On the surface, this Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 is similar to its predecessors. If a casual fan sat down for a few rounds of team deathmatch or domination, it would be easy to forgive them for mistaking this for a map pack. Its visuals are familiar, most of the weapons are recycled from previous games, the tight gunplay feels similar, maps are still fairly cramped affairs for the most part, assembling a party operates the same, and many of the killstreak rewards return. Modern Warfare 3’s most noteworthy tweaks may be smaller changes, but they add up to contribute in a big way.
Though Modern Warfare 3 comes to us by way of an older engine, it still looks great and performs well. At any given time the screen appears ready to burst with effects and visual madness. Entire battles are waged before you; buildings burn and crumble while a steady flow of explosions batter your senses. This is Call of Duty, and Modern Warfare 3 collects these moments of boom in abundance, presenting them in all their 60 frames-per-second glory.
Modern Warfare 3’s single player campaign suffers from a run of the mill story. At several points enemies even appear to completely disregard their own safety if it means they can run past your allies and just shoot you in the face. The story is difficult to follow as usual, and while it does wrap up the arc begun by the previous Modern Warfare games, it isn’t ultimately all that interesting or satisfying. Moments of emotional weight fell flat as I found it difficult to muster up feelings of sadness about the death of one named soldier after witnessing the countless deaths of hundreds of other Americans.
However, many have called Modern Warfare 3’s multiplayer “fantastic”. Like the other Call of Duty games before it, this entry pulls you in with its persistent leveling system and frantic combat. All of the sixteen new maps are fun to play and, with a whole new slew of challenges to complete, rewards constantly pop up that keep you hooked!
Custom classes are as crucial to online play as always, and players can choose between three new strike packages for their loadouts. Assault is for offensive-minded players, as its rewards are mostly death-dealing instruments like remote control assault drones, devastating air strikes, and the proximity-based I.M.S. (Intelligent Munition System). If you’re outfitted with this package, your killstreak progresses as always – it builds as you rack up kills, but resets to zero once you’re taken down. Considering I’m usually heavy on offense, I stuck with the assault package for my first few hours of multiplayer.
The controls feel as good as ever, and that same sense of exhilaration and speed that comes from a great round of multiplayer still exists. Like past Call of Duty games, occasional moments where one team totally dominates the other due to Assault Strike Package rewards still happen, but overall this remains a slight annoyance when weighed against the rest of the multiplayer package.
Extra time can be sunk into the cooperative Spec Ops mode. This mission mode from the previous Modern Warfare returns with a whole new set of stages that challenge you in a variety of ways. For instance, you might have to quickly take over a plane, while in another mission you’ll be tasked with disarming chemical weapons or silently getting past a large number of enemies. Additionally there’s a Survival Mode, where two players try to survive against endless waves of increasingly difficult enemies. It’s not exactly original (or zombies), but it’s a game type that works well in Call of Duty, and can be played over and over again if you care about getting to the top of those oh-so-precious leaderboards.