As I mentioned in my review of Battlefield 3 a few weeks ago, we seem to have a struggle for power between the top first person shooters every single year. Traditionally, it has been the Modern Warfare franchise that comes out on top, but with a much stronger offering from DICE this year, questions have been raised as to whether it will be able to maintain its position at the pinnacle of FPS gaming. Well, I have been playing Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 for the last few days, and some aspects live up to expectations, while some do not.
The campaign mode is one of the positives of the game, for sure. As with MW3’s predecessors you take the role of various soldiers on various missions the world over, which is fine – I tend to find it more realistic than the concept of one solider (namely, you) flying all over the place and being involved in every major mission that is happening. There are some brilliant firefights in Modern Warfare 3, all of which are well staged and the missions are varied enough to keep you entertained during extended periods of play. I found myself thoroughly enjoying my time manning turrets upon various vehicles (and planes) throughout the campaign mode. I appreciate that some players don’t like the ‘on-rails’ stuff but I like to break up my gameplay, so it was well received here.
The campaign has around 5-7 hours of gameplay all told (I lost track of time and had a few interruptions so I can’t specify any better), but it’s all killer, no filler and thoroughly enjoyable stuff. I would have appreciated a little more content, but with the lawsuits and staff departures (info here), I can understand why it’s so short. There were a few flaws with the AI, like colleagues seemingly standing around for 5-10 seconds doing nothing before moving on which was annoying. The opposition also seems to “camp” more than they used to in past games. I regularly got shot in the rear by people hiding in doorways and such, but in all fairness I should have checked the said doorway out before passing by it.
So much has been made of the new Call of Duty Elite service, which essentially allows you to review your stats: where you tend to die on certain maps, what your accuracy is, which weapon you have the most success using and a ton more. Sure, it’s a great addition to the series and I love to get in depth with analysis, but I can’t help but compare it to Bungie.net and think to myself “You’re too late, Infinity Ward”. Bungie have been providing a similar service for its gamers for years, so why haven’t we seen this sooner? Sure, there are a few extra bits and pieces here and there but nothing that leaves me breathless. It’s similar to Apple and their iPhones; they release a feature that their competitors have had for years and everyone gives them a puzzled look. The only difference is that Apple gets away with it because they also mix the new features up with ground breaking technology. Infinity Ward hasn’t done anything truly innovative for years. No, really, think about it.
The online multiplayer in Modern Warfare 3 is still highly entertaining and addictive though, as you would expect with Infinity Ward’s pedigree in this area. The leveling and prestige aspects of the game remain the staple of the online modes and give you something to work towards, a feature that has been mimicked by its competitors time and time again. You can build a ‘class’ (a particular weapon/skill set) to take into battle or use one of the default ones, and improve on them over time as you unlock new weapons and armor.
This year we see the addition of Survival Mode, which is essentially horde mode from Gears of War. You team up with another player and take on wave after wave of AI controlled opposition, trying to survive as long as possible for a better score. This can get extremely challenging as you advance through the waves, so I would suggest playing with a friend if you intend to progress beyond the 8th wave, as a well-executed strategy will definitely be required.
We also see the addition of Kill Command, a new mode where you must collect the dog tags from the corpse of your foe for the kill to count towards your team’s score. You can also pick up your comrade’s dog tags to stop the opposition profiting from their deaths. Because you need to be close to the opposition we see a lot less sniping, which leads to a faster and more action packed experience. This mode is definitely worth checking out!
If face-paced havoc was their goal, then Infinity Ward has delivered. It’s engaging, fun and you don’t need to constantly keep your wits about you to get by. My main concern is their lack of innovation. Infinity Ward are using an old graphics engine that has provided visuals looking a little outdated, so I hate to think how Modern Warfare 3 will compare to new games in 6-12 months’ time.
They have also seemingly released a new title (by name only) that adds a few new features online, one game mode and a couple of maps. As I mentioned earlier, there were lawsuits and pivotal staff leaving the company during development, so I can appreciate that this was probably a one off bad release and I am sure they’ll come back bigger and better next time round. I have to ask though, why not just hold off on the release and then work on it until you have something that’s worthy of continuing the legacy, as opposed to releasing what is essentially a glorified map pack. Releases regarding the sales and revenue figures might answer that question.
The game is entertaining for long periods of time and the campaign rocks, and if I hadn’t played Modern Warfare 2 then I would be calling Modern Warfare 3 magnificent. Unfortunately I did play its predecessor and don’t feel the ‘update’ is worth the price tag, regardless of the 10 million poor souls who parted with their cash on release day.