Here We Go Again? –
Modern Warfare 3, the latest game in the long running Call of Duty franchise, is stuck in a rut. With only minor additions, like new gameplay modes, MW3 still retains the same glaring gameplay flaws that have been present since the franchise went Modern and can pretty much be viewed as a mere expansion pack at best.
MW3 is broken up into three main modes of play: single player campaign, co-op spec op missions, and competitive multiplayer.
Playing on Normal difficulty, I was able to complete the campaign in just over five hours. Besides being able to easily complete this story mode in one day, the campaign suffers from the same gameplay short comings that have always plagued the series. It doesn’t matter how many enemies you take out, they will endlessly spawn until you cross an invisible checkpoint. The story line is very difficult to follow as the player assumes the role of a new character in every mission and the short cutscenes confuse more than clarify. This campaign mode is still limited to a single player experience – no local or online co-op features are available. And each stage is linear as can be, with debris always providing an exact path in which to guide the player to the next checkpoint. Trying to find hidden intel items in each stage tries to offer a little more exploration, but it is difficult to admire the scenery when your teammates are constantly yelling at you to move forward. The designers created the campaign for players will ADD as there are always huge explosions littering the background and there are always those constantly spawning enemies to shoot. Sure, the campaign can be viewed as epic as there is always something crazy happening, but MW3 fails to compete with other highlighting moments of the series like the infamous sniper level in the first game or the ridiculous ending of its sequel. Without question, MW3‘s campaign is the worst in recent history especially since the same exact flaws have not been corrected.
I found the Spec Ops mode to be the most entertaining. Here, players can team up with a buddy and play through unique missions. Whether shooting your way through a training course, which has acted as the tutorial mission in the other CoD games, or working together to take down endless waves of enemies in Horde mode, Spec Ops offers entertainment best displayed with a dedicated buddy. However, the same issues that fester in the campaign mode are also present in this co-op mode. Enemies are still controlled with cheap AI tactics and some missions are just way too short, only taking a minute or two to complete. There is some replayability in completing these missions on higher difficulties with better scores, but the repetition and frustrating nature of the gameplay will make completing everything seem like a chore.
Finally, the competitive multiplayer will probably get the most use from the gaming community. Unfortunately, it still unbalanced and frustrating especially for new players. The upgrading system, referred to as perks, sounds good on paper but makes the game unbalanced as long term players are rewarded by making it easier to pick on newbies. Like previous experiences with the Modern Warfare multiplayer, I started at level one and the first match was played against upper level 40 opponents. While it is excusable to not know the layout of each map due to inexperience, it is frustrating facing off against opponents that have upgraded weapons and special abilities. Before the match even started, I was immediately frowned upon by my teammates as more than one expressed disappointment over the voice chat system in the pre-game lobby. Even they were upset knowing full well that a newbie has no chance at survival against a batch of these elite players. Needless to say, I finished the game with just a few kills and over a dozen deaths, putting my Kill to Death ratio in the gutter. The new modes, like Kill Confirmed, offer a little more balance by keeping points in check by collecting dog tags of downed players. But all the other bells and whistles, like taking screenshots and logging into Facebook, are expected features from a big budget title like this.
Graphically, the game looks good and is probably the highlight. Characters are animated well and there is never any slowdown despite having tons of things happening on screen at one time, but the invisible environmental walls and linear environments are more annoying than ever. The blood soaked screen damage effect is also showing its age and looks like the screen was sprayed with mister filled with watered down Kool-Aid. The musical score is also a disappointment. It tries to coincide with the extravagant events happening throughout the game, but comes off as if it is trying too hard. Halo or Metal Gear this is not. The voice acting is the audio department’s saving grace.
Modern Warfare 3 is not a bad game; it just does not live up to the hype. Perhaps if the developers provided an intriguing plotline instead of focusing each cutscene around a twirling badge icon, then the more-of-the-same gameplay could have been more easily forgiven. But since the story is so hard to follow, the campaign is short and littered with cheap AI, and the matchmaking is still unbalanced, MW3 is basically an expansion of MW2 as all the imperfections have carried over from the previous entry. Even though I have my complaints, I am sure the future release of Black Ops 2 will continue to sell well and the inevitable MW4 will receive tons of hype. But with these future releases, hopefully the developers will not continue to sell out and provide something new and more creative.
Not As Good As: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare
Also Try: Ghost Recon Future Soldier
Wait For It: a sequel with new and balanced gameplay elements
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