Sunday, 20 November 2011

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 Review

This review contains spoilers.

In the two years since Modern Warfare 2's release, the combined sales of it and Call of Duty: Black Ops's combined sales have reached 47 million. According to the internet, that's one copy for approximately every single person in the Ukraine. It seems the formula of intense gunfighting, linear corridors, vast multiplayer and sequences wherein the spends 5 minutes watching a black-and-white aerial shot of an area, possibly dropping bombs on the place and blowing up enemies like ants in a microwave is consistently popular enough to keep this video game giant afloat and eliminate any competition from the many brown and grey FPSes on the market. Modern Warfare 3 has already sold so many copies that every member of Activision  can buy a solid gold house whose bricks are stuffed with money, but, after playing Modern Warfare 3, the possibility of this formula sustaining the series for much longer is called into question, and changes will have to be made to the next game to keep the money coming in.

First, the campaign. I would explain the story so far, but if you're reading this, it means you are a sentient lifeform and therefore have played Modern Warfare 2. Modern Warfare 3's story picks up directly after the ending to that tangled narrative mess and sees the player control Derek "Frost" Westbrook as he wakes up from (apparently) sleeping in the road of New York City as it is being bombarded by Russian forces, who invaded the US in Modern Warfare 2. The player then fights through the streets of the city, using some new gear such as the XM25, a weapon so over-powered Frost may as well just have a big button to press which reads "Kill Everything", moving through damaged buildings, including the New York Stock Exchange, followed by a dramatic helicopter dogfight. It's a standard Call of Duty mission: dramatic, linear, fast-paced fun. The rest of Frost's missions involve him taking a sight-seeing tour around Europe, battling Russian forces who are taking over the continent.

The reason for the invasion of Europe is never fully explained. I understand why Russia invaded the USA in Modern Warfare 2, but there doesn't seem to be any justification for this invasion other than for the developers to include another attempt to increase sales by portraying some civillians being killed, this time on their holiday to London. This scene is considerably less shocking than the "No Russian" mission in Modern Warfare 2, possibly so The Daily Mail don't firebomb Infinity Ward's headquarters. As well as the premise for World War III being virtually non-existent, towards the end of the game the war just ends for what seems like no reason as well. Russia ecides to chill out and leave other countries alone as long as they forget that they just murdered millions of people and go back to normal life. One more thing which doesn't seem to make sense is that in the last mission with the US forces, Frost is nowhere to be found. He's in one mission and then nowhere to be found during the next one, with no explanation given.

The other narrative thread in Modern Warfare 3 follows recurring protagonists "Soap" MacTavish and Captain John Price as they attempt to clear their name while tracking down and killing Makarov, killing as many poor people as possible. They are joined by Yuri, an ex-Spetznaz agent. Soap and Price are two of the few characters in the series with any actual depth, so their story is enjoyable, as well as being more varied gameplay-wise than the US side of the campaign. There are a couple of the old stealth missions and fans of the first Modern Warfare game will be pleased to see Captain Macmillan make a couple of cameos, having last being seen in the excellent Pripyat mission in Call of Duty 4.

In summary, the capaign is basically what you'd expect: a lot of action-packed shooting sequences broken up by vehicle sections and stealth missions. The writing, while better than Modern Warfare 2's, still has flaws. The gameplay is a lot of fun, but, on normal difficulty, lasts for less than 6 hours, making it completely insubstantial.,

Also included, as in Modern Warfare 2, is Special Ops mode, a number of bonus missions which can be played alone or in co-op, on or offline. These involve a variety of objectives such as sneaking around guards to find the Russian president, completing a training course, and even playing as a Russian terrorist during the hijacking of an aeroplane. There's also a Survival mode, in which the player must survive waves of enemies, unlocking new weapons and bonuses the longer they stay alive. These modes add an extra couple of hours or so to the gameplay and are quite fun.

Lastly, there's multiplayer - the main reason most people bought the game. There are a number of game modes: Team Deathmatch, Capture the Flag, and the like, with new modes Kill Confirmed and Team Leader adding slight variations to Team Deathmatch while not being particularly groundbreaking. The maps are standard Modern Warfare maps: mostly war-torn cities and corridor-filled industrial areas. Again, nothing too different from Modern Warfare 2. There are a number of new weapons, as well as a new Pointstreak system which allows players to keep killstreaks even after being killed, useful for noobs. The killstreaks themsleves are mostly the same as in Modern Warfare 2, with a few new additions such as a remote-control sentry gun. Fortunatley, while there is an equivalent of the Tactical Nuke from Modern Warfare 3, it no longer ends the game and helps balance out the multiplayer. Overall, the multiplayer is fun and may provide another few hours of gameplay. However, it's incredibly similar to the multiplayer in Modern Warfare 2. The guns, the maps, even the menus - they're almost identical, and the few changes Modern Warfare 3 brings adds little. If you haven't played Modern Warfare 2's multiplayer, this won't be a problem and the multiplayer will be great fun, but to the rest of you who buy the game for the multiplayer there isn't enough new content to justify spending £45 on what is little more than a large map pack.

In summary, Modern Warfare 3 is fun. It's action-packed and intense, but the campaign is far too short and the multiplayer adds very little more than some generic maps and some new weapons and killstreaks. I advise renting it for the campaign, and to try out the multiplayer for a while before it stops being fun. After that, stick with Modern Warfare 2 and/or Black Ops. There's no need to pay full-price for this game.

Rating: 3/5

1 comment:

  1. If you love Call of Duty, then this is your game. If you have already bought Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, you shouldn't even be reading this. I have always been on the fence. After CoD 2, the single player of every game that followed, even CoD 4, was just a light gun game. You are continually led on rails to every checkpoint by bullet hose spraying enemies. There is no actual squad or enemy AI to speak of, they all just fire blindly and never reload. I know there are a few people who still play these games for the story mode, but I don't. I'm not going to go on too long because these things come out every year so there's not much new to explain.