Hype is a funny thing. It can build anticipation for something, and it can also turn people against it. Uniquely, in the case of Modern Warfare 3, it’s done both. The Call of Duty series is known as one of the 800 LB gorillas of the gaming universe and is guaranteed to sell a ton of copies each time a new game releases, and Modern Warfare 3 was everywhere. At the same time, its annual release frequency, combined with the soap opera like events that ousted former Infinity Ward (the studio behind the Modern Warfare games) heads Jason West and Vince Zampella have led to some calling the series stale (in not as polite words).
After all of the hype, all of the smack talk and all of bickering, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 is more than worth the hype. Yes, the engine is beginning to show its age and yes – there are some hiccups; hell you can even make the argument that this has all been done before, but this is what it boils down too — Modern Warfare 3 is a mechanically sound, fun and fluid shooter that does a lot more right than it does wrong. Detractors or not, with its much more streamlined campaign and remarkable online play, Modern Warfare 3 is the best Call of Duty yet.
For the last ten years, the world has been gripped by fear and Modern Warfare 3 is the realization of those fears. Picking up directly after the events of Modern Warfare 2, the world has erupted into full scale warfare. Captain Price and his squad are wanted men as they chase down Makarov, the man who ignited this global conflict. It’s a campaign that will bring you from a war torn Wall Street to the streets of Paris and everywhere in between. Just like in previous games, the story shifts from character to character, location to location, even nationality to nationality, but Infinity Ward has done a great job making this a much more focused endeavor than in years past. In games like Black Ops and Modern Warfare 2 it was easy to forget where you were, what you were doing and just why you were doing it, but Modern Warfare 3 rarely loses sight of its goal, and why it’s telling the story that it is, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s all that interesting.
What results is a passable story that serves as a reason to visit some extremely large fire fights. From the previously mentioned Wall Street mission to a tense mission in the London subway and even a battle aboard the Russian President’s hijacked plane, Infinity Ward and Activision know their audience. There’s no shortage of Michael Bay style testosterone fueled moments, and they’re incredibly fun thanks to the game’s tight controls, remarkable pacing and fine tuned tweaked mechanics that feel just about as good as they ever have. I was a bit surprised at just how dumb some of the enemy AI is. I may have an unarmed vehicle firing rockets into each and every one of your fellow troops, but sure, just run on out with them, showing total disregard for your personal safety. This happens much more often than you’d think, and it seems like the developers chose this to ensure that the game keeps its high octane level throughout the experience, but it’s a highly noticeable flaw.
Regardless, Modern Warfare 3 is easily the best looking Call of Duty to date. Running at a buttery smooth 60 FPS, Modern Warfare 3 handles the majority of its frantic action and over the top spectacle with little to no damage via lag or other issues that usually effect games like this. Infinity Ward must also be commended for how they used impressive animations and these large set pieces to create a truly engaging experience. It may not compare to the visuals produced by the Frostbite engine in Battlefield 3, but the burning buildings and full scale firefights are done well enough to keep you interested and keep move the story along.
Let’s be honest though; the good majority of you aren’t here for the single player, you’re going to get the game and dive right into the multiplayer, and thankfully, its easily the best the series has offered. Of course, the core mechanics remain the same as it has in previous games, but Modern Warfare 3’s multiplayer suite is a much more streamlined and persistent experience than those that came before it. Each of the sixteen new maps are worth checking out, and the constant progression feels immensely rewarding.
Killstreaks and perks have been reworked to be more beneficial to players of all different skill levels. Yes, you can of course still unlock rewards by racking up kills, but there are now support packages that allow those who aren’t as skilled as the others. This goes a great length in making the suite more accessible for newer users, who can then go in and get as addicted as the rest of us are. Its really a great new feature that encourages cohesive teamwork between all squad members.
Also new to the experience in Modern Warfare 3 are weapon perks. Where before you would unlock weapons by leveling up, Modern Warfare 3 adds a new level of depth to the mix with the ability to level up each weapon, adding a whole new level up depth and customization to the experience. You could change the kickback, the amount of ammo it holds or a slew of other options. This means one player using the same weapon may have a completely different strategy and experience than the next. It’s a great addition and should add tons of extra hours to an already deep experience.
Special Ops also makes it return and should serve as a distraction when players want a break from the online multiplayer suite. The challenges in Special Ops are interesting enough, from disarming a bomb to taking over a plane, there’s a lot of replayability here, and even more so when you add in the new survival mode. Survival doesn’t offer anything truly innovative, as it’s pretty much the zombie mode without the undead, but it does serve as a cool new way to get together with your friends, and since it can be played offline, it’s also a great way to learn the multiplayer maps.
The Blast Factor: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 is an incredibly solid shooting experience. The campaign and the engine behind it may show its age at certain points in the game, but they are few and far between. The story is much more focused, the weapons have more weight and the stellar multiplayer suite has been fine tuned and tweaked. A game like Modern Warfare 3 will always have its detractors, but it’s their loss, they’re missing one hell of an experience.