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Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 Review

By Christopher Britt (13/06/2012)3308 words
Tagged: call of duty modern warfare 3 review the director the gaming monolit

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3
Once More into the Breach...

Platform: Xbox 360
Developer: Infinity Ward/Sledgehammer Games
Publisher: Activision
Release Date: Nov. 8th, 2011
Review Date: Nov. 23rd, 2011
Reviewed By: The Director, The Gaming Monolith

What's Hot:
Polished Gameplay
Good Graphics
Deep Multiplayer
Survival Mode

What's Not:
Forgettable Story
Dated Engine with New Tweaks
Single Player Campaign

The Call of Duty franchise was born from a couple of creative minds who were part of the development team 2015. This studio developed what is arguably the best World War II based first person shooter ever made, Medal of Honor: Allied Assault. Although not as amazing as that game, in my opinion, Call of Duty had a craziness that was instantly likeable and provided an experience like no other on the pc gaming market.

World War II is where they franchised for the next couple of installments, each one delivering familiar, yet thoroughly enjoyable gameplay that won the hearts of millions of gamers around the world. I guess the creators of the franchise at Infinity Ward decided it was time for a change, after all, EVERYONE was still doing World War II games and a lot of times, when a popular gaming series takes a radical step away from what made it famous, the results are not always good, this was not the case with Call of Duty and on November 5th, 2007, the gaming industry would find out why.

Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare stunned critics and gamers alike with it's realistic visuals, polished gameplay, and for the sheer quality of the entire game in general. The single player campaign, although short, was full of unforgettable moments, a good story, and non stop thrills and the multiplayer was touted as some of the best and deepest to come to a first person shooter ever. Modern Warfare took the world by storm and firmly cemented the franchise as the top selling one for the next four years (and probably beyond) and that's where we've landed today with Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, the next installment in the series and the final one in the story arch started with it's superb first outing. Unfortunately I must say that the franchise has lost its luster over the years and it is not nearly as fun or surprising as it was but Modern Warfare 3 has a few tricks up its sleeve that make this one still loads of fun and worth every penny for the dedicated Call of Duty player.

Modern Warfare 3's story kicks off right where Modern Warfare 2 left off. Soap and Price discovered General Sheppard's dastardly plot and end up killing him with a knife through his eye, however, Soap was severely wounded in the process and is rushed to a nearby medical center for treatment. After this short prologue, we cut to a gigantic battle taking place in the Big Apple, where you play as a member of the Delta Force squad, Metal 0-1.

Unfortunately, the story throughout the game takes a backseat to the action, as it did in Modern Warfare 2 and ends being an incoherent mess and not very interesting. There are a few moments where the game tries to tug at the heartstrings and activate the tears but they fall way flat because they're pretty much shoved into the player's face.

The franchise's trademark hopping around to different characters is back and isn't handled any better. I really wish that developers would understand the stupidity of having nameless, speechless protagonists and stop doing it altogether because it really makes the game even more boring and unsatisfying to play. Something that really makes me mad is Call of Duty's different characters altogether, it now seems that they're desperately clinging to this idea even though they know it's an old and tired mechanic because, like MW 2, they have resulted to just making up random characters with absolutely no purpose whatsoever as an excuse to hop around to different parts of the world and then by the end of the game, they kill them off and invent new ones in the next game. In MW 3, you play no less than four people, three of which have never made an appearance in a Call of Duty game before and all of these three end up dead by the end of the game, some people would call this a spoiler but think about it, what I am spoiling exactly. These characters aren't developed at all, they're just floating cameras with two arms that carry a gun and throw grenades, that's it and I'm quite sick of it.

Overall, the story started in Modern Warfare does come to an end and it is a satisfying one but I really wish that the creators would take a lot more time in developing their single player experience like they did in the first Modern Warfare instead of tacking it on at the last minute just for kicks. On a random side note, during the credits, I noticed that one of the writers for the game was the guy who penned the Best Picture winning films Crash (2004) and Million Dollar Baby and being the fan of those films that I am. I really can't see this guy writing anything that is remotely bad, I think Activision wanted a single player reboot but still put the annual release stranglehold on the development crew and it ended up being another waste of time. Bringing a good screenwriter on board might be the step forward that the series needs for it's single player but it doesn't mean jack if they don't a lot of time to pen something worthwhile.

From what I've seen and read about the game's engine, I would guess that's it's running on Modern Warfare 2's engine. Now, sometimes, this isn't a problem, Valve's source engine of seven years ago is still being used and the reason I have no gripes about this is because they keep tweaking it to stay with the times, this is not the case with MW 3. With the exception of a couple of new lighting effects, this game looks EXACTLY like MW 2, right down to the HUD and the "You're Hurt, Get to Cover!" thing that pops up when you take one too many to the noggin.

I can think of two reasons why they used the same engine with little tweaking of it. The first (and probably most true) is that Activision is a greedy, money grubbing developer who didn't want to spend the money or time to let the developers create a new engine since they know that people will buy the game anyway and they have to keep with the annual release of the franchise to make the most money. Some people will counter this by saying that MW 2 was a HUGE improvement over MW 1, this is true but sequels tend to make or break a game series and Activision needed nothing less than absolute amazement to skyrocket the new and improved Modern Warfare series to top selling in the entire world. After the sales of Black Ops came in, they probably decided that MW 2's engine would be more than enough for the next iteration and left it at that.

The second reason I came up with was that Infinity Ward and Sledgehammer are not competent enough now to create a great new engine that runs well. I don't think Sledgehammer has an amazing reputation and the IW that was behind MW 1 and 2 was gutted shortly after the release of MW 2. This reason may not be anywhere close to the real reason but I still wanted to share it with you. The point is that MW 3 looks just like MW 2 and that's unacceptable.


Anyone familiar with Call of Duty will feel instantly at home with the gameplay aspects of Modern Warfare 3, this is a blessing and a curse. The Modern Warfare versions of this franchise consistently deliver the most polished, intense, and exciting first person shooter combat to date and Modern Warfare 3 is no exception. The problem with this game, however, comes from the fact that the single player isn't nearly as good as it was in the first MW and the fact that it's running off the same engine that MW 2 was.

It seriously feels like you're playing Modern Warfare 2. Yes, they added some new guns and attachments and made a few tweaks here and there but, for the most part, this is Modern Warfare 2.5, not 3. The single player campaign hits it's high note way early and I was, in fact, kind of excited for it being better than MW 2's campaign but it quickly fell into over the top fare and I actually was hoping it would end sooner than it did. Some of the set pieces contained in the single player are intense and fun as hell but for the most part, it doesn't come close to the perfection that was Modern Warfare's campaign was.

The critically acclaimed multiplayer suite is back and has been giving some new features as well. The first I'll mention is the kill streaks, now called point streaks and they come in a couple of different packages. The Assault package is just like the previous game's kill streak rewards, UAVs, a Predator, and a helicopter plus a couple new editions. The support package allows to keep your streak going even though death yet its rewards are geared toward helping your team out rather than getting kills. You can activate an EMP and drop some ballistic vests with this package, pretty cool. The last package is called Specialist and what this does is add a new perk to your character every couple of kills, which sounds awesome but since they reset entirely upon death, I can only imagine the game breaking campers coming out of the wood work wielding this monstrosity of a package. Something like this should have been left on the cutting room floor for sure.

The next tweak to multiplayer is weapon proficiencies. You can now level up whatever gun you're using and as you do, you'll be able to add perks to it like reducing the recoil, making the flinch when you get shot less pronounced and stuff like that. This is a nice edition to the multiplayer as it rewards players for using their favorite weapon and may keep some of the people who just used the most powerful weapon in the game at bay, more play time will tell for sure though.

Of course, the same gripe I've had with multiplayer in general pops up once again in this game. The bulk of the online community, unfortunately, like to cheat their way to better stats and weapons and the amount of campers in this game is extremely annoying. The amount of fun you have with the multiplayer will strongly revolve around how much hatred you have for people like this, if you can ignore them, you'll have loads of fun, if not well, you're in trouble.

Last but not least, the Spec Ops mode from Modern Warfare 2 has returned and has a few improvements with it. One of them is the ranking system, that's right, if you enjoy the leveling up in multiplayer then you're in luck because Spec Ops mode has it's own ranking system now that works just like the multiplayer. As you earn kills and other things, you'll gradually rank up which will allow you access to better weapons. These weapons don't come into play during the normal Spec Ops missions, however, you'll really enjoy all the unlocks in the brand new Survival Mode, which is probably the best addition in Spec Ops and in the entire game.

To those of you who are familiar with Horde mode in Gears of War, Firefight mode in Halo, and Zombies mode in the Treyarch developed Call of Dutys. You'll feel right at home in this mode. The idea remains the same, you defend yourself against wave after wave of increasingly difficult enemies and you only get one life, once you die, that's it, it's over. As you progress in rank, you'll unlock new, more powerful weapons as I mentioned before but, in Survival mode, you'll also unlock the ability to use explosives like claymores and C4 and you'll even gain the ability to use an air strike or a Predator and even call in the help of a Delta Force squad or a group of riot shield toting guys as well.

Believe me, you'll need the help too because once you get to Wave 20 and beyond, it gets really difficult. Each kill you make will earn you money you can use toward purchasing each of the different weapons and perks and they even added different challenges per wave to help you earn a little more money to go toward your weapons, it's a very good system.

Although Survival mode is lacking the distinct personality of Zombies mode, it more than makes up for it in the sheer amount of fun it brings to the table. Survival mode is, in my opinion, the best rendition of this game type created so far and is VERY addicting. It doesn't take nearly as long to get to high rounds as it did in Zombies either. I'm sure a lot of you remember getting bored by round 30 or so in Zombies and just quitting out but in Survival mode, most likely, you will die before you get bored since each wave is fast and brutal and might even leave you a little drained once you do parish.

You also need to exercise quite a bit of skill to make it far in Survival mode as well. In Zombies, we all used to fall into the habit of just doing a big circle, knocking the zombie's health down little by little, which got really boring but this is not the case with Survival mode. The AI is WAY smarter than the zombies and every kill is earned. It is these two reasons why Survival mode is way beyond Zombies in terms of fun.

It's way more intense and exciting and you don't resort to doing circles or repeating your actions to get to high waves. Survival mode will boil down to the player frantically trying to defend a particular position or escaping a tight snag and barely coming out alive on the other side, which makes it so exhilarating. Some of the escapes you make will amaze you and you'll be talking over it with friends for quite some time.

Modern Warfare 3 doesn't stray to far from the formula brought by it's predecessors but it does tweak it enough so the fun factor is still there. Yes, the campaign still has problems and the multiplayer maybe a little to familiar to some, along with the campers and quick scoping players hindering the fun some of you will have. The Spec Ops mission are decent fun after you finish the campaign and Survival Mode is a rarity that doesn't come along too often and is extremely addicting, fun, and immensely satisfying if you like that type of gameplay. I can't see any newcomers being wowed by Modern Warfare 3 but Call of Duty veterans will surely be more than happy with this package.


Story - 6.0
While definitely being serviceable and climatic, the story contained in this game is far from perfect or interesting and is a huge sore point for this game. I really hope future installments make a change in this department or I fear that the game will lose a big part of what made it good in the first place. The hiring of Paul Haggis, the writer of Crash and Million Baby, is a good step forward but it means nothing if he is not given the right amount of time to craft a good story.

Graphics - 8.0
They call it the IW 5.0 engine but what it really is, is the IW 4.0 engine (MW 2's engine) with very few tweaks. It still looks pretty good but I expected a lot more from the biggest selling franchise of all time.

Gameplay - 8.5
The campaign shows promise in its early goings but quickly falls into over the top and ridiculous and becomes a chore to play through. The multiplayer is fun with some new features but may be too familiar for a lot of people and still has the problems that all online games do with its rampant cheaters. Spec Ops missions return and are as varied as they were in MW 2. Survival mode is the best addition in the game and is wildly entertaining and addicting.

Sound - 8.0
Sound effects are as good as they've ever been, making the game that much more intense. Weapons especially sound more beastly and powerful this go around, which is awesome. The music ranges from decent to good%u2026when you can hear it. The voice acting is kind of all over the place as well. The returning voices actors for Price, Soap, and some others do a pretty good job. I'm fairly certain that the voice actor for Makarov has changed since MW 2 and the person doing it this time around is not nearly as good as the person doing it in MW 2. The best performance in the game, however, is turned in by William Fichtner. For those who don't know this guy, he played a Delta Force team leader in Black Hawk Down and Colonel Sharp in Armageddon and in MW 3, he plays Delta Force Team leader Sandman. In my opinion, he brings a sincerity to the game that Captain Price did with the previous entries and although, your relationship doesn't become as great as the relationship with Price does, probably because this is the first game he appears in, his performance is outstanding and I'm hoping he continues to do voice work for video games as he is a very welcome addition to the plot, like Ed Harris and Gary Oldman were in Black Ops.

Overall - 8.25
Modern Warfare 3 is a bit of a conundrum in my opinion in it doesn't do anything new per se but instead, tweaks existing formulas to make them feel a bit fresh while still retaining the fun factor of the previous entries. The campaign seems to get worse each time though and the multiplayer is only fun if you can resist raging against the cheaters, a Combat Training mode like the one in Black Ops would have upped the fun factor for me immensely. The Spec Ops mission are varied and challenging and Survival mode is the best rendition of the Firefight type game mode yet and will have you occupied for weeks depending on how much you enjoy that type of thing.

Special Note: As a professional reviewer of video games, I refuse to raise or lower a game's score depending on how much fun I have with any particular thing in a game, I judge them based on merit along because many different players will have many different opinions and amounts of fun based on their preference, however, I can't stress enough how polished and exciting Modern Warfare 3's Survival Mode is. If you haven't liked this type of mode before, you probably won't enjoy it here and some of the diehard Zombies players will decry it's existence. Anyway, don't let my overall score detract from this fact, if you enjoy Horde and Firefight mode but haven't gotten into Call of Duty, I strongly recommend that you at least rent MW 3 so you can give this mode a try, I highly doubt you'll be disappointed.

Author - Christopher Britt (thumbnail)
Author - Christopher Britt
My name is Chris and I am the founder of The Gaming Monolith; a brand new review blog for video games and movies. I've been a gamer since the Atari days but it was Goldeneye and Mario 64 that really got me hooked. I also got into writing at a young age. I figured why not write about stuff you enjoy doing? The rest is history.