I’ve just seen Modern Warfare 2 up close and personal – and sorry guys but in the immortal words of David Tua, it’s “O for awesome”.

Mark Rubin, Jason West and Vince Zampella, from developers Infinity Ward, ran a group of about six of us through one of the game’s levels, Cliffhanger. Unfortunately, there was no hands-on so I couldn’t experience its awesomeness for myself.
But seeing the game up so close, rather than stretched over a huge monitor at a press conference, makes the game even more impressive, and the visuals are going to make a graphics whore just cry tears of joy. Sweet, sweet tears of joy.

Want details? As “Roach” Sanderson and “Soap” McTavish climb an icy cliff face on their way to assault a Russian supply depot and airfield, the ice cracks and splinters around the tip of your ice pick when you dig it into the fragile ice as you climb up. Everything just looks pristine and visually much more impressive.

Zampella said that Warfare 2 was graphically well ahead of Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, with much more detailed and far more impressive effects.

“We want to take gamers to the next level with this,” Jason West, “We want everyone to play this and say that was kick ass.”

By the looks of things you can play it stealthy, especially in Cliffhanger level, which provides the cover of a snow storm and a handy heartbeat tracker so you can spot enemies before they see you – or go in guns blazing (but you won’t survive that, says Zampella). Being stealthy seems much more fun.

But best point for me during the session? Seeing McTavish and Sanderson creep through a hallway leading into a vehicle depot when a lone sentry suddenly appears in front of some lockers at the end. Instantly, McTavish charges the guy, smashes him into the lockers, bending the doors, then throws him to the ground, punches him and finishes him off with his knife. Close combat has never looked so good.

Zampella wouldn’t talk about the multiplayer aspects – with Rubin only admitting that “It’s awesome” – but if it’s half as good as [i]Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare[/i, it darn well will be kick ass.

I can’t wait for this one. Is it too early to say Game of the Year already?