Activision and Infinity Ward launched the long Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 and sales of the game in the first 24 hours reached $400 million setting a new record for an entertainment launch. This review covers the single-player campaign and cooperative mode.
We left off at the end of Modern Warfare 2 with our heroes, “Roach” and “Ghost” of Task Force 141, betrayed and killed by General Shepard. General Shepherd is then hunted and killed by Captains John “Soap” MacTavish and John Price using intel from terrorist Vladimir Makarov. We learned that Shepherd and Makarov are behind the start of World War 3. General Shepherd was seeking revenge against the world for losing 30,000 men in Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare and Makarov just wants Russia to become the dominant force in Europe. “Soap” and Price decided that the only way to end the war is to find Makarov and bring him to justice. However, killing General Shepherd put “Soap” and Price on the most wanted list since few know of General Shepherd’s treasonous cause.
The campaign in Modern Warfare 3 finally gives closure to the story line begun in Modern Warfare. I won’t spoil the ending, but fans of the series will not be disappointed with the sequence of events leading to the climactic ending. The one thing that Activision does that sets the Call of Duty series apart from other first person shooters is the thought put into the storytelling and the cinematic scenes that advance the story lines.
Of course, it isn’t as well written as most Hollywood blockbusters and the dialogue at times can be poorly written. However, the voice acting and action sequences overcome any shortcomings. The cinematic scenes are always compared to what you might find in a Michael Bay movie. For gamers who like huge fire fights, big explosions, and fast-paced action scenes, Modern Warfare 3 has plenty.
The graphics of the game are solid. It isn’t as realistic as more recent FPS games; however, the 60 frames per second frame-rate never slips. The rendering of the elements in the environment is always smooth and quick. The sound design is also first rate. The guns sound and feel different. Background sounds in buildings and in the streets will help pull you into the game. I did not experience any audible or visible glitches or hiccups during my two playthroughs, nor any game crashes. The game controls haven’t changed from the prior games and are still as responsive and precise as ever.
In the campaign, you play mainly as Yuri, an ex-Spetsnaz soldier, who has his own reasons for hunting Makarov, and most other missions are played as Delta Force operative Derek “Frost” Westbrook. During the game, you are also tasked to play as a couple of other characters, but those are only just for a mission or two. The gameplay is varied and involving. The action is so fast-paced you rarely get more than a minute to take a break.
There are brief moments that will have you holding your breath as the action unfolds. When you start off as Frost and your mission is to take back the NYSE and destroy a Russian communications tower in order to repel the invasion of New York, you realize the scope of what the developers want as the backdrop of the game. The campaign can take any where from 5-8 hours depending on the level of difficulty. The game also brings back the violence warning at the beginning of the game giving the player (and concerned parents) the opportunity to option out of graphic violence.
One issue I had with the single-player campaign is that on some missions the NPCs (Non-Playable Characters) can get in the way and block doors and stairwells, especially Captain Price. Some people might also not like how the game moves you forward and does not like for you to run around and do your own thing. At one point when I could not figure out where to go, Captain Price was telling me to get a move on, or let’s go, or we gotta get out of here. There are also times when you will be faced with endless waves of enemies if you don’t move toward the objective marker. The game does rest on the formula for the previous games and does not offer any exciting new single-player experiences. There is a bullet-time sequence in zero-gravity on an airplane, but that is it. Some people will find the emotional tug points sappy and contrived, but some die hard fans will be screaming “NO!” at some of those same points.
New to the Call of Duty series in this game is a new Survival Mode. The development of this mode was probably influenced by the popularity of Horde Mode in the Gears of War series. You, alone or with a friend, can take on endless waves of enemies. Unlike the Zombie Mode in Call of Duty: World at War, these enemies aren’t mindless drones that spawn in the same place over and over again, they will spawn in positions relative to your location making you have to alter your strategy each time you re-spawn. Each wave increases in difficulty. Juggernauts are rather difficult to kill when they start to spawn, and they can become a pain when they start spawning in greater numbers. Survival Mode is available on all the multiplayer maps included in the game. You can earn cash which can be used to purchase upgrades, new weapons, more ammo, equipment and tactical ground and air support.
Special Ops from Modern Warfare 2 is also available. Special Ops mode provides a number of challenges. Some people might find this mode satisfying since completing the challenges can give you some sense of accomplishment in brief little missions. You can also get to play with weapons that are not available in multiplayer, which might interest those who like to try out all the weapons that are available.
Overall, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 is a great single-player experience. It has some gameplay flaws, but most of them are things that will vary based on a player’s subjective experience. Players who love the series and have played every iteration of the game since it began will find the ending of the campaign satisfying and complete. The Survival Mode is a good addition to the game play, and Special Ops Mode is once again fun and engaging.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 is rated M (Mature) by ESRB. Blood and Gore, Drug Reference, Intense Violence, Strong Language. This game can also be found on Playstation 3, P.C., and Nintendo Wii.