Playing through a decent chunk of the sequel's single-player game reveals that much of this has now changed. Your squad strikes a nice balance in gunfights: they take out enough enemies to earn their keep but they always need you to drive the battle home. Enemies still attempt to flank you with a pleasant display of intelligence but they no longer seem to be receiving information regarding your exact position from The Amazing Criswell.
On top of that the original game's health system has been rethought, with a more straightforward recharging shield replacing the charmingly gruesome cure-all syringe in the chest, which was fiddly and a bit annoying, and meant that less co-ordinated players (hello!) often burst out from cover wielding a nice round of Benelyn rather than an SMG.
The section we're let loose on seems to be pulled from fairly early on in the campaign. We're in the Andes, or thereabouts, raiding a village to liberate a CIA contact who has information on that pesky super-weapon. Kicking off with some close-quarters scrapping through a cluster of jungle shacks, the battle quickly rattles from one gunfight to the next.
Sure, the setting's not astonishing by any means, and the Frostbite engine is handsome rather than genuinely staggering - particularly when it comes to depicting lush terrain. But no one beats DICE at in-game audio and the separate encounters slot together nicely.
Actually, make that really nicely. If one of the biggest issues shooters have to deal with at the moment is how to balance the overall staging of missions - allowing for sandbox approaches at the price of direction, or burying you in cinematics and corridors until you feel like you're a supporting member of the cast rather than the star - DICE seems to have got very close to the sweet spot.
Inevitably, moving up into the village involves triggering one set of enemies after the next, and the odd shock move - a tank busting through a wall, a gun-truck turning up in a courtyard - is handled rather creakily. But the destructible environments together with smart placement of the clusters of enemies always seems to offer enough options to keep you busy.
Choosing whether to hide and flank or shuffle back and draw the baddies forwards makes moving between one fight and the next extremely satisfying. For all its brilliance, Modern Warfare 2 could often be so married to its headlong momentum that, if you weren't on your game, you could almost feel the design yanking you gracelessly into the next set-piece before you'd understood the last. DICE has managed to create a real sense that it's you pushing things forward - mainly by pitting you against dug-in enemies and forcing you to use every trick you can think of to get past them.