I recently bought it as part of a “5 games for $20” offer – for research purposes of course.
If you’ve never played a MW game before, then you might wonder what on earth the story is about, but then again, you probably won’t care as the game play is so good.
If you’ve played MW 1 or 2, then you know what to expect: continual gunfire, a breathless rush for the next objective, lots of massive explosions and the occasional change of pace …before more explosions punctuate the moment, or an errant grenade kills you and throws you back to the most recent checkpoint.
Is it just more of the same, is it worth your money, or is it time that Infinity Ward broke the mold and did something different for a change?
As the Video Game Rockstar, I have a confession to make.
While I’ve played games for years (see my Bio [link]), I have only rarely played multiplayer games and since I started playing games on Xbox, I’ve played single player games exclusively.
There was a short time in one job where a group of us used to play Half Life during our lunch hours (*cough*), but since then I got married and got kids.
I just don’t have the time or the money to plow into multiplayer gaming.
So for that reason, this review will only cover the single player portion of MW3.
Answer The Call of Duty:
When I first played MW1, I was bowled over by its fun and completely over the top interpretation of the “soldier game”.
While it was a First Person Shooter, it took all the classic FPS ideas and stood them on their head.
All semblance of a simulation was thrown out the window and replaced by an arcade game.
Instead of a slower, tactical approach, it took the “run and gun” mechanic of the most popular FPS games and turned it up to about 500%.
It forced you to keep pushing forward by continually sending new enemies at you until you either ran out of ammo or made it to the next checkpoint.
The checkpoints ensured you never had to break the illusion by having to save your game and were spaced far enough apart to give you a challenge, while simultaneously imparting the buzz of constant progress.
They then slapped a load of Hollywood style set-pieces onto the beginning and end of each mission (and sometimes in the middle too), cooked up an incredibly silly story with several different soldier types to play throughout and they had a winner on their hands.
My favorite parts were several sections where you stopped being a foot soldier and took over the chain gun on a helicopter or became a gunner on a high altitude bomber providing cover to your “men” through a bird’s eye view infrared filter.
Modern Warfare Blues:
Then MW2 came out.
I bought it, played it and then took it back to the shop, while MW1 stayed in my collection.
The reason: it was just more of the same, with my favorite bits taken out and with some horrible “controversial” material thrown in. – The idea may have been to increase sales by making it more “mature”, but to my mind it just cheapened the whole thing, even though you could skip the bad stuff if you wanted.
A New Chapter:
So Modern Warfare 3, is it more of the same?
Well, yes it is, but no, they seem to have recaptured some of the magic of MW1.
They still have the controversial content but somehow, the disc stayed in the drive until I finished the game and I found myself smiling and laughing at it, even as I shook my head in disbelief – “on no, don’t tell me they’ve been killed/blown up/broken down/chopper destroyed [insert ridiculous plot point here] – yet again?”
The graphics are starting to show their age now, but the sheer pace of the game means that you won’t really be looking at them other than to say, “that was a cool fireball”, or suchlike.
The sound is as good as ever, with continual radio chatter and shouts from your squad mates, some of which can be quite helpful (e.g. “grenade!”…)
The intros and outros to the missions are all top notch, getting you pumped up for the fight and the atmosphere makes you feel like you are in the middle of a crazy warzone from start to finish.
Of course, it’s all an illusion, more action movie than simulation. It’s a strictly linear path from A to B, there’s no real thinking or tactics involved, but it’s a great illusion nonetheless.
In the future, I’d like to see the developer put their skills towards something with a bit more thought involved, like commanding your squad, a more open world or taking a less scripted approach to everything.
But for the moment, this will do and it does very well indeed.
The important thing is that it’s fun and that’s what games are all about.