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Kill streaks are back and reward players for causing successive enemy deaths during one life with such intricate applications as spy planes, napalm strikes, a pack of attack dogs and the RC-XD (an exploding radio-controlled vehicle).

Especially creepy among the maps is fighting in Nuketown  think the beginning of “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull”  where our hero hangs out in a fake town set up to study the effects of a nuclear bomb attack.

In addition, and better yet, let’s dive into the return of the joyous four-player cooperative mode Nazi Zombies (not seen since Call of Duty: World at War), complete with fiery hellhounds, weapons-rich mystery boxes and teleportation chambers.

Among the four maps available in the mode, the most twisted variation, called Five, finds players assuming the roles of McNamara, Fidel Castro, Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy as they survive against the undead. It’s about as twisted a scenario as one might ever find in video games to watch Vice President Nixon wielding an AK-47 and screaming, “A man is not finished when he is defeated. He is finished when he quits.”

Read all about it: DC Comics’ imprint Wildstorm Productions published a six-issue series tied to the 2009 Call of Duty game, now available in trade paperback, called Modern Warfare 2: Ghost ($17.99). It features the origins and early adventures of an elite Task Force 141 soldier, Lt. Simon “Ghost” Riley, who wears a skull design on his balaclava.

More important, grab BradyGames’ hardcover Prestige Edition Strategy Guide ($34.99) for an overview of the missions, access to game secrets and a healthy amount of intel on the multiplayer challenges, especially the maps.

Pixel-popping scale: 9.0 out of 10. The characters’ facial expressions and movements are near lifelike during the combat scenarios in particular, making “The Expendables” or “Saving Private Ryan” look like kiddie cartoons. Hollywood should shake in its collective boots when games with this much depth and visual intensity come along.

Star power: The superb voice-over cast includes Sam Worthington as Alex Mason, Gary Oldman as Sgt. Reznov, Ed Harris as Special Agent Hudson and Topher Grace as Special Agent Harris.

Unlockables and extras: The Prestige Edition includes codes to download all of the older Nazi Zombie maps, and a real Black Ops medal suitable for framing.

Better yet, owners of this edition get a 12-inch-long radio-controlled vehicle replicating the game’s RC-XD that’s strapped with fake explosives and used in the multiplayer action.

The vehicle features an onboard microphone and video camera that sends feeds back to the pistol-grip-shaped remote so viewers can hear chatter via its speaker or view action via its 2-square-inch, backlit TFT color screen. The remote also features a rotary dial as a steering wheel, high or low speed and battery strength indicators, volume control, and throttle trigger.

The worst feature of the vehicle and remote set are the required 12 AA batteries, which make the RC-XD a very cool, but potentially very costly, collectible.

What’s it worth? Although the pressure must have been crushing for Treyarch to deliver another blockbuster hit within a year of its last, it managed to execute with flying colors. A riveting solo-player campaign melds with the massively time-consuming multiplayer modes, and let’s again remember those Nazi Zombies, to give players a not-soon-to-be-forgotten, combat-rich gaming experience.

So should the average fan dump the money into the Prestige Edition of the game? Although the RC vehicle is cool, it’s a bit too pricey, so stick with the Hardened Edition ($99.99) for the extra maps. Those looking for a special holiday gift for their hard-core gaming pal, however, would be hard-pressed to find a more perfect and prestigious choice.

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