After the well-publicized falling out of Infinity Ward and Activision, the Modern Warfare franchise returns with (presumably) the final chapter in the world-devastating saga. There is no question that this game would sell a ton of copies, but the real question is can the remnants of Infinity Ward, along with a little help from their friends at Sledgehammer, maintain the quality that the fans demand?
I don’t envy the writers of this game who have to somehow pick up the strands left behind by those who fled IW for Respawn. The Modern Warfare story is already tough enough to decipher, with its vague motivations and “Wait, what just happened?” moments flying at you like so many bullets. But if the purpose of this game is to tie up the loose ends left dangling from MW 2, it largely succeeeds. The story is basically there to have an excuse for jaw-dropping set pieces and little more. Price and Soap are on the trail of Makarov, the Russian terrorist responsible for manipulating his government to attack the United States and initate Worldar III. Price is led on a merry chase across the globe trying to ascertain where the hell Makarov is. I’m not sure how I ended up in some of the places I did, but it was fun for the most part.
You also play various other roles, including Yuri, a Russian who is helping Price and a U.S. soldier as you attempt to repel the Russians. The scope of the campaign is pretty mind-boggling, but it never really lets up. Sure, there is the obligatory stealth mission, which is nothing more than an attempt to repeat “Ghillies in the Mist”, but like all the other ones that came before it, it falls well short. The scope is impressive and the engine never falters from its 60 FPS, but after a while, I was just numb. Numb to explosions and the constant vibrations of my controller. I feel that “less is more” would have worked really well in this instance as there were so many moments that were clearly intended to make me say, “Wow!”, but in reality just felt ho-hum after a while. Thankfully, there are a few moments that stood out: the final mission is a nice change of pace from everything else you’ve done and one mission on afree-falling plane stays with you long after the credits roll. It’s fun, but it’s just more of the same that we’ve seen before.
I don’t know about you, but the campaign of CoD is the least of my worries. I am all about the multiplayer and it doesn’t disappoint, even if it is still the same basic MP we’ve been playing since CoD 4. As this is an Infinity Ward title and not a Treyarch, don’t expect to see any of the little touches that were in Black Ops. No Wager Matches (BOO!), no emblems (YAY!) and no CoD Points to buy items (MEH!). Instead we get Call Signs and Titles, which you unlock as you complete the game’s seemingly unlimited amount of Challenges. Also, you level up your gun as you use it and through leveling up, you unlock the various scopes and attachments, including abilities to reduce flinch when getting shot and other benefits to help you kill those pesky campers.
The new mode that has gained the most attention is Kill Confirmed. You get EXP for killing an opposing player, but you don’t score a point for your team unless you pick up the dog tag they leave behind. This forces snipers and other long-ranger killers to come out of hiding if they want to win. Now, this being the Internet and Call of Duty, you sometimes stumble upon an entire team of morons who still think they are playing Team Deathmatch and ignore the dog tags. Thankfully, most players this time around have been sticking to the objectives and playing like a team. Other than that, there isn’t a lot more different this year. It’s still that same crisp experience with tons of unlockables and upgrades to obtain, fueling that itch of “One more match” that drives the CoD experience. You either love it or you hate it, but in my case, I love it.
The co-op component to MW 3, Spec Ops first debuted in MW 2 and returns in this installment. There are two main modes and you can play local or online, or even by yourself if you so choose. The first mode is the traditional Spec Ops mode from MW 2, which consists of short, bite-sized missions, usually taken from campaign set pieces. These are pretty fun to do, as there are different difficulty levels and time limits you have to complete them in if you want to get the best rating. The downside is once you hit the wall and can’t beat it, the mode suddenly becomes worthless and boring.
The other mode is Survival, which is CoD’s version of Horde mode, but without the zombies. I have to say that I really like this one. You start off with a pistol and you can pick up weapons that enemies drop, in addition to buying new guns, airstrikes and other upgrades and attachments for your weapons. The enemy waves are fun and varied, with everything from regulard ground troops to helicopters to (and I kid you not) dogs with C4 strapped to them. PETA would likely have a cow over this, but when you hear that distinctive barking sound, it’s all you can do not to panic. Easily the more fun of the two modes in Spec Ops.
There’s a lot to like here, but it all depends on how tired you are of the Call of Duty formula. I’ve played every game since CoD 4 and this is the first one that fatigue really started to set it in for me. I’ve had a great time playing the game, but I feel like this is the last hurrah for Call of Duty without making some changes to the franchise. The campaign is basically the same as it was 5 games ago, just with different levels and scenarios.The multiplayer is still fantastic and addictive, but with micro-changes as opposed to any real innovations. If you enjoy the series, you should pick this one up, but if you’ve already grown tired of it, there’s nothing to see here that you haven’t already experienced.
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