The Call of Duty series fires back into action with their release of Modern Warfare 3, the next installment in a series that many gamers believe can do no wrong. Just like previous editions, the single-player campaign starts off with intense action. Quite literally occupying Wall Street, your team is defending New York City from invading Russian forces. Bullets are flying everywhere, and your player, Derek “Frost” Westbrook, is pinned down and rendered unconscious. Building off the somewhat cliffhanger ending of Modern Warfare 2, you fight alongside returning characters Capt. John Price and John “Soap” MacTavish, who was injured and left to die in a desert in Modern Warfare 2.
As the game continues, you are trying to drive Russia off United States land and take down the main antagonist, Vladimir Makarov. The action of hunting Makarov down is non-stop, carrying you through such settings as London, Paris, Berlin, Siberia, Somalia, and Prague. Gameplay lasts for about 10-12 hours, depending on the type of player you are. This campaign is definitely worth playing. The storyline keeps you on the edge of your seat, and taking your eyes off the screen is a difficult task to accomplish.
A key feature that stands out in MW3 is the gameplay; not only on foot, but in both sky and water. In one mission, you man a Blackhawk helicopter over NYC, mercilessly shooting down enemies with several different weapons. In another, you dive underwater to take over a Russian submarine, which quickly turns into a frantic boat chase filled with explosions, boats, and aircraft. Although this may seem similar to missions in previous editions, the forces this time are much more formidable. While these sections don’t last all that long, they are still a very enjoyable change of pace from running around on foot.
One part of the game is somewhat controversial, and must be talked about. The scene is reminiscent of the airport mission in Modern Warfare 2, within which you are forced to shoot civilians. This time around, you see a mother and daughter through the view of a father’s video camera. The mother and daughter practically disappear after a poison gas attack and are presumed dead. However, if the realities of war are not for you, there is an option to turn off certain content before you play the game, allowing you to skip the emotionally heavy sections of the game.
Overall, the single-player campaign in this game is better than other COD titles. With non-stop action around you, there’s no way you can take your eyes off the screen. Modern Warfare 2 had a good ending, but the ending to MW3 is a lot more pleasing. They built off MW2, ultimately delivering a game that will leave you quite happy when you’re finished playing.
When a gamer thinks online multiplayer, Call of Duty is usually the game that jumps to the forefront. Modern Warfare 3 does not disappoint when it comes to the highly-competitive multiplayer gameplay of past titles.
You head out into the exceedingly large maps with your teammates, unleashing a hail of gunfire, grenades, and strike packages, with the ultimate goal of hitting level 80, followed by “Prestige” mode. All of this follows the well-worn, yet extremely successful, path that past titles have trod.
That’s not to say that there aren’t any changes whatsoever, though. To start with, there are a few new game modes, each of which can rack up the score and XP for each match you play. The more popular new game mode, “Kill Confirmed”, is a mix of gaining kills and collecting dog tags from dead enemies. Scoring in this mode is a tad bit different, where points for your team only go up if you collect tags from dead enemies. If someone on your team dies, a red tag appears that, if collected first, denies the kill to the other team. Picking up a tag gains you 50 points to your individual score, and collecting your own red tag from where you previously died gets you 250 points. Also, you get 50 points per kill in the 10-minute long, 65-point limit mode.
Another new game mode is called “Team Defender”, which is related to “Capture the Flag”. The first person to get killed drops the flag, and the teams fight over possession throughout the match. The team with the flag gains double points for each kill, while the flag carrier gets a 20-point assist per kill on top of that. First team to hit 7500 points wins.
In the actual gameplay, the biggest change is the different type of strike packages. Instead of just having a kill-streak, you can now choose between assault, support, or specialist. Assault is the classic kill-streak, where you gain different strikes for the number of kills you get; these strikes include the Predator Missile, AC-130, and the new Reaper. When you die, it resets back to zero, leaving you to work your way back up again.
The support strike packages are for those players who would rather help out their team instead of racking up kills. The best part about this package is that it doesn’t reset when you die; instead, it resets when you reach the highest streak. You can call in new airdrop traps (which explode on enemies trying to hack it), ballistic vests (teammates pick them up for a stronger armor), or even an advanced UAV. You can build your streak on killing enemies, but also by completing objectives, such as killing a flag carrier or capturing a position.
For those experienced gamers, the specialist package is what you’ll want. Instead of calling in strikes or team-benefiting packages, you gain perks for yourself based on your kills. With this package on, you can run around with as many as seven perks on at once, which will reset when you are killed.
More than 40 guns are available in MW3, and each are ranked through the new weapon ranking system. The more time you spend on one gun, the better it becomes. Unlocking add-ons and camouflage to the gun as you play with it is a much better system than Black Ops, which required you to spend money to buy upgrades.
All in all, this could be the best online multiplayer game around. The developers at Infinity Ward and Sledgehammer really outdid themselves; there are virtually no problems with connections, servers, or finding a match. Although it lacks vehicles, it is still a worthwhile experience. MW3 is seriously addicting and a never-ending, fun-filled adventure. With the integration of Call of Duty: Elite, where you can keep track of your stats and clans online, it’s purely unbeatable. Not only are the highly skilled players with the quick-trigger fingers exploited well in this game, but newcomers have found some life in the new game modes and strike packages.
Single-player and multiplayer combined, this is a must-have game. The graphics are great, and they are seemingly getting better with every new COD game. The sounds are electrifying, the action is addicting, and the use of all the different guns will have you coming back for more every time. Whether it’s the offline or online campaign that’s drawing you in, you need to buy this game.
This could very well be the best online multiplayer game on all consoles.
[xrr rating=9/10, max_stars=10]
This review is based on a retail copy of the Xbox 360 version of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 by Activision