Tuesday, 22 November 2011

CoD: Modern Warfare 3

Formats: PS3, Xbox 360, PC, Wii

Once again it’s that time of year when Call of Duty returns in its refined form and 50% of all relationships break down due to males becoming disillusioned with real life and opting into the world of Modern Warfare. Activisions’ third installment continues the trend of tweaking an already engrossing and engaging formula, making it smoother, faster and more balanced. Finally completing a campaign spanning over three games is immensely satisfying, playing the all new Special Ops cooperative game modes is hugely rewarding and battling it out online against fellow gamers in competitive multiplayer is probably the most addictive experience an FPS has ever brought to any platform. Make no mistake about it, this is everything you already know and love, but the little additions make for an even more frantic affair, one that getting away from is damn near impossible.

An interesting question to ask fans of the Call of Duty series is whether or not they pay attention to campaign mode. Some gamers literally don’t touch the single player story, while others believe that it’s a fantastic experience and a highly underrated mode in the game. Modern Warfare 3 concludes the battle against the tyrant Makarov, but does so in an exceptionally thrilling fashion. Visiting iconic Western locations such as Paris, New York and London bring a new angle of combat to the story where gamers can familiarize themselves with each specific location. As always the campaign’s pacing is relatively impressive, with vehicle and support sections complimenting the ground warfare nicely, but the emotional weaving of the story just doesn’t quite match up to the thrill we all expect from Call of Duty. This is to be expected of course being the end of a trilogy, but the series never dug deep enough into the characters and plot to warrant any serious emotional attachment so you’re left pretty much guessing what’s going to happen in the few dramatic moments and most of the time, you’ll be absolutely right. Modern Warfare 3 tries to plug away at your heartstrings but ultimately, it’s the guns and explosions we want, not the drama.

Once you’re through the campaign you can move onto the competitive multiplayer, or you could spare a moment for that little box on the left of the title screen titled Special Ops. Returning from Modern Warfare 2, Spec Ops pits you into campaign orientated missions either solo or with a friend, and forces you to battle it out to an objective, target or goal. These missions are varied, engaging and thoroughly challenging, providing a huge stream of replay value for you and your friends, be it either hunting for leaderboard glory or just completing each mission on the hardest difficulty setting. You’ll once again traverse a variety of locations from submarines to the city streets, wherever you find yourself, it’s a whole load of fun to get stuck in and see how your score fairs against the rest of the world.

You’d think by now I’d have covered everything and we would talk about the online multiplayer, well how wrong you are! Spec Ops has another game mode that fans of Zombies will absolutely adore – Survival mode. Endless waves of enemy soldiers swamp your location as you and your friends dig deep to survive. Resembling Zombie mode, Spec Ops Survival is a welcome break from the undead as enemies are smarter, engage you with weapons and will try to overrun your location. As you progressively climb higher up the wave numbers you begin unlocking weapon, explosive and perk crates. You use the money you earn in between rounds to purchase new weapons, new explosives, perks like Sleight of Hand and even your support artillery like Predator Missiles and Air Strikes. Enemies come in all shapes and sizes, from your typical soldier, to dogs, to helicopters – this versatility forces you to constantly change your load out in between rounds to make sure you are adequately equipped to survive the next wave. A fantastic addition to Spec Ops is whichever of the modes you play you will level up. The higher level you are, the better stuff you can unlock in the crates during survival mode. For example, going in at level 1 you have access to only basic weaponry, but progressing between level 10 – 20 will give you access to sentry turrets for defending yourself. This added incentive will force you to play over and over because each time you play, you’ll be better equipped than before. With plenty of maps and perks for getting stuck in, I have a feeling that this could really be more popular than Call of Duty Zombies.

Finally, the time has come – competitive online multiplayer. It’s great, seriously. Anyone who has played Call of Duty online will instantly recognize this brilliant system that provides action, excitement and addiction. The game has been refined with a few tweaks to make for a more balanced experience. First of all, killstreaks have been changed slightly – players now have the option of using your standard assault killstreak, which is three different bonuses that are unlocked after you amass a certain amount of kills, but the number resets should you die. These are your more powerful weapons like the Osprey Gunner, Pave Low Chopper and Air Strike. However, players can also choose the support killstreak package, which offers players support based bonuses like UAV, Counter UAV and Advanced UAV (Blackbird) – while these don’t do damage, the kill count does not reset should you die, so if you’re set up is 3 – 5 – 7, no matter how many times you die, as long as you get the kills you will unlock the bonuses. The final option is added perks when you gain a certain amount of kills. So if a player has already set 3 perks, he can choose 3 other perks that will activate mid battle should you gather 2 – 4 – 6 kills – these however, also reset just like your normal assault killstreaks. Each set up has its own advantage, if you think you’re good enough then you can try and earn the more powerful bonuses, other players will want to play a more team orientated game and thus support would fulfill that need nicely, while other players might consider having 6 perks activated is the most beneficial way to traverse the battlefield – whichever route you take, all are playable and enjoyable in their own way.

Now we’ve got that out of the way, let’s talk a little bit more about the multiplayer. Maps are generally smaller and you’ll find a lot more players play head on because there’s simply not enough room to camp, which is excellent. Perks have been refined and changed, some as usual are a lot more useful than others, but clearly Scavenger is considered the most advantageous, with it being unlocked at level 50! The weapons are all balanced, with the SCAR currently the most popular weapon of choice, as it hasn’t lost its punch from the last game. All the different game modes are present with the addition of Kill Confirmed, which requires you to kill an enemy then raid their body of the dog tag for bonus points – it’s an enjoyable game mode and one to check out should Team Deathmatch or your choice of game type gets boring after a while. As usual, there is so much stuff to unlock it’s unreal, weapon add-ons, camouflage, challenges, perks, killstreaks, emblems, titles, the psychology of hording stuff can certainly be attributed to Call of Duty. Whatever your feelings are towards Modern Warfare 3, it’s undeniable that Activision have created the perfect formula for hooking gamers into their world – before I even knew it I was level 45 and I had the game for 3 days, it really is mad but you can’t help playing, it really is that incredible.

From a technical perspective Modern Warfare 3 doesn’t really stand out all that much and is probably where Battlefield 3 will be the victor. The graphical engine has been improved slightly but it’s still the same game effectively and I find quite a lot of the maps online are very dark and it’s difficult to see anything. The audio on the other hand, is spot on as always, there’s nothing like hiding from an AC130 reigning down holy thunder on the map as everyone cowers in fear. As always the controls are precise and from my experience, the matchmaking on both Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 is pretty spot on.

There you have it, another installment in the series and another small step forward. Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3 doesn’t need to change its formula, it doesn’t need to do something new, it just needs to keep bringing back the same winning system and ensuring it’s better than before.

9.0 | Gameplay |

Once you get that first kill be in whichever game mode, you won’t be able to stop. This is FPS doing what it does best, bringing the action in abundance.

8.0 | Presentation |

Not the best looking game but certain environments looks great and the audio is superb.

10 | Replay Value |

There is no other modern console title that holds greater replay value than Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3. It is impossible to stop and when you Prestige, you just want to unlock everything all over again.

9 | Final Thoughts |

I’m not a huge believer in Call of Duty campaigns, but can fully agree with the multiplayer being phenomenal. However, the addition of Special Ops Survival to an already engaging game mode from Modern Warfare 2 really rounded off this package for me. This is more than just online multiplayer, there’s something here for everyone wanting to play with friends on the sofa, online or by themselves – whatever you want, Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3 can provide.

Igor Kharin

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