REVIEW: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 (Multiplayer)

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Name: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3

Genre: First Person Shooter

Platform: Xbox 360 (reviewed), PS3, PC

Price: £38.91 from Amazon on Xbox 360
£38.91 from Amazon on PS3

£34.91 from Amazon on PC

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 – Single Player 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

review-line.JPGLoad up on guns, bring your friends, it’s fun to lose and to pretend. Modern Warfare is back, with addictive multiplayer modes again returning in the third instalment to dominate your leisure time. Read on to find out whether it does enough to fend off stiff competition from Battlefield 3, and make sure you’ve checked out our single player, Special Ops and Call of Duty: Elite reviews, as well as our overall final verdict on Modern Warfare 3.

When it comes to online multiplayer, the Modern Warfare series has defined our expectations for a frag session during this console generation, in much the same way GoldenEye, Quake II and Counter Strike did previously. A constant drip-feed of perk upgrades, weapon improvements and ladder-climbing ranked battles, Modern Warfare 3 sees the trilogy continue its tradition of addictive gun-on-gun, “one more go” competitive gameplay, with a raft of improvements and new modes to entice noobs and veterans alike.


The core of Modern Warfare 3’s multiplayer gameplay remains unchanged. You’re still going to pick a pair of weapons, then head out onto the battlefield with the aim of gunning down your pals and online strangers alike. That’s been a fun premise since the imaginary games of our childhood, but it’s the surrounding systems that elevate Modern Warfare 3 above the pack, refining the stellar work that made the previous titles in the series so infinitely re-playable.

The most obvious difference for returning fans is the all-new strike packages. These build upon the previous system of Killstreaks, which previously rewarded the most deadly players by giving them access to massively destructive weapons and abilities. Instead you have three different groups of strike packages to choose from (Assault, Support and Specialist), each catering to distinctly different play styles.


Assault strike packages are the closest to the old system of Killstreaks. Here, stringing together a series of kills without finding yourself on the wrong side of a firing squad sees you unlocking offensive skills like an Assault Drone or a Predator air strike. Dying sees you lose any potential benefits, sending you back to the beginning of the pointstreak cycle.

Support strike packages cater for more casual gamers who find kill-to-death ratios a little harder to balance in their favour. They tend to benefit the team more than individual players, giving access to air drops of ballistic vest armour, or reconnaissance drones to sniff out camping opponents. Rather than focussing on your ability to kill foes, Support strike packages can be unlocked by completing objectives (say, capturing a Domination control point), and continue to tally up even if you’re killed. In this regard, Modern Warfare 3 does a much better job of making newcomers valued team members too; choosing this strike package load-out gives them purpose on the battlefield as much as their marksmen mates, regardless of whether they can rack up a load of kills or not. If you’re a truly awful player, Death Streaks return, giving a brief boost to your powers should you die repeatedly.

Specialist strike packages are tuned for the hardcore player. Rather than opening up air strikes or support drops, you activate extra ability-improving Perks as you rack up kills, giving you as many as seven Perks running simultaneously compared to the standard three. It’s an all-or-nothing approach, making you a more deadly marksman if you’re able to keep the kills coming, and sending you back to square one should you get taken down.


As ever, taking part in online bouts sees your persistent persona level up, allowing you to face more skilled opponents, collect reputation-boosting titles, and unlock the afore-mentioned Perks which improve your abilities as a one-man killing machine. These Perks offer everything from faster movement speed while aiming with the new “Stalker” ability to being able to spot enemies on the map from afar with the “Marksman” skill.

Modern Warfare 3 adds another element into the upgrade mix by introducing a weapon ranking system. There are more than 40 guns in Modern Warfare 3, and the more time you devote to each individual weapon, the greater its potential will be. This doesn’t mean that your aim will be all over the shop when you first start out, but rather that you’ll earn a handful of add-ons that improve the weapon itself, such as reduced recoil when firing, faster iron-sight aiming and more precise laser sighting reticules. Being able to tweak each weapon individually adds another layer of complexity to the online bouts, and will prove a real time-sink for any gamer looking to perfect their arsenal.


As well as returning favourites such as Free-for-All and Team Deathmatch, things are kept fresh with a raft of new game modes too. In public matches, you’ll now be able to play Team Defender (tasking you with grabbing a flag and/or defending a teammate with the flag in order to rack up points), and our new favourite Kill Confirmed, which may well be the best game mode in the entire series.

With Kill Confirmed, players duke it out not only for kills, but dog tags too, which are dropped wherever you kill an opponent. They’re worth just as much as a kill to your overall XP gain, meaning you’re forced to try to grab them rather than skulk around in the shadows, making for far more open and nail-biting matches.

Those who’d rather just play with friends are treated to six new Private Match modes too. These include the zombie-inspired Infection (recruiting extra team mates every time you kill an opponent) Juggernaut (turning the most deadly player into a massively-armoured walking tank) and One in the Chamber, which rewards kills with a boost to your initially-meagre ammo reserves.


To round things off, Infinity Ward and Sledgehammer have finally introduced long-awaited dedicated server support for the game. Players will now finally be able to browse, filter and join servers of their choice, as well as letting them create their own custom servers, with their own sets of game rules and ban lists. In theory, you should never have to suffer “griefing” at the hands of a13 year old from Connecticut ever again with Modern Warfare 3’s online suite.

So, the most important question regarding Modern Warfare 3: are its multiplayer modes better than that on offer from Battlefield 3? It’s a close one, but Modern Warfare 3 just edges it in our opinion. What Modern Warfare 3 lacks in drivable tanks, jets, helicopters and gigantic deathmatches, it makes up for with inventive game modes, a more finely-balanced upgrade system and 16 tightly-crafted maps. Skilled players are duly rewarded for their itchy trigger fingers, but even newcomers are catered for here in a series that has often been intimidating to those who can’t devote their lives to memorising every trick and map. Add in the reams of stats and tutorials made available through the new Call of Duty: Elite platform, and you’ve got arguably the most complete multiplayer package ever seen on consoles.



Gerald Lynch
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