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Special Ops is the two player co-op mode. Modern Warfare 2 does not give players the ability to play through the campaign in co-op, but instead provides challenging individual missions.

The mode is set up in a hierarchical fashion. Players first start with only the five missions available from the Alpha group. As players complete missions, they acquire up to three stars per mission. After unlocking a certain amount of stars, the Bravo set of missions opens up, and so forth.

To acquire a star, you must complete a mission on one of the three difficulties: Regular, Hardened, or Veteran (in some missions the difficulty cannot be chosen; the harder objectives represents the difficulty). The maximum number of stars that can be earned in a mission depends on the minimum difficulty that the players have chosen. Therefore, if you mix a veteran player with a regular player, they can both only earn one star.

At the end of a successful mission, the number of stars earned appears. Golden stars represent those that you just earned. If the star is silver, it means you've already earned it (i.e. if you beat the mission on regular and then veteran, you will have one silver star and two gold stars). The color of the stars does not affect the total number you have earned.

As players reach higher groupings of missions, they will have to replay some of the older missions on a higher difficulty to earn the required number of stars for the final three groupings.

Required stars per grouping
  • Bravo: 4
  • Charlie: 8
  • Delta: 20
  • Echo: 40