Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3

Oh yes, it’s that time of year again. The huddled masses standing around the Gamestop entrance at midnight only want one thing…Call of Duty. I really doubt they care or know that Infinity Ward’s staff was gutted after Modern Warfare 3, the box stills says Call of Duty. So grab a case of Mountain Dew and lets pull an all-nighter with this years Call of Duty to find out just where this series has found itself. This review is based on the PC version of the game.

Single Player

Everyone must know by now exactly what they are getting themselves into with this series. Modern Warfare 3 is every bit as Call of Duty as the previous entries in the series, so don’t go in expecting a revolution. It’s a totally competent shooter. The mechanics have been defined and redefined to the point of insanity. The campaign is what you’d expect (a reoccurring theme in my review). It picks up right MW2, with Price and Soap on the run from everyone and Makarov still at large while mother Russia and the US duke it out on American soil.

Like every Call of Duty game, you will control multiple characters as you progress through a 4-5 hour campaign packed with more explosions then Micheal Bay could shake a stick at. I think the number of helicopters shot down in this game might reach triple digits, a franchise first I’m sure. Throw in some sneaking/sniper missions, a dash of controversial cut-scenes, a gratuitous amount of turret segments and voila. You’re going to shoot a ton of Russians, some guys who aren’t Russians and probably have a perfectly fine time doing so. But maybe like me, you just don’t feel the wow factor anymore. So that’s where we stand. It was fun in COD4 and has become less so every iteration after that leading up to now. Waiting at doors for the guy with “follow” written above his head to come knock them down is just about the lamest feeling in gaming. How can I be impressed with a game when I literally recognized reused building from COD4, a game that came out four years ago. In no way is it a bad game, but it’s certainly an old game filled with tired mechanics.

It must be a depressing place inside the brainstorming sessions for the Call of Duty games, seeing as how the franchise is creatively dead. If I have to crawl my way out of another downed helicopter while my screen blurs and my characters breathes heavily, I think I might scream. And this isn’t a “once a game” type thing, that type of scenario literally happens at least a dozen times in this game. It’s a mechanic from Call of Duty 2 that remains rampant and unchanged. I think it’s a truly fitting way to start the game actually. It let me know right off that bat that nothing has changed and I’m in for the same exact experience as last fall. I’d like to be a fly on the wall of the design meetings for this game. I bet it gets pretty quiet after the ideas for turret segments and planting c4 are already written down on the whiteboard. It’s moment of high drama in the conference room as the team appears to be all out of ideas until Johnson stands and says “Could we put guys with RPG’s in those windows?”. Heads nod and pens click. Suddenly Susan speaks up “We could do a slow-motion breach and clear section!”. Uproarious applause and the creative ball is once again rolling.

I’ll bet the guy who suggested a new game engine was boo’d out of the room, and this game really needs it. The franchise has screeched it’s way to a stop when it comes to visual improvement. I know I could pass this game off as Modern Warfare 2 to an unsuspecting 3rd party. I bet I could squeeze in some COD4 footage as well and it would go unnoticed. It’s the same engine as Call of Duty 2, and unlike the Source Engine or Unreal 3, this one seems to have hit its ceiling pretty early on. It’s rather depressing to compare Modern Warfare 3’s visuals with something like a Crysis 2 or Battlefield 3. It’s cliche to say, but they make Call of Duty look like a last generation game.

Co-Op

My favorite part of this game by far. While still limited to 2 people (LAME), Spec Ops makes its return. They have added some level progression to the co-op as well as a new survival mode. Basically it’s the Modern Warfare version of Gears Horde Mode. Increasingly difficult enemies come and try to kill you, and you do your best to kill them first. Earn money by making kills to spend on weapon upgrades and such. Call in some help from the air, set up turrets…basically do everything to stay alive. It’s a real shame this is still limited to 2 people, because it might be a ton more fun with a larger group.

The Spec Ops Missions are also some of the best parts of this game. Little bite sized missions, they strip away a lot of the annoying parts of the campaign in favor of the good stuff. Hop online with a friend or go at them yourself. This missions sometimes have interesting connections to the singleplayer story, often putting you in the other shoes for some of the games intense sections. A nice addition,

Multiplayer

This is probably what you bought the game for. COD4 invented it, MW2 refined it….and MW3 rearranged it. Oh sure, they added a few new perks and kill streaks, but really it’s almost exactly like the last game. Now you also earn points on your weapons and that’s how you unlock new sights and attachments, but that’s not a new feature. That’s a different way of handling an old feature. Opening the box of crackers from the bottom is not a new and creative way of opening cracker boxes, nor does it change the payoff.

So I set up your class just the way I like it. Picking my specific perks and kill streaks…boy, this all seems awfully familiar. Ohh, now I can choose to be a support class whose streak isn’t stopped by dying, OOHH well then it’s a brand new game with brand new gameplay! Please. But people eat it up and spend hours and hours running about the same small maps planting claymores and hiding in corners protecting kill streaks. No, the environment still isn’t destructible so every match pretty much plays the exact way and vehicles are still a no show. Tactics be damned this game is still just a lone-wolf sprint fest. The high point of tactics in Call of Duty is multiple people all laying prone by the same flag to capture it faster. That’s where it pretty much ends. Either run around and shoot people in the back, or camp in a spot and shoot the guys who are running around in the back. Level up to 50 or 60 of whatever this years caps is and prestige if you want, go ahead. Predator missiles, care packages..it’s all here folks. It was fun 4 years ago, but after playing a lot of Battlefield 3…it feels ancient. I’m sure tons of people will still play endless hours of MW3’s mutliplayer and love every second of it, but I’ve grown tired of it. After playing it for the review, I don’t ever see myself going back for more.

Nothing new to see here.

Final Thoughts

I’ve heard the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. By that definition I am completely out of my mind. I play Call of Duty games expecting a new experience, what a nutter I must be. You would also have to insane to expect anything different. They don’t have any pressure to change anything. Most reviewers seem to be caught in some sort of trance where they throw 9’s and 10’s at anything with Call of Duty in the title. I don’t get it, especially when the same reviewers crucify the Madden franchise for it’s minimal improvements. It’s not an awful game by any standard and it sells like crack, so why bother? People go so ga-ga over the multiplayer, they will subscribe to a service called Elite to get gameplay stats, a feature that respectable games include for free. Now that’s insane.

[starreview tpl=46 size=’30’]

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