So. At long last, here it is. The latest installment from the shell that remains of Infinity Ward, bringing back those endlessly popular features like sniper rifles, killstreaks that build on one another, and host migration that keeps the multiplayer modes playable!
The first reaction I’ve heard from people on the fence about this game (and, let’s be honest, there aren’t that many) is that they don’t want to pay the Madden Tax to play yet another Call of Duty that, much like any sports game, just isn’t that different from year to year. If you’re of that mindset, you’ve likely already made up your mind about this title. This review probably isn’t going to change your mind either way about this title, so I’m going to try and keep the review brief and focused upon specific observations I have about this game, the ground it breaks (or doesn’t break, as the case may be), etc.
Before I do some quick hits on the game though, it’s worth visiting the game’s new mode. The outstanding mode in Modern Warfare 3 is Survival Mode, which is an offshoot of the single/multi player Covert Ops mode from Modern Warfare 2. Like that title, Modern Warfare 3 includes a panel of special missions (based on levels that appear in the single player, of course) that you can run through that pose unique challenges. New this incarnation, however, is a wave-based horde mode that is very much in the vein of (nearly) identical modes in the last couple of Halo or Gears of War games. If you found those modes satisfying in Halo or Gears (or another title I’ve forgotten. Please forgive me?) you’ll like Modern Warfare 3′s take on it as well. The only possible downside is that, like the true PvP mode, Modern Warfare 3′s survival demands that its players level up to unlock certain equipment pieces. The problem is that the equipment curve in Survival begins with an even more boring selection of equipment. It’s worth noting that the level curve is so much lower that you should earn the equipment you really want in no-time flat, if you’re dedicated to doing so.
So, assuming you’re one of three human beings sitting on the fence today… you’re asking the question, do I want to buy this game? (Or, perhaps more probably, is this game right for X gift recipient?)
FULL DISCLOSURE: I pre-ordered and received the ‘Hardened’ Edition of Modern Warfare 3. I’ll try not to harp on pre-order features, but I’m not going to guarantee I’ve got it right. In addition, I am playing this title on the XBox 360. Addressing technical aspects of the game is pertinent only to the XBox 360 game system.
- Multiplayer mode features more guns than ever. Not all of them seem powerful, but none of them seem un-useable (with the possible exception of the handguns, which I don’t deal in).
- Story isn’t bad, actually. It’s well-conceived, and fun to play. The variety in the level design is a nice change!
- Multiplayer mode rewards you for past service by giving you a head start if you’re achieved prestige mode in a previous title (going back to CoD 4!)
- The Prestige Mode now has its own shop that gives you a choice of rewards. Prestiging players can now keep a piece of equipment (such as a favourite gun) through the Prestige Mode. Players are, of course, free to go with more traditional benefits such as adding a custom class or gaining a bonus title and emblem set. The player is able to choose between options at each Prestige level.
- Netcode is very passable. The game will hand off host in extreme circumstances in order to improve gameplay (this was the single biggest downfall of Call of Duty: Black Ops, and no, it’s not close)
- The gun customization in this game is awesome. Adding the customize menu (including such benefits as reducing gun kick, or equipping two attachments) on top of the attachments available really makes you feel like you can get the gun you want to play with.
- New Strike Package system in multiplayer is endless fun.
- Frankly, it’s Call of Duty. There’s no real innovation here, just a lot of touch-ups. It’s up to you to decide if that’s worth it!
- This game pushes the hardware limits of the console hard, and fast. I’ve noticed some weird system lag issues as a result of this, and the game frankly just doesn’t run as crisply as earlier entries (particularly, CoD 4).
- Story contains a horrifying twist… although, this can be disabled in the game options, much like the level ‘No Russian’ in Modern Warfare 2.
- Weapon balance is – as ever – questionable. Why bother including some weapons that feel utterly useless at higher difficulty levels and in multiplayer arenas? It’s worth noting that all weapons have some (read: dramatically more) use in the single player modes as opposed to the multiplayer environment, but it still feels like some weapons are universally strong, useful, and sustainable… and most others just simply aren’t. Given how many incarnations of Call of Duty we’ve suffered through now, this is the sort of thing that should have started to be fixed.
- Online players are as annoying as ever. Need proof? Take a look back at this review. I’ll see you on XBox Live.