Game: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3
Developer: Infinity Ward and Sledgehammer Games
Available on: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC, Wii (Reviewed on Xbox 360)
Whether you like it or not, the Call of Duty franchise has pushed both software and hardware in the current generation to its limits. With unmatchable sales that continue to break records year after year, the franchise has become a household name. Over the iterations, Call of Duty has continued to set the bar for the FPS genre. The big questions on the lips of gamers this year was “Will Modern Warfare 3 be a 2.5?” and “Will Battlefield 3 be the better game?”
In the run-up to Modern Warfare 3′s release, the answer to those questions was anybody’s guess. While there was a flurry of information regarding Spec Ops, multiplayer and Activision’s new subscription service, Elite, there wasn’t too much to be known about the story. We got a few teasers telling us it would be set all around the world, in the midst of a “global confict”, but not much more than that. With the game now out, we played through it to see if Infinity Ward and Sledgehammer Games has pushed the envelope of the genre even further than that of previous Call of Duty titles.
STORY: Picking up right where Modern Warfare 2 left off, the beginning of Modern Warfare 3 see’s Captain Price and co of Task Force 141 in a frantic fight to keep Soap MacTavish alive. After such a gripping start, the story takes a back seat to the epic scale and set pieces for several missions as the battle against the invading Russian Army wages on. All you really know at this stage is that Russia is doing pretty well, and it’s up to you to tip the war back into the favour of the allied forces. To do this, Makarov, the main villain, must be stopped.
As you play as a variety of characters from Delta Force and Task Force 141, the first few missions failed to draw great attention. It does pick up well later on in the game with unexpected twists and turns which added some depth to an otherwise shallow story. For the first time in a Call of Duty game, some aspects of the story will be emotional, sad even, which is not to be expected but reasonably well executed. It’s not the human relationships which draw that emotion either, it is watching the world fall apart, location by location. With the Call of Duty series, the story has always felt like it isn’t top of the developer’s priority list, but it doesn’t really matter. Who watches the Terminator Films for Arnie’s fantastic acting? Who watches Transformers to be gripped by Sam Whitwicky’s love life? No one. Sometimes, it’s just about seeing stuff getting blown up.
GRAPHICS: It felt that for Modern Warfare 3, the graphics were under most scrutiny from fans. With DICE and Electronic Arts lighting up E3 with the Frostbite 2 engine used in Battlefield 3, many felt that MW3′s graphics were nothing short of underwhelming, with the blame going to the engine Infinity Ward has used from the first Modern Warfare. It is fair to say that MW3 didn’t enjoy the same graphical leap that its main “rival” had, but Infinity Ward and Sledgehammer know how to make a game as smooth as possible, and the game looks far better then it’s given credit for.
Everything has been polished, polished and polished again to make this the best looking Call of Duty title ever. It feels brighter and more detailed, making individual features such as the Parisian buildings stand out among the destruction. The grand set pieces look fantastic, most notably in London and Paris, which are the setting for some of the titles more memorable moments. As players travel the Earth in Modern Warfare 3, all locations are visually striking, be it in Germany or Africa, New York or Russia.
Overall, the graphics are not the best around, but if the developers can do what they’ve done here on this generation of consoles, it will be very exciting to see what will be done for the next generation; with a brand new engine.
SOUND: Surprisingly, the sound in MW3 was one of its most impressive assets. When playing with a headset or with just normal TV sound, the gunshots had much more grunt to them, as did just about everything else. Firing rounds from the AC130 has never sounded so good, with every thump feeling hugely satisfying. Unlike previous iterations, Hans Zimmer didn’t provide the score for MW3. Instead Brian Tyler worked on this title, and did a stellar job of it, too. Tyler, who worked on Battle: Los Angeles, brought a fresh take to the score of MW3, which is as enjoyable as any of the previous Call of Duty titles. The voice acting in Modern Warfare 3 doesn’t set the world on fire, but it’s always nice to be shouted at by our pal Billy Murray, who plays Captain Price in the game. He is the star of the show, and probably the only one you’ll listen to.
GAMEPLAY: Good old gameplay, arguably the thing that keeps Call of Duty so ahead of the crowd, so often. Even when most know it isn’t the most diverse, complex or challenging of games to play, Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3 still manages to nail it. Infinity Ward and Activision didn’t innovate for MW3, which will be a disappointment for some, but what they did do was take what they had and what they had learned from the previous games, and, much like the graphics, polished it. You know exactly what you are going to get with Call of Duty; great gunplay, unrivalled responsiveness and explosions. Lots of explosions.
As you take control of the game’s main characters, you are often led around by Price or Sandman, which while great on occasions, it can feel like you are being taken through the game. A chance to be a leader in times of adversity wouldn’t have gone amiss, and sometimes you will be left feeling like more of a cadet then an elite soldier. It is not until later on that you truly feel like you have earned your stripes, when you get to play as Captain Price himself.
That aside, and the Ronseal of video games really does do what it says on the tin. The relatively short campaign is jam-packed with action; the whole campaign is a romp to play through for the most part. We have never seen destruction on such a grand scale in a Call of Duty title; it really has been turned up to eleven for what could be the series’ swansong. As the credits roll, you can’t help but feel the same satisfaction you feel having watched one of the summer’s blockbuster action movies. And we haven’t even touched on the flagship multiplayer.
MULTIPLAYER: On paper at least, Modern Warfare 3′s multiplayer has been given a huge overhaul in comparison to its predecessors. With the revamp of the rewards system into the new Strike Packages, has the aim of making the multiplayer more accessible for all paid off? In short the answer has to be yes. The attempts to balance elements haven’t really had the desired effect, as most of the time, players suffer from the same issues of not being able to get any momentum once the opposing team has had a couple of Strike Packages land. That said, I didn’t have that problem in any of the other Call of Duty titles, so I think it’s great. The new Strike Packages add a layer to the gameplay, most notably, the Support Strike Package is a great tool for both the novice and the expert Modern Warfare player.
There are 16 maps in which players can pick up all of their favourite game modes and get playing. Here, it is very Call of Duty, and you really do know what to expect when playing Call of Duty multiplayer. That is until you try out the new game modes, Kill Confirmed and Team Defender, which are fantastic additions to an already stellar lineup of multiplayer. Kill Confirmed particularly impresses, where players have to grab the dog tags of an opponent that they, or their team mates have downed. Pick up a fallen comrade’s tags, and you will deny the kill for the opposing team, scoring yourself some points in the process. This mode alone has provided GodisaGeek.com staff with hours of fun, and is a must to check out.
Of course, Modern Warfare 3′s multiplayer isn’t perfect, and even a month after release, there are some serious spawning issues, and the weapon proficiency seems to help out experienced players a little too much, but we still hope that this will be addressed over time. While there has been little innovation in the multiplayer aspect of the game, it is without doubt still one of the most enjoyable multiplayer games out there, and still sets the benchmark for the genre.
Spec Ops has perhaps seen the biggest overhaul in the whole game. The co-op action in the Spec Ops missions is an absolute blast. Whereas before it was seen as an add-on for players, it has had a lot more attention paid to it this time around,with 16 action packed missions to earn stars on with your friends. It was easy to get bored on previous Spec Ops missions, but they entertain much more in Modern Warfare 3.
Survival mode, where you have to take on infinite waves of enemies is also great to play. With 16 maps to enjoy as you level up, it has that addictive feel about it that we are more used to getting from iOS games of late. Taking out waves of suicide bombers, juggernauts, attack dogs and helicopters until you drop will always leave you coming back for more, as will wanting to top your friends scores. As you beat waves, you earn points to spend on Survival Armories, which include Weapons, Equipment and Air Support. When used strategically, players can mix up the ways that the waves of enemies are taken on which is great fun. Spec Ops stands out as the biggest improvement to the Modern Warfare series, providing hours of fun for all involved.
LONGEVITY: All of the above, coupled with the new Elite social application for Modern Warfare 3, means you can’t help but feel you have a ton of things to do and great value for money out of this game. Elite’s problematic beginning seems to be ironing itself out and the videos, analysis and leaderboards are a great tool for those who wish to delve deeper into the Call of Duty universe. The multiplayer alone will keep you going for as long as you enjoy it and whilst the single player is roughly 6 hours in length, the additions to spec ops mean that there has been even more length added to a game already bursting at the seams.
VERDICT: Modern Warfare 3 is by no means a revolution. It isn’t a graphical, gameplay or game mode innovation. What it is, however, is a very well put together example of everything that Call of Duty developers have learned over the years of making the game. The campaign’s story should have been stronger, but it is made up for by the sheer scale found within the game. While we saw no revolutionary graphical changes, what we did get was a fantastic trip around the world, which looks great and packs in the frames-per-second like no other FPS out there. Modern Warfare 3 feels like the icing on the cake for the series, a massive firework show to usher the series into a transitional period where the developers will be forced to innovate and shake things up if it wants to keep smashing those sales records. Let’s hope Infinity Ward, Activision and even Treyarch take up that mantle and dare to be different.