The Holidays would not be complete without the release of a Call of Duty game. In fact, the economy may even have suffered without it. Fortunately for all of us Modern Warfare 3 will fill your heart with the familiar sounds of gunfire and explosions. For better or worse MW3 is extremely similar to past titles in the series. Some will find this comforting while others will be left wanting more innovation.
The single player story in the Modern Warfare series is pretty baffling. From my recollection there is some sort of world war happening between a group of “ultra-nationalists.” The story still doesn’t make a lot of sense in the current installment. To make matters worse, the narrative jumps around to even more characters than the previous titles. Luckily, I didn’t find the story to be a hindrance to the action, and the action is the whole reason why I play Modern Warfare.
The gameplay for MW3 is just as fast-paced as its predecessors and is still a wild and crazy ride. It should be said that MW3 still manages to surprise the player by throwing some awesome set pieces. There are so many levels that have so much going on that it’s hard not to just stop and stare at the insanity. One of the early missions has you riding a boat through a naval battle outside of New York City. It is extremely impressive and fun to watch, but sometimes it feels like it’s only just that: watching. This has always been an issue with the Call of Duty franchise. If you stay on the critical path and do everything correctly the game looks amazing. If you don’t you’ll most likely die immediately. This made it feel more like an action movie rather than an action video game. It’s not that this style of gameplay isn’t fun – I just wish I didn’t feel like I was being pushed down a corridor filled with explosions.
The multiplayer is still really great. There have been a few tweaks here and there but it still feels like Call of Duty. You outfit your soldier with different weapons and gear and jump into one of the many multiplayer modes. The old favorites are still around, like team deathmatch, domination (where you fight to control three flags) and Search and Destroy. The newest mode is one of the best changes to MW3. Kill Confirmed played like team deathmatch but when you die you drop your dog tags and the only way to score points is to pick up your victim’s dog tags. You can pick up your team’s tags also, which creates a fun level of strategy for defense.
The Kill-Streak system has been broadened and in my opinion, vastly improved. You still have the option to use the old system of “get several kills in a row to earn Kill-Streaks” but you can choose to pick a different system of rewards. The Support package allows you to keep your streak through death but the rewards are not as deadly. You will get things like UAVs or a stack of ballistic vests that give your teammates some extra defense. The other new package is called The Specialist that as your kill streak increases you gain more perks added to your soldier. This means that if you stay alive long enough you can have multiple perks all working together making you some sort of super soldier. The added depth to the Kill-Streak system is a great change and one that should make the game more fun for those who are not as good at the game.
However, it is hard not to think that MW3 should be better. It had a huge budget and a massive team working on it. I am a fan of the phrase “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” but something has to change in this franchise before it is ruined. The sameness of each title robs any specialness that may have been in MW3, which actually made the single player boring at times. The multiplayer is still great, but even that is only slightly changed. For those who are new to the series it will still be great, but to those who have played every game will be met with a sense of déjà vu. There is definitely enough value contained within that I would suggest that everyone should at least play it and experience some of the insanity. If you didn’t like any of the previous games I would stay away, unless you think ramping a boat over a sinking aircraft carrier sounds awesome, because that happens.
This review is based on a retail copy of the Xbox 360 version of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 provided by the reviewer. It is also available for the PS3 and PC.