Fall 2011 has been an incredible season for gaming. Big name titles like Batman: Arkham City, Uncharted 3, and Skyrim have given previously successful games like Call of Duty a run for their money. While Modern Warfare 3 shows success once again in the financial side of the gaming industry, does it have any room to compete with the much more immersive games that have released this year? And by itself, does it out-perform its predecessors and define what a Call of Duty game truly should be?
The biggest disappointment I found when I opened up MW3 and popped in the disc, was its immediate similarity to MW2, the previous title in the Modern Warfare Series. The game runs on the EXACT SAME engine, with no improvements graphically or mechanically. With this said, the game quickly received criticism, being referred to as “MW2.5”, or “the new MW2 map pack.” While those statements are a bit harsh, the game doesn’t do much to defend itself from the attacks. Like Modern Warfare 2, you will load up a menu with 3 options: Special Ops, Campaign, and Multiplayer.
Upon starting the campaign, you will be given a very brief relapse of what happened in the previous two games (it won’t really bring you up to speed if you haven’t played them), and you are systematically thrown back into the fight, as a U.S operative named Frost. MW3’s campaign, as you might have guessed, is a direct continuation from MW2’s plot. In this installment, Makarov, the trilogy’s main antagonist, has single-handedly started WW3. You will not be playing as Frost for much of the game, as you will be bouncing back and forth between U.S, Europe, and even Africa, as different characters. With that said, you will also find out the fate of Captain Price and Soap, now wanted men thanks to the events of Modern Warfare 2.
The campaign is an explosive, fast-paced adventure that you should be familiar with if you’ve been following the series. I have found that the plot is just as satisfying as previous titles, and the ending is a good close to an exciting trilogy. While it doesn’t stack up to other stories from games I’ve experienced this year, the campaign is what I consider the best part of the MW3. The rest? Not so much.
Special Ops is the only part of the game that I saw any real improvement. Special Ops features a brand new mode this time around, called Survival, which is more or less a MW replacement of Nazi Zombies. You start off with a pistol, and must survive the onslaught of endless waves of enemies, by getting money from the kills and purchasing better equipment to defend yourself. Survival mode is fairly entertaining, and you can even grab a friend to join in too. I’m not the biggest fan of endless waves, but I can definitely see that with the right type of person this mode will satisfy for hours upon end. Both Survival and the familiar mission mode of Special Ops have a global leaderboard now, that compares your scores in these modes with everyone that plays Modern Warfare 3. You can also Find Matches with other players, simply by hitting the “Find Match” button, similar to the multiplayer.
Speaking of multiplayer, I hope you brought your camping gear, because MW3 offers some of the best campgrounds ever seen in the series. Seriously speaking, MW3’s multiplayer did a lot of things to fix the problems of MW2, but in the process created even more. A lot of the problem with MW2 was that the perks were very unbalanced, thus giving people extreme and cheap advantages if they make the right classes. Noob tubing, quick scoping, and scary fast commando pro players started running the scene, and it made the experience daunting, if not frustrating. MW3 killed two of those three birds, but let out an entire cage of pigeons in the process.
The number 1 problem I had with the multiplayer was the quickness of death. I have NEVER experienced a multiplayer where you die so fast, and this alone creates a plethora of problems. Because you die so fast, you can almost never escape a situation if someone has you in their sights. Why is this a problem? Because people, being normal human beings, are quite prone to finding the easiest ways to go about things. Quickness of death makes it easy to camp in a corner and wait for someone to run in your sights, because they really can’t do anything about it.
This ruins the experience for those who are trying to play the game like it’s supposed to be played. They added Support/Assault classes for a reason, to allow players to have an option to support their team instead of just mindless killing. But how can they go about this when they have to watch every single corner for an asshole who can’t just play the game like normal? Truth is, they can’t.
Another problem is the very poor collection of maps. These maps are by far the worst batch of recycled buildings ever put out by the series, because there are way too many openings and paths that people can take. Why is that bad? Because of what I stated earlier. Too many entry ways lead to less tactics and more hoping and praying, as well as camping.
Of course, it’s not just the many pathways, and illegitimate structure. The respawns certainly do not help at all. Now I haven’t played all the modes, but I think I’ve played enough of them to get the jist of the terrible respawn system. Like previous COD games, they never quite get a good respawn system, that spawns you in substantial and plausible locations that aren’t too far or too close to the enemy. However, this multiplayer seems to go a step backwards, as Black Ops was definitely a bit more fair. I can’t tell you the number of times I killed a guy, and then 10 seconds later, the same guy comes from behind me and kills me. It’s just awful, and makes me rethink playing the game.
Of course, a Call of Duty multiplayer can’t be a multiplayer without the insane amount of replay value. While I extremely dislike the multiplayer, I still for some reason, found myself playing it. I couldn’t play it for more than a half hour at a time, but the addictiveness remains. MW3 has probably the longest road to capping out your level, offering 80 levels of experience, and then 15 prestieges to climb. I find this amount of leveling to be ridiculous and unnecessary, especially considering the series busts out a new game every year. Activision even announced the next Call of Duty game one day after MW3 was released. That’s real incentive to play your multiplayer brah.
Many people were hoping that Modern Warfare 3 would be the game to revitalize the series as a whole, after the mediocrity of Black Ops and Modern Warfare 2. If you ask me, I think that this game puts the series in even worse of a position than before. We are only 5 days past the release of the game, and it already feels unbalanced. And let’s face it. The multiplayer is what the reputation of Call of Duty is based upon. When people think Call of Duty, they think of it’s multiplayer.
Despite all these things worth mentioning, Call of Duty was a financial success. It set a record for most sales in the first 24 hours, beating the previous record holder MW2 (no surprise), by 1.8 million sales. Is this enough to call it a great game? No, not in the slightest.
Call of Duty has an enormous fanbase, and their devotion resembles that of a cult. No matter how often they are pouring out $60 for a new Call of Duty game, they’ll do it almost out of a need to keep up with the series. To put it blatantly honest, the game is just a shadow compared to the many titles that have come out this year (Battlefield 3 and Modern Warfare 3 are two different styles, so I do not compare them).
If you are any type of Call of Duty player, and are reading this review, you most likely already have the game, and are simply reading to reassure yourself. However, I will not be reassuring; the game is not worth the $60 price tag. I split the purchase with my brother, and still feel pretty ripped off. Call of Duty remains a party game at best, or for those who have a plethora of online friends that enjoy mediocrity. If you are thinking of picking this game up, I suggest you look towards the better games of this year, as they will give you a better experience than a game that is forced to duplicate itself every year without the slightest thought of innovation.