This years offering from the Infinity Ward and Activision stable is MW3. A long awaited (or possibly not) release from one of the three main players consisting of Operation Flashpoint: Red River from Codemasters, Battlefield 3 from EA and this one, Modern Warfare 3 from Activision. All of these titles have their merits, it only depends on what you are looking for in an FPS game that will determine which one you buy.
Lacking in dedicated servers for PC gamers is Codemasters’ Operation Flashpoint: Red River. Yet it offers the option for friends to join in a campaign with you and with increased broadband speeds around the world maybe hosting 16 players isn’t the same problem it was a few years ago. Codemasters might have counted on faster upload speeds.
Having a very high computer specification to play BF3 from EA, ‘ultra’ graphics setting will leave most of us wondering if we will receive a good visual experience. It seems the graphic settings are designed to accommodate as many levels of GPU as possible and provide a good visual experience with any. Will MW3 be close with its’ long-standing game engine?
MW3 follows on from events of Call of Duty:Modern Warfare 2. In this latest game you are special forces trying to stop a Russian invasion of the US and Europe. The action is set mainly in England, France and Germany but also includes India, Africa and the Middle East as well. So the campaign covers a good chunk of the world while still leaving plenty of countries for other releases.
One question. Is this game the same as other Modern Warfare releases? The answer, as you knew before it’s release, is yes, it’s a follow-on from MW2. That means familiar weapons along with recycled perks and kill-streaks with nothing new here except for new strike packages which may leave you disappointed due to a lack of sufficient change or happy with familiarity.
The Call of Duty Elite web portal and console app.
What is it? A truck load of features including all the MW3 in-game DLC and a place where players can connect with each other and share video with a clans feature for those that are more competitive than the average player.
“You can sign up for an account on the web or from the Call of Duty ELITE application on your console.” Then, ”Purchase Call of Duty ELITE on your console’s marketplace.” Finally, “Join a multiplayer game on Call of Duty MW3 to activate your account!”
It is claimed on the website “Call of Duty ELITE enhances your multiplayer experience with innovative features that allow you to Connect with other players, Compete in ongoing events and Improve your game play.”
They give you something and charge you for it and you pay on a regular basis. A very nice little revenue stream for Activision. And yes, you are getting something for your money it just depends on whether you believe it is value for money.
NOTE: As of the writing of this review, author Checkmate11B was unable to even use the basic functionality of ELITE. That is worth noting as it’s a paid service. As of right now ELITE is still in a very buggy, beginning stage.
The graphics engine is old – DX9 and low quality textures with Shader 3.0 or better, 256 MB NVIDIA GeForce 8600GT/ATI Radeon X1950 or better. Off Duty Gamers thinks the time has come for MW to enter the second decade of the 21st century and improve graphics quality. On the plus side you will not need a powerful system to play this game with all its’ bells and whistle – yes I did say whistle and not whistles.
You should be able to get good frame rates. This means all those people complaining about frames per second in other games can be happy with it in this one.
Lighting. If you have played MW2, well you know what the lighting is going to look like. The environments are not that big and seem stuck together. Yes the game looks dated, but you are paying for the game-play, right? The decision as to whether it is worth it, is yours. The benchmark at the moment for graphics is BF3. Showing how graphics should be in the second decade of the 21st century.
If you’re noticing a problem with your graphics, here is a useful tip:
Modern Warfare 3 scales up the rendered image so set your ‘Image Quality’ to ‘Native’ which will stop this and give you a sharper image.
There are a few good rock tunes. You can hear the building collapsing and explosions. Weapons fire has improved. Music recorded by a symphony orchestra. No snap crackle on pop of weapons fire though. Played MW2 before? Well, there’s really no need to talk about sound any further then.
With the single player you get introduced to how the world looks now, years after Price and Soap finished off Zhakaev. The US military is on the verge of collapse; Price, Soap, and the remaining members of Task Force 141 are on the run and disavowed. You are dropped into the boots of Capt. John “Soap” McTavish, mere hours after the encounter with Shepherd in Afghanistan. However, you’re quickly pulled from the situation with Soap and dropped into a more familiar area, New York city. Here the player is Introduced to US SOCOM 1st SFOD – Delta shooter Derek “Frost” Westbrook. Frost and his Delta team have been tasked to disable a radio jamming tower in NYC and then to aid the US Navy SEALs in taking over a Russian submarine in NY Harbor. A pleasant surprise is the style that Call of Duty took on with the Delta shooters. They all sounded exactly like you would expect a hardened SOF professional should sound. This is most likely due to the fact that Dalton Fury, former Delta commander, who operated as part of many exercises, most notably in Afghanistan, served as a military adviser for this title. After your time with ‘Frost’, you get introduced to the character you will be playing as for most of your time in One Four One – Yuri. Yuri is a former Russian SPETSNAZ shooter and is now on the side of Nikolai and the Loyalists allied with Price.
The campaign proceeds nicely from here. As with all other Call of Duty titles, you jump between the main protagonists. This is seamlessly done and smoothly produced. Throughout the campaign, you are briefly in the boots of others (such as an SAS Operator in London), but the above two personnel serve as the backbone to the telling of this final chapter in the Modern Warfare series. Overall, it is all I expected from it. Like the last entry in most franchises, it was at points feeling tired and recycled. But I was into enough to overlook these things. I wanted to see how they ended it. And they ended with a bang. I was very pleased overall with the campaign. It was a taut action thriller, and had plenty of moments that left me reeling.
There is only one issue with the campaign, and that is the “shocker moment”. This moment, which you are warned against from the outset was honestly not something I was expecting. And it was uncalled for. It was unlike the moment in Modern Warfare 2′s “No Russian”. I did not appreciate the depiction of a family on vacation, complete with small child, getting blown to hell. Perhaps because I am the father of a small girl, but for whatever reason I was not sickened or shocked – I was upset. I did not appreciate it, nor did I see the need for it. In “No Russian”, they do not connect you with the civilians. They do not force you to kill them. This moment, however, is forced and I say shame on IW and Sledgehammer for it. On the upside, it did harden my resolve to track down Makarov and put a round in his skull.
The Spec Ops part of the game in Modern Warfare 2 was just a “mission” only venture, MW3 goes far beyond this. There are two modes in Spec Ops: Survival and Mission. Survival Spec Ops is a hybrid of Black Ops’ “Combat Training” and “Zombie” mode. The missions take place on multiplayer maps (allowing you to familiarize yourself with these maps) and each one is divided into difficulty categories. The map spawn waves of enemies to survive against, starting easy with militia types spraying AKs at you to hardened Russian Special Forces and the dreaded “Juggernaut” soldiers.
Mission Spec Ops is what many think of when they think of co-op play. It is fun, exciting, and most of the missions offer a different take on the MW3 campaign. My favorite missions were ones that offered differing paths for both players. My favorites being Invisible Threat and Fire Mission, the first putting one player in the boots of an EOD tech in a Juggernaut suit and the second player as a sniper/spotter covering the EOD tech from above with a sniper rifle and Predator UAV over-watch. Fire Mission puts one player on the ground trying to defuse enemy SAM sites and then escape while the second player orbits the area in an AC-130. I loved my time with Spec Ops, and it is honestly one of the things I miss about MW3. The replay-ability of them might be limited (i.e. until you beat all the missions and reach your highest wave in Survival) but they are extremely fun.
What most of you have been waiting to see. If I had to take one word to describe MW3′s MP politely I would say “lazy”. There’s nearly no improvements over MW2. In fact, most of the UI and other menu elements of MW3′s MP are the exact same. Ninety nine percent of the challenges, call-sign unlocks, and awards are recycled from MW2.
The addition of a “Prestige Shop” which allows purchase of different items such as two hours of Double XP for one “Prestige Token” was an interesting choice. It was nice because I started with four tokens, since I had gained prestige in each previous CoD title. As far as core MP goes, there were little to no changes. The only changes worth noting where how weapons are done. In an interesting move, taking a cue from what BF has done for a bit now, MW3 has weapon levels that are separate from player levels and require use of the individual weapon to get. Each weapon now has a “speciality” too. These include Kick (which decreases recoil), 2 Attachments (which surprise! gives you two attachments), and others. This would be neat if it did not completely break the way MP works. A player using Rapid Fire (an attachment) and Kick (a speciality) on an SMG is now a killing machine. Add this to the fact that Call of Duty (especially IW’s Modern Warfare titles) has struggled with weapon balancing issues and you have a perfect storm of frustration. There’s nothing like getting a few shots off on a guy only to have him turn 180 degrees and spray you with his SMG.
This is compounded by the fact that the maps are at best, barely tolerable and at worst, straight up cluster f#*ks. They are bland, linear, and feature no real height or distance to speak of. It is a lot of CQC and corners that allow for the most frustrating of experiences. I can’t count the number of times I got dropped because of the outright terrible spawn system in this game.
I cannot even be kind to Sledgehammer, because they really do not deserve it. The MP of this game is broken, bland, and recycled. There’s none of the fun aspects that Black Ops introduced, and none of the customization. And this is why I’m shocked to see Call of Duty doing so well among big name reviewers. Sure, there are bound to be some that line up for the CoD Kool Aid. I finished the SP campaign. I saw how it all ended. I played a bit of Spec Ops. I got my fill of MW3′s terrible MP. And then I moved on. I see a lot of this reflected in the MetaCritic scores for this game (user based).
Innovative? No. Will it keep you coming back for more? Uber-fans of the series will return with gun in-hand ready for more. Games are by nature, addictive. The game hasn’t gone as far as some might have hoped. But with the same game engine what can be done but try and improve the parts of the engine that can be tweaked?
MW3 seems a little pricey for a game based on old technology even if there are new maps and locations. I guess it all depends on what a gamer is willing to pay and so far Activision have got it right.
With a long-standing gaming system you would hope to see noticeable improvements. This can be done with enough time given to a technology level by developers and can allow a particular game engine to run more smoothly and look slightly different with each new release. Did Infinity ward achieve this. Possibly. The Marmite scenario springs to mind – you will either love it or hate it. We let you decide.
Released on November 8, 2011 in Europe and North America on Microsoft Windows, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3
Checkmate11B STRONGLY recommends this be a rental before it’s made a purchase.