Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 review

Call of Duty, the game that has everyone going crazy once a year. The game responsible for this excitement was Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. Released in 2007, it was a new direction for the series and it was an instant success, mixing the great character development of the old titles, with high budget, Hollywood set pieces. Since then, we've been treated to similar blockbusters year after year, each promising more of the same; a great bunch of missions, more explosive set pieces and even better multiplayer than the year before. At some point though, the train will have to stop. That point doesn't arrive with Modern Warfare 3, but it does show signs of the train slowing. Read on to find out why.

The Modern Warfare series primarily follows a few characters, more specifically Captain Price and John 'Soap' MacTavish. The first game saw you hunting down Zakhaev, an Ultranationalist responsible for many innocent deaths. Modern Warfare 2 was about finding Makarov, second in command to Zakhaev, and even more evil. Sidetracked by the rogue Lieutenant General Shepherd , the end of the game saw Soap on the edge of death, and Shepherd with a knife in his eye socket. MW3 picks up an hour or so after MW2, with Price and Nikolai trying their hardest to get Soap some medical attention, and still on the trail of Makarov. And so begins the annual Call of Duty frenzy.

Campaign mode is just as good as ever. Fans of the series will be pleased with the new gameplay elements, as well as more blockbuster moments that the series has become renowned for. There are a lot of very cool sections in pretty much every level, and Infinity Ward show that they still know how to make a campaign that is as mind-blowing as the rest of them. One mission sees you and an ally wearing juggernaut suits, just walking up a street whilst a lot of people shoot at you, and you slowly take them all down. Another sees you and your team in a collapsed, underwater tunnel. There was no time to evacuate, so cars and lifeless bodies float around eerily in the dark water. There aren't many games that make you feel this incredibly cool, and it proves that the Call of Duty games are still the go-to for action set pieces, no matter how many times other developers will try to oust them. The main problem with Modern Warfare 3, is that it's too familiar. With one game a year since the original Modern Warfare, the series is starting to lose that something that made the first one so amazing. This is not to say that Modern Warfare 3 is a bad game, because it's definitely not. It's just the developers need to step back and think about what they can do to really shake up the series. Whether this is going back further in time, or even in the future, which sounds terrible, but it would be different. Black Ops set itself apart by choosing the Vietnam War, and it worked out so well, and I found it almost as good as Modern Warfare 1.
 The campaign is filled with awesome missions

The multiplayer, which is what most players buy it for, is again, too repetitive. There are a decent amount of great maps, a lot of deep customisation, and some fantastic changes that really do mix up the way we play. One of the most interesting new features are the different kill streak reward types. There is Assault, Support and Specialist. They each have different rewards, and also a different way of earning them. For example, Assault is the standard. You kill a few people, and on the brink of a kill streak reward, you die. So you start again, working your way back up from zero kills. Support on the other hand, has more helpful rewards, but nothing deadly. With Support, if you die, your kill streak does not reset. It's a nice way to give that extra help for the player who wants the more tactical rewards. Specialist is an entirely new, tough to master strike package. Instead of UAVs or airstrikes, you are rewarded with perks. At 2, 4 and 6 kills you are given a perk of your choosing, which is great for the more tactical player. At 8 kills, all perks except Overkill are active. Specialist is definitely for the hardcore player, that guy who plays all year until the next in the series is released. This time around you can also level up each individual weapon, which in turn unlocks upgrades, paint jobs and attachments. It's probably the deepest in the series but it feels so familiar that the epic amount of fun you usually have when first playing a new online game just wasn't present for me. It felt like I had been playing the game for weeks already.

Spec Ops makes it's return, after it's successful introduction in Modern Warfare 2. This time, along with short, frenzied missions, there is a brand new Survival mode. It is very similar to Gears of War 3's Horde mode, particularly as you can buy turrets, perks, air support, etc. Waves and waves of enemies, vehicles and dogs come at you, and with each kill you earn money. At the end of each round, there is a short intermission during which you can buy, upgrade and resupply your guns, explosives and even buy some epic air support weapons, sentry guns and more. It's a lot of fun, but does get quite tough a bit too soon, which may alienate some of the newer players. It's definitely worth a play though, and in a private match with a friend, you'll have a lot of fun. The Spec Ops missions are also a blast, and whilst some take parts out of the campaign missions, some are entirely new. One sees you sniping from a rooftop, whilst your partner walks down a street in a juggernaut suit, defusing bombs. There are an endless stream of enemies trying to stop him, and it's your job to snipe them down, and even use a predator missile now and then. Another mission sees you playing as the Russians in a section from the single player, in which you must capture the Russian president instead of protect him. They're all a lot of fun, and it's these parts of the game that feel the least stale.
The multiplayer delivers exactly what we expected.
Modern Warfare 3 is far from a bad game. It's an awesome, action-packed explosion-fest, with the set pieces that we have come to love, and that no other developers can beat. The majority of players will love it as they loved the previous ones, but there was just something missing. The new feeling wasn't there, like I had played the game many times before. The twists and turns of the story still do their job, but the actual gameplay in both single and multiplayer is too familiar. Maybe it's time for Activision, Treyarch and Infinity Ward to rethink their strategy for future titles, just in case the next title feels like even more of the same. Fans will only put up with so much recycling.

8/10

by Louis Gardner

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