Despite getting long in the tooth, the co op and multiplayer just do enough to remain fresh.
Whoo, Modern Warfare 3. Three simple words that bring out the rabid foam in most gamers, whether positive or negative. You either love it, bought a console especially for it (guilty as charged, mlud!), preorder the special edition of every version, have a clan that’s now lasted years, and feel like Price is a good name for your firstborn; or you consider it the most overrated, pointless, repetitive, useless pile of trap ever, that makes even Rogue Warrior a palatable alternative. Whatever side of the fence you fall, or decide to believe in the papers, the COD series has done one thing well, and that’s craft a series of set-piece driven campaigns and sweeping multiplayer content into something enjoyed by many – if nothing else, no one can deny the astronomic sales figures that once had the series dubbed the “800 pound gorilla”. Its FPS tweaked for the energy drink generation – fast, loud, over the top and slightly neurotic. And for many, that means good. So, what do we have this year? Well, in the wake of numerous fallouts, lawsuits and disagreements, the control of the final chapter of Modern Warfare has been split between series creators Infinity Ward and a new comers Sledgehammer Games. The MW series is also brought to a close in the single player campaign, the co-op has been expanded to include both the classic Spec Ops missions, and a new Survival mode, and the multiplayer brings a stack of new zones, a higher prestige level, and all the classic vs gameplay we have come to enjoy. So, lets start with the campaign – following on from the end of Modern Warfare 2, the dastardly Makarov has managed to force the world into war, with Russia invading the US and groups of terrorists worldwide plotting to bring down the many Western governments. To be honest, although the playing out of Soap and Prices vendetta against Makarov is pretty interesting, the story this time is a series of events designed to allow maximum set piece action form the go, and the game certainly wastes no time in doing so. The problem is, for series veterans, we’ve seen and done all this before – the African village level is a poor copy of the favela mission in MW2, the chase on the London underground channels the final mission of MW1, and even a mission on a plane is reminiscent of Mile High Club, right down to the urgency of the pacing. It isn’t bad, but feels like it could have been so much better, ending up like the old “recap” episodes you used to get on Friends – a bit of window dressing doesn’t really hide the fact that it’s the same old thing, a bit watered down. It also feels somewhat restrained, as if the magnitude of the title made Sledgehammer play it safe – a crying shame considering the possibilities, and everything just feels slightly disappointing, like an inflatable speedboat with a slow puncture. Visually, it’s looking like a faded soap actress – there’s hints of the former beauty, but close inspection shows that a small amount of shine can’t hide the fact that the game engine is fading fast. This is old tech, after all, and releasing hot on the heels of games such as Crysis 2 and (sorry) Battlefield 3, the old girl really needs a revamp.
whilst not setting the world alight in terms of originality, Modern Warfare 3 still carries the torch well for one of gamings greatest series
The sound is merely OK as well – the sound effects feel very recycled, and the voice acting isn’t particularly great. Full surround adds a lot of atmosphere, but again, it just feels a touch complacent,as if a lack of effort was made during production. But enough of the negatives, as we move on – the co-op suite rocks. Offering two game modes to be played split screen, online, offline, and even solo, the classic Spec Ops missions are good (if a little smaller in volume), and are excellently complimented by a new mode called Survival. IW have obviously noticed the love for Zombies in the last two Treyarch outings and taken the hint – Survival pits players against waves of enemies, progressing in difficulty, with money earned for kills which can be spent on weapons, ammo and perks. It’s a real blast, and fulfils the “one more go” criteria perfectly. Finally, we move on to the multiplayer, and here is where the crowds really get split. Yes, there is two new game modes. No, they aren’t all that different. Yes, there is a new set of streaks which can work to the advantage of every playing type. No, they don’t fundamentally alter the fact that you still run around in teams killing each other with varying degrees of skill. Yes the new perks, unlocks and weapons levelling means you get something new after nearly every battle. No, it won’t stop you reverting to the same three gun setups after the first couple of hours gaming. But here’s the thing (pay attention, Uncle Dave is going to tell you all a Lesson) – it all doesn’t matter. IW nailed multiplayer deathmatching four years ago, and the tweaking is still only garnish on what is an incredibly deep, varied, rich and fulfilling pie. It’s just brilliant, with fantastic level design balanced by varied skill levels, excellent matchmaking working well with the player choice in setups, and a real sense that even the newest players still stand a chance against people on level 50. It works, and works well. One issue I have though (although not one levelled at the game itself) – why are the servers full of kids? Don’t parents know how to read a certificate on the front of the game? It’s an 18, for crying out loud, and I’m sorry, but I don’t like playing against screeching 11 year olds. Parents, get a grip, and stop giving the Mail an excuse to bash our games. So, overall, is it more or less the same game? Absolutely. Is that a problem? Not really. Tweaked updates don’t hurt FIFA, Tiger Woods, Football Manager, Need for Speed, Battlefield (yes, 3 is a revamped 2, sorry), Final Fantasy, Street Fighter, Company of Heroes, WOW, oh, I can go on if you like. The thing is, had IW totally changed the game, we fickle gamers would deride it for not sticking to what they knew. Which would once again show how ridiculously unimpartial a bunch of people we can be at times. COD isn’t going away just yet, and if MW3 is anything to go by, the development team still have just enough ideas to keep the old warhorse rolling forward. Other games are doing things better, it’s true, but to call MW3 a bad title is just plain ridiculous. After all, we get a good 6 hour campaign, an insane amount of proper co-op (not the guffy “drop another player into the campaign” drivel), and a multiplayer which will surely last another year. It’s a perfe
ct end to the saga, and a perfect time to update the series by taking a year off to work on the engine, it’s true, but let’s be honest – whilst not setting the world alight in terms of originality, Modern Warfare 3 still carries the torch well for one of gamings greatest series. If you haven’t already bought it – you will.
The Bad: The campaign feels like a bit of a step backwards; multiplayer doesn’t add that much new; graphics are looking tired; voice acting falls short of the current gen levels