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Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3

Ever since Modern Warfare, Call of Duty has grown from a great series to a multi-billion franchise that’s core to the publisher’s survival. Key to that success has been Infinity Ward, the studio that recently saw its founders bail out and leave to start up a new studio which works with Activision’s main competitor: Electronic Arts. Also several key members from the studio decided to leave, making everyone wonder: does Infinity Ward still have what it takes to deliver a top product that is capable of holding the crown in the first person shooter genre?

Activision didn’t want to gamble so they had the experienced people at Raven Soft and Sledgehammer help out on the making of Modern Warfare 3 to guarantee success. And seeing at the sales numbers, it worked.

The singleplayer starts where Modern Warfare 2 ended and just as we’re used from Call of Duty, you get thrown in the middle of the action, put on a freight train of action with adrenaline pumping from the first minute until the last second. The campaign has a coherent structure split over a couple of different characters that have to complete missions all over the world, and it all just feels like you’re going from one blockbuster action movie scene to the next.

The Eiffel tower getting blown to pieces, a hi-speed chase in the subway, entering a nuclear submarine from under water, clearing a parking garage with a tank to end up with your tank falling through a couple of stages, … it’s all breathtaking to watch. However, a great movie doesn’t depend on its special effects alone (although they do help) and the same goes for videogames.

Just like a Michael Bay movie, Modern Warfare 3 blows you away with scenes that loudly shout “holy f*ck!” and the technical expertise with which everything is made is impeccable. This latest Call of Duty refines the well-known setup to become a perfectly cut diamond. Unfortunately, that’s also where the main problem is located.

Modern Warfare 3’s singleplayer refines but doesn’t innovate. Yes, technically everything looks amazing, but you’re constantly running in a preset path and never ever get any feeling of freedom. And that takes away a lot of the excitement. After all, if you don’t have a feeling of freedom then you don’t get the feeling your actions truly matter. And that’s exactly what happens here. Unless of course your AI partners decide that you haven’t crossed some invisible line yet, which will make them stop until you’ve performed action “x” or “y”. Or shot down that one annoying opponent they for some unknown reason can’t seem to take out themselves.

This actually ruins the experience a bit and takes out the soul of the game. You want to continue to find out what the devs have in store for you next when it comes to spectacle, but just like a Transformers movie, you don’t really feel immersed or care much about what’s going on.

The multiplayer is a different matter. Many people will compare with Battlefield 3, but in all honesty: they can hardly be compared.

Where EA’s shooter focuses on large-scale battles with up to 64 players, Modern Warfare 3 has 16 maps that are focused on frantic hi-speed action with a smaller number of players. This of course also means you’re running down narrow streets with hostiles lurking around just about every corner, unlike for instance Battlefield’s Caspian Border where you can run for almost a minute at times without even coming close to a hostile.

It’s quite the difference but it works nicely as well. There’s a ton of different modes available, most making only small changes to the standard versions we all know for years, but the changes do give some additional spice to the game. Most notable is without a doubt Kill Confirmed which is pretty much like standard Deathmatch but with the added twist that you have to “capture” the dogtags of the enemy you just killed in order to complete the kill. This also means, of course, that your opponent’s team can capture those tags as well and in effect deny you your kill. Yes, it’s as fun as well as frustrating as it sounds :)

So regarding that comparison between BF3 and MW3 qua multiplayer: it depends a lot on your personal taste. If you like hectic and rather short games that aim for quick kills, then Modern Warfare 3 is without a doubt the game for you. If you prefer longer-running games with open areas and a more realistic approach, then go for Battlefield.

Next to the multiplayer, MW3 also provides an extensive co-op possibility. In Spec Ops you can replay campaign missions with friends and complete certain objectives, while in Survival you and your friends face off waves of ever-increasingly strong hostiles in some of the multiplayer maps. And with sixteen maps available in each mode, you can be sure you’ll be busy for quite some time!

All in all, Modern Warfare 3 polishes, refines and perfects Call of Duty in just about every area. Unfortunately, it also loses its soul in that process. The singleplayer is spectacular like a Michael Bay movie, but makes you wonder if you actually have to do anything else but watch the spectacle pass by. Hopefully, Infinity Ward’s next Call of Duty will innovate again as it’s clear we’ve come to an end when it comes to possibilities of refinement.

The multiplayer and co-op provide an overload of stats and perks as well as plenty of modes and maps to keep you going for quite some time. The hectic action is perfect for short rounds of headshot hunting and stats collecting.

We started with the question if Infinity Ward was capable of holding the crown in the first person shooter genre. The answer to that is a clear “yes”. But just barely. Modern Warfare 3 is a more complete and coherent product than Battlefield 3 and as such earns to be the better seller in stores. But I prefer Battlefield 3’s multiplayer any day.

Our Score:
related game: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3
posted in: Activision, PC, Reviews
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