Name: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3
Genre: First Person Shooter
Platform: Xbox 360 (reviewed), PS3, PC
£34.91 from Amazon on PC
Ready to kick some terrorist butt? Good, because Modern Warfare 3, the most highly-anticipated shooter of all time is here, locked, cocked, and ready to unload a shed-load of digital bullets into your shell-shocked face. Can it live up to the massive expectations of one gaming’s most fervent fanbases? Scroll down to read our single-player review, and be sure to check out our thoughts on Modern Warfare 3’s multiplayer and Special Ops modes, the new Call of Duty: Elite service, and our overall verdict on the game.
World War 3 is in full-swing come the opening of Modern Warfare 3, kicking off right where the cliff-hanger ending to Modern Warfare 2 left us. Soap’s lying on the porch outside Death’s door after being knifed in the chest, and the beardy, hat-loving Price is majorly peeved that uber-terrorist Makarov is still at large, orchestrating world-wide conflicts and genocide. Story-telling has never been Modern Warfare’s strong point, and Modern Warfare 3 is no exception, with a plot full of more wild twists and turns than a pole-dancing convention. It’s big, dumb fun, only ever a vehicle for a string of gigantic set-pieces, but again at least there’s solid voice acting to deliver each gung-ho line in Modern Warfare 3.
Where Modern Warfare 3’s campaign really does excel is in the variety of tasks it throws your way. Of course, the meat of the gameplay is running-and-gunning, but nearly every level has at least one unique mechanic, and several blockbuster moments. Just when you’ve had your fill of shotguns and assault rifles, the game throws up a UGV (Unmanned Ground Vehicle: AKA a mini-robot tank) to control, an airstrike to call in, a chopper-on-chopper dogfight among Manhattan’s skyscrapers to take part in or an underwater minefield to traverse. Even if Modern Warfare 3’s single player remains stubbornly linear, co-developers Sledgehammer and Infinity Ward have at least come up with plenty of inventive ways to kick-ass. An Inception-style floating gunfight onboard a plummeting plane is a sure contender for “Gaming Moment of the Year”, for instance.
That variety is carried over into the locations that the game plays out in too. Modern Warfare 3 packs its passport for a truly-globe-trotting adventure, battling it out in the dusty shanty towns of Sierra Leone, London’s tube system and the foot of the Eiffel Tower among other landmarks. It has a bearing on gameplay too; tight, claustrophobic corridor sections segue seamlessly into wide open battlefields, with hundreds of soldiers, vehicles and explosions filling the screen, forcing you to quickly adapt tactics and weapons to suit varying environments. It’s always a visual treat too, with colourful explosions, superb atmospheric effects, and never a drop in framerate.
Modern Warfare single-player modes are often criticised for having poor AI. Enemies in the past have soaked up bullets like a sponge sucks up suds in a Radox advert, barely attempting to outwit you. Modern Warfare 3’s single-player opponents are a slight improvement; they’ll move around a little more to flank you when you are under pressure, and rush you if you hide-out sheepishly in one spot for too long. But they’re still far from perfect, often failing to consider other cover spots, even when you’re popping caps in their heads.
Like the original Modern Warfare’s nuclear blast moment, and Modern Warfare 2’s “No Russian” civilian airport execution sequence, there’s a controversial moment about halfway through Modern Warfare 3’s campaign that is sure to shock gamers, and disgust the Daily Mail-reading public. I’m not a squeamish gamer (read my recent review of RAGE to see how much delight I take in the gory results of a well-aimed shotgun blast) but there are a few moments in the single player campaign that are so gratuitously violent, lingering on disturbing shots, that even this Manhunt veteran felt a little uncomfortable. Sure, war ain’t meant to be pretty, but this is definitely a game to keep away from the kids.
Battlefield 3’s single-player campaign drew criticism for trying too hard to emulate the blockbuster action of the Modern Warfare series, and falling flat in the process. After playing through both that game’s campaign and Modern Warfare 3’s, it’s a fair complaint. No other franchise can pull off the Michael Bay-style bombast of the Modern Warfare games, and Modern Warfare 3’s campaign makes for an explosive finale to the trilogy’s story arc. The campaign doesn’t re-invent the wheel (it’s still rather short, linear and easy), but is consistent in its pacing, and often jaw-dropping in the scale of its execution.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 – Multiplayer Review
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 – Special Ops Review
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 – Elite Review
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 – Overall Verdict