-Visuals look dated
-Doesn't bring that many new things
Final score: 9 / 10
Controller support: No
OS: Windows XP/ Windows Vista / Windows 7
Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo E6600 or AMD Phenom X3 8750 processor or better
Memory: 2 GB RAM
Graphics: Shader 3.0 or better 256 MB NVIDIA GeForce 8600GT / ATI Radeon X1950 or better
DirectX: DirectX 9.0c or later
Hard Drive: 16 GB free hard drive space
Sound: DirectX 9.0c or later
Internet: Broadband connection and service required for Multiplayer Connectivity. Internet connection required for activation.
Without a doubt one of the biggest releases of the year is Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, at least if you factor in the millions of dollars spent by Activision hyping it up and making sure that every gamer knows it's coming.
With the promise of continuing the story set up in the first Modern Warfare, of adding new and more varied cooperative Spec Ops missions, and the overhaul of the multiplayer mode, as new Strike Packages take over from the killstreaks, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 has some big combat boots to fill. Factor in that its biggest competitor, Battlefield 3, was released a couple of weeks ago, and the new shooter really needs to deliver on its promises.
So, does Modern Warfare 3 distinguish itself among the legions of other shooters or should it be dishonorably discharged? Let's find out.
There's an All-Star cast ...
... and a diabolical villain
Without a doubt one area where the Modern Warfare spinoff series from Call of Duty has always tried to distinguish itself was the narrative. While the original pretty much set the template for how modern military shooters should pace their narrative, the second title relied more on shocks and surprises, like Russia’s invasion of the U.S. or the already infamous ‘No Russian’ level.
Thankfully, Modern Warfare 3 strikes an almost perfect balance between its predecessors, managing to deliver a great story that ties up the conflict between British former SAS members Price and Soap, and the main villain, Makarov, but also has a few moments that will amaze and touch gamers.
Yes, you’ll finally get some solace after the evil things Makarov has done, and yes, you will get to see quite a lot of shocking acts of destruction, but, in the end, it all serves to deliver a narrative that, while not perfect, will certainly stand out among the array of other shooters that have tried to copy some if not all of its elements.
I won’t go into detail but you’ll once again control various soldiers on a battlefield that now spans the globe, from Delta Force member Frost, who manages to fend off the Russian invasion in New York and then goes on the offensive against them in France or Germany, to Yuri, a former Spetsnaz member that has a score to settle with Makarov and joins the rag tag squad led by Price and Soap.
While it may not start in such a big way, the story ramps up slowly but surely and, after around 6 to 7 hours, depending on your skill level and difficulty setting, you’ll finish one of the best Call of Duty games since Black Ops and even Modern Warfare 1.
There’s not a lot to say about Modern Warfare 3 that hasn’t been said about previous Call of Duty games. Everything feels spot on, as there’s the same rock solid experience that the developers behind these games have gotten us used to, and you get just enough variety to keep things fresh.
First up, there’s the actual shooting, which has the same solid feel as previous games, but does add smaller features like foldable scopes that turn a medium range rifle into a long range one, or vice versa. Weapon variety is pretty decent but you won't really feel the need to swap out the regular weapons you get at the start of the level with new ones, unless they're RPGs or Javelin launchers that are required in certain moments.
Once again you also get to control some vehicles, including UAVs, attack helicopters or even a new UGV, an unmanned ground vehicle that’s basically a small tank with a chaingun and a grenade launcher. These moments are shorter in length, however, as you’ll soon return ton controlling actual soldiers, so they don’t outstay their welcome one bit.
Movement feels precise, as do the few quicktime events in crucial moments of the game. While the story mode relies on a lot of scripting, things get a lot better during the multiplayer, where players can roam the maps to their heart's content, as long as they avoid getting shot at.
Enemies are relatively smart, spending a lot more time in cover if suppression fire is being targeted at them, although they do have a habit of sitting in rows, which makes killing multiple enemies with a single, carefully aimed shot that much easier.
The game’s isn’t shy about getting your opponents to bunch up on you, so you’ll often find yourself slowly moving through the level and eliminating them one by one, or just trying to trigger the scripted event as fast as possible and get rid of the waves of enemies in one fell swoop.
Level design is as solid as ever, with quite a few high points like a Czech castle or a village in Africa that gives the Favela scenario from Modern Warfare 2 a run for its money in terms of imaginative design.
Travel all around the world ...
... and try to prevent its destruction
While the story mode certainly impressed us, Modern Warfare 3 really shines when it comes to its online modes, as both the cooperative Spec Ops as well as the regular competitive mode shine with some much needed improvements and updates over its predecessors.
The Co-Op mode isn't just about Spec Ops, however, as besides a wide variety of new maps you can tabkle alongside a buddy, thus unlocking lots of new weapons and up to 48 stars, there's a special series of Survival Maps, that sees the two of you surviving against waves of incoming enemies, in the same way as the popular Zombies modes from Call of Duty: Black Ops or World at War.
While Spec Ops missions feel as tight as ever, allowing you tackle all sorts of objectives from disarming explosives on submarines to collecting toxic samples from bombed out cities, the Survival ones might have benefited from allowing more than two players to work together against the enemies.
The competitive multiplayer has also seen some radical changes, with the developers scrapping the killstreaks in favor of pointstreaks, as they can now be obtained not just by killing others but also doing other things throughout a match. The rewards for reaching certain pointsreaks are now included in special Strike packages, like Assault, Support, or Specialist, each offering various types of rewards for your sustained effort.
Assault packages are designed in the vein of the older killstreaks, helping out those who rack up the most kills without dying by providing rewards like assault drones or predator missile strikes. Support packages keep your pointstreak going after death, and generally provide things to help out the team, like UAV recon or anti-air turrets. Specialist packages are pretty much for jack of all trades, allowing access to all sorts of perks if you stay alive and keep killing your enemies.
With these new additions, Modern Warfare 3's multiplayer is perfect for all sorts of players and, with 16 maps and all sorts of modes, from the familiar Search & Destroy or Headquarters, not to mention Team Deathmatch, to new ones like Kill Confirmed or Team Defender, provides a really immersive experience.
There's also the special Call of Duty Elite service but it's not available for the PC, as of yet, and on consoles it's experiencing lots of problems. It should, theoretically, enrich the online experience with stat tracking, social networking among existing friends and new ones, as well as provide support for various competitions.
Visuals and Sound
In terms of graphics, Modern Warfare 3 can’t go up against the likes of Battlefield 3 or Crysis 2 for the prettiest game of 2011, but it does hold its own, as the IW engine is still looking sharp enough overall. While getting close to some textures reveals some really low quality design, the overall visuals are decent enough and provide a rock solid experience.
In terms of sound, you’ll be treated with a lot of orchestral music, while the occasional licensed songs that we heard in Black Ops, for example, are all but gone. Voice actors do a proper good job, especially when it comes to Price and Soap, who, while not really standing out during the dramatic moments, manage to really convey their hatred of Makarov.
Try out new things ...
... and old favorites
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 was awaited by many and, thankfully, we can report that it’s truly one of the most comprehensive first person shooters out there, delivering not just a solid multiplayer, whether it’s cooperative or competitive, but also one of the best stories from the genre.
In comparison to Battlefield 3, whose narrative really weighed down the great multiplayer, Modern Warfare 3 wins in all categories, although both will offer plenty of first person shooter action for your buck, so it just comes down to your own preferences.