After bringing the signature Call of Duty experience of frantic action to the modern battlefield, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 brings the Modern Warfare story arch to its conclusion. Continuing the trend of making no major changes to the formula, the three modes present in Modern Warfare 2 – campaign, co-op Special Ops and multiplayer - return, tweaked to offer a fitting end to the trilogy and possibly the best multiplayer to date.
The campaign acts as the denouement to the story of Task Force 141, ending the story arch of Price, Soup and Makarov in a world-spanning set of interconnected missions broken up by over-the-top set pieces. As usual, the set pieces steal the show. From the very beginning of the campaign your heartbeat is spiked. The intensity brought on by the heavy action and utterly magnificent scripted set pieces is exhausting.
It’s always been a Call of Duty trait to throw you into the fray and encourage a fast paced run-and-gun arcade romp through a busy and dangerous battlefield, and Modern Warfare 3 doesn’t disappoint. Starting on the Russian/American frontline in New York you’ll fight your way through enemy soaked streets of debris before causing more destruction yourself to buildings and vehicles either on the ground or in aircrafts.
As you continue through the relatively short campaign the set pieces will continue to reveal themselves and impress you with their creativity and immensely enjoyable distractions. It’s not quite as splendid as Modern Warfare 2′s selection but you’ll certainly have no complaints. Moreover, despite only clocking in at around five hours, the pace is excellent. Missions are short and to the point with just barely enough juxtaposition between quiet and tense treks to locations or sneaking through enemy compounds and the bullet flying mayhem of combat.
Unfortunately tweaks to the bullet physics makes shooting whilst moving a chore. Generous snap targeting helps mitigate the issue on the normal difficulty setting but it’s a jarring design choice that threaten to ruin harder run-throughs, and on the co-op missions it leads to severe frustration.
Co-op Special Forces missions return, challenging one or two players to achieve objectives at different levels of difficulty. Once again they prove a very welcome addition, adding a quick pickup and play option. Many missions also mirror the campaign, placing you in the shoes of the opposition or another team, providing a nice change of perspective and adding additional narrative elements.
A new addition to The co-op mode is Survival – Call of Duty’s take on Horde mode, or Infinity Wards’ take on Treyarchs Zombie mode – where players try to outlast waves of increasingly dangerous enemies as more powerful weapons are unlocked through currency earned through kills. Like the Special Forces missions it’s a welcome addition and both support split screen and online play with plenty of high score beating incentive, however, it’s the designated online multiplayer that will keep you coming back.
Online multiplayer returns with a mostly familiar set of game modes and functions. It’s just as extensive as ever, with almost 20 modes running the gamut from standard team deathmatch to the more exotic and strategic modes. There’s something for everyone and with the ability to create and share your own game modes through a variety of modifiers – similar to Halo – you can further expand the experience. One of the standout new modes on offer is Kill Confirm, where killed enemies drop dog tags behind which must be collected to score the kill. It soon become a strategic game of baiting opponents with exposed dog tags and encourages teamwork whilst discouraging camping. In all Modern Warfare 3′s multiplayer is a massive package that continues to grow as you immerse yourself in it.
The 16 maps show off a great variety of locations whilst following a familiar design to one another. However, despite a similar layout it’s hard to fault them. Well sized and simple layouts make them easy to navigate and learn whilst making spawn camping rare and pockets of action plentiful. It’s the perfect map size for the arcade action Call of Duty excels at.
Perks, Killstreaks and Deathstreaks return, for better or worse, with a few tweaks and additions and a big change to how you access Killstreaks. A Strike Package must be chosen which affects which Killstreaks become available to you and how you achieve them. Assault provides a collection of devastating weapons with maximum effect but your points towards them reset on death. Support provides recon and equipment drops and points accumulate over the round. Finally the Specialist Strike Package offers new Perks throughout the match for the expert player to gain understated but steady improvements.
A variety of new Killstreaks join old favourite to fill the ranks of tide turning offense and support abilities. Favourites like UAV Predator missiles return but additions like ballistic vest drops for your entire team and a whole fleet of attack helicopters are a fresh sight to behold. The only fault is the ease of obtaining them with the Assault Strike Package, with weapon deployments often gaining you further points towards more rewards, to the point of gaining perpetual support. It threatens to turn rounds into Killstreak battles.
Overall the implementation of the Strike Packages offers a well crafted system to support different play-styles and encourage experimentation. Add to that points awarded for achieving objectives other than kills and you’ll certainly find plenty of reason to explore everything Modern Warfare 3′s multiplayer has to offer. This is further incentivised by Call of Duty Elite.
Elite offers advanced stat tracking, game analysis and customisation. Features like the ability to customise game-types and weapons setups as well as check out map kill zones outside of the game and on the move through the mobile app are excellent additions. Video capturing and sharing is also available as well as clan support and community play options. Moreover, the majority of its features are free, with the paid version of Elite giving more advance clan support and acting as a DLC discount season pass.
Indeed Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 doesn’t do anything drastically different from its predecessor but tweaks the right aspects to form a brilliant package of singleplayer and multiplayer action. It’s a very different game to its contemporaries and fans will absolutely love returning to this carefully crafted series, and whilst the lack of change threatens to cause player fatigue in the future, right now it offers a fitting finale to the trilogy.
MLG Rating: 9/10
Platform: PS3/ Xbox 360/ PC Release Date: 08/11/2011
Disclosure: Midlife Gamer were provided a physical copy of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 for review purposes by the promoter. The title was reviewed over the course of two weeks on an Xbox 360. For more information on what our scores mean, plus details of our reviews policy, click here.