Welp. The time has come. Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3. Begun, the “modern warfare war,” has. The game itself, published by Activision and developed by Sledgehammer Games and Infinity Ward was announced earlier this year not long after Battlefield 3. After the months of hype, leaks and trailers, does it live up to its older brothers?
*If you’re here to see a comparison between this and Battlefield 3, stop reading. A separate article on that will be out shortly.*
Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3 aims to impress right from the opening credits. The highly controversial game throughout the community as well as its loyal fan base is finally here. Between the gripping campaign, classic multiplayer, and the spec ops mode, you know you’re in for a good time. While the game’s hot topic and front man has always been the multiplayer, the campaign dresses to impress and honestly stole the show for me.
“Honor the dead, fight like hell for the living.” – Anonymous. Modern Warfare 3‘s campaign is a thing of beauty. Let’s just get that on paper right now. While the Modern Warfare trilogy’s plot isn’t necessarily the best plot, it’s best at what it aims to accomplish: bring you insane, unforgettable cinematic moments. And I’ll be damned if it doesn’t deliver. This time around it’s the Russians versus essentially the rest of the world while the twisted Makarov aims to tip the scale and cause a full out World War III. Picking up right where Modern Warfare 2 left off, literally, you’re thrust between a handful of different characters, old and new. Kicking off with a worried Price escorting you as Soap to a medical table, you’re quickly thrown into a new role in the form of a Delta Squad member codenamed Frost. Frost is in the middle of a crushed humvee that is on its side in the middle of Manhattan. This would be the “Black Tuesday” level shown off to the public. New York City is under attack via the Russians and you need to make your way to Wall Street to disarm a jammer. Right off the bat the game’s graphics are some of the best ever showcased and this is a welcomed trend that continues throughout the campaign. Buildings crumble around you as missiles slam into the skyline, helicopters crashing, bullets flying. You know what you’re in for.
The game, which is meant to conclude the Modern Warfare saga, brings you around the world from the likes of an underwater submarine parked in NYC’s harbor, to Berlin, Somalia, Paris, Berlin, and many more. The game is frankly a nonstop thrill ride and I couldn’t have been more pleased with the end result. Between events such as a tank falling four stories through a parking garage to a train flipping and rolling through tunnels sideways as you chase it in a pickup truck to a plane breaking in half at 30,000 feet, your jaw will be on the ground at how cool everything is. It’s exactly what you would want out of a fitting conclusion. The game does have quite a few “breach” moments where you put the charge on doors and blow it open, shooting everybody inside in slow motion. However, I can recall two parts where I was really impressed by this. One was shooting men in slow motion while inside a rolling truck, the other being a shootout inside of said crashing commercial plane in zero gravity as it plunges to Earth. Little moments like these are why I play video games, and should be shown off to those who don’t just for a reaction. That being said, the campaign does have a few problems. My biggest problem probably being the fact that you can’t reload while sprinting. Instead, it just cuts back to your gun in its default stance, not loaded. Not only does this look bad and is just lazy, but it really takes you out of the experience. It carries over into the other modes as well. I know it has always been there, but it really needs to be changed. Another being a particular moment in the game. Remember the controversial “No Russian” level from Modern Warfare 2? They try to top it in this one and it just doesn’t work as well. It doesn’t spoil much, but basically a child, her mother and you (the father) are killed as you record your family vacation. It’s just a dumb ploy to stir up controversy. However, any press is good press. The last complaint I have with the campaign is probably the failed goal of emotion. Characters that aren’t nameless soldier 556 are indeed killed and are meant to be heavy moments, but the emotion is missing. This might be due to the fact at how much life you’ve seen lost throughout the story itself. The game doesn’t have that same sense of “…damn” twist that Modern Warfare 2 had, such as when Ghost was betrayed. You just don’t care because you want to see Makarov finally pay. The conclusion of the campaign, and the overall saga, is a strange yet satisfying one. Overall, this was probably my favorite Call of Duty campaign to date.
Ah, multiplayer. Remember that article I wrote about CoD’s multiplayer? Let’s just try to put that out of our minds, but I think you know where I stand on it. That being said, I am having fun with the multiplayer. To be fair, there are many tweaks to the formula. However, you know what you’re in for. Activision follows the “ain’t broke don’t fix” multiplayer by basically keeping everything relatively the same. Why? Because they know they can. With the addition of things such as strike packages, which builds you up a streak even if you’ve died, the game is basically an expansion pack. There are new killstreaks, such as getting juggernaut armor, ballistic vests, or a trap supply drop, which if the enemy team goes for, will kill them. You can also now level up different parts of your guns to unlock them, keeping it a bit more interesting. I do commend the amount of detail and work that went into the customization side. However, there’s almost too many things to customize for each class for a game that is basically just, “who can put more bullets into the other until one dies?” It also doesn’t help that you can’t customize during a match, something a competitor offers. Having roughly thirty seconds to edit each class between rounds is nowhere near enough. A new mode, Kill Confirmed, is pretty awesome, however. It’s essentially team deathmatch, but each soldier drops a dog tag when they die. You need to run over it to actually get a point for your team. If you don’t, his/her teammate can and deny the point. It’s definitely a good effort to add some teamwork based gameplay to Call of Duty but it still just doesn’t cut it. When I say the game has recycled elements, I mean it. Not only do they use the same “level up heavy metal double bass” unlock sounds whenever you accomplish something, some of the buildings are even recycled from the original Modern Warfare, a new controversy that Activision is catching a lot of flak for. I understand the rush to compete with EA, but don’t put a product out that isn’t finished. Overall, I enjoy the multiplayer when I’m playing by myself. Why? Because you don’t need to play with friends. It’s just mindless fun. There’s no sense of teamwork, no goal. It’s just “shoot the shit out of anybody that doesn’t have a name over their head” over and over. While this formula continues to be successful for Activision, it’s honestly a shame that a majority of people don’t realize that the game really is an expansion pack. Most of the guns are the same as previous editions, the maps, while new, don’t impress, and the overall gameplay is exactly the same as usual. No tweaks to it whatsoever. People should not be willing to shell out $60 for this, and it’s a shame they will for at least a few more years. Lone wolves and die hard loyalists will love it, but everybody else is starting to wake up. Something Activision is going to have to deal with soon enough.
Besides the multiplayer is the return of Spec Ops mode, the co-op or single player mode that involves you (or you and a buddy) doing single player-esque missions, gaining points to get the highest score on a global leaderboard. The mode is fun and something I have always enjoyed because it involves CoD’s stellar campaign mechanics, but there needs to be more content to it. A new feature to Spec Ops is Survival Mode, the franchise’s first entry in a horde mode. While it’s not an original concept at this point, it’s a hell of a lot of fun. You and another go at it against waves and waves, gaining money to unlock new things. Early on it’s weapons and ammo, then explosives, then killstreak packages such as UAVs, AC-130s etc. It’s probably the one mode of Call of Duty that requires strategy, and I am having a ton of fun with it. Hopefully with the expensive map packs will come new levels for this mode in the coming months.
Overall, Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3 is a solid entry in the franchise. For a game that combines developers, one of which being what is left of a once full, dominant dev company, it does a great job at storytelling. With Call of Duty, I and everybody knew what to expect with the multiplayer. It’s just more of the same. Pretty much an expansion pack. Probably one of the very few, I anticipated this title for its campaign. The franchise has always had absolutely legendary campaigns and this is no exception. It makes me pretty bummed that such a large majority of gamers probably will not even touch the campaign because they just want to play hours and hours of a recycled multiplayer, but to each their own. If you’re a single player person, it’s a definite pick up for it alone. The campaign will blow you away and the graphics are amazing. Like I said, it’s easily my favorite campaign thus far of the series. I was also surprised the game does not include an online pass that so many publishers seem to be adding now, but that’s probably because they will make boatloads of money through their upcoming map packs. Spec Ops and Survival also add a third leg for multiplayer gamers, providing a new route for gamers of the franchise. While the campaign gives it a high rating, it loses points for barely doing anything to the multiplayer formula. You need to play this campaign, plain and simple. The multiplayer, however, you’ve already been playing for 5 years now.