Infinity Ward and Sledgehammer Games developed Modern Warfare 3’s campaign and multiplayer modes simultaneously. The package is predictably superb – the campaign throws in some new tricks, and the series’ multiplayer following should be content with the multiplayer modes.
Developer: Infinity Ward and Sledgehammer Games
For fans of: Shooters, Call of Duty
Reviewed on: Xbox 360
Also available on: Playstation 3, PC
If we had to give it a numerical score: 8.5 out of 10
Modern Warfare 3’s story ties in and continues from Modern Warfare 2, staring Vladimir Makarov again as the primary terrorist threat. The campaign has you travel the globe as war is waging on all continents. Modern Warfare 3 features some of the most recognisable cities around the world, and then rips them up with the war. The series’ favourite characters are a big part of the story with some new ones making their debut and having you assume their role in this ‘World War III’
What I loved
- The weapons. Oh them brilliant weapons
- Solid shooting mechanics
- Switching from air to ground divisions in certain missions
- Interestingly ties the stories of MW2 and 3
- Best COD multiplayer for me
Not so much
- Possibly more of the same
Gameplay and Features
Modern Warfare 3 features some brilliant new weapons. Almost every new mission in the campaign introduces you to a new weapon, and the weapons available are absolutely superb. In such a saturated genre, Modern Warfare 3 manages to surprise on the weapon front.
The controller layout compliments the shooting mechanics and is a breeze to come to terms with. Few shooters can brag about such solid controls that work so well, never putting a foot wrong. Everything here is as it was with a few new inclusions, like with certain rifles you can hit left on the d-pad for an alternative scope. This is a stunning new touch that should especially favour the ‘sniping lovers’ – you can go from a long-range scope to a short one with the same rifle. Other rifles feature dual scopes and this new feature came in to good use for me with many guns.
The campaign is a corridor shooter and for the most part follows the same formula that we are accustomed to with the series. There is stealthy bits, blowing stuff up, slow-motion bits, sniping , going from cover to cover and more of what we are used from the previous instalments. That said there are some new tricks that pleasantly surprise – some new activities or aspects to contend with. There is the old saying, “If it aint broke…” and that’s exactly what the developers did. They stuck with the strong, revered formula and added a bit more to separate this one from the previous.
The gameplay follows the smooth, fluid style that is instantly recognisable as a Call of Duty title. The flowing from cut-scenes to gameplay is seamless and drives the story while keeping the action going. The checkpoint system has been relooked at – you will remember the difficulty of getting to the next checkpoint when playing on ‘hardcore’ with the previous titles was hair-raising at times. The checkpoints are more frequent now and a new ‘smart system’ is supposed to detect when you are not coping and so saves quicker or in a shorter space. This feature alone will lure me into trying the game on the most difficult setting. I remember that infamous ‘corridor’ stage in COD 4 making me decide to never put myself through going at it on the most difficult level – with my limited skill I was stuck on that stage for a few days. The campaign was overall as I expected – a brilliant ‘Hollywood’ like campaign filled with cut-scenes and the solid action-gameplay that we are used to. The cleverly designed new weapons did make this campaign stand out more than the previous for me.
Spec Ops mode once again extends the singleplayer experience and includes a ranking system to track your progress. You compete in the different missions at the AI level is matched to your skill. There is quite a bit of variation here and hours of more singleplayer goodness to further add to the high-value package.
I am not the biggest Call of Duty Multiplayer mode followers, but I can’t say I am not and I do recognise that it is a great multiplayer franchise that deserves the massive following the series enjoys. So while I don’t have enough experience to totally dissect it for you, I can say it works well as expected and fans of the series should feel right at home. The new maps are a joy and well designed for the fast-paced action. There are the usual features that the series is known for and the almost endless ability to customise your soldier’s category with the various weapons and gadgets. The most noticeable change is the introduction of ‘strike packages’ which once accumulated, you can use in focused attacks. There is Assault, Specialist, and Support packages that I noticed, each handing you special advantages in the battle. The packages are unlocked by your streaks (or how high the streak is) and work well. Your weapons rank up now and unlock special attachments or skins and new perks tied to that specific weapon. Overall this is easily the best COD experience I have had in the multiplayer arena, for a non-seasoned COD player I seemed to blend into the multiplayer front restively well without being totally annihilated. It is not that I have improved, it just seemed more balanced, the maps didn’t seem to lead me into a plethora of ‘campers’ and it didn’t always seem like the one with the best gun and attachments wins. I don’t know if this is just early days, but the lobbies that I got into were filled with high-ranked players?
Spec Ops Survival Horde follows a similar pattern to that from the Gears of War franchise with a few notable differences. This is basically a survival mode where you are battling with hordes of enemies, but the uniqueness comes in the form of you being able to purchase weapons and air support from stations scattered around the maps. Again there is a levelling system to unlock the various features and vary as you rank through. This is a welcomed edition to the multiplayer (or singleplayer) modes and I foresee this mode winning many a fan over.
Sound and Visuals
This series is renowned for the extremely high quality of the graphics, sound and voice-acting, and Modern Warfare 3 continues with the expected high level. The graphics are just about flawless, well textured with huge detailing. The cinematic scenes could have been taken straight out of a big Hollywood action flick and feature some of the best camera work you will see. There is loads of clever use of the camera vibrating to add to the tension of the war and push on the realism aspect. The use of light and shadows was superbly designed, further adding to the realism. Modern Warfare 3 uses the IW 4.0 Enhanced engine which is cable of streaming faster than before, and this helps with the intensely fast scenes. Every last visual effect you would expect in an all-out-war was carefully crafted – the explosions, the destruction, dust and smoke all packed into the scenes to heighten the tension. Not everything is destructible though and I noticed some bizarre choices, like chairs that apparently can withstand huge rounds by the dozen. This does not spoil the experience at all as there is always so much happening, visually, in the scenes. Like with the previous titles, there are the dramatic slow-motion scenes for the emotive drama and immersive visual design of the game.
The voice-acting only took second place for me above the sound-effects. The usual cast return and there is plenty of good new ‘accents’ to enjoy as you travel the globe. The voice-acting level is again of a very high level. The soundtrack or scoring was generally pretty decent but in all honesty not that memorable. The sound-effects are again brilliant, with plenty of explosions, trembling and realistic sounding weapons which match the high quality of the visuals.
So it should come as no surprise that the audio and visual quality is amongst the best, this is Activision’s biggest franchise and a huge-production series. I am glad to report that it would take a more scientific eye than mine to spot flaws – well anything worth reporting about at least.
Due to a combination of the frequency of Call of Duty titles being released and because Modern Warfare 3 mostly follows the same formula that we are accustomed to – my experience with Modern Warfare 3 doesn’t quite shine as with some of the previous instalments in the series.
That said, Modern Warfare 3 took the familiar and proven formula and added to it, making it the most complete Call of Duty yet. It will also be one of the easiest games to recommend – the gameplay is as solid as you will find in a shooter, the visual and audio quality is outstanding, the multiplayer mode is possibly better than ever and to top it all of Modern Warfare 3 features one of the best arsenals of weapons I have ever come across in the crowded shooter library.
Read about our ratings here.