Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, developed by Infinity Ward and Sledgehammer Games for the PS3, 360, and PC (with versions on the Wii and DS), is a game that many gamers love to hate. On the other hand, it’s the game that everyone else just plain loves.
Modern Warfare 3 is polarizing, especially when you take its unofficial rivalry with Battlefield 3 into account. It’s a tough game to review because, admittedly, it’s so similar to the last set of Call of Duty games. Should I mark it down for being a numbing sequel or should I praise its adherence to a winning formula? Keep in mind that the same arguments can be said of Uncharted 3, which our reviewer gave full marks.
Everyone’s different and everyone’s a critic. If you’re here reading this review then you’re likely interested in another person’s point of view. So let me explain what makes Modern Warfare 3 tick, and perhaps you can come away with a better sense of its worth to you as an individual gamer.
It doesn’t let up on the thrills. Each firefight is a mix of shooting gallery and survival training. Scripted scenes are directed on the fly by your comrades and your perspective catches the most interesting moments as they happen. If you’re able and willing to suspend your higher mental facilities in order to experience the badassery that is Modern Warfare 3 then you will be just as entertained as you would be watching a summer blockbuster movie.
On the other hand, if you prefer to be truly in control and don’t like being led around by a captain with a giant “Follow” sticker on his back then you may be disgusted by Modern Warfare 3′s sameness.
Revenge is the name of the game, along with heaps of deception and a spattering of easily judged twists. There is a tempo to the game that made me feel clairvoyant. The linear, though well-crafted, setpieces gave away too much with their pacing.
A look into my experience:
“Shit! That was awesome!” – After killing half a dozen people in a subway setpiece.
“Oh, so this is the part where we get found out right?” – We got found out.
“Don’t tell me that I’m about to get shot in the face..” – I got shot in the face.. cinematically!
“There’s too many of them!” – During every shootout.
Art and Sound
You can keep your megatextures and fancy destructibility engines. Modern Warfare 3 will stick with the decent quality graphics that it’s known for. I say that almost sarcastically but there’s truth to it. Sledgehammer has said that they’ve improved on the engine but I saw no real difference in performance to Modern Warfare 2. That may sound like a detracting point but where Modern Warfare 3 excels is in its depiction of the kinetic action on-screen.
Buildings fall down, subway cars smash together, and airplanes rip in half during the game’s story. Everything that happens is on a large scale and is rendered smoothly at 60 fps. The trade-off here is that the textures are a bit blurry when compared to other recent releases. You’ll likely learn to overlook the rough edges with all of the glass and debris flying everywhere. The game is optimized for fast-paced action and it delivers on that front.
It’s not the sharpest knife in the drawer but it can still draw blood.
As for sound, there doesn’t seem to have been a change from the last set of games. Weapons are as powerful as ever. Silenced guns are still a whisper compared to their unchained brothers. The AK rifle sounds different to me but I like it just the same.
I enjoy Soap and Captain Price’s voice acting but Makarov is annoying. The radio chatter and firefight yells are muddied but clear at the same time. I imagine real combat to be a blanket of noise and this game captures the noise part quite perfectly. It may have sounded like it but I don’t mean that in a bad way.
Call of Duty may have been innovative at one point but now it’s a series that prides itself on delivery and execution. Each scripted sequence is smooth and each multiplayer engagement is unabashedly fun.
The single player campaign thrusts you into a pivotal role where you’ll find yourself single-handedly taking down 80% of the opposing forces. The scale of the game is huge. Each car chase, helicopter crash and bombing run is more fantastic and exciting than the last. It would give me a headache if I didn’t take the odd break here or there.
The gameplay sections are very reminiscent of Modern Warfare 2. You’ll get bossed around into manning different guns and holding out for the eventual rescue. That or you’ll be the one who spearheads the rescue. It’s all very exciting. If past Call of Duty games were badass simulators then this game is a badass reaffirmer.
Everything explodes and everyone dies. That’s the gist of it.
I was excited to find out about the co-operative play in Modern Warfare 3. I enjoyed the Modern Warfare 2 Spec Ops missions but wasn’t a fan of Black Ops’ Zombies mode. I was especially excited to try out the Survival variant of Spec Ops.
Sadly, though, it got old rather quick. I like the variations of the enemy waves and the large assortment of loadouts but it’s a chore that fails to capture my interest until most of the equipment gets unlocked. The best part of Survival? You can leisurely learn the multiplayer maps this way.
Then there’s the meat of the game and where everyone ends up spending their weekends, the much famed multiplayer. The structure of the multiplayer persists from the last few Call of Duty games; you spawn then sprint around and run into all sorts of 1v1 situations before finally getting shot in the back.
The killstreaks system has transformed into a pointstreak system, which feels like it enables the use of killstreaks more often. I say that because the Support Strike Package (my package of choice) doesn’t have its streak counter reset by death. I can comfortably assume that I will be able to use my EMP once per game because of this. That is, unless I get shut down.
The new maps feel like half-recycled templates of previous maps. The layouts are different, though, and they mostly afford a variety of loadouts. Most maps have winding corridors and close quarters sections for the shotgun and SMG users sprinkled with medium range arenas for riflemen and sniping areas for ghillie suit snipers.
Multiplayer is glorious. As expected, it employs a carrot on the stick method of keeping players interested as well as catering to all sorts of customization junkies out there. It can be played in short bursts or in long expanses of time. The equipment is fun to use and it really succeeds in making everyone feel like a winner.
Have you been dying since the first second of the round? Don’t worry, your next kill will be worth extra points! Oh and you move faster. Have you been killing everyone you see and taking their weapons to kill their friends? Well damn! You get an accolade and complete today’s daily challenge.
The appeal here is that it’s frantic and just plain fun. Everyone wins at some point, everyone levels up, and everyone feels like a reaffirmed badass.
You may hear games journalists speak about some sequels as the same old thing but with better graphics. Well, this is the same old thing with the same old graphics. Hard to imagine, huh? My fears of a Modern Warfare 2.5 weren’t assuaged. This is the continuation of a game that never ends.
Yet I extracted more fun out of each gaming session than I have out of many of the other games I’ve reviewed lately. It’s a double-edged sword. Repetitive but enthralling. Polished but megalomaniacal.
Modern Warfare 3 is a guilty pleasure that many gamers will carry. But is it so bad to have this much fun? That rests on you and whether you’re alright with playing through a blockbuster game that doesn’t hold back and doesn’t mind being a shallow spectacle.