Note: Yes, I do realize that this game has been out since November of 2011, and that this review is way overdue, and may also be inaccurate since I have spent considerably more time with the game since then. However, I am reviewing it per request from a fellow community member here and would not want to disappoint. That, and it will give you reason to see that while I have enjoyed the franchise to some extent, I am not as enamored of it or deadset against it as many other fans and hated foes of the series are. This all having been stated as a “disclaimer” of sorts, allow me to now delve deep into the black heart of Infinity Ward’s most recent, and possibly last foray into the world of modern warfare and duty that calls…
I’d like to start this review off with a short snippet from the introduction of my Black Ops II Review that was posted back in November of 2012, when that sequel released. As written: “Call of Duty has been a big name in many households around, not just the United States, but the entirety of the world. The series has seen a plethora of releases- from the PC classics to the well-oiled franchise-creating machine of the console releases from Call of Duty: Modern Warfare to now. The achievements of the Call of Duty series are numerous, but the most spectacular of all of them would be the current unseating of the previous FPS juggernaut Halo in terms of rich multiplayer and fanbase following that borders on cult-like indie love. While all of this popularity is wonderful, it also serves as a double edged sword in more ways than one- namely: make too many changes to the tested and tried formula that fans enjoy, and you just might lose a portion of this vast fanbase, which all developers want to avoid as best as they can.” This all having been stated again, I think you will know where I am going with this review. Change is a good thing, but people are also quick to condemn it if they foresee it as a danger or disruption to what they know and have settled down with as values or solid gameplay. It is just the same or worse with the gaming world, and sadly so. Looking no further than the overall user reviews average for Modern Warfare 3 on this site. Instead of accurately trying to take the time to review the game as I am always keen to do whenever I bring you guys my professional reviews from time to time, the majority of the people who rated or have rated the game simply gave it the lowest possible score or the highest depending on whether they liked it or simply because it was a Call of Duty game, and thus an automatic purchase to them. For that very reason, an absolutely fine game with some great gameplay now rests at a 6.25 whereas it was scored a hefty 9.0 by Dan Ryckert on behalf of the GIO staff. What is wrong with our world?
My personal obligatory qualms and morals aside though, I will bypass that insanity in favor of giving you the best dang review I possibly can, with an in-depth support base for the one and a half years or so since it’s release. Be prepared to be flooded with some information of the game itself, as well as it’s plethora of DLC offerings- one thing that does at least put it above the other two Modern Warfare games, if not in quality or uniqueness. Sure, with each passing Call of Duty game, I feel as if the quality has gone down slightly and the developers ares imply pushing another one out the door to their whining fans, in order to get them off their back and to sate their ungodly thirst for bloodshed and mayhem- but that by no stretch makes the games bad in any way, as people seem to always believe. Originality does not always make a great game, although it certainly can’t hurt at times. My review scores for Call of Duty games have steadily dropped over the years, it is true, but that does not mean they are not good games or that I didn’t at least marginally enjoy them. On that tangent, before I continue on, allow me to give you my scores for all of the console Call of Duty games (and a handheld) up until this point, merely as reference and support:
Call of Duty | 8.0
Call of Duty 2 | 8.5
Call of Duty 3 | 8.0
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare | 9.75
Call of Duty: World at War | 8.75
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 | 9.75
Call of Duty: Black Ops | 9.25
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 | 8.5
Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 | 8.0
Now, you see? While yes, there has been some general fluctuation with the scoring, my scores (this past generation especially) have continued a mostly downward trend, in many aspects. This isn’t because of the quality being any less most of the time, and more because yes, they have not done too many new things with each new title each year, or simply take out a few features I would’ve rather seen returned…Regardless, while Infinity Ward hasn’t changed things up entirely too much in favor of multiplayer with this version of Modern Warfare, what they have done has made it a bit more streamlined and continued the fun that the other two were, despite not being as differential as Black Ops was, or Zombies when introduced in World at War. The game remains the same at its core, but the name changes for this new installment.
The sameness returns in custom classes, although there is the addition of the handy strike packages to think about as well. Since multiplayer is one of the biggest reasons people purchase their Cal of Duty games, I will focus heavily on that first, although I do actually enjoy the challenge of the single player campaigns myself. The Assault strike package is obviously intended for offensive-minded players, with devastating killstreak rewards and the classic “resets at zero” or when you die. If you are a more defensive or support minded player in multiplayer, or maybe just not as crazy and gungho about being shot up as your comrades are, then the Support strike package is the one for you. Another good thing is that your killstreak doesn’t reset with your death this way, so you can continually build on it instead of having to do so all over again every time you die, and thus being penalized for each death. This means, once you get enough kills, the same packages such as upgraded UAVs and SAM turrets are always available to you. The value of this package is immense, and shouldn’t be overlooked for any reason. The final choice for a strike package is the most tactically thought out one, and a mix of offensive or defensive, since it is inevitably up to you to decide your path. The Specialist strike package allows you to essentially change your additional perks on the fly, and to ultimately add a fourth to your arsenal- dependent upon what perk you want for certain gamemodes. I have a feeling this is the most beneficial package to experienced and hardcore players.
Another excellent round-up feature that is new, and now pertains to all of the Call of Duty games as well, and not just Modern Warfare 3, is the Call of Duty: Elite online service. With a comprehensive statistics tracker, performance ratings, clan management system, loadout customization on the fly, social network, and player’s guide- Elite quite literally has it all. Be sure to continually check out your kill/death ratio and how it has depreciated or improved with time, customize callsigns, tags, and more elements of your character and clan, or use the pp on your smart phone to add friends, analyze maps, and set up custom classes. The vast majority of Elite’s content is free, so even if you don’t want to pay for the premium content, you’ll still receive excellent bonuses such as the free maps returning from Modern Warfare 2, newer maps and discounted map packs, and even exclusive pre-demos and testing offers as well. If you are a premium member, then you are already aware of the incredible benefits and prizes available to you simply for standing by the series and enjoying some rounds in multiplayer every now and then. You don’t have to ever use Elite, but there’s really no excuse not too- especially with the bounds they are pushing it to for Black Ops 2 as well.
While I’ve already mentioned by far the biggest changes in the multiplayer formula above, which is truthfully not too changed regardless, which isn’t a terrible thing either- its the smaller changes to the gameplay that tweak things for the better, and that we gamers should really have nothing to complain about. For objective completed in the multiplayer modes you may dominate, you will receive appropriate killstreak rewards, benefits, and points, which you can use to cycle through any of your available killstreaks instead of simply using the one that is queued first up. This adds a layer of mysterious strategy somewhat to a game that is otherwise an utter fragfest without thought. Prestiging actually is a big deal now, instead of bragging rights or better guns being your only rewards, you’ll now receive special coins for custom classes, limited double experience, and even special callsigns. You now have an even deeper weapon leveling system that allows for upgrades and associated perks to be used to turn your favorite gun into an unstoppable machine to augment your play style even further. Custom matches make for some interesting and often hilarious variations on the classic gameplay modes we all relish or despise as well. While many of the changes aren’t readily noticeable from the getgo, if you spend a ton of time in the multiplayer content of the game, they’ll become second nature and easily recognizable upgrades to the already near-perfect formula that has constantly been refined since it’s conception.
Despite the continually extreme focus on the ever-popular multiplayer of the Call of Duty games, Modern Warfare 3’s campaign delivers some kicks to rival the previous two, although its about run its course on originality and idea inception. Its a short, linear thing, but the campaign is still worth your time and thirty achievements/trophies as well. Especially since they’re all relatively easy to earn, as well, for you cheevoholics out there… While it is relatively weak in its first act, each subsequent act has you thirsting for more details, and by the time you reach MW3’s explosive conclusion, you’re just as ready as Price to sit back and take a smoke break before continuing on.
The jarring, hodgepodge narrative of the first two hours and act one of the game may bring it down a little in many players’ eyes, but if you manage to drive on through the setpiece moments and explosions that never cease, you’ll get to the crux of things and really begin enjoying yourselves. I think they basically wanted rookie players of the series to be able to get into the game easily, and relatively without requiring prior knowledge of the key story events of Modern Warfare 1 and 2, so that is why they seemingly “dropped the ball” and simplified things to ‘Makarov is evil. Hunt him down.’ There is less backstabbing and revelations than were present throughout Modern Warfare 2, which is pleasant for a change, and serves to make the whirlwind of a campaign easier to stomach and observe. You’ll trot around the globe everywhere from Sierra Leone, West Africa, to New York City and Siberia. It might even be a broader story than the whole of the previous two Modern Warfare games, in that it spends less time in each location for the most part. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it just makes for a slightly convoluted plot, as usual for these games.
Entertainment: The campaign, despite some issues, is top notch, as are the multiplayer and Spec Ops modes.
Replay Value: High.
Overall Score: 8.5