketing, he has written in the past for Local Tech Wire and GameArgus.com. He currently plays Xbox 360 and PC as well as Nintendo DS. He can be reached via e-mail (ryannicksmith@gmail.com)