Thursday, November 17, 2011

Same Old Story? Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 Review

After spending a week in the most modern of warfares, Adam Marcey has come back from the frontlines. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 is here, people. How does the latest Call of Duty stack up to its record-breaking predecessors?

Well I’ve been stinking up the Modern Warfare 3 servers for a little over a week now. Sometimes, I’m terrible at this game, and I think the F-word comes out of my mouth at least once every 2 minutes. Perhaps I’m just not the quintessential gamer I think I am, or maybe some people just play a whole lot more than I do (I’m talking to all of you folks who are almost on your second prestige level. C’mon already, the game’s only been out a week!). But anyhow, all lack of skill aside, I’m going to break this up into two parts: the single player campaign and the multiplayer/special ops cooperative mode.

Stuff blows up good.
When the Call of Duty franchise took a new direction from its WWII roots, many people had their misgivings. After the first Modern Warfare released, I think fans of the franchise were pleasantly surprised, to say the least. Modern Warfare was everything a good first person shooter should be: incredibly realistic graphics, a highly entertaining single player campaign and an innovative multiplayer experience. Playing through the campaign, you were introduced to a ridiculous amount of “Oh shit!” moments that left you craving for more, and I know I couldn’t wait to turn the game back on to see where the story took me. I was absolutely entertained the entire time. Some of my memorable moments included a nuclear bomb going off as you were flying away in a helicopter and then crashing, the level you played as a sniper sneaking up to your target with an entire Russian patrol coming within mere feet of where you’re crawling, and the level in the media room where your squad is ambushed out of nowhere and all hell breaks loose. Good stuff. And what do I really need to say about the multiplayer? The multiplayer experience became quite addicting with its class system and leveling phases, and has become an absolute juggernaut in the gaming community.

Now, I played Modern Warfare 2 a lot more than the first, mainly because I rarely bought a game and played it as soon as it came out. I didn’t really experience Modern Warfare all that much before the release of the sequel. I think I made it to the 4th Prestige level in MW2 multiplayer before I moved onto other games, and it was all that more addicting than the first. The campaign wasn’t quite as exciting as the first Modern Warfare, but it still held its own. And who could forget the infamous airport massacre? Wow, that was a bold move on the developers and I appreciate it when people try to push the envelope when it comes to decency, but that level was just gratuitous and insane. But however you feel about it personally, I’m sure it’s something you’ll never forget.

It's about to go down.

I don’t really have the time to waste writing about Black Ops. I would rather forget that it was even released.

So here we are again, wasting hours of our precious lives with another Modern Warfare release. I’ve played through the campaign on Hardcore, and it clocked in around 7 ½ hours, about what you’d expect. I’m doing a second play-through on veteran difficulty to unlock the achievements, and it is HARD. It typically goes like this: I die 5-10 times at the same spot, finally figure out what I’m doing wrong, make it through, run to the next fight, and then repeat the process. They’re not kidding when you select veteran difficulty on the menu and it says “you will not survive.” At least I had fair warning. Now this campaign is still good, but it’s not great. The story picks up almost immediately after the events on MW2 where the Russians are in full-fledged war with the West. Once again, the Russian terrorist Makarov is playing behind the scenes and manipulating events, and you play as either Frost from Delta Force or Yuri with the recently disavowed Task Force 141 along with Price and Soap. There are definitely a few intense moments, and a pretty entertaining level where you’re playing as Frost and you have to hijack a Russian submarine, forcing it to surface with C4 planted on the side while it’s still underwater.

Another intense moment comes along while you’re playing as a Russian secret service agent on board the presidential plane, which is hijacked by Makarov’s men. As you’re fighting your way out with the president in tow, the plane takes a sudden dip and you become involved in a zero-G gunfight. Pretty nifty. But quite honestly, I didn’t experience any real “Oh shit!” moments. To me it seemed as though the campaign was just filler for the multiplayer, and a lot of it just seemed like you were doing the same thing over and over. A lot of the game is fought in the streets of major cities, like New York and Paris, which was quite repetitive. There were also a few levels fought in Africa but it didn’t really add to the experience that much. All in all, this campaign is the weakest in the Modern Warfare series. It does, however, do a good job at tying everything together during a flashback sequence showing how Yuri fits into the story. There’s also another “you can skip over the offensive content” disclaimer, and I feel the skipped over content isn’t quite as bad as the airport massacre, but you’ll still probably be able to pick out the scene they’re talking about.

Globe trotting. WW3 style.

The multiplayer is exactly what you expect it to be, and there are a few new perks and kill streaks to keep it fresh. Also, there are three kill streak packages to pick from: assault, support, and specialist. The support package tends to have kill streaks that help your team, rather than punish the opposing team; you can drop ballistic vests for your team to pick up to reduce damage, you can select a UAV which shows the positions of the opposing team instead of just a red dot on the map, and you can call in an Osprey gun ship that drops care packages and provides over-watch to protect the packages. Also, your kill streak doesn’t reset with the support package selected. The assault package has some old staples like the predator missile, attack chopper and pave low, with a few new additions like a laser guided predator missile attack, a personal support chopper and a strafing run of 5 Apache attack helicopters. The specialist package allows you to add additional perks to your repertoire as you rack up kills, instead of giving you a one-time attack reward. There is also an impressive selection of personal weapons to choose from as you level up.

The multiplayer experience has improved a lot, and a new game mode called “Kill Confirmed” is pretty fun: in order for your kills to count towards your team score you have to collect the dog tags of your kills. I think in all of these respects the multiplayer experience is much improved. However, there are a few sub-par maps that are just cramped and confusing (remember the Rust map from MW2?), coupled with the fact that you can’t take more than 3 steps without getting shot in the head. Also, most of the maps are strikingly similar to the MW2 maps, so overall the maps don’t seem all that new. You also have to play as the African Militia on certain maps, which I find to be a little offensive. Do the developers realize what goes on in Africa? The voice-over when the round starts even says, “Butcher them. Show no mercy.” Really?

Lots of turret sequnces.
The special ops cooperative mode is back in this game as well. Unfortunately, I haven’t spent too much time with this mode. What I have played with one of my XBox buddies is pretty fun, and there is a new mode called Survival Mode, which is the Call of Duty answer to the Gears of War Horde mode. Overall, there is a lot of replay value within.

So to wrap things up, MW3 is a great game on its own, but the campaign falls short in comparison to its predecessors. The multiplayer experience is still top notch with a few additions, and just as addicting as before. When you put this game in your system, it’s like you never left the previous games. My personal feeling is that the game isn’t drastically different, but sometimes too much change isn’t necessarily a good thing.

Final Verdict: 4/5

Adam Marcey is KGB's resident BroDawg. Leave him some love in the comments!


  1. Adam's really tearing it up on these reviews. I'm glad to have him aboard, as it helps us keep up on coverage of games the rest of us here at KGB might not be into.

  2. As one of the rare people that has played through and beat the Modern Warfare 1 and 2 single player campaigns over 5 times. Over ten times for MW1, MW3 is significantly better than MW2, but nothing will capture the MW1 magic.

    Mainly because when MW1 came out in 2007, there was no games you could compare it to with its set pieces. COD 4 played and felt way different then their last game COD 2. I felt MW3 did a solid job expanding on set pieces from the previous games. For example when said character falls into a Waterfall, was superior to MW2 falling down a waterfall because the screen didn't cut to black and sound reduced when you hit water. While that was improved, no one is going to look back and have resonation with the falling down a waterfall set piece.

    Ever since MW1 amazing Priyat Chernobyl ghillie suit level, they tried to recreate a stealth mission in some regards but has fallen flat.

  3. I actually played MW1 AFTER MW@, and I agree that the Ghillie Suit level is among the best experiences this generation. As the series has progressed it's become more about spectacle. But I think the controls, frame rate, and presentation are still top-notch. They know what they're doing when they make these games.

  4. MW1 had good pacing. While you might not think of it the first time, the COD 4 soundtrack was great, and the scoring specifically for the Chernobyl missions was so good.

    MW2 and MW3 soundtracks were loud, and didn't have anything soft like MW1. MW1 had build up to set pieces, and MW2 and MW3 is all the action set pieces on a way larger scale.

    The presentation, frame rate, and controls is solid. Modern Warfare is one of the few FPS or just shooters in general that has a trilogy where the story relates to the previous 2 games.

    One thing the Modern Warfare series did is the protagonists are not invincible and your pals aren't either.

    Also in MW2 and MW3 Captain Price mustache has been replaced by a beard.

  5. That is true. Beards are the new mustache. Although I think Medal of Honor 2010 had the highest beard to soldier ratio of any modern FPS.