Review: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3

Review: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3

Sometimes the hype behind a gaming product reaches such feverous levels, millions of gamers around the globe simply cannot wait to get their hands on the final product. Call of Duty is a franchise that knows this very well – every year they outsell themselves, and more and more people jump on the COD bandwagon on an annual basis. This year, Modern Warfare 3 is upon us and has such hype behind it, it technically should be the best game ever; the question is, does MW3 deliver on the promises made or is it simply a carbon copy of Modern Warfare 2?

The answer, unfortunately, is that this game is too much like its predecessor for its own good. I understand that a game shouldn’t stray too far from a formula that works, but this title simply feels like Modern Warfare 2 with slightly more polished graphics, some new guns and a few new gadgets to play around with. There’s simply no innovation here – this is Call of Duty like you’ve been playing it for years, and love it or hate it, you have to start to realize that the COD formula is rapidly becoming something that is repetitive and – dare I say it – distinctly bland.

That’s not to say Modern Warfare 3 is entirely a bad game. The storyline, in particular, has a few moments that will shock and wow you as you hurtle through the various warzones of World War 3, including some fantastic set-pieces involving notable French landmarks which I shan’t spoil if you are yet to delve into the storyline component.   These moments, however, serve as the backdrop to the classic Call of Duty formula of advancing generally along a strictly linear route, taking cover behind randomly placed items and mowing down wave after wave of enemies that come from nowhere in particular without warning. This set-up means, that while the storyline can generally be quite interesting at times, gameplay wise it just feels like the same game I’ve been playing since I played Call of Duty 1 years ago.

 

The levels themselves, however, are generally very well presented. You really get the sense that this is a global conflict as the story flits from character to character in different locations, but, to be honest, a lot of the storyline has massive gaping plot holes that don’t make much sense. It’s all very well to have WW3 start and everyone be fighting for survival, but when the war is resolved about six missions later it’s very hard to feel as if this was truly the massive conflict it was meant to be. The villains’ motivations are also never really truly fleshed out – ideally I’d want to know more about him and why exactly he wants to destroy the world outside of the brief things we’ve seen before, otherwise it just seems like he’s an angry Russian chap with a penchant for nuclear weaponry.

A lot of the missions in the game also feel like distinctly recycled things we’ve already seen before dumped into a new setting. Now we all know its fun to pilot an AC-130, but it’s been done before and it just doesn’t have the wow factor, even if it is in Paris instead of in a field. Similarly, stealth sections, predator drone sections and the endless soldiers that spawn forth to say hello to your bullets all come together to create a distinctly familiar experience that isn’t quite repetitive enough to be boring, but straddles the line quite precariously between ‘You know what this is the same damn thing’ and ‘OOO, that giant building just exploded, how exciting!’

This all leads me to my single biggest gripe about Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3. After a night of solid gameplay, clocking in at just over four hours, I found myself staring at the credits screen after blasting my way through the single player campaign. The worst part is, I wasn’t rushing through it in the slightest. Instead I was searching for the lost intel items, taking my time and enjoying the set-pieces that were thrown into the mix.  Now, I know for a lot of people that COD’s storyline is merely a pointless, throwaway distraction from the multiplayer suite, but to include something so short in a game where a lot of people still do like to play the storyline makes me feel distinctly cheated, particularly when this game retails for £45 here in the UK.

 

It really is a crying shame, because, with a lengthier campaign, more conflicts and more interesting character development, Modern Warfare 3’s campaign really could have been hard-hitting, emotionally driven and exciting. The result we got, however, feels like a rush-job that is resolved far too quickly, has little in the way of character development outside of a bit of crying over a death at which I felt no emotion about, and ultimately feels like you’re not getting enough for your hard-earned moolah.

Of course, there’s always the chance that you are one of the many, many, COD fans who probably don’t even realise that the single player campaign in a COD game even exists anymore.  The average COD player will immediately jump into the multiplayer suite without a moment’s hesitation, eager to stay up for hours on end and gradually forget what sunlight is like as you level up, unlock new guns and customize your character. As such, practically everyone who was interested in buying this game will have been tingling with anticipation about the multiplayer, wondering just what Infinity Ward and Sledgehammer have up their sleeves this year (besides lots of cash) that will innovate the multiplayer and keep us enthralled for the next year.

Unfortunately however, the multiplayer suite of MW3 practically reeks of ‘Hang on, haven’t I done all this before?’. The gameplay remains entirely unchanged from Modern Warfare 2 – you’ll still shoot your friends and enemies using run-and-gun gameplay (or camping, if you prefer), you’ll level up your character, you’ll get new guns, you’ll get killstreaks, and you’ll steadily get hairier and smellier as you forget to wash and invest all your time and effort into the endless multiplayer games that you can join at the mere touch of a button.

 

See, while the multiplayer, for me, remains totally stagnant and does nothing to innovate, there’s still a hook there. I can still have good fun gunning down people, but I can’t play as long as I used to because there’s simply not enough new content for me to feel like it’s truly worth my time. Sure, there’s new guns, new killstreaks and all that stuff, but it simply feels like multiplayer I’ve been playing for far too long and it hasn’t changed a damn bit.  You could, of course, argue that why should Call of Duty actively pursue a new style of play when this remains so popular but, let’s face it everyone, will you still be happy playing this in a few years’ time? If so, it’s really never going to change; you’ll end up paying for and playing the same game with a few, minor, new features year in, year out. Personally it’s really starting to wear a little thin on me – it really is impossible not to feel as if the COD franchise is in dire need of a reboot sometime soon.

One of the appreciated new features is the weapon experience system. In MW3, a weapon levels up over time just like your character, meaning you have to unlock the various accessories etc for that particular weapon before you can use them. Gone are the COD points from Black Ops, and things are simply unlocked over time as you shoot people, grab objectives and generally try to avoid being shot in the face/buttocks yourself.

There’s also been much fuss about the new ‘Kill Confirmed’ mode, which is brand new for MW3. In this mode, you’re basically playing a team deathmatch except extra points are up for grabs for stealing giant floating dog tags that appear over the bullet-ridden corpse of your recently bereaved enemy. While it is indeed nice to see some form of a new game mode present in MW3, it really is quite hard to shake the feeling that this is merely a deathmatch with more shiny items to collect. For me, it does little to innovate.

As is tradition, whenever Infinity Ward and Sledgehammer take over development of COD, zombies goes out, Spec Ops comes in. Returning from MW2, this mode challenges you and your chums through various different objectives, utilizing the traditional COD gameplay of generally shooting anything that moves. Playing on Veteran difficulty is, of course, ridiculously difficult and almost impossible to complete so, given that there is a wide variety of challenges, Spec Ops should give you some sliver of enjoyment outside of multiplayer/the short story mode. Again, however, this feels merely like an extension of MW2 rather than an expansion, as there’s not a whole lot new to see here either.

Inside Spec Ops is also the new Survival Mode, which is basically like Gears of War’s Horde mode minus the collection of ugly creatures. Instead you and your band of comrades in arms are challenged with lasting for as long as you can against increasingly difficult enemies. It’s a fun little distraction and it’s good to see COD doing something new, but I imagine this will be mostly overlooked by most in favour of the COD multiplayer suite.

The Verdict

Now I feel like I’ve generally been a negative nancy during the course of this review, but let me re-iterate that MW3 is not a bad game. It’s a decent game, nothing more, nothing less. The hype surrounding the COD franchise has far, far superseded what the actual game is like, which overall is a short affair if you’re playing the single player, and an experience of more of the same from the multiplayer suite. If you love that kind of thing and don’t want anything particularly new, Modern Warfare 3 is probably for you – if you’re waiting, however, for COD to evolve and give us something new, you’re going to be bitterly disappointed with Modern Warfare 3, which could have been something so much greater than the final build turned out to be.

Score: 7.2/10

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