You may not like the fact, but Call of Duty is, right now, the biggest and the most successful franchise in the video games industry. The occasional Mario and Pokemon and Monster Hunter often come our way and take us by storm, but the fact that we get a Call of Duty game every year, and each and every one of them sells like crazy tells us just how much people want to play it.
But with the hate the series got at the time Modern Warfare 2 was released and ever after since then, it was hard to believe that Activision or Infinity Ward could cope with the pressure. And with the losses the dev has suffered, I expected Modern Warfare 3 to be a huge disappointing. What I got instead simply blew my mind.
From the very get go, Modern Warfare 3’s campaign makes it clear what the stakes are this time around- this is an all out global war, the third World War, and people are going to die. The game wastes no time in running you through the typical tutorial of a CoD game, it puts you right into the heat of action. And the only moment when the campaign lets go of your attention is when it ends. I can safely say that MW3’s campaign is one of the best in the series, right up there with the likes of Modern Warfare and Call of Duty 2, and much, much better than the confused mess that was Modern Warfare 2.
People loved MW’s campaign because of its incredible story and characters and intense firefights, while MW2, despite having a messed up and overly dramatic storyline, had some unforgettable set pieces. MW3 is the perfect cross between the two, providing a storyline that no one will soon forget, some really good characters, moments that will leave you with a heavy heart and absolutely stunning set pieces and shootouts. Twists in the campaign will leave you with a heavy heart, with some very likeable characters meeting their deaths, and one specific rather gruesome scene in London will drive home the fact that no one is safe in WW3.
What makes this campaign so good, partly, is the character of Captain Price. He’s always been a badass all throughout Modern Warfare 1 and 2, but in Modern Warfare 3 he simply stole the show, overshadowing every other character in the game. And he wasn’t just a single minded soldier with nothing in mind but the good of the world. No, there’s much more to Price than that, as we have already seen in the last two MW games. He’s compassionate, caring deeply for his comrades; his anger towards Makarov and lust for revenge against him overpowers almost all his other senses. And yet, at the same time, Price always does what is right. Maybe that is what makes his character so likable. Other characters, like some new ones, including Grinch and Sandman and Yuri, and of course our good old Soap MacTavish, are also really good characters, and you build an emotional bond with them as you play through the game.
The campaign isn’t how good it is just because of the characters, though. The set pieces and the excellent pacing are the real stars of the single player experience. You will see landmarks being destroyed, cities being leveled, tanks being blown to bits, building crumbling before your very own eyes- it was as if Infinity Ward and Sledgehammer had a crazy amount of things to implement in their mind, and they did all they could, cramming each and every set piece imaginable into one single campaign. Each and every minute of each and every mission in MW3 is absolutely stunning, and the game never lets go of your attention, always keeping you on the edge of your seats. You do often get an overwhelming feeling of Deja Vu, because the structure of the game is hugely similar to past CoD games, and the campaign is the shortest in the series yet, lasting a little over 4 and a half hours at Normal difficulty, but the intense firefights and excellent, cinematic set pieces far outweigh any such feeling.
However, Call of Duty has never really been as much about its single player as it has been about the multiplayer experience. With Black Ops, Treyarch refined the online experience to no extent, adding several new tweaks and removing almost all the glitches and bugs that could hamper the experience. With Modern Warfare 3, Call of Duty takes it one step forward. MW3 removes all the needless additions from Black Ops, brings back several rather good features, balances the existing modes and introduces several new modes.
While Team Deathmatch is still where it’s at in terms of the number of hours you’ll spend playing online, modes like Capture the Flag and Search and Destroy, and new twists at many of the existing modes, like Team Defender and Kill Confirmed, will eat up a lot of you time as well. The multiplayer’s a deep, complex and rewarding experience as always. The better you play, the more you kill your enemies, the more you assist your team in any way, the more experience points you gain, leveling up all the while. And it’s not just you who levels up- the weapons you use level up as well.
As you level up, you unlock weapons, perks, projectiles, outfits, secondary weapons and more, each helping you gain the edge over you opposition in the battlefield. Perks have been balanced as well this time, and you won’t have any overpowered perks this time around, like you did in Black Ops.
There are basically three kinds of perks in MW3- Assault, Support and Special. The Assault perks are your typical perks which help your team in an offensive way, and are reset once you die. The Support perks are more tactical in their nature, like dropping a decoy support package to fool your enemies, or jamming your enemies’ radars and such, and they carry over even after you die. And Special perks are, well, special, and are probably the best of the three. This gives the multiplayer a different kind of variety and players finally get to choose exactly what kind of perks they want to use.
Deathstreaks, the opposite of kill streaks, also give players who die a lot and are new to the CoD MP experience a much needed advantage. This makes dying much less punishing than before, and actually makes the experience that much more balanced. The maps are also very well designed, and some like Mission, Village, Fallen and Bootleg are extremely well designed.
However, the multiplayer does have several issues- Matchmaking sucks in MW3. The game only groups you with players of your own region. Not only does it take a considerable amount of time to find a good game sometimes, it can also be a huge disadvantage and a game breaker for those who live in not-so-prosperous nations in the gaming industry. Then there’s the fact that despite the several changes and tweaks, the multiplayer experience is still very similar to previous iterations of the series.
And that brings us to the third major aspect of the game- the co-op modes. The famous Spec Ops mode from Modern Warfare 2 returns, and it’s just as good and addictive as ever. You gain separate experience points in the co-op modes and upgrade in a fashion similar to the multiplayer. You gain perks, upgrades and unlocks, and it adds a whole new twist to both, Spec Ops and Survivor.
Ah, Survivor. While we’ve seen this mode before in several games in the form of Horde (Gears of War) and Firefight (Halo), it’s still damn fun. Waves upon waves of enemies crash upon you, starting with dumbasses who stand there awkwardly while you shoot them in the nuts, and going on to throw enemies such as entire choppers and armies of super soldiers at you. It’s nothing we haven’t seen before, but it’s still extremely addictive and enjoyable.
The visuals in Modern Warfare 3 are, for the most part, very impressive. The war ravaged environments are very well constructed, and backgrounds have scope so large that few games in the genre can match. However, this is no Uncharted or Crysis. The Infinity Ward engine- the engine this game is built on- was first developed in 2005 for Call of Duty 2, and each game since has used the same engine. Not only is it a bit infuriating to think that the devs are being extremely lazy, the engine is also starting to show its age, and it’s pretty clear that it won’t last much longer now.
Ultimately, Modern Warfare 3 is the best game in Infinity Ward’s MW series, better even than Call of Duty 4. It may not be as revolutionary or innovative as the latter, but it’s still the most polished, refined and enjoyable experience in the trilogy, and maybe even in the series. The game does have several issues- the engine is showing its age now and the developers need to start working on a new one immediately, and the game is also very formulaic, very similar to previous iterations of CoD- but with an excellent campaign, addictive multiplayer and, of course, Captain Price’s badassery to boot, this is one game all shooter fans should buy, CoD fanboys or no.
Second Opinion By Bojeeva:
Love it or loathe it, there’s no escaping the Call of Duty phenomenon. The annual update is back – this time from the stable of Infinity Ward and Sledgehammer Games – and it’s typically understated!
The single player mission is full of the usual set pieces; huge explosions, helicopters smashing into the ground, buildings being destroyed, grenades raining down upon you… all of which keeps you on the very edge of your seat for every second of your six hour playthrough. But it’s nice that the action moves into recognizable cities too with Paris, London and New York among those given a virtual makeover.
Sure, it’s short and formulaic – and the graphics are starting to look a little dated what with the release of the likes of Battlefield 3, RAGE and more recently The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim – but it’s still great fun to play. The missions are typically confusing and daft, and appearance-wise, you could be forgiven for thinking you were playing some DLC for Modern Warfare 2. Easy difficulty is painfully simple whereas Veteran is just as frustrating as before but hugely satisfying when you struggle on to each checkpoint. When all is said an done there is still plenty of reason to replay, fuelled by the nicely conceived achievements such as shooting terrorists before they hit the ground during some severe turbulence on a plane, to taking out all the helicopters with only grenades from remote-controlled tank in another mission. Then there’s the usual intel that you need to hunt down if you’re after that illusive 1000G or Platinum trophy.
Of course, we all know that the solo campaign is not what die hard fans are yearning for; it’s playing with friends that will keep us all occupied long after the escapades of Soap and Price are forgotten.
Within just a few hours of release, some of the multiplayer leaderboards had already accrued ludicrously high rankings and were familiar with every inch of each map. For newbies, war is tough and it will take some time to gain the required skills to compete. However, as mentioned in the main review, the addition of Deathstreaks gives the less proficient shooters a helping hand and, as a result, far more enjoyable.
The various maps and innovative new game modes besides the usual Team Deathmatch and Free For All options certainly add to the immense longevity of the title and I’ll wager this will dominate your lives until next year’s release. Also the revamped strike packages – Assault, Support and Specialist – as well as the huge array of weapons and challenges make it more worthwhile than ever to spend some time in the Barracks honing the set up for your various classes before a match. There’s absolutely loads to unlock from guns and callsigns to emblems and perks.
There are plenty of tweaks and new additions too. Where Black Ops had the remote control buggy, I personally like the inclusion of a small helicopter that you can remotely fly around the map and tag enemies, or the ability to control the sentry guns and take out opposing forces. Things like this add some variety to each match and are good fun.
Much to this reviewer’s delight, the Special Ops co-op mode makes a very welcome return too, allowing you to take on a series of increasingly tough challenges that need to be completed in a set timeframe or to certain criteria. Meet the targets and you’re awarded stars – simple. One word of warning though, I clawed my way to 1000G on Modern Warfare 2 after completing the Special Ops and they look easy in comparison to these new ones – even with a friend onboard!
The new Survival mode is akin to the Gears of War Horde matches, where repelling wave after wave of attackers is the objective. What makes this a little more fun is the addition of various terminals around each level where the money accrued for kills and completing each stage can be spent on various upgrades, ammunition or special weapons such as Predator missiles, claymores or sentry guns. It adds a really nice tactical feel to the mode, with the added pressure of having to make purchases or get into position before the short timer ticks down and the next wave appears.
You’re initially lulled into a false sense of security in the first few waves as you take out footsoldiers who stupidly run into your line of fire like lemmings, but things get tough very quickly and before long you’ll have attack helicopters, floods of soldiers and those almost immortal juggernauts lumbering towards you. It’s hellishly difficult with a friend and almost impossible on your own. Nevertheless, it will make a refreshing change in six month’s time to just booting up the disc to play the online multiplayer maps.
If you’re still reading this then it’s safe to assume you’re not one of the critics of the series and are open to what amounts to some mindless shooting entertainment. The script and missions in the campaign won’t really throw up many major surprises beyond some nice set pieces, but it remains an enjoyable way to spend a few hours – and it’s good to see Soap and the moustachioed Price again. Multiplayer remains great fun and as the first few days have shown, the lobbies are absolutely heaving with players ready to take up the fight. With Special Ops and Survival mode thrown in for good measure, this is a fantastic package and the hype is entirely justified. Buy it.
This game was reviewed on the Xbox 360.
Excellent single player campaign with a great story and unexpected twists; Some heart wrenching scenes; Epic set pieces; Guns feel weighty and authentic; World trotting adventure takes you to practically every major city on Earth; Captain Price is an absolute badass; Multiplayer is addictive and engaging; Leveling up and upgrading your character and weapons sucks you into the online experience; Multiplayer has been polished greatly, and is almost as balanced as should be; Lots of variety in terms of modes and weapons; Kill Confirmed is a unique take on Team Deathmatch; Spec Ops and Survivor are great; Great soundtrack; Lots of replay value
IW Engine is starting to shows its age; Matchmaking issues; Very formulaic; Very short campaign