Review: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3

November 23, 2011, Author: Rik Wortman

It’s almost as if an introduction isn’t needed for this game. If you haven’t heard from the franchise before then you’re most definitely not a gamer, or at least an incredibly bad one. The possibility of being able to trawl through a video-game shelf in your local store without coming across one of the Call of Duty titles has gone so low I can’t even see the amount of numbers after the decimal points, let alone count them.

So reading this review is like entering a home you’ve already become accustomed to. Welcome in, make yourself at home. Would you like some tea? Your favourite cup is where you left it last time; shall we talk about Modern Warfare 3?

What’s your status?
I think it goes without saying that Modern Warfare has created a rather iconic storyline, with the switching teams, the dramatic twists and a modern world full of old lies and trickery. MW3 is full of the same, which can be both bad and good in a sense. It definitely sticks to the roots it knows well, but if you’re looking for something different, then you’re lucky Battlefield 3 recently came out.

The game picks up exactly where the second left off, with a frantic Price attempting to get his teammate Soap to safety after a final duel in the desert. The two have been stranded, and the only support they have is from friends who are willing to risk their necks to help them… and we haven’t even gotten to shoot anyone yet!

The state of the world is worst than ever. Russian terrorists, lead by Makarov, are attempting (and pretty much succeeding) to threaten the world to give in to demands, via the intimidation through missiles that could destroy the world; and on top of all of this, Price has lost his fisherman hat. What? He has got it? Oh, well then that’s one less problem to worry about.

You take action between several different people; Yuri, one of Nikolai’s men who has a hidden vendetta against Makarov; Frost, a member of the Delta Force; SAS soldier Burns; and a brief role as a Russian President bodyguard named Harkov. Excluding the latter, who you only control for one mission, the game regularly swaps between the three other playable characters. This is often confusing, and each of the missions they partake in are usually incredibly similar, apart from Yuri, who usually takes the stealthy undercover scenarios, leaving for very little character development.

However, character development is hardly something you want in a war zone, and as such, this plays true to its roots of warfare. The emotionless soldiers traipse across different continents and battlefields to complete whatever mission they have been assigned to. Nothing is as straight forward as it looks, with a secret background that comes to play at the worst of times. Call of Duty plays on our senseless need for drama on the battlefield, and it delivers.


Contacts, ahead!
Through this drama, Activision has created a fantastic element of gameplay. The storyline fuses nicely with the consistent battles and no punches are held. Throwing you straight into the mix, there aren’t any training sessions as per the previous titles. Modern Warfare 3 knows it’s been around the block once or twice and doesn’t intend to mess its audience about.

The levels in MW3 are fresh and keep players engaged with the mission at hand. Despite the fact all missions will consist of you being directed by someone from one spot to another, it never feels linear. The game allows for people to complete the mission as they see fit, whether they wish to expertly manoeuvre through waves of enemies with knife kills and pick off the more dangerous foes, or simply run in with your LMG and mow down enemies, treading over their bodies with glee.

One or two levels do have you follow strict rules, and this is where the game loses a few brownie points. Yuri is mainly abused by this system, in which you find yourself being told who to pick off, where to be at what time, what to blow up, what gun to use, what hairstyle to don, and what beliefs to have. This isn’t action gameplay; I understand stealth is prime, but being told how to play a game kills the player interaction. Deus Ex: HR was testimony to how allowing you to work out your own stealth tactics can work well. It’s unfortunate how MW3 has to baby you through the steps, even in the final levels.

The usual controls that we all know and love return to serve us in our duty, no differences there, and none were expected. Attempting to change how the CoD controller works now would be like attempting to re-arrange the letters on a keyboard and enforce it on everyone. Even general FPS’ take heed and mimic the button mapping of the CoD series. Recently I attempted to play a demo of Counter Strike: Global Offense, which seemed to take it upon itself to swap most, if not every, button to something we’re not accustomed to, and the results were jarring.

Thankfully MW3 doesn’t have that problem, and it’s almost as if the long time period since 2 didn’t actually occur. The smooth transition allows for players to quickly get their head back in the game and work on saving the world. Again.

It seems that whilst MW3 is much of the same, it’s a bit like Marmite. You’ll either love the similar play style, or hate it so hard you’ll start using the disc as a coaster. As such, Activision has put a large emphasis on other sections of the game in this addition to the series.

The playable addition that has been advertised throughout all of their events is Survival mode, taking on onslaughts of enemies through the multiplayer maps. Very similar to Black Ops’ Zombie mode, the gameplay sees you starting off with merely a pistol, and you’re rewarded money for fighting off enemies. You’ll spend this money on buying more guns and upgrading the ones you already have. The waves get stronger, with each wave presenting a different challenge, such as air combat, or people in Juggernaut armour. You can also tag team with a friend to go at it together.

Standard. However, slightly predictable. Activision’s attempts at solving the monotonous gameplay of Campaign and Online means they have brought in an extra game that will, eventually, become monotonous on its own the more you play. Slightly ironic.

Special Ops is still included in the mix, allowing players to complete challenges to collect up to a maximum of 48 stars. The game mode also features certain weapons that are available only in the mode. We find the same problem here, though; once it’s done, it’s done. Repetitive play purely means getting bored quicker.

Visuals established
All of this gameplay is brought together by believable and fluid environments that in all honesty left me more than a little impressed. The attention to detail in some of the maps is astounding, and most importantly believable. The London areas hit close to the heart, and the lands foreign to myself are places I can easily be drawn into.

That being said, there aren’t any differences when it comes to the enemies, all oncoming armies looking the same unless the country change is extreme from one scene to the next. Many enemies will be covered with masks and donning heavy armour wherever possible. This could be one of two reasons; to avoid allowing people to relate to faces and lead to possible psychological problems, or plain laziness preventing them from animating many different facial expressions throughout the game, through which a level of believability is lost.

To finish this constructive sandwich off, though, the one-on-one scenes between yourself and another character in the campaign are beautiful, innovative and grasping, allowing for some nice storytelling moments. There are several scenes that allow control for a few seconds in flashbacks or asides in which a lot of detail has gone into, and through this, the depth of the game is brought back.

I feel that even though it may sound biased, but I’ve always loved the overlaying, storytelling montages that are Modern Warfare’s loading screens.

Gas masks on !

Radio communications established
Continuing what may feel like a repetitive theme here (I address it at the end, stay tuned!), MW3 provides an interesting and deep experience, if warfare is your thang. Activision’s audio choices fit the bill perfectly.

The thing is, we’re expecting this by now. The fact that this is the 3rd instalment in the Modern Warfare series, as well as considering the many other instalments in Call of Duty, means that if something was amiss with the mood-setting weather sounds and intense orchestrated pieces, then something has gone incredibly wrong down the line.

Varying styles is actually where Activision drops down a notch. Between dramatic and intense, the styles of music don’t exactly push out the comfort zone. This floods from the game into menus and loading screens, and truthfully becomes monotonous after an hour of gameplay.

Watch my six
It seems that an hour of gameplay will be small-time when taking into consideration the amount of changes Activision have made to their online multiplayer modes. On the surface, it may look as if you were having the same experience as any other games, but a lot of small changes have added up to something huge, allowing gamers to experience a fine-tuned online experience.

Firstly, levelling up has received… a level up. The highest rank a person can take themselves to is 80 in MW3, and pair that with 10 prestige opportunities, a whopping 800 levels are available. While most may get bored around the second prestige, hitting the tenth one will certainly be a feat.

Each weapon now has its own personal ranking system, meaning the more you use a gun, the better gadgets, add-ons and proficiencies you unlock for it. Proficiencies being a new addition, allowing for bonuses alongside the usual, including extra range, additional aiming and the ability to add two attachments, to name a few.

Perks have had an update, featuring a few we’re used to and a few that are new, allowing us to create new combinations with weapon attachments to create a perfectly tailored class to your play style.

Multiplayer maps are looking as fly as ever, with your standard confusing maps, the ones that have so many turns you don’t understand where the bullets are coming from, and my personal favourite, Dome, Modern Warfare 3’s version of Scrapyard.

I’m probably not the best person to talk about the online. I’m happy if I can come out of a game with a positive kill/death ratio, let alone aim for anything in the double digits (apart from deaths). As such, the new Support kill streak option which allow kill streaks to continue through death is a big help in letting me play as an effective team member.

It’s a fantastic online experience, and it’s what the game focuses on the most; even the game’s box states ‘The definitive multiplayer experience returns’. Returns is the operative word that I have a problem with here.


Now for the clincher. Modern Warfare 3 is good, and there’s no denying that. Yet, Activision has supplied ‘good’ before. Modern Warfare 1 and 2 both provided good, game changing aspects to the franchise. Modern Warfare 3, on the other hand, merely supplies updates to what we’ve already grown accustomed to.

Modern Warfare 3 isn’t bad, not by a long shot, but it is a repeat of what we’ve seen in the past. We knew it was going to be good, and it hasn’t done anything to really break the barrier.

What’s most interesting is that if we were to get down to the real nitty-gritty, Modern Warfare 3 could have actually stood well on its own as a large DLC extra, updating the methods and adding extra campaign missions.

Obviously this lets people choose whether they stick with the new version or continue with the old, but the updates that have been made are genuinely good updates. The game definitely doesn’t deserve the bad press it’s been getting, or the shtick reviewers got for giving the game good comments.

As such a final verdict is hard to reach. The campaign is good, and finishes off an epic storyline, but if the multiplayer is the only thing you’re interested in, then the money may not be completely worth it.

Definitely try it out if you get the chance, and then decide on whether you want to take it further. However if you’re a big fan of the series, then there’s very little chance you’ll be disappointed.


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