Modern Warfare 3 Review

8 Overall Score

  • Value:9/10
  • Gameplay:8/10
  • Story:6/10

Tremendous value | Survival Mode/Kill Confirmed | Stunning set pieces

Predictable story | Unimaginative evolution | PC version issues

Ross: Well well, Modern Warfare – we meet again. Can’t deny I’ve been anticipating this game for a long time – since MW2 really. The story ended on a great cliffhanger and I’ve been itching to know what happened next…

Max: Not much, it turns out. It was fun, polished and the setpieciest setpiece-fest yet, but the story totally lacked the ability to surprise me. MW2 may have had an insane plot, but it meant it consistently sidestepped expectations, and the whole World War 3 premise felt like a significant leap from its predecessor. I reckon it’s a problem with MW3 being the victory piece, so you spend a lot of your time rather predictably winning the war, and beating the bad guys.

Ross: I share that sentiment. With the story picking up immediately after MW2, it was interesting to see just how much damage had been done between the two games. It appeared WW3 happened somewhat quickly, which seemed a bit off. Although, it was cool to see Captain Price and Soap again, despite Soap not really contributing an awful lot this time round. It almost seemed like he was Navi to your Link. Kind of behind you and always having your back without contributing an awful lot. I think it’s fair to say he was wasted this time round. In terms of the story, we were always going to see a victory on the Western side, even if – without wanting to spoil too much – it seemed like nobody really won or lost.

Max: And what was the deal with your mystery protagonist you take control of? The attempt to tie him into the rest of the story felt so contrived, and I’d much rather have been in the shoes of Soap again, because I felt zero connection to Mr. Russian. I felt little connection with any of the characters you play as, really. You’re switched in and out far too much, with too many one level appearances and a really awkward scene that tried to recreate the impact of the infamous No Russian level.

Ross: Ah, THAT scene. Yeah, it seemed a little ‘No Russian’ for my liking. Nothing there to progress the story, or have any connection to the characters we control – just there for shocks. I found it quite disturbing to be honest, I had strayed from the leaked videos because I wanted to see it play out in the game. It was absurd.

Max: The campaign’s not without its highlights, despite all our unkind words. It’s got that pounding Call of Duty velocity to it that makes it very difficult to stop playing, and without the painful trial-by-death levels like the Favella in the last game. The game may not have been able to surprise story-wise, but in terms of what happens around you, it never holds back. Not that they never show restraint, there’s still the sneak-about-with-Price levels that I never seem to get tired of. That guy continues to be the highlight of the series.

Ross: Captain Price is pretty much iconic now, a true badass who just wants to get the job done. His presence really makes going through it worthwhile, you look forward to his next mission. In terms of campaign highlights, Paris is a definite plus for me. For all the bombast KA-BOOM that MW3 offers, it was never displayed better than in this level. The fight in front of the Eiffel Tower was just plain fun, impressive from start to finish. Once the campaign was done it was that level I kept going back too, such was its excitement and diversity. The underground in London was also excellent fun, was just unfortunate we didn’t spend more time there. Seemed a very quick in and out mission despite London featuring heavily in the promotion.

Max: I’ll tell you one thing, I’ve never seen a tube station that clean before.

Ross: LMAO!! *COUGH* Sorry. Thoughts then of the campaign overall?

Max: It’s a CoD campaign, with everything you expect that to mean. It annoys me when other games copy their formula, but I don’t have a problem with Call of Duty being Call of Duty. It’s a blast, just a predictable blast. It’s all worth it for the final image though. That’s what I call an ending.

Ross: Agreed. While the fun and excitement and pure velocity of the whole thing comes flying at you at 250mph, it’s quite easy to disregard it as all flash and no substance. The outsiders will always see it that way. But like you said, CoD is CoD – it ain’t ever gonna change to please anyone. No denying that Infinity Ward / Sledgehammer should be commended for their efforts in creating a true example of how WW3 could play out. All I can say is I felt depleted it was so short. A campaign you can finish in under six hours is hugely disappointing.

Max: That lack of volume isn’t a complaint you can level at the rest of the game though. Because, well, god damn. Talk about a reviewer’s nightmare. I’m gonna go on the record and say that my time spent with co-op and multiplayer can only really be called a surface level inspection. There’s so much of the stuff!

Ross: Let’s begin with Spec-Ops. Cracking stuff, with some gems hidden under the surface.

Max: I’m an absolute fiend for co-op, especially of the local variety, and I really appreciate that the series has always maintained the support for split screen. So Spec-Ops is where the value’s at for me. The missions work much like last time: rejigs of levels from the campaign, often from the enemy’s point of view this time, which you try and high-score your way through with a friend. But these have been overshadowed this time by Spec-Ops Survival, which is a COD take on the wave-based survival modes which are all the rage. While the stupid and hyper-aggressive AI seems ridiculous in the campaign, in Survival, where the game entirely embraces being a game, it makes perfect sense. Mindless hordes of enemies of the free world are great fun to shoot, and the mode comes with its own levelling and unlock system that’s as addictive as it is in the competitive space, minus the endless frustration.

Ross: One area of Spec-Ops I really enjoyed was the President capture, very intense and rewarding. Probably the highlight for me, although as you say Survival is just brilliant. Ferocious fun with friends, even on your own it’s a good way to test your skills before heading into the full multiplayer. I’m just a sucker for Zombies from World at War and Black Ops. I’m fully aware it’s a Treyarch thing and as such has no place in the Modern Warfare series but I did miss it quite noticeably. The pure insanity of it all is a welcome relief from the seriousness of everything else, and Survival didn’t give me the same satisfaction. On its own merits though, it’s killer and hopefully remains a staple of IW’s series.

Max: Talking of staples of Modern Warfare, how about that multiplayer, eh? Boy, is it fast. I’ve not played a Call of Duty online since COD4, and despite what Ron Perlman tells you, war haschanged. It’s a constant forward momentum, die every minute, respawn instantly trial of exhaustion. It’s honestly a bit much for poor old me.

Ross: It’s completely mental. From the moment you begin you just don’t stop, consistently moving from one place to another, running around like a complete Jonah Hill moron kidding yourself that you can 1-up everyone and out manoeuvre the lot of them with your mad C4 droppin’ skillz. Unfortunately, it never works! Always someone better than you, always the ‘other’ team seem more organised and focused than yours – it’s just complete carnage. But goddamn, I’m going out on a limb here and I don’t care – It’s the best multiplayer CoD has ever had. If you’re in it for the long haul and you are absolutely determined to Prestige over and over again, it’s absolutely worth your time. Infact, Kill Confirmed is worth your money alone. A stunning addition.

Max: Ha! I was preparing my own Kill Confirmed love-fest. That mode is genius, absolute genius. Objective-based modes have always suffered in Call of Duty because so many people just don’t give a shit. What Kill Confirmed does, if you’re unaware, is have a killed player drop dog tags, which can either be collected by your team, “confirming the kill”, or by the enemy, denying it. It forces cooperation, but at the same time the rewards are entirely selfish on the part of the player. It’s seems to obvious now that it’s been done, and I really hope every game from now on rips it off. I would love to see it in Halo.

Ross: I can’t praise it highly enough. The fact it’s practically eliminating scope tactics (if your team has no idea what they’re doing – which is quite often) has made the mode a completely different beast to say Free-For-All or Team Deathmatch. If you want to win with some pride it requires skill and focus, which is something the aforementioned modes are sadly lacking in some aspects. Speaking of Halo, Rage, Bulletstorm and *gulp* Battlefield…how does CoD stack up these days? Still the boss?

Max: Oh you just had to use the B-word. That marketing mess was nauseating, mostly because they are such different games, tailored to different types of players, offering a different experience. For the fast-paced, twitch-shooting, map-memorising gameplay, CoD’s unbeatable. That said, the series has reached a point of diminishing returns. Imagine MW2 never came out, and instead all that game contained was combined with MW3, would anyone notice? Spec-Ops Survival and Kill Confirmed are fantastic additions, but the reality is MW3 is a forty quid charge to play Call of Duty for another year. That’s fine for a lot of people, evident from MW3 yet again beating sales records. The value is, after all, extraordinary. An exciting campaign, perhaps the most comprehensive co-op suite available, and sixteen mutiplayer maps with an endless variety of modes and unlocks. But if you’re getting tired of the series, this is near identical. I’m glad I have it for the co-op, but if I didn’t get a review copy, I’d have waited for a price drop.

Ross: As an overall package? It’s worth every penny. Modern Warfare 3 is exactly what you expect it to be. Nothing more, nothing less. Luckily, what you expect it to be is technically brilliant, bombastic, over the top and full to the brim of multiplayer wonderment. The campaign is horribly predictable and bubbling the surface of ‘been there, done that’ – that being said, it’s the third in a trilogy. How much different did you really want it to be? If the story is continuing, why not the gameplay? The forty odd quid you put down for this pays for a wonderful multiplayer experience through Spec-Ops, a campaign that just finishes off the story, makes your eyes drop out of your skull in sheer spectacle but requires you to switch off your brain – think about it too much and you’re gonna wish for something far more concrete and challenging – however if there is a CoD fan still inside you, this isn’t gonna disappoint. You get what you’re given.

Max: And now the tricky bit. What do we score this behemoth? I’m of the 8 mindset myself.

Ross: 8? For MODERN WARFARE?! CAN YOU IMAGINE?! Sure, that’s good with me – was thinking the same.

Max: There you have it, folks. It’s an 8. Golly.

Ross: Here’s to Modern Fourfare. See you there!

Plan on playing Modern Warfare 3 on PC? Don’t go anywhere quite yet. Our review was for the console version, and there’s some stuff I ought to warn you about over in PC land. On consoles, the Call of Duty series targets 60fps, which means some cut backs are made to the graphics. It’s really quite special, and looks far better than it has any right to. But on PC, where 60fps is more a standard than an exception, the graphics do not impress, and with no benefit. Unless you’re running on dated hardware, MW3 looks pretty obsolete compared its contemporaries.

But that’s fine if the gameplay’s still golden, right? There’s an issue there too. MW3 supports dedicated servers, allowing admins to play around with game modes, with no limit but their imagination. Only, if you want to play there, no XP for you. Seriously. One of the central aspects of the multiplayer is stripped away unless you play peer-to-peer, which is an archaic and highly restrictive solution in PC terms. Unless this gets patched, there’s not much going for the PC version. Consider a couple of points docked if that’s your platform of choice.

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