#10 London Underground sequence in Modern Warfare 3
By the time that MW3 hit, you kind of expected a grand set piece at every turn of the game, and sure enough, MW3 seems to have one in every mission. The London Underground chase sequence struck a chord with many of us European gamers, seeing a setting we’re familiar with being blasted apart.
#9 Taking out Nazi’s in CoD 3’s forest mission
This mission is expertly constructed as it moves from a stealthy sniping start with the relatively serene forest setting contrasting nicely with the acts of violence being committed. The fighting then intensifies as you move into trenches and more open spaces, ultimately climaxing as you man a mortar and reign down death on the remaining axis forces.
#8 The plane hijacking in MW3
When we first caught a glimpse of the zero gravity shooting in the trailers for MW3 we couldn’t wait to take out some pesky hijackers. While playing the level it is reminiscent of both Air Force One (the movie) as you’re protecting the President, albeit the Russian commander in chief, as well as the epilogue from the first CoD 4. Good times, and shooting bad guys in zero-g is fun.
#7 Reclaiming the White House in MW2
Sure, the reason for the Russian invasion of the US in MW2 is nonsensical, but it provided for some cool and fun game play scenarios. The Army Rangers’ fight to retake one of America’s most famous locations was an utter thrill to play for the first time. When you finally reach the roof at the end everything comes together nicely, and you’re left feeling like you just played through a Michael Bay money shot.
#6 The prison break out in Black Ops
Who doesn’t love a good prison break? This early mission in Black Ops was a rush from the moment you whack the first prison guard over the head, to the very end where you escape by motorbike. A high Octane mission that set the tone for the rest of the campaign nicely.
#5 Call of Duty 2 beach landing
There have been other WWII shooters that recreate some of the famous beach landings in france, but the battle of Pointe du Hoc in CoD 2 was exceptionally executed, and exhibited more raw emotion and sense of dread, in place of the over-the-top fantastical action set pieces of later games. Even though most of the impactful scenes of this level are at the start where you’re more or less a spectator, it still manages to draw the player in.
#4 All Ghillied Up
Arguably one of, if not THE, best missions in the entire CoD series; the Captain Price flashback mission from CoD 4 Modern Warfare is just about as far removed from the typical CoD experience that you can get. Moving stealthily, synchronizing sniper shots, laying still in the tall grass as tanks and enemy patrols roll by, and ultimately taking the long-distance shot at Zakhaev, was one hell of a “whoa!” moment for most of us when we first played it. Since then the series has tried to recreate this mission without ever coming close to achieveing the same level of suspense and game play satisfaction. One of my favorite missions ever.
#3 Modern Warfare nuke sequence
You all knew this one was going to be in here. When I first played this part I remember thinking: “wtf..? am I dead? No wait I can crawl.. the hell?” and then you made it out of the downed helicopter only to see a towering mushroom-cloud in the distance, cue the chills.
#2 Modern Warfare 2 airport massacre
Some may disagree, but this mission is just too ballsy to leave off a list like this. Sure it was probably put in the game to out-do the nuke sequence from CoD 4, and in my opinion it did, and to grab some headlines in a post 911 world where anything that has to do with planes and terrorists is taboo. Mowing down innocent people was nothing new to games, but this was different to the pedestrian slaughter of games like GTA. It kind of felt wrong, as it rightfully should, and it was great.
#1 Crossing the Volga river in Call of Duty’s Stalingrad mission
Yes! Let’s not forget about the beast that gave birth to one of the world’s best selling video game franchises; the original Call of Duty! Infinity Ward’s first CoD offering had many great moments, and crossing the Volga river in the first Russian mission not only sets the scene for the remainder of the level, but for the shock factor that would later come to define much of the series. The boat ride across the river instilled confusion and terror into the players, and left you feeling helpless, and then proceeding to throw you into the assault on Stalingrad without a frickin’ rifle. Yes, Call of Duty sure has changed into more of an arcade’y hollywood’esque portrayal of war, but let’s not forget where it came from.