By Carlin Au
A new year, a new Call of Duty game. Year after year, Activision seems publish the same stuff over and over again after 2007, when Call of Duty 4 was released. Infinity Ward has been working on Modern Warfare 3 since their last release, Modern Warfare 2. They hit some turbulence soon after Modern Warfare 2’s release when their lead producers were fired and half of their staff left. This year’s game was made, with the combined efforts of Sledgehammer Games and the other half of Infinity Ward, to be a return of the Call of Duty 4 style.
World War 3
Across all three games, I like the story. Modern Warfare 3 delivers a nicely scripted scene to end the tale, with well designed missions leading up to it. There are a few things that annoyed me: there are holes in the story, some levels were pointless, and it didn’t feel like World War 3.
Modern Warfare 2 introduced the Rangers to the trilogy and I would have liked to see more of them in Modern Warfare 3. The absence of them made me feel like there were holes in the overall story. Especially when the last time you see them in Modern Warfare 2 they say, “So when are we goin’ to Moscow?” Infinity Ward shows these soldiers itching to fight the Russians, but refuses to let them fight the Russians. Instead, Infinity Ward replaces them with Delta Force. Not that Delta Force was bad, but it seemed very random. There was a point in the story where Price contacts Sandman, a Delta Operator, to do something for him. How does Price know who he is? The world will never know.
In Modern Warfare 2, mysterious characters like the HVI and Raptor are left unexplained. We never find out who they are and their involvement in the story. There’s tons of theories of why they exist floating around the internet. It definitely does irk me when Infinity Ward introduces characters and doesn’t follow up on them.
The disturbing content notice when the game starts signals a level that viewers may or may not find… well, disturbing. The warning refers to a terrorist attack, just like in Modern Warfare 2, but the scene in Modern Warfare 2 had an actual purpose to it. The scene in this game feels like Infinity Ward is trying to force emotion onto people. It doesn’t feel right when the point of the level could have easily been illustrated in the previous level. Before the scene, you play soldier trying to stop the attack, but end up failing. Adding another scene to show what happened to civilians is preposterous.
I can replay World War 2 games and know that it’s World War 2, but when I play Modern Warfare 3, it misses that feeling of a World War occurring. To me, Modern Warfare 3 just shows a war between European nations. World War games feel like World War games because they are normally large scale battles against large enemy forces. Infinity Ward had to create that World War 3 feeling when the Russians invaded the US while maintaining the the story of Price and Makarov. If there is a World War 3 going on, I want to be part of the action, fighting against the Russians who burned down my home. The problem with the fictional World War 3 Infinity Ward puts together is that the focus is split between the events of World War 3 and the story of Price and Makarov. The hunt for Makarov largely overshadows the events of World War 3, which leaves much to be desired.
Killing on CoD’s Floor
Alongside Special-Ops mode, Infinity Ward presents Survival mode! A cooperative mode where you and your partner fend off against waves of Russian troops. As you kill Russian soldiers, you gain money used to purchase more weapons and items. Wait… this sounds very familiar. Survival mode seems very similar to the indie game, Killing Floor. While not all enemies in Killing Floor shoot bullets at you, the concept of Survival mode and Killing Floor are similar. The mode does not always feel like you’re playing Killing Floor, but it’s like playing a stripped-down Killing Floor in Call of Duty.
In Survival mode, you take on endless waves of armed men with your partner, trying to beat your previous best score. Granted that Killing Floor has an actual end, the Survival is different. But when you team up with a friend with good communication skills, the Survival mode can be quite exciting. Whether you’re camping in a bunker or kiting suicide dogs, there’s different options to try to get past that wave you couldn’t beat. At one point, I found myself with my buddy holding down an abandoned bunker with two sentry guns and claymores set near the entrances at wave 27.
Playing with a random stranger through Infinity Ward’s matchmaking system doesn’t bring you the same experience, however. I’m sure things would be different if you could actually have voice communication with your random partner, but that’s done through Steam. It aggravates me whenever they take my $3000 Care Package or move my Sentry Guns without telling me. Without any cooperation or communication from random partners, I can’t say that I enjoy playing through matchmaking. Private matches with friends does work out well, as long as you communicate and work together.
The Improved, Yet Broken Multiplayer
No more Commando and Marathon knifers. No more infinite grenade launching campers. I haven’t seen anything that has proven to be too overpowered except maybe the ACR 6.8. All players seem to have the same advantage in every match that I’ve played. New features like Weapon Proficiencies and Strike Chains can be pretty useful and make the game a lot more fun than Modern Warfare 2 was.
Weapon Proficiencies kind of balance the game in a way; they make weapons perform on the same level as the rest. All weapons can be beefed up using Weapon Proficiencies and most players will use it to make their guns easier to use. In that respect, it does make the game feel more balanced. Kill streak rewards in the previous games have been replaced by Strike Packages. I find that these decrease the amount of camping in the game, while still rewarding the player for getting kills or completing objectives. The Support Strike Package seems to let players play without caring about kill streak rewards. Because kills and objective completions stack up after you die, nobody really cares about obtaining high kill streaks. The Specialist Strike Package encourages moving around the map quickly and efficiently with low kill streak rewards. Gaining extra perks is almost useless if you camp in one spot of the map. There is one downside effect of the Strike Packages: they are class specific. When enemy air support is up and no one has AA weapons, how are they supposed to shoot it down? It puts me between a rock and a hard place; either give up my Strike Package streak to help my team or hide and risk getting shot by other players.
You spawn in and turn a corner. Turn another corner and see an enemy spawn in front of you. You kill him, but suddenly four more spawn in front of you. After taking down all four, you get killed from behind. This is one of the experiences I’ve had in Modern Warfare 3. Infinity Ward had assured us that the spawns would be fixed, but it seems like they have gotten worse since Modern Warfare 2. Honestly, the spawning system from Modern Warfare 2 was better than this. Not to mention the maps that came with this game. Most of the maps feel very tight and constrained. Both the spawning system and map design contribute to a lot of close encounters with other players.
Still Can’t Fit With the PC Clique
I tried to defend Infinity Ward once for this, but I don’t think I can anymore. Instead of giving PC players ranked dedicated servers, they gave us IWNet, the same P2P network from Modern Warfare 2. They gave us the dedicated servers they promised, but they are unranked. I’m pretty sure most players like being able to unlock items and rewards, so having unranked dedicated servers is a waste. While IWNet works, I will still get the occasional lagfest that fills me with rage and sends me back to playing Call of Duty 4.
The game still feels like it’s a console port even though Infinity Ward and Sledgehammer were looking to satisfy PC players. So far, they haven’t done a good job of it. I’ve had quite a few moments of my FPS randomly dropping during Multiplayer sessions. It would happen once or twice in a game and it would be the cause of my death. With a Phenom II 955 and a Radeon 6870, this definitely shouldn’t be happening. For Pete’s sake, it runs Battlefield 3 on Ultra settings.
The first thing I thought when I started the game was, “My God, this game looks horrendous. Everything looks so blurry.” I checked my video settings and the Texture Quality was on extra, which is usually normal. I checked online for answers for this problem and at badcartridge.com, LMN8R posts, “Turns out people have discovered that if you choose anything but “Native”, it’ll simply render everything at 720p and upscale to your selected resolution.” No wonder why I’ve been getting blurred textures – it was being rendered in 720p and stretched across my monitor. The idea of even having something like this on a PC game baffles me.
Because this is a console port, the controls are most likely made to be optimized for consoles rather than PCs. Except for the lack of a lean function, the game controls feel fine. I haven’t noticed any problems while through the game other than those brief moments of FPS drop.
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
Most people would agree that Call of Duty 4 was the peak of the franchise’s life and it was known to be one of the best FPS games of the decade. A couple years later, Modern Warfare 3 comes out and Infinity Ward tells us that they wanted to make it more like Call of Duty 4 than Modern Warfare 2. Modern Warfare 3 did feel more like Call of Duty 4, mainly because the buildings looked very similar to each other. I don’t know if that’s something that I should be happy about since I feel the nostalgia by seeing the buildings rather than by running through the map. The buildings may look the same, but the maps aren’t open like they were in Call of Duty 4.
Conclusion – Is It Worth Your Money?
I have mixed feelings about Modern Warfare 3. The story was good despite the lack of World War 3 scenes Activision so heavily marketed. Had it been just about hunting Makarov, I wouldn’t mind that it didn’t feel like World War 3. The missions of Modern Warfare 3 are generally a blast, leaving each mission with an exciting escape. Modern Warfare 3 brings new Special-Ops missions that go along with the story. If you have a partner, they can be a lot of fun as long as you communicate with one another. They are pretty similar to how they worked in Modern Warfare 2, just different missions. Survival mode brings a lot mindless action, while another person accompanies you. It’s a great mode, but it lacks depth.
The multiplayer portion of game is a lot better than it was in Modern Warfare 2. The maps tend to be fluid; you turn a corner and shoot a guy, someone comes from behind and kills you, repeat over and over again. The maps are close, but they do discourage camping with multiple points of entry in potential spots. Weapon Proficiencies and Strike Packages add a little spice into the game which help balance it. The spawning system is even worse than it was in Modern Warfare 2, maybe even Call of Duty 4. The P2P system that comes with the game is what brings Modern Warfare 3 down. If they could get rid of the P2P system and replace it with dedicated servers, the game would be great.
Modern Warfare 3 Technical Summary:
- Time played- 43 Hours
- Widescreen Support- Yes
- 5.1 Audio- Yes
- Bugs- Random FPS Drops, Infinite Stealth Bomber, Blurred Textures (Fixed by setting Image Quality to Native)
- DRM- Steamworks
- Control Scheme- Keyboard and Mouse
- Game Acquisition- Review Copy
- Availability- Steam, Local Retail
- Demo- No
- System Specs- Phenom II X4, Radeon 6870, 4GB RAM
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