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Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 Review

publisher: Activision
developer: Infinity Ward
genre: Shooters

ESRB rating: M

release date: Nov 08, 11
» All About Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 on ActionTrip

Fall is my favorite time of year for a couple of very specific reasons. First and for most, the weather getscooler, the trees begin changing colors and then comes the rapid fire succession of the final holidays of the year; we gamers also get a flood of new titles. For the past few years we could count on one of those titles being a new Call of Duty game. So, a cold wind is blowing fallen leaves around the neighborhood, the last of the Halloween candy is being eaten and like clockwork, Activision has presented us with the most ambitious (and I have to assume costly) entry to date in the series, Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3. I just finished the single-player campaign and am now working my way through the online multiplayer component. Now, is a good time to ask the real question: in this season, rich with new game releases, is Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3 worth your time and hard earned gaming dollars? I am wagering that based on your past experience with the CoD series, you already have your answer.

Let's start with the single-player side of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3. Picking up the story where the last game left off, the game switches the player between regular enlisted soldiers from armies around the globe in various missions as this latest World War rages on. Personas non grata Soap and Price are back as well, as they continue their hunt for the evil terrorist mastermind, Vladimir Makarov. In what has become the Call of Duty style, missions play out like a big-budget Hollywood action film with epic battles raging in and around major cities around the world like New York, Berlin and London among others. Missions try to keep things interesting by moving the player from one objective to the next in rapid succession. It's not all straight running and gunning as from time to time you will take control of Predator drones to rain down death from above, man a mounted gun on a tank to mow down enemy infantry or call in airstrikes to clear a path to your goal. While I can understand this is done to break things up and keep the player from getting bored, but sometimes it felt to me like the breaks were a little too overt or unnecessary.

While so much action is going on around you, MW3 does an almost too good job of keeping your objective clearly marked on the screen. I say 'almost too good' because this persistent objective reminder does not help immerse you within the mission as fully as I would have preferred. Also, since the missions and maps have been designed to channel you to exactly where you need to go, I feel you don't need a dot on the HUD to tell you where are headed. To be blunt, the single-player campaign is basically a rail-based shooter with a bit of freedom of movement. However, I am willing to cut them some slack here because the rest of the experience makes up for it. The graphics are top notch, the music and sound effects are perfectly suited and the over-the-top action almost makes you forget you have a limited field of movement. MW3 is a hybrid of game and action movie done in a way that is as close to this genre's pinnacle as is possible. As long as you accept the fact that this is not an open-ended sandbox style of shooter, you will enjoy all the action, bravado and explosions usually only see in a Michael Bay film.

However, for all the good that is going on in the MW3 single-player campaign, there is a definite drawback. Similar to my reaction to the Transformers movie, near the end of the single-player campaign I found myself looking at my watch and wondering when it was going to end. The biggest problem with big explosions and over-the-top action sequences is it constantly raises the bar for scenario excitement. (Take a deep breath: Long winded sentence and spoilers ahead) Yes, it was very cool in one of the first missions to swim out through a flooded New York tunnel to disable and storm a Russian command sub, launching its missiles against the rest of the invading Russian fleet and then piloting a Zodiac through the waves and chaos as those same missiles rain down on the warships as I am whisked away by helicopter and getting a bird's eye view of the battered and burning, war-torn, New York landscape as the mission ends. In other titles that scenario has enough action to qualify as the game ending finale. In MW3 it's the second mission. The game forces itself to turn the action up to 11 in almost every mission and in doing so reduces the overall impact of these over-the-top actions sequences. In short, they lose their impact and make the whole affair seem silly. Some of the missions work well, such as making your way through a massive passenger jet as it plummets to earth, inducing zero gravity, Inception style fights that caused me to remark 'Holy Crap!' out loud more than once. I can safely say that while I had fun and enjoyed the single-player campaign at times, I have no desire to play through it again at a later date. I think Activision knows where its CoD bread is buttered and it's not from the single-player campaign side. Call of Duty for the majority of players is all about Multiplayer.

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8.0   Very Good

Great graphics and sound, a few cool single-player missions, new modes add to an already popular multiplayer experience;

Some missions in the single-player campaign are too over-the-top, it's pretty much the same Call of Duty people are familiar with, no real reason to replay the single-player campaign when you finish it.


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