I would like to preface this entire post with the following statement; I realize that in some cases I can be hypocritical. For months I sort of raged against Activision following the release of Black Ops and in regards to how broken Modern Warfare 2's multiplayer became over the course of time. Still I ended up swallowing my pride and purchased Modern Warfare 3 on day one and I have to be honest in saying that I don't regret a damned thing. I thought that I would. Hell I even swore off the game at one point, stating that I'd rather put my money and time behind Battlefield 3(until I played and disliked the BF3 beta.) So here it is and I'm giving this franchise even more coverage despite the fact that it doesn't really need it. The game sold more than $400 million dollars worth in the first 24 hours alone. Still, I'd like to talk about my time with the game and what I feel some people may enjoy. Also I'll be reviewing the single player campaign. Saddle up ladies and gentlemen, this is Modern Warfare 3.
Like with most reviews I don't want to spoil anything in case you readers plan to play the game in question. When it comes to MW3 there's a fair bit of business here that can be spoiled but I'll do my best to give you some broad strokes. Picking up after the events of Modern Warfare 3 we're tossed into the ongoing struggle invasion that Makarov has launched on pretty much a worldwide scale. Because of the epic scale you'll be tasked with taking control of two different groups throughout the campaign, playing as either a character named Yuri or a character code named Frost. This can sometimes seemingly make things disjointed as far as the story is concerned but towards the end the two groups begin to converge. Being the battles span the globe you'll find yourself participating in epic battles in varying locales including New York, London, and Paris. All this leads to a very satisfying and considerably stunning storyline conclusion.
The only problem is that as good as some of these sequences are and as intense as the battles become, this whole thing clocks in at about 5 hours. I know the main campaign isn't the meat and potatoes of this series, it never has been. But as someone who actually enjoyed how fun some of the missions were I would have liked to see them lengthened just a bit. Finishing the campaign in roughly 5-6 hours just seemed far too short for a campaign. Regardless though if you're into single player at all you should find this rewarding and an excellent end to the Modern Warfare trilogy.
Well naturally the gameplay hasn't changed by much. In the single player it's your basic first person shooter affair. Not much changed between Modern Warfare 2 and Modern Warfare 3 except for some new weaponry to try out and some very interesting vehicle sequences. It's sort of hard to discuss gameplay because it's so straight forward. It's refined from two previous iterations so the buttons are responsive, and you're able to make any tweaks to the sensitivity you may need in the options. The multiplayer is a whole different beast when it comes to the gameplay and that is pretty much the area you'll spend most of your time in.
As far as the mutliplayer goes you'll find quite a few new interesting things. First off there is Kill Confirmed which has become my favorite new game mode by far. The concept of this is pretty much that when you kill an enemy they drop a golden dog tag. In order to score points for your team you must collect the dog tags of these enemies. Meanwhile should you get shot dead your teammates have the ability to pick up your dog tag and deny the kill/point of the other team. This lends itself to some very strategic tactics that you wouldn't normally see happen in a regular team deathmatch game type.
Also new to the game is Team Defender which is similar to Capture the Flag but with a Domination slant. In Team Defender there is a single flag which the team must capture. Upon capturing the flag it is up to the teammates to defend the flag holder at all costs as they rack up points. Once again it's a game mode that is far more strategic than your normal frag fest. Instead of running around all over the place it's up to you to properly defend your teammate and use actual teamwork. I've had some pretty great experiences thus far with teams that communicated very well and some awful experiences with people who played the mode like it was another version of team deathmatch. Playing for kills is not a necessity in every mode.
And this notion is something I give Infinity Ward credit for. They know that not everyone who plays this game is going to rack up tons of kills. So this is why they have introduced the concept of strike packages. There are three strike packages which players can customize to their liking. The first strike package is the Assault package which operates very much like your normal killstreaks. These are earned in game by racking up a certain amount of kills in a row without being killed. This is obviously for the player who can go into a game and take down half the enemy team without being touched and thus they are rewarded with air strikes, air support and the like. For your more conservative player who can't earn as many kills but plays more for the objectives there is the Support package. In this case it's more about points than kills. Sure you can score points towards your streak by killing enemies but you also get points for completing objectives as well. The rewards for the Support package are just that, support for the rest of your team. You can earn UAVs, counter UAVS and even an EMP to take down enemy electronics.
Lastly there is the Specialist package. This is for your lone wolf player who just doesn't care about the rest of his team. He'll go out there alone and do his thing without help from his team's support. The Specialist can basically become a one man army in the game and destroy whatever is in his path. The basic Specialist set up consists of a loadout with three perks. After scoring two kills you unlock another perk. Drop two more enemies and you unlock a 5th perk. Two more kills and you unlock your 6th perk. If you're lucky enough to still be alive at this point and you take down another two opponents then you basically engage god mode in which every perk is unlocked and at your disposal. Should you have the pro versions of these then you're just given that much more of an advantage in combat. With the three strike packages you're easily able to customize how you want to head into battle.Even better now is that you can save different strike package set ups to different load outs.
Sadly this is one of those games where even your skill sometimes can't help you and you may end up at the mercy of your internet connection. Like most other games this is host supported so your connection can be integral in determining how well you do. If your connection to the host is terrible then more than likely you'll find yourself on the losing end of encounters. Unfortunately there's no way around this as there isn't with any online multiplayer game. Sometimes it's just the luck of the draw and you have to make due. Aside from the normal connection issues and the online portion of the game tends to run without a problem.
I'm starting to think that sound design isn't Infinity Ward's forte. In terms of the character voices and background music the sound design is done quite well. It's not on the level of say Arkham City of L.A. Noire but it's very good. The guns also have very distinct firing sounds to set them apart from one another. It's the quality of the audio that can sometimes be an issue. This is even more evident once you jump into the multiplayer mode and actually engage in voice chat with people. The voice chat can sometimes be very muffled or just generally low. On a personal note sometimes I really don't mind this as it means I don't have to totally be hearing little kids and their random hate speech when I'm in a game by myself but it can be annoying when you're trying to communicate in a party.
Aside from that I'm not sure what else there is to expect in terms of sound from a game such as this. Sure there's background music for menus but they're more bothersome than anything else and there's no way to turn it off. As mentioned before the voice acting is capable and the sound effects are what one would expect from Infinity Ward based on what they've done in previous iterations of the game.
Graphically this game is impressive considering the engine that Infinity Ward is still working with. While it isn't on the same level of Battlefield 3's Frostbite engine it does a good job of pushing the IW 4.0 engine to the limit. Thankfully this led to some more realistic movements from the character which is something I always hated about Modern Warfare 2. Granted there are some moments where things still get rather wonky looking and that's a given considering the age of the engine they're working with but it's nice to see that they're getting as much out of it as possible before moving on. And I'm sure some people will even make comparisons about some of the destructible environments to be gleamed in the campaign mode which look pretty stunning when they come tumbling down but these are also scripted events in the engine and not entirely destructible.
The particle effects in Modern Warfare still happen to be some of its better visual aspects. Explosions and billowing smoke still look as impressive as ever. And as per usual the heads up display(or HUD for short) is clean, only giving you the information you absolutely need at any given time. The character models are slightly touched up from Modern Warfare 2. They're sporting some smoother textures and with the improved lighting they look rather slick on an high definition display. This also helps for some more detailed maps as well. Although given the maps are based on the campaign, they have the same pitfall. Each of them tend to blend together into destroyed combat zones. While this is great for tactical gameplay by providing tons of cover, it doesn't lend itself to making any of the maps stand out visually when most of them are just maps littered with debris. Maybe this is due to my short time with the multiplayer mode but none of them really stand out just yet. Other than that I can say the game does indeed look good, it's just not as amazing visually as it's main competitor, Battlefield 3.
So in closing this is by no means a bad game. The main story while short is actually interesting enough to get you hooked in a short while. It'll be over before you know it but at least the ending is satisfying. The sound and the visuals are a step above the last game but not vastly improved as they're simply working with a improved version of the same engine. Again, the gameplay is the main course here and quite frankly it's still just as fun and addicting. New game types like Kill Confirmed and Team Defender bring even more team oriented and strategy heavy gameplay to the multiplayer. The strike packages also help to diversify the killstreak idea so that support players are no longer left in the dust. Meanwhile the Specialist package means that players who like to go it their own. I can tell you though that while I'm having fun with it, I also accept the game for what it is. I've played a lot of games this year that I would consider to be top tier and highly acclaimed titles and in my opinion I'm not sure I would rank Modern Warfare 3 with them. To put it into more comparable terms; Modern Warfare 3 is like a Michael Bay film. Going into it you know there's going to be a lot of explosions and action and for the most part it will be a fun popcorn movie. But if you want good drama and something that's going to be far more thought out and heavy on plot, you better look elsewhere.
Final Score - 8.0/10
As an added treat I'll be including three clips of gameplay I've uploaded to YouTube via the Theater feature. Have fun gaming guys and gals!