Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 is developed by Infinity Ward in conjunction with Sledgehammer Games and published by Activison; Treyarch, Raven Software and Neversoft have also played a part in development. Modern warfare 3 has become the biggest entertainment launch ever and the Call of Duty series is the biggest franchise in both gaming and the First Person Shooter genre, surpassing industry giants like Mario and Halo.
The Campaign starts where the previous game ends; “Soap” is critically injured after his encounter with General Shepard and Captain Price is getting him to a safehouse so that he can receive medical attention. From there you take the role of former Spetznaz soldier Yuri when performing missions with Soap and Price or Sgt Derek “Frost” Westbrook when fighting alongside Delta Force and various European Special Forces and armies. Makarov is still loose and hell bent on starting and maintaining World War 3 and between your playable characters your job is to stop him at all costs.
While previous instalments of the series have always had a tutorial to start you off, this time round you head straight into the action. As Soap is being seen to by a Medic the safehouse comes under attack by Makarov’s forces. You (Yuri) and Price have to fight your way out with Soap and get to the extraction point with Nikolai the Loyalist Russian informant.
While Yuri’s missions take place on the hunt for Makarov, the missions you play as Frost take place on the frontlines as you battle Russian Forces first in the US as you push the Russians out of Manhattan before bringing you to various sections of Europe. You will also get a few missions as other characters, including a Russian Agent and a SAS operative.
Throughout the story you will come across many different set pieces that change up gameplay a little or give you something to do other than run and gun. These include vehicle chases, underwater sections, stealth gameplay and many other things like unique weapons. Sometimes they can be layered on a little too thickly and you get fatigued by doing these and getting the standard gameplay back is a relief. Also there is a specific story scene that you get to play out that is there purely to try and incite controversy and would have been much better if left out completely with the previous scene showing what this particular scene was created to show off.
While the story is a little clichéd at times it does well to wrap up what the previous game started and it delivers a decent tale regardless of some of the more absurd moments in the game. Unfortunately you will feel like you’re taking the backseat a lot of the time as you play through the levels. Allies will normally be the driving force in the forward push and most of the actions that you are asked to do feel like they are there only so that you get put into a specific situation rather than your character having any real need to be there.
Spec-Ops returns and is full of levels from the full game that have been repurposed for interesting missions as well as having a survival mode that uses the multiplayer maps as a location for you to dispatch wave upon wave of hostiles. Most of the missions use locations from the Campaign but a few do have areas that are specially made to be interesting and challenging. Some missions even end up showing parts of the Campaign from different perspectives. The survival mode has waves of enemies attacking you as you fight them off, earning money as you do so. At the beginning you will only have access to a weapons crate where you can buy guns, their attachments and ammo refills, but after a few rounds an equipment crate will appear which contains explosives and body armour etc. A little later you will also unlock air support crates which have various deployable support options as well as crate drops that give you a perk (which is replaced if you pick up another one). You gain money upon completing waves as well as killing enemies and completing certain challenges. Not everything is available to you at the start of the game; you gain Xp and levels that are separate to the multiplayer. You eventually unlock more as you gain levels and playing it with a Co-op friend is needed to get to the higher waves.
Multiplayer has been the staple of the series for a while now and this is no exception, this time around you can play online in split screen. You have 80 levels and 10 prestige modes to get through as well as a new levelling system for weapons, reworked perks, a new killstreak system and some new weapons and equipment. Guns now can be individually levelled up from level 1 to 31 and each level unlocks things associated with that particular weapon. Camouflage for weapons is no longer unlocked via headshots and is now incorporated into the levelling of guns but challenges still offer that all important Xp for headshots. Guns can also be given a specialisation of its own in the form of having: an extra attachment, more damage, extra range, reduced recoil, longer melee range etc. The perks have been reworked yet again with a few new additions giving interesting abilities such as the ability to move faster while aiming down sights, paint targets on the map when they take explosive damage etc. Most of the more controversial perks have been removed and whilst mainly a good thing they have made some weapons considerably less viable in comparison to previous versions. Light machine guns have taken the biggest hit as the lack of damage can’t be made up until later levels and they have become increasingly rare compared to those in previous incarnations of the series.
Killstreaks are now split into 3 types: Assault, Support and Specialist. Assault Killstreaks come in the same form as previous games, you get kills towards rewards but if you die you keep any earned rewards but lose your streak and have to start over. Apart from a few new Killstreak rewards nothing much has changed for this type. Support on the other hand has a completely different set of Killstreak rewards to choose from and you won’t lose your streak progress for the rewards upon dying. This lets players who die often help to support the team and gives them more reason to play. The specialist however is possibly the most interesting set of rewards. You can choose any 3 unlocked perks that you aren’t currently equipped with and every two kills you gain will unlock the next in perk in the series of 3 for you to use. However upon dying you lose these perks again. The beauty is that after you achieve your 3rd perk upon getting another two kills you will earn the specialist perk which grants you use of all perks in the game unlocked to pro degree giving you the biggest advantage in the game, also from that point onwards you also gain increased Xp on every second kill.
There are some new game types with “Kill Confirmed” and “Team Defender”. Kill Confirmed sees you collecting dog tags off of fallen enemies and allies (including yourself) to gain points rather than just kills. When an enemy is killed it will drop a pair of yellow dog tags, if you killed it then it will appear on your map. From there you or an ally can pick up the tags to gain points (you gain the same points regardless of whether you or an ally pick up the tags. Enemies however will try to pick up their fallen comrades tags in order to deny you the points as well as receive points themselves. You can deny enemy kills and you will gain points for doing so with even bigger rewards if you pick up your own tags. Team defender sees a flag drop from the first person who gets killed. Whichever team owns the flag will gain double points on any kills they earn while the team without control earns points as normal. Private matches can be customised to a larger extent with some pre-set game modes like Infection and Gun Game.
Graphically the game is starting to look a little dated, the visuals haven’t really changed much since Modern Warfare but the areas that they have improved are quite obvious. The faces seem to have much more detail than the previous versions and Makarov especially you can tell as his face is particularly out of place compared to the rest of his surroundings. The expressions are much deeper than previous titles and paired with the voice acting it makes for some very involving scenes regardless of the clichés that some of them are. Fire is one of the more obvious points where the engine is showing its age, but in the Campaign especially there are plenty of corridors that end up looking entirely bare as nothing was put there as it was a slight deviation from the set path. There are some set pieces that are supposed to be draw dropping but the aging graphics do detract from it somewhat and lessen its impact. On the whole it still stands up well as the level design which has environments full of detail.
Audio is consistently good with voice actors that are more than competent despite only having a few lines, heart pounding music and the standard set of gunshots explosions and vehicle noises. The voice actors from the previous games make a return and some big names lend their voices to some of the secondary characters and minor roles. The music is always there to get you edging closer to the edge of your seat, while most of the sounds have been used in previous games and give you an instant familiarity of what it is.
The story has its ups and down as there are thrills scattered at regular intervals and while it wraps up what the second game started reasonably well bits of the story just seem to be crammed in for effect and feel out of place. The mission “No Russian” from MW2 has a spiritual successor in a short playable scene which serves little point in existing apart from trying to one-up the controversy MW2 had.
Presentation and Audio
The games engine is showing its age a little, as not everything is as good looking as you’d expect but on the whole it still looks pretty good with levels full of objects and details. Faces seem to be improved upon with lots of detail put into the capture of the emotions during the close-ups. There many famous voices in there and it makes for brilliant voice acting, unfortunately many of these will go unnoticed due to the minor role that they play and lack of dialogue. Everything from the guns to explosions sound great and the music hits the spot to get your heart pounding at the right moments.
The singleplayer is a rollercoaster ride but you will feel the decrease in difficulty and the backseat approach to gameplay making the game feel easy. Multiplayer has been addressed to solve a lot of problems from previous versions but some of the new additions will leave some weapon types feeling useless. Spec-Ops is great fun and the Survival mode is a great addition. Some maps are better designed than others but in the end you’ll be too busy playing the game to care about the details. Call of Duty Elite gives some features that are useful in its free service but the annual subscription should only be bought if you want all DLC’s and all the bells and whistles that come along with it.
With Modern Warfare games it’s always been a series of one-upping the previous instalment in the series and this fails to disappoint. While it completely overshadows MW2 in almost every area it never captures the feel of the original MW. Even so this is a solid game and will likely be the most played game on Xbox Live, PSN and PC servers for the next year or so. World War 3 is full of excitement and has plenty to offer in longevity.
Call of Duty games have always been good when developed by Infinity Ward and despite losing many key members, the engine is still solid and the work Sledgehammer Games and the rest of Infinity Ward have put in have helped to maintain the high level of quality that is expected. While it does very little new it does fix a lot of problems from previous instalments in the series and doesn’t make any game breaking problems. I am glad to see the game changing to let players who don’t get high killstreaks have a chance at playing more competitively as MW2 left the game to be dominated match after match by the top percentage of players who would get the most powerful killstreaks and dominate the game because of it. The emphasis on getting people to play a less aggressive playstyle to help your team more rather than the whole “Lone Wolf” type of killing machine mind-set is a step in the right direction. Hopefully it’ll continue to buck the loner trend in favour of making the game less geared toward making the powerful more powerful while the weak have to watch in awe. Like all Call of Duty games, I played the campaign through fully on Veteran difficulty so my views on the difficulty may be skewed slightly.
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.