Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 review (Xbox 360)

coolbeans | 975d ago | User review
Reviewing: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3
Whether You Love or Hate the Series, Most of You Will Click For the Comment Section.
With the cataclysmic rise in Call of Duty's popularity since the first entry in the Modern Warfare series, there has been as many detractors of the series as fans on the internet. Creating a mold that's been replicated by many other games does begin to show just how influential one series can be to an entire generation. The fact that the modern-era war videogame is essentially the 'new WWII market' shows that this oversaturation causes FPS gamers to demand something that branches into something that's worth sixty dollars. While developers Infinity Ward and Sledgehammer Games don't bring quintessential steps toward a fresh experience like Modern Warfare entries of past years had, the new refinements and nuanced cooperative/competitive modes still make this globe-trotting adventure through World War III an absolute blast.

Taking place right after the events of Modern Warfare 2, MW3 (Modern Warfare 3) has you briefly in the shoes of "Soap" MacTavish, the character you played as toward the end of MW2 and most of MW1, as he's being rushed to a small field base hospital in India. Shortly thereafter the now-disavowed Task Force 141 decides to bring in a new member named Yuri, character you play as for most of the game, and go after the Ultra-Nationalist leader Makarov. Going from just this small synopsis alone, it would be safe to play the first two Modern Warfare games-naturally-in order to fully understand the situation at hand. As all of the taglines and advertisements have shown, World War III has started and the outcome rests on the few soldiers you play as throughout the campaign.

One of the main complaints in MW2 revolved around nonsensical intrusions into what seemed like an average plot: certain missions didn't get their full explanations from events that preceded them and some twists were far-fetched. Since this sequel takes place right after MW2, the crux of the story still involves certain narrative aspects that don't rise to the occasion laid down by the first Modern Warfare entry. Despite the fact that some of MW3's drives have to suffer from past sins, the new twists and turns presented are well-paced and will leave you fulfilled. Despite rising to the occasion in the storytelling department, the high-octane moments and general setup are showing just how formulaic they're starting to become. The storytelling through dynamic loading screens is starting to rear its ugly head for just being a visual presentation to all of the militaristic acronyms given throughout the game.

Graphical fidelity has been constantly assaulted by gamers around the time World at War released. Although the game has some stunning set-piece moments, keeping to the "more of the same" idea isn't paying off in the long run (or short run, given that CoD's are released yearly). Still, MW3 succeeds at still being a looker by utilizing the amount of enemies on-screen while remaining incredibly smooth instead of pushing the polygon count. Most of the praises are what you expect: character models still look impressively varied, the exceedingly vast amounts of environments have some interesting details, and the sheer amount of destruction happening in front of your eyes is rarely seen in such a constant cycle. In the end, MW3's graphics are a double-edged sword: Critics will concede that despite the engine being dated, no other 2011 FPS has this sort of action to offer while fans will put that in opposite order.

Despite failing to reach MW2's exemplary visual/audible achievements (for 2009 standards), MW3 still does a great job in technical sound design. Gun sounds, voice acting, and sheer amount of noise happening at almost all times are noteworthy, though fail to reach towards something we haven't heard before. There also seems to be a redundancy issue when it comes to the orchestral score throughout certain areas of the campaign. Although that's not to say the soundtrack is subpar, it still fails to reach the sublime heights of the Hans Zimmer-composed MW2's OST.

The gameplay in the main series since the first Call of Duty has always been about throwing as much action in your face as possible while having only a few missions and loading screens to allow you to ease your nerves temporarily. Since the first Modern Warfare, this formula has been cranked to eleven with varying success. Although the aim for over-the-top, Michael Bay blockbuster sequences may feel humdrum to some, it still can't be denied that no other FPS title can outperform the Call of Duty series in this regard, despite the fact that so many other franchises have tried to replicate it. Being shuttled from one position to the next at such a break-neck pace has been polished to a mirror-sheen in this title.

Even if the series is still the best at what it does and constantly tries to polish it, some of that luster may be lost if integral changes are not made. This, unfortunately, is a fact MW3 knew but scantly answered. Although you're greeted with a good variety of weapons and attachments, such as hybrid scopes and a clustering flashbang, MW3 really plays it safe in regards to the variety we've come to know from the series. This time around you have an amphibious mission in order to control a Russian submarine, a skirmish against Russians outside of the New York Stock Exchange, and many more battles that wind down into being both exhilarating and familiar.

Where the Call of Duty series has commercially raised the stakes in the overall value for your sixty dollars (or one hundred dollars if you want the "Hardened Edition") is in the rewarding nature of the cooperative and competitive multiplayer. The under credited co-op option from MW2, named Spec Ops, has returned. Now divided into two parts, Spec Ops Missions retreads the ideas of MW2 and catalogues them mostly with missions seen in MW3 with a few new twists while the new Spec Ops mode, dubbed Survival, is essentially the new horde mode for the Call of Duty series with some Counterstrike roots. You and a partner are placed on a map and forced to survive increasing numbers of enemies in a never-ending onslaught. In between or during waves, hubs are displayed across the map that show where you can buy killstreak rewards, attachments, and weapons available for you to purchase in order to handle the harder enemies. What's interesting about both of these modes is how they're tied together by having a ranking system similar to the competitive multiplayer. Upon completion of a wave or mission, your leveling up unlocks new weapons, attachments, and killstreaks to be used in Spec Ops Survival. These additions, plus the typical stat-tracking of friends/players, make this another welcoming addition. Even when considering both Spec Ops modes are limited to 2 players max, they're still some of the most addictive co-op modes around.

The real reason millions of gamers still flock to the recent Call of Duty games is the rewarding experience system stitched into each iteration since Call of Duty 4. Now named "strike packages", your killstreaks revolve around a system with 3 different types of rewards. The Assault, Support, and Specialist all offer different stratagems that either fuel the lone wolf approach known since the beginning of the killstreak system or support the entire team through the means of defensive perks. Although the removal of the credit system from Black Ops is disheartening, unlocks in general will still happen more often thanks to them being tied into weapon proficiency. It's really surprising to see what a few wrinkles can do to change the formula so drastically. For what seem like minor changes at first glance genuinely make MW3's competitive MP stand out with some originality while still remaining with the classic formula.

Since Halo 3's bungie.net (and more recently Halo Waypoint) upped the ante for console games to tie in with dedicated websites, the CoD series has taken notice and now announced Call of Duty "ELITE" (with the second 'E' facing the wrong direction for reasons unbeknownst to me), releasing in tandem with MW3. This is essentially a stat-tracking website that dives down into the tidbits of how well you perform on each map with every weapon you have used. Although the ability to customize loadouts on certain phones capable of apps is a nice touch, it's tough to recommend purchasing the yearly subscription ($49.99) for the regular CoD fan. Fortunately, all of the features I've listed so far are free upon signing up, while free map packs and videos come as parts that require payment. Overall, ELITE is there just for the sake of catching up with Halo-which isn't a denunciation by any means.

In essence, MW3 is essentially all that fans can expect it to be: a similar package with fulfilling conclusions and MP modes that can keep you coming back years later. Even though it encompasses some standout qualities, this is another CoD title I can't outright recommend to the vast majority of FPS gamers (the last CoD to receive that honor would be CoD4: MW). MW3 is arguably the best-rounded FPS package available for this holiday season; however, it's also afraid to vary the formula to the degree of past Modern Warfare entries; furthermore, causing fans to wonder if this is just a by-the-numbers sequel (which is surprsing to ask considering the "father of CoD" co-developed this game).

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Ups
Intense campaign with fulfilling conclusions
Exhaustive amount of multiplayer details
Addictive
Downs
The presentation and gameplay remain too familiar
Score
7.0
Graphics The plethora of great action sequences almost make it look like it was too easy to create, although it's obvious that's not the case. Even after all of it's great qualities, the engine is rapidly starting to show its age in the face of other multiplatform engines.
8.0
Sound Despite there being a wide range of quality voice acting, expect to be disappointed with the soundtrack.
7.0
Gameplay Where MW2 brought vehicular segments, slow motion breaches, and a surfeit of attachments and killstreaks, Modern Warfare 3 brings...hybrid scopes. That same formula is still quite exceptional though.
9.0
Fun factor Although certain facets are familiar, it's nearly impossible to deny how rewarding of an experience the CoD franchise has become. The constant rewards in co-op and competitive MP add a great deal of value.
8.5
Online Despite having enough wrinkles to feel like its own, MW3 can suffer from questionable hit detection and odd design choices on a couple of map layouts. ELITE could be something worthy of your money in the future.
7.9
Overall (out of 10 / not an average)
coolbeans  +   975d ago
Hope everyone enjoyed the review. Although this a review with the name "Call of Duty" in it, I'd like to ask everyone to keep your comment(s) civil and welcoming for discussion with me and other users.
PhantomTommy  +   974d ago
Very well written review, keep it up.
UnagiMaster  +   974d ago
Your reviews are the best on here. Good job pal.
Hufandpuf  +   974d ago
I liked the review, it was pretty fair. I've only played Survival and Special Ops, and this review seems about right. Though addictive is not the word I'd use, it's just fun. But I found myself bored when playing without a friend. I wish they'd work on the gun models more though. Every gun I've used felt the same and weren't really different some each other besides the ammo count. Also the red dot sights were atrocious. I want more time with the game, but I don't see myself spending too much time with it.
#4 (Edited 974d ago ) | Agree(1) | Disagree(3) | Report | Reply
xX-StolenSoul-Xx  +   974d ago
I enjoyed the story no doubt. But I still sold the game after a week. Like you say they Use the same formula since Cod4. I get they don't want to remove it and I don't expect them too but I do expect major updates. Not small Tweaks.

I like Games that change throughout the Series.

Some Examples Below

Halo3 -> Reach brought a welcomed Class System.

Battlefield 2 -> Bad Company 1+2 brought Destruction -> Battlefield 3 brought Frostbite 2 Engine with stunning visual details and enhanced destruction

Cod4 Brought the Epic perk System, Killstreaks and the now gaming standard level up unlock system. -------------------> Mw3 Level up gun system. Took them so long just to get a new feature in and not even one that is so great.
#5 (Edited 974d ago ) | Agree(2) | Disagree(1) | Report | Reply
coolbeans  +   973d ago
Although these complaints are justified, your final sentences don't seem to do the series fair justice.

My take on the evolution of the CoD series:

CoD 4: What you basically mentioned

World at War: Nothing on the SP/Competitive MP side, just coated in WWII paint; however, brought a great amount of value with 4-player co-op campaign and Nazi Zombies.

MW2: Wrinkles added to the formula like slo-mo breaches, vehicle sections, and a great amount of new ways to kill (riot shields, sentry guns, etc.), customizable killstreaks, and Spec Ops

Black Ops: New credit system w/ new wager matches, dive mechanic, though seemed to follow in the feet of MW2 too much.

MW3: Strike Packages, Spec Ops Survival, and a few random new weapons and attachments.

When I say "too familiar", I'm not saying this is the same game from '07 like raging detractors will. My meaning of too familiar (unless explained otherwise): concepts that don't take risks on the same level as previous entries.

After playing some of BF3 (on 360), that game shouldn't be given credit as a textbook example of a sequel. A prettier engine should be asking it to also have a more expansive SP campaign like the Bad Co. games, not take so much from CoD's formula. The 64-Player count is impressive on PC's, but that doesn't mean we should ignore SP and co-op just because everyone says "Oh, Battlefield is only known for its MP". While Bad Co. 2 isn't one of the best FPS campaigns this gen, it's still showed many signs of improvement over 1.
#5.1 (Edited 973d ago ) | Agree(2) | Disagree(1) | Report | Reply
xX-StolenSoul-Xx  +   973d ago
I enjoyed Bc2 Story over Bf3 tbh. And its a prettier engine, Destruction 3.0 and Jets i think thats a decent improvement.

Well for me the level up gun system in mw3 was the most notable feature for me so it's the only one i mentioned. But i did also forget to mention their new killstreak system. Yeah sure it's cool and neat for the moment but for someone like me that was an avid Cod4, Waw, And Mw2 player the game felt no differnt. Both black ops and Mw3 were very shortlived and had little time on my shelves
Rowland  +   971d ago
good user name, good review ! - better written than most so-called gaming site 'journalists'.

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Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3

Average Score 8.4 Reviews(292)
Release Dates
Android Release Dates
iPad Release Dates
iPhone Release Dates
Nintendo DS Release Dates
US 08 November 2011
PC Release Dates
EU 08 November 2011
US 08 November 2011
AU 08 November 2011
PS3 Release Dates
JP 2011
US 08 November 2011
EU 08 November 2011
AU 08 November 2011
Wii Release Dates
US 08 November 2011
Wii U Release Dates
Xbox 360 Release Dates
AU 08 November 2011
US 08 November 2011
EU 08 November 2011