There’s no denying the popularity of the Call of Duty series. In fact, COD is in the same conversation as Mario when it comes to the most sucessful gaming series of all time – ever since Infinity Ward’s smash hit COD4, the series has taken off and never looked back. Fans tout the series’ ability to put you into a five hour action movie without fail, and provide a competitive multiplayer element that thousands of people will still be playing years later.
So is Modern Warfare 3 the same old song? Read on to find out.
For starters, the game offers three facets – a single player story, competitive multiplayer, and an auxillary Special Ops mode. Story wise, the gist is that Makarov is back to his old tricks, seeking to agitate World War 3 even more than he already has. The campaign will take you through the streets of New York, Paris, and other major world-wide settings. To be blunt, despite the grand setup, story mode is a mixed bag.
The game switches from dynamic Soap/Price stealth missions fans know and love, to standard “run and gun” foot soldier missions featuring Sandman and his team. The dichtomy between these two stories is pretty significant – simply put, the Price missions are extremely diverse, and provide you with a ton of tools and weapons to meet your goal. The stealth nature of these missions also mix things up from the run and gun style you’re going to be experiencing for hundreds of hours in multiplayer.
Unfortunately, the Sandman missions are pretty dull. In fact, quite frequently while playing them, I forgot what game I was playing – they really just don’t have anything to them while you’re running from linear tunnel to tunnel completing inane objectives. While the Soap/Price missions at least have smoke and mirrors to make you feel like you’re on a grand Special Ops assignment, it isn’t quite the same with the other mission types.
Additionally, the story is a bit more shallow than past iterations, and the philosophical undertones are dialed down a bit in favor of Hollywood style action. Personally, I’m not too upset about the change, but if you’re expecting a jaw-dropping Modern Warfare style “Nuke” moment, prepare for a letdown.
But despite some of the shortcomings of the campaign, ss with most Call of Duty games, the bread and butter is in competitive multiplayer – thankfully, Modern Warfare 3 is no different. Much to my excitement, there are a few extra innovations that make the series much more enticing for new and casual players. Firstly, the “Kill Streak” system has been completely overhauled. Previously, players had to kill others without dying to secure special abilities such as a Predator drone and a Chopper Gunner – there was no other way to earn streaks. Now, in addition to the killstreak system, MW3 provides both support and perk packages.
With the support package, your streak not only carries over into death, but you also earn points by shooting down helicopters, or taking objectives – personally, I find this to be the most fun option of the lot. With this package, gone are the days of never earning fun rewards – even if you’re a moderately skilled player, you can still earn an exciting reward towards the end of the match. The trade-off is that the rewards are not as effective, but it’s still an option that will no doubt benefit your team. The perk package is similar to the Kill Streak system, but each kill earns you a new perk – if you die, you lose it all. The risk-reward system will no doubt appeal to pro players, and again, is just another fun option for players to experiment with.
The other innovation MW3 offers is the Prestige Shop. After leveling up past 80, players can choose to Prestige, and go back to level 1- just as you’ve always had the option to do – but this time, you’ll earn tokens to spend on various perks. For instance, you can spend one token to unlock a specific ability/weapon to use in future Prestige levels – gone are the days where your favorite gun is off limits – you can play the way you want to again and again. While most pros will continue to Prestige for bragging rights, from this point on, more casual players will at least have a little fun starting from zero.
Gameplay wise, multiplayer is just as fun as it ever was. While the game’s maps aren’t up to par compared to pretty much every iteration outside of COD4, the perk system and weapon loadouts are pretty balanced this time around, and fans will be able to enjoy pretty much every mode they could want – in addition to the new “Kill Confirmed” mode, which requires you to grab a kill’s dogtags before the point is counted.
In addition to the Story and competitive multiplayer, Modern Warfare 2′s Special Ops mode is back with a vengeance. This time, the game’s standard stand-alone missions are joined by a Nazi Zombies-esque survival mode, complete with explosive dogs and juggernaut bosses. While Survival isn’t as engaging as Treyarch’s hit zombie series, it’s still a very fun diversion, and at least worth trying for an afternoon. Sadly, it’s limited to only two players – something I hope can be fixed with a later patch.
With Modern Warfare 3 also comes the launch of the new social network/DLC season pass Call of Duty Elite. Gamer Limit will cover Elite at a later date, but keep in mind that it only seeks to augment the Call of Duty experience and takes nothing away from the total package. Additionally, you can sign up for basic services for free.
Ultimately, Modern Warfare 3 feels similar to it’s brethren, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a great game. The single player element is still exciting, and multiplayer has more options than ever – if you’re a fan of Call of Duty, Modern Warfare 3 is a no brainer.
This review is based on a retail copy of the Xbox 360 game Modern Warfare 3.