Call Of Duty, what is there left to say that hasn’t already been said? One of the most successful franchises in game history, making hundreds of millions in revenue with every release. The big question needs answered however, is MW3 just more rehashing of the series or does it deliver good value for money?
For the most part MW3 plays by the rules. Meaning, the developers know what is successful and haven’t decided to abandon it to ‘reinvent’ the game play on some level. I am a fan of the series, having played every game released for many months. I will admit to feeling a little jaded now with every title they release.
You might not know, but this latest game has been the child of multiple studios. Infinity Ward were working on the game when there was a major falling out between Activision and the studio heads Jason West and Vince Zampella. Neversoft and Treyarch helped out with the game development and coding. Three studios working on the one game, recipe for disaster, surely?
As we would expect, the latest game is heavily scripted with many cut scenes interweaved between the real time FPS action. It isn’t a long single player game, lasting around 7 hours for me. Not that I was surprised however as this seems the standard life of a first person shooter in recent years.
MW3 does very little to push the genre any further than we might have hoped. Regulars Soap and Price return to take centerstage and the storyline follows on from the previous titles, connecting them all together. I can’t say I enjoyed the story that much, but it has never been a strong point of this franchise. Listen to people nattering on for a few minutes, work out the mission at hand, then rack up the kills on the way to victory. Rinse and repeat.
The first mission is noteworthy, because the pace is so quick that gamers are forced to charge ahead, ducking behind cover, killing waves of enemies, before running into another environment. The single most important aspect I really liked about Modern Warfare 3 are the environments. There are seven world famous locations, which all have their own graphic style and unique features. The scripted sequences are really entertaining, including the ‘No Russian’ level and a major firefight in Paris which is fantastically epic. Looking back however, I wouldn’t say it was any better than MW2, but if you liked the previous games, then this is certainly going to hit the spot.
Without risking any spoilers, the ending of the game surprised me, showing a more sensitive side to the development team that hasn’t often been seen. Many people have commented that they feel it was a weak ending, but my views couldn’t be more different.
Graphically the PC game isn’t going to get that much attention. It is clear they have ported it over from the console versions because even when the image quality settings are maxed out at 1080p, a modest AMD or Nvidia card such as the GTX460 will handle it with ease. I did notice it placed a fairly high load on the CPU for some reason, with my quad core Intel chip hovering around 80% activity on some of the levels. The fan on my ‘all in one’ liquid cooler was very active with this title, which is why I started paying attention. I am always disappointed when studios decide to shift the code from a console, because a modern day gaming PC offers 5x times (at least) more power than either Xbox 360 or Playstation 3. After playing Battlefield 3 it appears two dimensional in design with drab colour saturation and low resolution textures. The engine in fact looks several years older than the one used in Battlefield 3.
The audio side of the game is much more impressive, with superb, realistic gun sounds and epic sweeping musical passages setting the tone. The production values are certainly not in question, but if only they had spent more time giving PC gamers a vastly enhanced graphics overhaul then I would be happier.
The multiplayer side of the game has received criticism on many forum threads and I have to agree that they could have brought something new to the table this time around – some of the new maps seem poorly designed too. The combat isn’t bad with some of the modes, as I found myself enjoying many of the online sessions, but after a while I found that I was craving a little more inventiveness from the developers. Search and Destroy for instance is basically ruined, due to the small map design and the means of flanking from all sides.
Weaponry isn’t bad – Guns will level up with the users, who can also earn experience points towards proficiencies. They are weapon specific upgrades, such as to lower the kickback after firing. Again, its nothing to write home about but its solid enough in the implementation.
The Strike Package system is another weakness, because they have decided to reinvent how killstreaks can be earned. The Specialist package gives the player perks instead of killstreak awards. After just eight kills with the Specialist package you can have all the perks unlocked, which means that balancing is all messed up as the character is so powerful. I haven’t played this game in a few days now, so hopefully they had adjusted this.
The Support package is also flawed because you can keep your kills, after dying. Surely this should be classed as a cheat?
There are new game modes, Team Defender and Kill Confirmed. Team Defender is based around a flag which everyone wants to grab and hold – this leads to utter chaos with everyone firing in one direction and dropping grenades. I didn’t play it for long, but it was a fun diversion for an hour. Kill Confirmed makes players hunt for dog tags which are dropped by dead soldiers, it is fun for a while, but quickly gets boring.
Call Of Duty Elite is the redeeming feature as all kills are placed into the stat engine, being integrated with web apps and mobile apps. There is synchronization available and clan support which might appease a large portion of the online audience, I didn’t delve into this in detail so hopefully it is winning over a few online gamers.
Modern Warfare 3 adds a new ‘spec ops’ mode, offering a new series of missions designed from the ground up for two players. If you beat the single player mission, then the game alerts the player that there is more to see, with a friend.
These aren’t based at all on the single player levels either, which impressed me. The design of these missions is focused around two player team work, such as when one player has to use a turret to ‘cover’ the other as he runs through a warehouse. If you fancy a challenge, you can also play survival mode with a friend, which pits increasingly difficult waves of enemy attack against the duo.
Modern Warfare 3 hasn’t set out to redefine the genre, instead Activision have delivered a solid single player, and two player game which should appease the masses. Unfortunately the online aspects of the game are receiving a lot of criticism from hardcore gamers, and I can see why this would be the case – I lost all interest with the online experience after a single day. I strongly feel they could have achieved more with the title, and that they really should have reworked and enhanced the game engine. It might be fine for Playstation 3 owners, but what about the enthusiast gamers who spend £500-£600 on a new HD6990 or GTX 590? People have every right to feel shortchanged and its killing the PC gaming industry … companies like Nvidia and AMD know it.
Most of the score for this review comes from the single player game, which is fun but nothing out of the ordinary. Sadly it only lasts 6-7 hours and then, if you have a friend at hand you can play the Spec Ops missions. Online didn’t grab me at all and I much prefer the online experience with Battlefield 3. At least they spent some time with balancing and designing a game engine specifically for the PC enthusiast user.