The Call of Duty phenomenon is no joke in today's world of gaming and the impact every new game brings is huge. This is the franchise that has established numerous standards in this current generation of consoles whether we like it or not. To be honest, Modern Warfare 3 is the first Call of Duty I had extended time playing through and even though I knew what the fuss is all about, having that extended time is worth it to see if it is really worth all the attention it gets. This year's entry in the highly successful franchise has a lot to live up to considering it is handled by most of what's left of Infinity Ward and Sledgehammer Games. Magic does strike again from the over the top campaign, improved Spec Ops, and the multiplayer still as addicting as it has been since the first Modern Warfare. It is still the king of multiplayer shooters, but the formula is starting to get tiresome.
Another short campaign (around five to six hours normally, but longer on harder difficulties) awaits in Modern Warfare 3 as the game takes place immediately after the events of Modern Warfare 2 with Soap killing Sheperd and in bad condition as Captain Price and Nikolai escort him to safety. Makarov is still on the loose while the war between the United States and Russia is getting heated to the point other countries becoming battlefields and targets for Makarov's World War III scheme. As with these Call of Duty games, you play as multiple people in various locales of the world from Frost of the Delta Force and Yuri, who aides Price, Soap, and Nikolai to try to take out Makarov once and for all. Frost does start the show at a ruined New York City preventing the Russians from taking over. From the beginning to the finale, this is Call of Duty at its finest with its scripted scenes, lots of vehicular sections, and numerous OMG events as if you're watching a Michael Bay movie. Big things do happen throughout the game at various locales if you thought the beginning was crazy.
The campaign is filled with memorable moments, but also some flaws as well. At numerous times, I felt like I can't tell the difference between the opposition and those on my team. In certain situations, I just hope my comrades' A.I. can get the job done clearing out areas even though relying on them does not work all the time. Players still have to do nearly of the work as your teammates can get dumb and useless. In addition to the friendlies, I sometimes get away with friendly fire and while at the weirdest and stupidest times, I get the friendly fire is not tolerated notice resetting myself back to the nearest checkpoint. Speaking of checkpoints, the checkpoint system is as generous as it has been in past Call of Duty games, so there is no need to worry about dying a lot when stuck in a certain area. Another issue I had with the campaign is that there were too many vehicular sections throughout the campaign. If I had to guess how long I spent in a vehicle shooting down enemies, whether it is a tank, helicopter, AC-130, or a jeep, I would say these sections take a good third of the campaign. It is cool and all that these sections are there, but I felt the developers went a little overboard with that. Similar to Modern Warfare 2, there is a moment where you can skip if you think it will be offensive, but this moment in MW3 does not have the same impact as MW2's offensive scene.
Of course, the Call of Duty games are not just about the single player campaign as a Modern Warfare staple, Spec Ops, returns this year. The new thing with Spec Ops this time around is the addition of a survival mode. Survival is basically Call of Duty's Horde mode with waves of enemies to defeat while staying alive as long as you can. You don't start out with your multiplayer loadouts as the leveling up system is separate from that. Instead, your starting weapon is a pistol and you can buy better weapons, explosives, and air support as you progress through a game. The enemies do get tougher and tougher as expected as you keep going as the waves can get crazy. Juggernauts will come in at certain waves and later on they're mixed in with other soldiers and even helicopters to come and ruin your parade. Survival can be fun for what it is if you're willing to challenge yourself besides the campaign and in later waves, smarter strategies are preferred to keep going. The mission mode is still there in Spec Ops as well as they're pretty much the same as Modern Warfare 2 as you with survival, they can be played alone or co-op with another player locally or online.
Then there's the multiplayer, which is the main reason people are getting and have been playing numerous hours. The core of it didn't get changed dramatically from setting up custom classes, perks, and kill/deathstreaks, but there are little changes for the better in some aspects. The killstreaks for example are now consisted of three different packages. Assault is more offensive with airstrikes, helicopters, AC-130s, and other similar air support weapons. Support is a little more defensive with counter UAVs, SAM turrets, and recon drones. Unlike assault, the support package does allow killstreaks to continue even after dying, so if you're someone that can not maintain a double digit killstreak getting the big toys, maybe the support class is for you. The specialist package is a different beast as certain killstreaks grant you certain perks that you normally use. There is a killstreak package for everyone and it is change that works. The leveling up system is still addicting as it has been with accolades, challenges, and more along with your weapons leveling up as well to unlock attachments and more customizable things to mess around with.
The modes are also pretty much the same as Call of Duty games in the past despite some of the new modes that were introduced in Black Ops are not in this one. The standouts like Team Deathmatch and Domination will obviously be played a lot, but there are a lot of others that are underrated such as Kill Confirmed and franchise favorite Headquarters. Most of these modes are 6v6 even though there is a big team-like playlist for 8v8 matches in the dozen maps available out of the gate. The maps themselves are fine for the most part and I didn't really have any issues with them. Of course there are downloadable map packs coming soon and discounted if you have the Call of Duty Elite subscription, which that contains more packages fans will like.
While Modern Warfare 3 still looks good, the graphics engine they have been using for numerous years is showing its age, Some effects won't look as good as comparison to other shooters, but the game overall still looks fine especially running at 60 frames per second. There might be little buggy stuff here and there, but nothing worth game-breaking. However, there might be moments where I felt like I have to turn the brightness up to see what's going on specifically in the nighttime levels. As far as the sound is concerned, the production is still top-notch as expected. The theatrical soundtrack is great and the voice cast makes you feel like you're in a Hollywood blockbuster especially with all the crazy moments throughout the campaign. The sound effects are also impressive as if you want to play this loud in a theater setup.
In a nutshell Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 is a great game and worthy of the franchise, but does it live up to the title most anticipated game in history? My answer is no as even though it is still filled with memorable moments and goodness fans know and love, the formula Infinity Ward has stuck with is starting to get old and tiresome as we'll see how they try to shake things up on the next game they're working on. Then again, with the franchise as successful like this, why even try to change it at all if billions of players are playing it right now with no signs of slowing down unless the fans really do fear change for the franchise. There is no denying that Call of Duty is a juggernaut that can't be stopped right now and after finally playing one for an extended period of time, now I know why it is the hot thing in the gaming world today even though it is not as superb as it can be.
Score = 8/10
- Its still Call of Duty at its finest and that alone is enough for fans to buy and play it for hundreds of hours
- Survival mode for Spec Ops is a great addition
- Multiplayer still pretty much the same, but the little changes are worth it
- Various campaign issues from too many vehicular sections and having a hard time telling who is who at certain times
- Graphics engine starting to show its age
- The whole formula is getting tiresome after sticking to it for four straight years and games.