Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3
Call of Duty MW3 – Modern Warfare 3 Review – Modern Warfare 3 excels in what it does because it’s abundantly clear that its developers knew exactly what they were making. As a player you’re catapulted from one scene to the next, with time to take everything in and enjoy the ride but never time to languish. No section outstays its welcome, or forces you into an endless cycle of killing bad guys. Here, on the odd occasion when enemies do respawn, it’s to illustrate the fact you can’t handle the odds and have to escape before you’re overwhelmed. And the signposting, your goal as an actor within the story, is handled immaculately.
It’s comfortably the best Call of Duty campaign yet, with consistent high points and none of the lows that have occasionally punctuated past games. And despite the quickfire nature of its scene or setpiece changes, it’s around 8 hours long, the ideal length for a shooter of this ilk. Any Call of Duty developer has always had to tread a fine line to achieve the right balance, but here Infinity Ward and Sledgehammer walk this line with confidence, never faltering or putting a foot wrong. It’s a remarkable balancing act, and one I can’t praise enough.
The Spec Ops mode returns here too, in the form of Survival and Missions. Survival is a kind of Horde mode; waves of enemies roll up, each throwing something new into the mix, and weapons and support can be purchased either between waves or during a firefight. It’s fast-paced, well conceived cooperative gameplay (although you can also play it alone) and Survival is divided up into four sets of four missions, with each set having a different theme in terms of enemy types.
Mission mode is a series of timed missions playable in coop or solo, either filling in timeline gaps in the campaign or providing an alternate take on events. These, too, are excellent; rapid arcade challenges that can be quite tricky but due to their brief nature, immensely satisfying. The Spec Ops mode is once again a great addition, fleshed out and to provide even more content.
Content and balance is an overarching theme for Modern Warfare 3. With a new entry comes a fairly significant improvement to the versus multiplayer also. While at heart it’s still the same game which has proven so popular over the years, the teams have done so much to refine their formula to perfection that it’s impossible to feel as if you’re just playing the same game as last year. While the campaign is excellent, it’s the multiplayer where CoD has always really shone, and in this department the game moves from excellent to phenomenal.
The most significant change to Modern Warfare 3′s multiplayer is with the killstreaks, and they’ve had a major overhaul. In past entries, achieving set numbers of kills between deaths would reward you with bonuses, in the form of support drops or offensive capabilities. The killstreaks have always been great for those who can pull them off, but they never really rewarded multiple playing styles. With their transformation into pointstreaks, this has all changed. For starters, killing is no longer the only way to earn the rewards. Captured or completed objectives also count, and it’s entirely possible to earn the highest killstreak reward without actually killing anybody. You still need to be a skilled player, of course, but it rewards skill in other areas as well.
On top of this, you can now choose from three ‘strike packages’; Assault acts much the same as killstreaks did, allowing you to choose your rewards, earned between deaths for kills. Then there’s the Support package. This package doesn’t reset your pointstreak on death, but as such limits which rewards you can select. As the name suggests, they all take the form of support drops, things like UAVs or bulletproof vests or radar upgrades, giving your team a tactical advantage but never an offensive one. And then there’s the Specialist package, which is basically the maverick option, in which pointstreaks award your character with additional perks, up to three, on top of the ones you set as part of your character customisation. Specialist pointstreaks also reset on death.
Call of Duty MW3
With these new additions, Modern Warfare 3 is the most accessible Call of Duty yet, but also the most tactical and in-depth, with the level of customization meaning that not only are multiple play styles accommodated for, but clans or groups of players are able to strategize and plan their approach, striking a balance between Assault, Support and Specialist players. Death streaks also return, giving a small boost to anyone who’s struggling too much. The effort that’s gone into making sure absolutely every player is catered for and has a fair chance, while still rewarding skilled play, is immense.
Weapon customization, too, has received some attention. Weapons level up the more you use them, gradually allowing you to unlock new attachments, camo and even weapon proficiencies. These perks take the form of things like recoil reduction or improved stability, and mean that more than ever you’re able to tweak your loadout to perfection, but also rewards experimentation and risk with trying out new weapons.
Along with the new customization options, pointstreaks and perks (these too allow you to adapt your playing style, with new additions like Assassin making you undetectable on radar, while Stalker increases your speed while scoping or iron-sighting), the two new public game modes are fantastic additions. Team Defender sees one team member grabbing a flag while the others defend them, and functions much like a VIP mode, but Kill Confirmed is the new star of the show. It’s a form of Team Deathmatch, only upon death every player drops a dog tag. This can be collected by a member of the opposing team, which leads to a ‘kill confirmed’ or grabbed by a member of their own team, thus denying the enemy that kill. It’s an excellent marriage of TDM and more tactical, objective-based gameplay, and soon descends into a tense, thoughtful game of risk and reward,
The Private matchtypes are numerous, too, and here a sense of fun shines through. Away from the frenzy of competitive play, Infinity Ward and Sledgehammer have cut loose and had a bit of fun. There are plenty of modes, favourites from Black Ops such as One In The Chamber and Gun Game return alongside modes such as Infection and Juggernaut, the latter of which tools one player up in hefty, mech-like combat armour and sets all the other players against them. What gives the Private match types the edge, though, is the mode editor.
Here, you can create your own gametypes using any of the modes as base, and you can customise pretty much every aspect of the setup. Weapons, damage, HUD appearance, modifiers, all can be tweaked and changed, allowing for hundreds of completely different gametypes to appear. Spending a couple hours trying to create the silliest or most unique modes we could was as reminiscent of N64 Goldeneye as it was of CoD, and the ability to share your custom modes (here called ‘recipes’) with friends, adds a neat UGC element in.
There’s a wide range of maps, clearly balanced to suit both large-scale competitive play and the smaller scale private matches. The sixteen maps are beautifully designed; winding corridors that open up into spacious battle zones, tense treks through crowded marketplaces. Each has high and low routes, multiple entry points, numerous ways to gain the advantage or to be completely overwhelmed by a more skilled team. Learning the maps is easier than it’s ever been, not due to a lack of complexity but because of just how conductive they are to the different play styles and setups.
Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3
From the close quarters desert map Dome to the sprawling shopping district of Arkaden, the developers have taken care to accommodate all game modes and means of play. And it’s impossible to stress enough just how well this has been achieved. There’s an overall feeling, with Modern Warfare 3, that the developers have finally made the game they’ve been setting out to make all these years, and with the private matches and customization have been allowed to have a little fun and freedom along the way. This is apparent in the overall design, but also in just how much care they’ve put into accommodating players. Facebook connectivity allows you to see if Facebook friends are online playing the game, and invite them in, and the in-game friends list can overrule the limit set by XBL or PSN. Everything has been tweaked, balanced or entirely re-envisioned to create the best CoD experience possible, and has been pulled off effortlessly.
Modern Warfare 3 is a shining example of refinement and improvement. It’s familiar, sure, but here familiarity doesn’t breed contempt, just respect and reward for those who’ve dedicated so much time to the series. And for new players, it’s the perfect starting point, more accommodating and encompassing than ever. The series has always been renowned for elements like the excellent sound design, the gloss, polish and compulsion of its gameplay, but with Modern Warfare 3, Infinity Ward and Sledgehammer have created a game that not only lives up to the brand hype but exceeds it. A game where the mass appeal is justified, and the expectations are met. A game which is undoubtedly going to be played for a long, long time to come, and deservedly so.
Formats: Xbox 360 (version tested), PS3, PC
Developer: Infinity Ward/Sledgehammer Games
Age rating: PEGI 18+
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