Review: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3

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I’ve fought in enough computer-rendered wars to consider myself a veteran now. Unlike the real life heroes who fight battles of importance and integrity, and deserve more recognition and rememberance than we currently offer, my achievements are meaningless.

They do provide some nice gamerscore though.

Still, someone has to rate the current lot of war-themed first person shooters, and yes — even compare them against one another. Right on the heels of Battlefield 3, I present to you Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3

Actually, like I even HAVE to present MW3 to you. With record breaking sales, it’s a (pardon the pun) Juggernaut.

By Infinity Ward and Sledgehammer Games, MW3 has a single-player campaign that kicks off right where MW2 finished. You might want to hit up wikipedia to remind yourself of the plot, as it was twisty and turny; the beautiful, heavily stylised intro sequence kicking off the new campaign didn’t do enough to jog my memory.

What the single player campaign DID do was have me on the edge of my seat for a good six or seven hours. It’s not a long campaign, granted, but it doesn’t need to be — it packs quite a lot in there. The story is easier to comprehend this time around, thankfully, and features a mulititude of set pieces, weaponry and vehicles to help in the fight against terror. There are even a few throwbacks to some familiar and challenging sequences from past titles in the series.

In the inevitable comparison with Battlefield 3, Modern Warfare takes second place when it comes to realism, visuals and sound, but easily slides into first place when it comes to the overall campaign. Modern Warfare 3 had me shaking my head in disbelief at times, but I forgot about those moments fairly quickly as they were replaced with feelings of awe — and usually, with an audiable “Whoa.” The campaign is true Hollywood spectacle, delivering tense and dramatic, larger-than-life moments.

Just because Battlefield 3 looks prettier doesn’t mean that MW3 is some ugly duckling. Through a series of amazing destruction effects, which made it easy to compare the two games on the Xbox 360, it comes a very close second.

Spec Ops, just like in Modern Warfare 2, can’t be beat. The individual Spec Ops missions are diverse and plentiful, and really encourage cooperation with split screen or Xbox Live partners.

Spec Ops’ new Survival Mode is a treat to play. Think of Gears of War 3‘s Horde Mode and you’re not far off. You fight waves of foot patrols, guard dogs, Juggernauts and attack helicopters in wave after wave of mayhem. Between surges of enemies, you hit up various armories and purchase new weapons, upgrades and repairs. It was great when I played solo, and it was amazing when I managed to play in groups too. The problem was, I just couldn’t find partners online a majority of the time. Not that I didn’t try, mind you — I just sat there for about twenty minutes at a time while MW3 told me I had horrible internet and no one to play with.

Turns out, even though MW3 hates my internet connection, it wasn’t to blame. I didn’t have a problem finding people to play against in the stock-standard Deathmatch multiplayer mode. It was solid; I connected quickly, I didn’t experience lag and I ran around a map that looked like one I’d played in MW2. Stick with what works, I guess. I shot people in the back over and over again. I also got shot in the back more times than I care to count. Rinse and repeat.

My problems with Modern Warfare 3‘s multiplayer stem half from the game itself, and half from the culture established by those playing. Coming off Battlefield 3 multiplayer, where I got accustomed to working as part of a functioning unit, Modern Warfare 3 is largely an exercise in Lone Wolfing it. I tried to use chat to coordinate with my teammates; they ignored me. I tried to tail people on my team and support them; they tried to ditch me or shot at me in protest. Strategies seemed few and far between, and player numbers of anything beyond the standard Deathmatch and Capture the Flag modes were sparce. Cooperation is encouraged in Spec Ops, but no one seemed to want to play with strangers online. I guess everyone’s going at it split screen?

I’m not about to tell you to buy one game over the other here. If you’re wanting an amazing single player campaign, Modern Warfare 3 is for you. If you want immersive, cooperative multiplayer, then Battlefield 3 is a better fit. If you enjoy wartime first person shooters, you really need to do yourself a favour and pick up both titles. I’m not sure why gamers seem to think it’s one or the other this time of the year; competition isn’t bad, people! Without it, these series would go stale and not bother trying as hard when it comes to action or innovation. Rejoice that we HAVE choice, and take a look at what both these great series have to offer.