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Anthony Capone
08 Nov, 2011

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 Review

360 Review | Our duty is done – we answer the call one final time.
After the industry-wide benchmark established by Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, discerning gamers have been disenfranchised by the lack of significant innovation by the Call of Duty brand and the concessions that come with catering for a mass audience. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 has now arrived on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC (this review pertains solely to the console versions) to challenge the stigma, and has been co-developed by Infinity Ward with the assistance of Sledgehammer Games, following the well-publicised exodus of many of the original creators. The third game in the contemporary first-person shooter trilogy concludes the series’ story, reintroduces a sublime Spec Ops mode, and crafts multiplayer into an ever more refined experience.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 constructs an admirable and comprehensible story far above the disappointing mess of Modern Warfare 2. The narrative logically ties the over-arching plot together and puts all the loose ends to rest, with fleeting nods to moments in both the first and second Modern Warfare. Pacing and character development is handled satisfactorily, but unfortunately (for the majority) you play entirely as new faces. Invested players may be disappointed watching their favourite characters from an outside perspective. Adding to the pain, a pivotal moment involving one of the central cast is poorly executed, with your efforts up to that moment all but seeming frivolous.

COD: MW3 produces several ‘wow’ moments as you witness the fallout of a fictional World War 3, but the campaign doesn’t quite reach the spectacle and climax that the previous games created. Whether this is because we have seen it all before or the lack of direction for the original developers, it is hard to discern. The game would have also benefited from a more centralised mission structure, as your constant globe-trotting adventures sometimes feels contrived, and the ending, though a satisfying conclusion, is dull in comparison and ends far too quickly. COD: MW3 marks a noticeable improvement in scripting, and though still commanding a very respectable campaign, it doesn’t quite deliver all it could.

Call of Duty takes you all around the world – including the watery parts.

Call of Duty takes you all around the world – including the watery parts.
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COD: MW3 still excels at one essential element: exterminating all the other console-based FPS competition through gun-on-gun gameplay. The execution and fluidity of Call of Duty’s shooting mechanics remain unparalleled – even Battlefield 3 (on consoles) lacks this perfect touch. Gameplay is complimented flawlessly with a host of guns that each possess their own unique qualities, such as weigh, accuracy and sound.

Ploughing through platoons of enemies with your choice of firearm is augmented nicely by the occasional stealth segment, turret control and the obligatory AC-130 gameplay. Increased verticality and dynamic battlefields keep you engaged, while a steady 60 frames per second and quick AI round out the list of essential ingredients, creating a tense and satisfying experience. Sadly, the campaign can be dusted in all but six hours. The very short length is a legitimate concern, but to the game’s credit, every moment is a highly satisfactory adrenaline-charged fight, with absolutely zero filler. We recommend a second playthough to solidify the campaign experience and bumping up the difficulty to veteran – this will both extend the clock and offer a great challenge of endurance and reflexes.

Modern Warfare 2’s fantastic Spec Ops returns as two-tiered offering: survival and mission mode. Mission mode consists of numerous levels divided into four echelons of growing difficulty. Players are tasked with completing a variety of objectives, such as defusing bombs and escorting AI, usually against a timer some very resilient enemies. Missions levels offer a satisfying challenge, and players will find it very difficult to surrender the controller in the pursuit of the perfect score.

Enemies are aplenty – and so will the profits.

Enemies are aplenty – and so will the profits.
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Survival mode, on the other hand, is perhaps the most significant addition to COD: MW3. In the same vein as Treyarch’s famous zombies mode, players are pitted against never-ending waves of gun-toting foes. Each wave spawns increasingly challenging enemies, such as armoured juggernauts, helicopters and attack dogs. At the end of each round, a score is tallied based upon statistics such as accuracy, time efficiency and enemies killed. All of these points can be spent on the mode’s three armouries – players can purchase explosives, weapons upgrades and support items such as turrets or even a friendly AI-controlled Delta Squad – to bolster the odds of living to see another wave. Survival mode is a hugely entertaining addition to the Modern Warfare package, and is all but guaranteed to eat away the hours. The Modern Warfare 3 campaign may be completed in a matter of hours, but the inclusion of Spec Ops offers players significantly more. Spec Ops modes may be played solo or co-operatively, and also feature matchmaking.

Discussing the solo and co-operative portions of COD: MW3 may be pointless, as masses are clamouring to delve into multiplayer. The fantastic news is that multiplayer has been tweaked and refined even further. COD: MW3 is more recalling of Call of Duty 4’s memorable style of tighter gun-on-gun gameplay. Perks have received a significant overhaul, with a larger focus on passive abilities. More beneficial perks have been grouped together, making it harder to gain an instant advantage. Annoying abilities such as Commando and Last Stand have been ditched completely, meaning players are rewarded for skill rather than perk loadout.

A fantastic arsenal of modern weapons are at your disposal, but again, the focus is on balance. Whereas certain guns almost became the default choice in Black Ops because of their favourable performance, we have yet to encounter any one firearm that is particularly overpowering. But ultimately, time will tell whether this changes, as the community has an unbelievable knack for discerning the one shooting machine to rule them all. Weapon customisation also takes a new approach – attachments are unlocked by levelling up individual guns. Racking up kills grants access to scopes, silencers and grenade launchers. Furthermore, players can select a ‘proficiency’ for their weapon of choice. Essentially just a perk for your gun of choice, you can choose proficiencies, for example, to reduce kick, or allow two attachments. This fresh approach forces you to experiment around to find a loadout that compliments your particular talents, and – as with Call of Duty 4 – shifts the focus to individual skill.

Multiplayer replicates the approach taken in Call of Duty 4.

Multiplayer replicates the approach taken in Call of Duty 4.
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The killstreak system has also been rebuilt into ‘strike packages’ intended to level the playing field. Killstreak rewards now fall into one of three categories – assault, support and specialist. Lone wolves wanting a high kill-death ratio will may favour the assault package, with options such as predator missiles and aerial bombardments. Team players should opt for the support system, with rewards such as UAV drones and ballistic vests for your entire side. The specialist package unlocks a new perk with every kill, regardless of the players death, so that you become will eventually be augmented with every ability. It is hard to assess the killsteak redesign given the brief multiplayer testing, but as with the new weapons system, but the outlook is positive. We are yet to find any particular disparity, with the three killstreak options – assault, support and specialist – each catering to a particular style of play, while also possessing benefits and drawbacks. Importantly, under the new system, we have found that aerial bombardments aren’t as common. Consequently, newcomers won’t be continually obliterated by killsteak savvy players, and the focus returns to gunfighters over RPG spamming.

COD: MW3 offers all the usual games modes, such as Team Deathmatch, Free-for-All and Domination, but introduces a new option to the mix. In Kill Confirmed, downing your prey drops a dog tag icon. In order to ‘confirm’ your kill, players have to collect the dog tag, but if you die before netting the tag, the kill is not added to your tally. This new modes will be appreciated by the discerning gaming audience, discouraging camping and offering a renewed focus on team play. COD: MW3 features a variety of new maps, and though none particularly stands out, the developers constructed a good variety of environments. Each map adequately accommodates the series’ familiar multiplayer gameplay, with sections conducive to both sniping or close-quarters combat. Thus far, multiplayer has been kind with quick and robust matchmaking. The invisible carrot has also become far tastier, with elevated prestige levels offering several new rewards for veteran players.

COD: MW3 introduces a brand new platform for monitoring your multiplayer statistics and connecting with other players. Known as Elite, the comprehensive service covers four ‘pillars’ – career, connect, compete and improve. The official version is yet to go live, but we have spent a significant amount of time with the beta. Without a doubt, Elite will become an essential portal for all serious players, with access granted via the internet, consoles and mobile devices. The service offers an unprecedented level of detail on your statistics and performance, with particulars on weapons, maps, modes and more, while in-depth analysis and videos offer guidance on perfecting skills. With Facebook integration, group lists and a detailed competition schedule, Elite is also the ultimate social hub for linking and playing against other Call of Duty players. Frankly, Elite puts Battlefield 3’s similar Battlelog service to shame. Best of all – despite hysteria saying otherwise – everything we have detailed so far is free. Nevertheless, a premium version is also available. The inherent value of an annual subscription is an entire year’s worth of downloadable content – for approximately the same price if purchased separately – in addition to exclusive competitions, and other unique content such as Call of Duty TV.

Despite its long service, Modern Warfare 3 still looks great on consoles.

Despite its long service, Modern Warfare 3 still looks great on consoles.
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Despite running on a years’ old engine, the latest Call of Duty is still one of the best-looking games on consoles, capturing an immersive and cinematic look that is hard to fault. The architecture is tweaked perfectly for the current generation of devices, with a blistering 60 frames per second producing the smoothest shooter on the market. While not a considerable upgrade on its predecessor, COD: MW3 still boasts a high level of graphical prowess and several new bells and whistles, such as larger environments and substantially improved gun models. When stacked against Battlefield 3’s downgraded console engine, COD: MW3 is a still a worthy rival. The visual fidelity is accompanied by an inspiring orchestral soundtrack, and the voice-over cast perpetuate the narrative appropriately. Gunfire has been fine-tuned so that each firearm has its own acoustic nuances, and explosions and artillery sound effects create an engrossing battlefield experience.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 demonstrates that Activision’s monster still has ammunition in the chamber. Exactly like Black Ops, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 is the sums of its parts. Infinity Ward and Slegdehammer Games have fashioned a fantastic product, not for its fresh or innovate approach, but for the sheer content and refinements made to the existing product. The solo campaign, though short in length and somewhat lacking in climax, exemplifies flawless shooter gameplay while delivering a satisfying end to the Modern Warfare trilogy. Accompanied by a subliminal Spec Ops mode, pioneering Elite platform, outstanding production values and significant improvements to the most addictive multiplayer game on the market, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 is a solid and satisfying endeavour. The call has ended, but our duty is far from done.
The Score
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 offers a satisfying challenge with an expanded Spec Ops mode, while bringing the trilogy’s campaign to a solid end and significantly improving the console market’s leading multiplayer.
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

Related Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 Content

Call of Duty: Elite pricing confirmed
15 Sep, 2011 Value for money? Hmm...
Modern Warfare 3 'Hardened Edition' contents leaked
01 Sep, 2011 Time to upgrade those pre-orders.
Modern Warfare 3 co-op trailer
10 Aug, 2011 Dogs with explosives, we kid you not.
16 Comments
2 years ago
That is not a bad review at all my friend.

I'm tempted to grab it, solely because I'm confident in IW's ability to deliver significantly more stable net code and more refined gameplay compared to that other war shooter thing that makes me want to punch children out of rage.
2 years ago
I've noticed already on Facebook that everyone, I mean everyone, seems to be buying this. I guess we already knew that would happen, but seriously, the managment at Activision must be thinking about bathing in cash for the next 6 months.
2 years ago
Saying that though Denny, the two games are different. One has you playing Quake with assault rifles, the other presents you a full battlefield to play in.
2 years ago
As you said, time will tell.
Won't get this for a few weeks yet until the community start saying it's boring, unbalanced etc. I really enjoyed MW2, but found Black Ops really bland after AK 74U ruled everything else...
2 years ago
you know a game requires no skill when even I manage to come out as MVP for 5 games in a row...
2 years ago
Camm wrote
Saying that though Denny, the two games are different. One has you playing Quake with assault rifles, the other presents you a full battlefield to play in.
ಠ_ಠ

Different games, though if the hit rego and general net code is better than BF3, it is to me a better game already, especially if its gunplay is solid (which it most likely is)
2 years ago
This article marks my very last review for PALGN. After five Call of Duty reviews and more, is has been a real pleasure writing for PALGN and working with the best people you could ask for. I would like to take the opportunity to thank both our fantastic readers and staff for making this ride an absolute blast.
2 years ago
I knew your tag line had a double meaning, thanks for all the wonderful reviews you have provided to me whilst I have been here.
2 years ago
I couldn't give a rats ass about this console crap - where's the PC review?
2 years ago
To be honest I kind of like the hitreg in bf3.

Like, I know it's client side, but I'm more annoyed by missing someone I'm shooting right at than being shot at from behind a wall.

Maybe it's because I played a lot of RO2 in the lead-up so not dying in one shit feels like luxury.

As for on-topic, the advantage with MW3 for me is probably being able to play it on high settings ho ho.
Not that I'm buying it but yea.
2 years ago
AlaCarcuss the PC version has no major differences. Probably just a server browser, a little graphical upgrade and as always better controls icon_wink.gif.
2 years ago
Denny wrote
Camm wrote
Saying that though Denny, the two games are different. One has you playing Quake with assault rifles, the other presents you a full battlefield to play in.
ಠ_ಠ

Different games, though if the hit rego and general net code is better than BF3, it is to me a better game already, especially if its gunplay is solid (which it most likely is)
peer 2 peer ? icon_confused.gif

edit: sorry just bad timing

http://www.gamepro.com/article/news/224743/modern-warfare-3-getting-blasted-by-users/
2 years ago
Having a pretty good time with it though there isn't really much incentive to branch out to try other guns eg sniper/shotguns. Got the m4a1 up to lvl 20 and maxed out the akimbo foldout secondary machine pistol (forgot the name).
2 years ago
mikezilla2 wrote
http://www.gamepro.com/article/news/224743/modern-warfare-3-getting-blasted-by-users/
The same thing happened with Battlefield 3. Your typical cognitive dissonant fankids will jump onto Metacritic and leave a game a terrible user review despite most likely having never played the game before. They have way too much time on their hands.

Farewell by the way, Anthony! Your excellent reviews will be missed. D=
2 years ago
Hyper the Metroid wrote
mikezilla2 wrote
http://www.gamepro.com/article/news/224743/modern-warfare-3-getting-blasted-by-users/
The same thing happened with Battlefield 3. Your typical cognitive dissonant fankids will jump onto Metacritic and leave a game a terrible user review despite most likely having never played the game before. They have way too much time on their hands.

Farewell by the way, Anthony! Your excellent reviews will be missed. D=
that was the beta tho ? this is the full game , never have i seen 2 best sellers get that much hate tho icon_razz.gif
2 years ago
Thanks guys! While I won't be writing any more reviews, I'm still on the PALGN admin team.
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  Pre-order or buy:
    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Australian Release Date:
  08/11/2011 (Confirmed)
Publisher:
  Activision
Genre:
  FPS
Year Made:
  2011

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