Review: Modern Warfare 3
In the Fallout series, they say that war never changes. Perhaps it’s a more appropriate catchcry for the Modern Warfare series.
Chris Leggett | Monday, November 14 2011 | 4 Comments
Platform: PC, Xbox 360, PS3
Test Platform: Xbox 360
Developer: Infinity Ward, Sledgehammer Games; Publisher: Activision
Nicely dressed and seasoned, but this dish is getting old.
In the Fallout series, they say that war never changes. Perhaps it’s a more appropriate catchcry for the Modern Warfare series. It’s true that number three, the latest in the series, is an uncannily similar package to its predecessor, just as that game was to the original Modern Warfare before it. The question you’ll have to ask yourself is whether that's still good enough for you.
This stubborn refusal to upset the apple cart isn’t all bad. After the many potshots fired by EA, Modern Warfare 3’s campaign demonstrates that nobody does the cinematic, action-blockbuster military shooter quite like Infinity Ward. The action is only remotely within the realms of possibility, moving from one far-fetched, over-the-top scenario to the next. But war documentaries rarely pull punters to cinemas in droves – blockbuster action flicks do. And it’s something the minds behind the Call of Duty franchise know only too well.
Russia is at war with the US after the incidents of Modern Warfare 2’s notorious ‘No Russian’ level, where Soviet terrorists led by Vladimir Makarov frame the US for the death of dozens of Russian civilians. However, while the Russian president intends to make peace with his enemy, Makarov holds him to ransom in a bid to gain access to a nuclear arsenal and escalate the terrorists’ assault on the US.
Modern Warfare 3’s story excites from beginning to end, with more explosions, chase sequences, near-miss collisions and other heart-racing moments than even its predecessors. As such, it’s necessarily linear; the gameplay is generally all about moving your line forward, mowing down infinitely respawning enemies until you’ve secured a checkpoint. You’re afforded very little in the way of tactical opportunities. And although its glorified shooting galleries can sometimes feel rather shallow, it remains engaging nevertheless thanks to masterful pacing and adrenalin-pumping set pieces. Sure, all the staple sequences return – the gunship sections, the on-rails, vehicular gun-turret pieces and the breach-and-clear, slow-mo scenes – but Modern Warfare 3 riffs on them in relatively novel ways.
One area where the Modern Warfare experience has truly changed very little, though, is in its multiplayer component. Remember 2009’s Modern Warfare 2? That essentially forms the core of Modern Warfare 3’s offering, with new maps and only very subtle iterations. It’s generally all about fast gameplay on small- to medium-sized maps, and often boils down to who sees who first. It still looks nice enough, but the actual multiplayer gameplay is beginning to feel stale, particularly now that some killer competition has surfaced.
One bright spot in an otherwise repackaged multiplayer suite is the new Kill Confirmed mode; a variant on your standard Team Deathmatch formula. Not content with simply killing enemies, players must also recover their dog tags in order to add to the team’s score (thus “confirming” the kill). Similarly, you can also claim the tags of downed teammates to “deny” the enemy their kill. It places aggressors in sometimes precarious situations and forces a kind of tactical balance that’s previously been missing in the fast-and-loose Call of Duty multiplayer.
Making a welcome return is the Spec Ops mode: a collection of one-off missions that can be played cooperatively with a friend. The missions are rather varied, often open-ended, and sometimes assign quite different roles to the two players. Of particular note is the Firewall mission: while one player negotiates an area to reach a series of objectives, the second player provides cover by cycling through a number of turrets at different vantage points throughout the map. Also added to the Spec Ops roster is the now-obligatory Survival mode; it’s a nice addition that, disappointingly, supports only two players in this instance.
Sure, Modern Warfare 3’s perhaps the best Call of Duty yet in an iterative sense. But with a worthy challenger in Battlefield 3 nipping at its heels, this might just be the last time Activision gets away with such minor innovations.
Posted by Mohanz at 9:13:00 on November 15, 2011
Posted by theoldfarter at 18:59:40 on November 14, 2011
Posted by Brendon at 10:22:47 on November 29, 2011
The campaign took me approximately 4 hours and 40 minutes to play through in its entirety on the default difficulty. I know a lot of people will think that's too short, but I didn't.
I'm afraid I'm uncertain as to how long Battlefield 3 took me to complete.
Posted by Chris Leggett at 9:27:01 on November 15, 2011
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