Modern Warfare 3 – Review

Title   Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3
Developer  Infinity Ward / Sledgehammer Games
Publisher  Activision
Platform  Xbox 360 (Reviewed)/PS3/PC/Wii
Genre  First Person Shooter
Release Date  8th November 2011

Okay, I’ll admit it; the epic finale of Modern Warfare 2 left me more than a little bit breathless and, having been a COD fangirl for the better half of a decade, Modern Warfare 3 was anything but a mere blip on my radar. In fact, in the days leading up to its release, it pretty much tap danced round my peripheral vision wearing a banana suit. However, despite proclaiming itself to be the most anticipated game of the year, I was more than a little bit apprehensive come release day. I don’t know how, but I somehow managed to avoid hearing all spoilers that were being thrown around my twitter feed like faecal matter in a monkey cage, meaning that I had no idea what to expect when I placed the disc in the tray.

The opening sequence of the campaign picks up the story right where it was left hanging all that time ago. A short and sweet introduction featuring our old friends Nikolai, Price and Soap brings everyone up to scratch on the key storyline and, sitting pretty at around two minutes, it’s not too long to wait to get into the first mission of the game – the inevitable tutorial level.

MW3′s approach to the necessary evil of the tutorial was refreshing to say the least. Unlike its predecessors, MW3 has cut its softcore training mission and opted for a feet first approach – literally throwing the player into the thick of the action from the start and tossing the odd hint and helpful tip when needed. Running through all the basics from reloading, aiming and throwing grenades is integrated into the initial game play and comes across as barely noticeable, making for an explosive start to the game. It’s a bit like theory and practice. Sure, in theory you could shoot that terrorist in the head and save the parade of nuns and puppies he was threatening but, in practice, that terrorist isn’t made of cardboard and he isn’t going to spring up at timed intervals and stare menacingly at you. Throwing the player into the heat of the action in this way not only provides them with a sure fire way to grasp the controls necessary for the upcoming clusterfuck of combat, but it also refreshes those seasoned veterans who need to adjust back from the controls used in another recent release.

The campaign once again boasts a variety of difficulties ranging from the infuriatingly difficult to a level so easy that your mum’s arthritic terrier could give it a whack.  Of course, while the difficulty you select affects the damage you take, it also varies just how involved the AI becomes. While there appeared to be a lot of clean up with the AI, there were a few moments when one of my less ‘switched on’ team mates insisted on walking through my line of sight, getting himself shot. Overall though, the AI seemed helpful without taking too much of the glory. True, I died on several occasions, but there were times the AI saved my arse and took care of that bloke over there while I sat down for a breather after a grenade related issue.  The balance between helping and kill-stealing, and between leaving me to go on a blood fuelled rampage whilst being just plain useless was, for the first time, just about right.

The ability of my artificial team mates gave me the opportunity to pause and absorb the dystopian future world presented to me. I often find that graphics are wasted in fast paced first person shooters such as COD – explosions and other momentous events are constantly drawing our attention away from the minute details. Of course we all appreciate the obvious development of the graphics, but in the heat of action it’s hard not to see anything outside of our scope. For MW3 this is a real shame as, visually, it is a stunning game.

I was expecting at least some dodgy graphics, magically disappearing walls or screen tearing, but was pleased to find that the game had seemingly been polished to a shiny perfection. Water actually, for the most part, looked like water, and fire was equally pleasing to the eye. Small details such as the pattern in fabric, or the seam in Price’s trousers showed a real dedication to realism that is bound, in most cases, to go unnoticed. The expanse of the stunning graphics isn’t limited either; although you may have reached the edge of the map, the scenery spans well away into the distance.

While the attention to the minor visual details thrilled me just a little bit, the attention to realistic details in the representation of the some of the world’s main cities felt a little pushed. An example of this can be seen in the representation of my own back yard of London. Yes, it was a fantastic representation, if not a little too clean and litter free, but a glaring fault in the designers’ research was pointed out to me by a friend and has bugged the shit out of me since. Really – if you’re going to represent an archetypal symbol of a major city, you could at least get it right. Yes, that’s right – they messed up with the London Underground.

First of all, the names on the tube map. Panda Bear Road? Rusty Lane? Really? If you’re not going to use the actual station names couldn’t you at least come up with something a little more realistic? Also, announcing that the train currently sat in Westminster station is terminating at the end of the Piccadilly line is bit of a niggling faux pas (for those who don’t understand, Westminster is NOT on the Piccadilly line). Perhaps as a Londoner I’m looking into this a little bit too much? Nah. The devil is in the detail, right?

One questionable announcement aside, both the voice acting and the special effects have come into their element in this game. The sound effects completely blew me away – literally. I really felt my surround sound getting kicked in the balls and told to work and it’s hard to deny the realism of the gunfire and vehicle engines. Combine the true effect of combat along with the triumphant soundtrack that faded in just as I was getting into the groove of a level and it was hard not to feel a little smug at the end of each completed section.

I was pleased that Billy Murray (better known as “that bloke from the injury Lawyers for you” ad) reprised his role as Price and, alongside Kevin McKidd who voices Soap, delivered a fantastic performance. Having grown incredibly attached to these characters over the last two games, it was good to have the rapport maintained with the characters that essentially drive the story forward. I wanted to resolve the story of Price, Soap and Nikolai as we had been through so much together and I wasn’t disappointed in that respect – the game certainly resolved their storyline but, as the closing credits rolled, I couldn’t help but feel a little underwhelmed.

The campaign game play is predictably short, but sweet. Depending on your difficulty level, a player can realistically expect to be playing anywhere from four hours onwards and achievements seem to flow thick and fast. Collectibles throughout the levels mean that there is definitely added replay value for those of you who like to grind a game for every point you can, and the varying degrees of difficulty ensure a different gaming experience each time you play. For those who want to continue the enjoyment of the campaign in a much less single fashion, the “Special Ops” section of the game provides the player with missions that can be enjoyed in a party of anywhere between 2-4 players.

A couple of nifty editions to the online multiplayer add for a little variety too. While there have been many comments stating that MW3 is just an overpriced map pack and that Activision are really starting to flog a dead horse, being able to choose between standard playlists and advanced, and the addition of games such as “Kill confirmed” and “Team Defender” add a tiny bit of spice to the aforementioned carcass. The addition of these lemony light twists gives online multiplayer a new refreshing feel that will keep the game interesting until the inevitable new COD release in 2012.

  • It provides a resolution to the cliffhanger of MW2
  • The addition of new multiplayer games adds a freshness to the online gameplay
  • The graphics and sound effects really are something, and will put the most hi-tech gaming set up to the test
  • There is only so much you can do with the multiplayer, and it does feel a little like an overpriced map pack
  • The campaign ending did leave me a little underwhelmed, considering the build up to it

After much reflection, Modern Warfare 3 can be described in one word: predictable. Of course, that’s cheating - how could it not be predictable? It’s basically the same game with a flimsy and somewhat unbelievable throwaway storyline superimposed over explosions and sexed up weaponry, but something about MW3 just didn’t sit quite right for me. I think after the twists and explosive ending of MW2, I was left a little disheartened by the progression of the MW3 storyline. While it delivered pretty much everything I was hoping it would, it lacked a certain jazz.

That being said, it was still a bloody brilliant game that will keep me occupied for months to come. It boasts the outrageous and unbelievable storylines and plot twists that are expected of it, and those who are agonising over what to put on your Christmas wish list shouldn’t ignore the hype.

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  1. Ste Ste says:

    Nice one Jo face. I’ve not played this yet (waiting for Xmas) but the MW series has been my favourite of the COD games this generation. Anyway, I’m really looking forward to this, especially the awesome spec op missions. They provided the most fun for me personally on the last MW and I’m looking forward to their return after the disappointment I felt due to Blops only having a zombie mode :-/

  2. Edward Edward says:

    This is pretty amazing for your first review, Jo! :)

  3. Iain Iain says:

    why were you staring at Price’s trousers? o_0

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