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Game Review: Modern Warfare 3 Feels A Bit Dated But Still Enjoyable

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By: Stephen Crane

War. Some people may ask what it's good for, but I will say this much: It's actually pretty handy for providing new settings to play video games in. This week we saw the release of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, and it's already smashing sales records. Of course, sales don't always mean it's a good or a bad game. How does it stack, especially in comparison to other large franchises we've seen this Fall? Keep reading to find out my thoughts on this action-packed game and the wrap up to the Modern Warfare story.

Release Date: 11/8/2011

Released For: PC, PlayStation 3,  Xbox 360, Wii

System Played On:  PC

Hours Played: 13

Single Player Progress: Complete

Single Player Thoughts: In the course of the approximately 5 hours it took to complete single player I found myself questioning very little about the “why” of what I was doing. I suppose that is quite possibly one of the better successes of the game, because I couldn’t help but enjoy what I was doing at the time. It was only when I looked back and thought about what I had just experienced that I started to raise questions or object.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 picks up right where Modern Warfare 2 left off. Russia starts off trying to invade the US, and it’s up to you, the one man army and your cohorts to take out hundreds of opposing soldiers and make sure the world Europe doesn’t “get turned to glass”.  From then on you’re switching squad to squad in Tarantino style plot jumps. No matter what faction you play the story is more or less the same: Kill Makarov.

The story sort of fell flat, and I found myself wanting to skip ahead and get right back into the action. Playing the game got the adrenaline pumping much like any good action film should. The cutscenes where they tried to bring in emotional ties like taking on the role of a father filming his daughter in Paris fell completely flat to me. I had no reason to care about that family and it was a tremendously cheap emotion. If you've played the past games and cared enough about the characters then, you may feel a bit more emotion but even in past iterations I couldn't connect with the characters.

That gameplay is still as well made as ever, though. Movements feel faster and more in line with the pace of the game and even though the cinematics and direction of the game are still technically linear they presented it in a way that I never felt constrained or gaping angrily at a random death. If you died you will know why and move on. Bonus points are awarded for the tremendously sparing use of quick time events. They are still present and you will miss the occasional one, but they weren’t every five minutes and that made me happy.

I played the game on Normal difficulty and it wasn’t that much of a challenge. For the most part I would just run around and cover wasn’t too much of an issue. The guns provided in most of the levels didn’t feel really differentiated, though. After a while one sub-machine gun starts to blur into the other and the only real difference is what type of scope is attached. The levels where you hopped on a turret or picked up a sniper rife weren’t plentiful enough to really break the monotony for me.

On a personal level there was one game design choice I wasn’t so much a fan of. There are at least two stages in the game that take place in Somalia, and absolutely all of the enemies are black. This may be coming from someone who lives in a racially charged, yet diverse environment, but when I see stages where it’s three white men killing only black men, I start to get a little uncomfortable. I am sure the designers thought nothing racist when they were designing the level, and it’s true that a vast majority of Somalia (85%+) is black, but it was something that concerned me and certainly made me feel uncomfortable enough to pull myself away from the game for a moment. It’s not the biggest deal to most, but I thought it was worth noting.

Visually the game manages to have some pretty stunning moments despite an engine that is outdated. It runs well on fairly old hardware and it isn’t quite as impressive as Battlefield 3, but it’s still impressive in it’s own right. It certainly looks better than its predecessors. One feature Infinity Ward got right over Battlefield 3 was the addition of a colorblind mode. It’s something more games need to have, to be quite honest.

 

Multiplayer Progress: Level 10

Multiplayer Thoughts: If you’ve played Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 you know the drill. Most of these maps really aren’t that different by comparison, however there are some pretty fun game types introduced. Kill Confirmed is an interesting take on getting points when you walk over the corpse of someone just killed. You can either collect points for your own team or deny the other team points by walking over the corpse of a fallen teammate.

I actually enjoyed the Killstreak revamp. Now you get the option of stronger rewards for skill streaks without dying, or getting weaker rewards for killing a certain number of enemies in the game. The proficiency perks and the way the weapon levels up as you use it actually does add a bit more to the game, I believe.

Playing cooperatively in their Survival mode is also enjoyable. It isn’t as in depth as Gears of War 3’s horde mode or as intense as the Nazi Zombies mode from Treyarch games, but it’s still an enjoyable experience.

If you purchased the game for the PC you have the option of either playing with hosts in the game or using the Call of Duty dedicated servers, a nice compromise I wish more gamers could strike.

What I wish I could have felt more from the game was a sense of scope in multiplayer. I was playing small maps against a very limited number of players and it felt that way. It’s more adrenaline based and not quite focused on teamwork, which is where I felt Battlefield 3 excelled. The adrenaline is fine, but it can only really get a player so far.

Overall Thoughts: In creating Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 players can easily see that Activision and Infinity Ward decided to play it safe. There were no revolutionary, groundbreaking elements added to the game, but that’s okay. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 set out to be exactly what it ended up being: an action packed thrill ride. It will suffer a little in comparison to Battlefield 3 for a few reasons, but it hands down had a better single player experience than Battlefield 3 did. Mutliplayer will simply come down to preference, of course. Some prefer tighter, smaller matches while others will prefer battles that are larger in scope.

This is in every way a Call of Duty game and no one should go into this expecting much more than was previously offered by Modern Warfare. The best summary I can really give to compare the two is that Call of Duty encourages you to think less about what you are doing and trust reflex. You are expected to just go along with it and let excitement carry you along. Battlefield 3, at least in multiplayer, is a lot more about strategy and moving at a bit of a slower pace.

Recommendations: I’m going to say buy this game if you enjoyed the past two iterations of the Modern Warfare franchise. It is much the same, and you shouldn’t go in expecting anything new, but it is still incredibly enjoyable and exciting. Any criticisms I have leveled against the game must be taken into account with the fact that I found it hard to stop playing and that it does a good job at capturing intensity and excitement. Don’t be surprised if you start to feel sore as your whole body tenses from playing the game.

About Stephen Crane

Stephen was hooked by the NES at a very young age and never looked back. He games on a daily basis and is currently trying to climb his way up the ranked ladder on League of Legends! Outside of the video game world he actually likes running and owns a rapidly growing collection of toed shoes. Stephen Crane is the owner of Armed Gamer.

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