Review: Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 3
The annually returning franchise returns and delivers one of its best entries yet.
- Worth The Time?Yes, competitive multiplayer and Special Ops will keep you entertained for many months to come.
- Things LovedThe cinematic and explosive campaign, more emotional attachment to lead characters, satisfying conclusion to trilogy, fantastic set pieces, highly addictive and thoroughly rewarding online multiplayer, fun Spec Ops missions, extremely enjoyable Survival mode, persistent ranking in Spec Ops, ranking system rewards your style of play, massive arsenal of weapons and killstreaks, enough changes to keep the game feeling like a sequel more than an expansion and dedicated servers.
- Things HatedStory is simple and predictable, the final encounter is extremely disappointing, there's occasional freezing glitches in Spec Ops, and visuals are sub-par compared to its competition.
- RecommendationModern Warfare 3 continues the franchise and adds a few little improvements here and there. Spec Ops has received the most TLC, with the online multiplayer going through more of a refinement rather than a full makeover. So, if Call of Duty never did it for you in the past, you're probably not going to enjoy Modern Warfare 3 either. That said, if you've bought each game annually and strive to reach every prestige, then rejoice, because Modern Warfare 3 will provide huge amounts of explosive action for many months to come. That is, until next year, when the inevitable next entry arrives.
- Name: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3
- Genre: First-Person Shooter
- Players: 1-4
- Multiplayer: Competitve Online Multiplayer, 2-player Co-Op
- Platforms: Xbox 360, PS3, Wii and PC
- Developer: Infinity Ward / Sledgehammer Games
- Publisher: Activision
- Price: R 399.95 (PC), R 559.00 (Xbox 360 and PS3), R 429.95 (Wii)
- Reviewed On: PC and PS3
Another year, another Call of Duty. The saying is becoming old, people are slowly losing interest, and the flame wars rage on in the distance. This year was extra special, with Battlefield 3 entering the building, and many hoping that it would de-throne the champion. I’m hesitant to say that Modern Warfare 3 enters as the underdog, especially with all the sceptics and haters circling around it. Thankfully, all of this seems to be like water on a duck’s back, as Modern Warfare 3 shows gamers across the world why it is one of the best-selling games of all time, and why millions and millions of people flock to stores for their copy annually. Modern Warfare 3 delivers a surprisingly compelling campaign, a more robust multiplayer, and an extremely addictive Spec Ops mode. This is one of the finest entries the franchise has ever seen.
Modern Warfare 3 continues directly after Modern Warfare 2, once again putting you hot on the trail of Russian terrorist Makarov, as he attempts to continue manipulating the world into World War 3. You will once again take control of various soldiers that play crucial roles in vital battles around the world. Price and Soap take it upon themselves to bring Makarov to justice, while simultaneously being wanted by the government they once served. At the same time, a soldier named Frost is working hard on the front lines, busy defending threats in New York, Paris, Hamburg and more. It is not entirely original, in fact it’s not original at all, but thankfully it’s easy to follow. Modern Warfare 2’s story was such a muddled mess that it is actually refreshing to have a story that focuses more on the action packed set pieces, rather than concern itself with an overcomplicated story that it is simply not able to pull off. The game provides satisfying closure to many loose ends, however it was utterly infuriating that the culmination of three titles ended in an overly extended quick time event.
Having returning characters such as Soap and Price also gives you a bit of an emotional attachment to the characters, which is good since Modern Warfare’s story mainly deals with loss and the costs of war. Civilians will be slaughtered in front of you, you’ll watch helplessly as prisoners are executed and friends will be lost along the way. It is not the most emotionally engaging campaign you will experience, but I was surprised at how much I cared for the other characters this time around. Set pieces are what make the cinematic experience come to life, and Modern Warfare is chock-full with these. With the exception of the boring fake stealth missions, each and every set piece excites you again and again, regardless of the fact that you may have experienced most of them before. Gunning enemies down with the power of an AC-130 and piloting a near indestructible drone reminds you why it is sometimes better to go all out, rather than attempting to deliver a completely realistic experience.
Modern Warfare 3 also takes you to various contrasting locales, putting you on the deck of a submarine in New York one second, and in the wild of Africa the next. European cities have been faithfully recreated, and it brought a smile to my face to see entire suburbs realistically represented, especially since I have visited most of them myself. You’ll also get a sense of familiarity as you walk down the streets of Paris, especially if you recently played Battlefield 3, since both look almost identical. Sadly, Modern Warfare 3 isn’t able to pull off the same amount of detail that its competitor does. While Infinity Ward have certainly pushed the engine to its limit, it still doesn’t stand up to many games on the market. Animations are kept to a minimum, textures are often muddy, and water and fire effects are not up to par. Hopefully, the next Call of Duty entry will use a much needed new engine, as the age is certainly starting to show. There is a silver lining though, as the game runs at a silky smooth 60 frames per second across all platforms, and is extremely well optimised for the PC. Sound design is also a bit of a hit or miss situation, with some weapons sounding as powerful as they should, while silenced weapons still sound like massive pea shooters.
When you’re finished with the six hour campaign, there is still tons of content to sort though, which should push the life span of this title well past even next year’s possible entry. First is the return of the highly addictive Spec Ops mode, which first thrilled us back in Modern Warfare 2. The same principles are at work here, offering 2-players a chance to tackle some short but explosive missions that make up alternative conflicts within the story. You may take the role of Russian soldiers in certain conflicts, giving you a different view of the battlefield and even coming face to face with some campaign figures. What is new, however, is the addition of a persistent levelling system within Spec Ops, which is completely separate to your Multiplayer rank. As you level up, you’ll unlock weapons, killstreaks and perks to use in Spec Ops newest and easily most addictive mode: Survival.
Think of Survival as the Zombies mode from Treyarch’s Call of Duty entries, just without the undead creatures of the night. Survival mode will allow you to hop into any of the available multiplayer maps, and face endless waves of soldiers, helicopters, dogs and ever-annoying juggernauts. While you mow down the hordes of increasingly difficult troops, you’ll earn cash to spend on weapon purchase, upgrades, killstreaks, perks and more. You’ll also receive multipliers for killing enemies quickly, as well as round specific challenges such as rampages and headshots in order to earn a little more money. Around the map you’ll find three hotspots where you are able to purchase weapons, equipment and killstreaks with money earned. However, there is a catch.
You are only able to purchase items you have unlocked from levelling up in the Spec Ops mode, giving you an incentive to play round after round. Thankfully, this doesn’t mean you’ll be restricted to pistols in your first few rounds, as you are able to pick up weapons dropped by fallen enemies and use their own ordinance against them. On PC, I did encounter a frequent glitch where the game would momentarily freeze for both players, however voice chat still functioned properly, meaning the issue was not network related. It also is a bit disappointing that Spec Ops is restricted to two players only, meaning that the four player frantic fun you can experience in Black Ops’ Zombie mode cannot be found here.
It’s no secret that the strongest aspect of a Call of Duty title is its intense and highly rewarding competitive multiplayer component. Modern Warfare 3 is no exception to this standard. However, don’t expect anything really drastically different, as Infinity Ward have stuck closely to the winning formula, tweaking smaller novelties here and there. If you disliked the fast, frantic, claustrophobic atmosphere of previous Call of Duty multiplayers, then Modern Warfare 3 is not going to change your perspective at all. The easiest way to describe it is as a safe card, with all the regular match types reappearing, the same style of cramped and small maps, and a similar rewarding levelling system. That’s not to say that there haven’t been any changes at all. First up would have to be a new match type called Kill Confirmed, which forces players to not only kill opposing team members, but also pick up floating dog tags in order to confirm the kill and score for the team. This mode is supposed to encourage more teamwork than your average team deathmatch, and occasionally leads to exciting matches that aren’t always about the total number of kills. Another new mode is Team Defender, which is similar to Capture the Flag, only this time your objective to hold onto the flag for as long as possible while racking up points. Again, not an entirely revolutionary idea, but it is a welcomed addition.
The ranking system hasn’t been given an entirely new overhaul, but has rather been adjusted to suit your unique style of play. Currency is out and pure XP is back, meaning that levelling up unlocks new weapons, perks, equipment and more for you to use in your custom classes. Use a weapon more often, and you’ll unlock scopes, sight dots, skins and attachments, as well as new weapon specific perks such as Kick, which reduces recoil. Sounds fairly familiar at this stage, right? Well, the real change comes in the form of the remodelled Killstreak system, which not only brings with it even more destructive ways to bring death on your opponents, but also allows you to play the way you want to. Killstreaks have been remodelled into three Strike Packages, namely Assault, Support and Specialist.
Assault is kind of a default setting, with all the regular killstreak rewards making an appearance, alongside some fancy new ones such as the new effective, yet highly annoying, booby trap like ballistic launcher which rains death onto anyone who gets close enough. The Support package will reward you with packages that help your team as a whole, such a crate full of ballistic vests. On top of that, people who use Support packages will not have to worry about deaths, as their streak counter will not reset when they respawn. The Specialist Package is an all or nothing deal, with the ability to equip up to three additional perks as you rack up kills. This package is at the expense of having no Killstreak rewards and the possibility of losing all your additional perks upon death.The Specialist Package is truly for elite players who don’t depend on Killstreak rewards for their name to be top of the log.
These small changes help alter the flow of the ranking system, and to make you think about what role you want to play. Obviously, it does not impact that match in the same way that Battlefield 3’s classes do, but it certainly does have an effect. Facing an entire opposing team wearing ballistic vest will make a massive difference to the outcome, so it does add another layer to strategic play, especially when it comes to serious competitive play. On that note, Modern Warfare 3 also supports dedicated servers, which was omitted in Modern Warfare 2, much to the outrage of the PC community. Another service which should be used in conjunction with Modern Warfare 3 is Call of Duty Elite, which will capture stats, advise you on weapon choices based on your ability, show hot spots on maps and more. The service is currently available for free, though paying subscribers will receive extra perks. Unfortunately, PC players will have to wait for this service to become available to them, as Activision has yet to deem the PC platform “safe enough” for Elite’s use.
I started Modern Warfare 3 as a sceptic. The flair had faded, the draw had disappeared, and I was not at all excited. I finished surprised, enthralled and excited for the many multiplayer months to come. Modern Warfare 3’s campaign has to be one of the most engrossing experiences seen in a Call of Duty game for a while, as it finishes the story of Soap, Price, Makarov, and more, while providing explosive and exciting set pieces. The story is not without its faults though, and is not the most riveting tale you’ll ever experience. Spec Ops has received a fantastic addition, as Survival mode provides hours upon hours of limitless fun for you and a friend. Multiplayer may have not received the same type of TLC, but it does introduce clever tweaks in order to make the experience feel different, and not as if it’s an entire rehash. Modern Warfare 3 is dynamic, explosive, exciting, addictive and engrossing, and it definitely deserves a spot on your shelf.