I was a little tempted to troll my readers and simply repost my old review for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 with a few edits, but after rereading it, I realized that most of it doesn’t apply to how I felt about Modern Warfare 3. Gone are the days when pretty graphics and stuff blowing up nice and big before our eyes can satisfy our gaming taste like it did two years ago. Now it just feels rote.
As before, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 does not disappoint when it comes to designing epic set pieces. With Europe now fully embroiled in this new world war, MW3 takes us to familiar locales like the House of Parliament in London or Champs-Elysees in Paris, and in Call of Duty tradition, big earth shattering events transpire. These moments define the Modern Warfare experience, but they also feel like the developers are running out of ideas. Many of these set pieces should feel familiar to anyone who has watched an action movie in the past decade. Try not to think of Die Hard: With A Vengeance when the subway train starts rolling through the tunnel knocking down beams and pillars everywhere. Also, don’t think of G.I. Joe when a certain something something falls into the Seine River. I’m sorry. Did I just spoil that scene? These moments may have been designed to shock and awe the player, but they simply come off as copying what action movies have already done. At one point, MW3 even copied action set pieces out of World War II shooters. One particular level starts out by invading a beach, a wide-open beach with enemies shooting down at you. Here I thought the series have moved on from its WWII shooter days. And just to prove that they have run out of ideas, one particular segment literally takes you through some of the memorable moments of past Modern Warfare titles from the eyes of someone who, as it turns out, was there the whole time but on the sidelines.
Modern Warfare 3’s overreliance on its shock and awe tactics left me feeling like I’d rather watch an action movie rather than have to slog through some uninspiring shootouts in between. As ever, MW3’s legendarily tight controls does not disappoint. Aiming and firing whatever firearm you have at your disposal feels spot on and ever so satisfying, but it feels wasted having to use it on the incredibly dumb AI. After a while, I almost missed the days when Call of Duty relied on infinitely spawning enemies. At least that situation calls on a level of throwing caution to the winds and running guns blazing into enemy lines just to break through. The most telling symptom of this comes from how much more fun I had when I’m not playing as the soldier on the front lines. The AC-130, basically the gunship high up in the skies, level returns and, as before, remains as one of the few highlights of the single player campaign. That along with an overly short sequence where you find yourself weightless but still having to deal with enemies will be the only real takeaways for me out of the single player experience.
But nobody, and I mean nobody, plays Call of Duty games because of its compelling storyline, and nobody should either. Its story remains a convoluted mess with far too many literary shortcuts and more plot holes that would make a Swiss cheese jealous. Although I enjoyed its way of conveying story elements by putting you in the shoes of characters that don’t survive said elements, it became a narrative crutch meant more to, again, shock and awe its audience, but it lost its intended effect back when it was used again and again in Modern Warfare 2.
As always, the shining jewel of the Modern Warfare 3 lies in its multiplayer. Everything we’ve come to love about the Modern Warfare multiplayer remains fully intact here, and most of the changes have definitely been made for the better. The biggest change happens in the Killstreak system, now called Pointstreak. By letting players build up their Pointstreak through means other than killing opposing players such as capturing objectives and destroying enemy items and air supports, Modern Warfare 3 now has a way to reward the support player on the team as well as the player who stays on the offensive. It even takes another step further in this direction through the different Strike Packages, which has an option to let the supporting player keep their Pointstreak alive despite dying.
Another change comes by way of leveling up weapons. Now even weapons gain experience points as you use them, and they even get their own perks as well too. These weapon perks take the burden off the personal perks giving you more options in how to customize your online soldier.
Modern Warfare 3’s new modes range from one that you probably can ignore to one that absolutely cannot be ignored. Kill Confirmed, a team deathmatch mode, which forces you to pick up the dog tags of your enemies for the kill to count, doesn’t change things too meaningfully except possibly in matches between two very coordinated teams, but in a more general pick-up and play teams of strangers, this doesn’t happen. Spec-Ops Survival, however, should be on everyone’s to do list with Modern Warfare 3.
Modern Warfare’s take on Horde Mode pits two players against waves of enemies, and in classic Horde Mode, these waves gradually increase in difficulty through more hardy soldiers to varying types of enemies like attack dogs or bomb strapped enemies that explodes on death. The joy comes from spending your money, which you get by killing enemies, on new weapons, weapon accessories, explosives, body armor, air strikes, and even the ability to call in your own squad of soldiers to back you up. All of which becomes an absolute necessity as later waves of enemies become much, much more difficult. Unfortunately, Modern Warfare’s obsession with leveling up extends to the availability of these items. The more powerful items are locked out until you’ve sufficiently gained enough experience in Spec-ops mode in general, which really doesn’t make any sense. Thankfuly, playing the Spec-ops Mission mode where each mission has a slightly different twist to it remains just as fun as it was back in Modern Warfare 2, so really leveling won’t be a problem per se, unless you jumped straight into Spec-Ops Survival mode right off the bat.
As a whole product, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 gets dragged down by its single player component, but given the complete experience that multiplayer component provides, I sometimes wonder if the single player component is even necessary anymore. It acts more and more like an expression of the developers desire to be an action movie director and less like a compelling experience for the player who have seen it time and time again in not only the movies but the other Call of Duty iterations before this one. The multiplayer experience of playing to level up and unlocking callsigns, perks, weapons, various weapons accessories, and various weapons perks felt much more compelling and satisfying. But the two doesn’t come in separate packages. It comes in one. With a heavy heart, the score it got comes because of this fact.
- Insanely addictive multiplayer component
- Spec-Ops Survival is an absolute blast
- AC-130 level a real highlight of single player
- Controls remain tight as ever
- Why do they even bother with a single player part anymore?
- Ridiculous story
- No wacky Wager Matches like in Black Ops
Praise It (4/5)
Confused about our score? See our Ratings Guide.