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Review: 'Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3'

Guns and explosions; business as usual.

Ooh, yay, another shooter! Can’t you see how excited I am? Because, you know, we don’t have enough of those out there, between Rage and Battlefield 3 and Gears of War 3 and Resistance 3 and the worst of them, Halo Anniversary, which only reaffirms that we as gamers will happily shell out more money for the same game twice. 

Now let’s welcome the next contender in the long, long line of shooting clones, Modern Warfare 3. This is probably one of the most hotly anticipated titles of 2011 and possibly the remainder of the decade. You can tell with that money-black-hole of a commercial that everyone went nuts over which featured two big-time Hollywood stars, a famous NBA star, and one of AC/DC’s greatest hits, the royalty payments of which could probably end world hunger. 

It’s a good thing I hadn’t started doing this around the time that Modern Warfare 2 came out, because if I had, this entire review would read “see Review: Modern Warfare 2.” But, luckily (I guess) I hadn’t, so what the heck, let’s dive head-first into the fray for the umpteenth time. 

Plot and Characters

The game picks up exactly where Modern Warfare 2 left off back in 2009 when the President was still more popular than God (true story, look it up). In case you’ve forgotten in the past two years, MW2 ended with “Soap” being carted away from the battlefield on a stretcher by Captain Price and his Russian contact, Nikolai. 

Well, MW3 picks up right, there, with the trio fleeing to Afghanistan to get Soap some medical attention. Meanwhile, the Russians, under the influence of ultra-nationalist terrorist Vladamir Makarov, continue their completely unrealistic invasion of the United States with a mass invasion of Manhattan Island. At the same time, the powers that be decide to let the entire continent of Europe get in on the action, launching simultaneous invasions of France, England, and Germany. 

For your part, you’ll play the roles of various individuals, but the main focus will be on an U.S. Delta Force operative under the call-sign “Frost” and a Russian ex-Spetznaz called “Yuri.” With these two you’ll go on Bloody Massacre Tour ‘16 as you visit France, England, Germany, the U.S., Afghanistan, and India and subsequently cause billions of dollars worth of property damage as well as make thousands of soldiers dead. 

And then of course there’s the juicy controversy.  If you're a vet, you probably remember the sequence from Modern Warfare 2 in which you mercilessly gun down innocent civilians in an airport. You probably also remember how it generated a free-publicity bonanza on all the major news stations as non-gamers came out in swarms to once again decry gamers as immature, out of touch, and generally evil. 

You could probably guess that Infinity Ward liked all the free advertising and decide to up the ante this time around. If you haven’t heard by now (SPOILER ALERT), a short sequence in the game depicts a cute 5-year-old girl on her happy family vacation being blown up by a car bomb. 

I’m reminded of when famed games critic Ben Croshaw sarcastically suggested during his MW2 review that MW3 could have us stomp on a little girl’s puppy. Looking back, it seems almost prophetic.    

Apparently Infinity Ward missed the sarcasm and interpreted that as a challenge, replacing the little girl’s puppy with the little girl herself and the stomping with exploding. I hope they’re not planning on a Modern Warfare 4, because they’re going to have trouble stirring more controversy than blowing up children. They’ll have to make us do something like blow up a retirement home and then host a dance party on the ashes and gore. 

You know, between this and all the demand for the ability to kill the kids in Skyrim, I’m starting to worry about this sudden obsession among gamers with murdering children. It’s certainly not helping our case against the ban-this-filth, anti-fun brigade. 

Gameplay

The campaign is exactly the same as before. You’ll run around the various brown environments, pausing every few seconds to have a shootout with the multitude brown enemies. Ninety percent of your time will be spent hiding behind boxes waiting for your health to regenerate. Not so much for the hit points, mind you, but more so that the blood spatters and red tint will fade away and you’ll actually be able to see again. 

I opted to play on Hardened for my play-through, mostly because I knew putting it on Veteran would mean that most of my time would be spent hiding from single-shot AK kills made through smoke from 900 yards or running from one of the 50 Billion grenades the enemies would lob at me like they’re on discount at Wal-Mart. 

I managed Hardened without too much trouble, though there were two occasions I can remember dying several million times because of the sheer volume of troops that would draw an accurate bead on me the instant I exposed even one square inch of flesh. That was pretty irritating, but I got by them eventually. There are also couples of occasions that amount to insta-kills which are difficult to be prepared for.   

After a certain point (probably two hours or so), it just became so much grind.  I don’t remember most of it. Not that it matters, because the small bit that I do remember, shooting and waiting for my health to regenerate, could probably be easily applied to any part of the game, the only possible exception being the AC-130 sequence (again, exactly the same as it was before). 

Multiplayer

Oh, look at that! It hasn’t changed a bit, either. Oh, sure, there are some new weapons and perks and things like that, as well as a few new game types, but the general feeling is completely unchanged. You’ll still choose machine guns, shotguns or sniper rifles, wait for the timer to run down, and then see a bunch of clones in camo sprint forward with their weapons tucked into their chests. 

Like before, there are weapon upgrades and perks that do various things like make you invisible on radar and give you the chance to let off a few rounds with your pistol once you’ve been shot to death. Also like before, you’ll gain access to these as you level up, so when you begin you’ll be forced to use standard weapons until the game has decided you’re dedicated enough to have them. 

One of my bigger complaints about the multiplayer has been a problem with Modern Warfare since the series started. Battlefield has this problem, too, but not to the degree Modern Warfare does. It’s with the scoring system. 

I will never change my position here. It is absolutely retarded to have an individual scoring system for a team-based game. All it does is ensure that no one will work together, because everyone is trying to outscore each other. There’s no teamwork, there’s no communication, nothing but people running around in the open spraying bullets at anything that moves. Let me show you what I mean with an example.

For a time, I tried playing with the riot shield. I don’t mind having a lower score, just as long as I can help the team get some kills and ultimately win the match. So, I armed the shield and ran out in front, hoping that my bone-headed teammates would have enough sense to stack up on me while I entered an area first and soaked up the bullets. No such luck, I’m afraid. With the exception of one occasion, they always did the same thing: charged blindly into gunfire and got mowed down. And the one time they did exercise a sense of tactics with my shield, we destroyed them. Go figure.

There’s also the usual time-delay problem. Most one-on-one shootouts will be over in less than a second, and the delay between registering the fight between your console and your opponent's means that not everything will be registered properly. What this means is that even though you’re certain you shot the guy, and the kill cam confirms as much, you still die. This will induce rage on an unparalleled level, trust me.

My absolute biggest complaint about the multiplayer, though, isn’t a beef with the game, though.  No, it’s with the people who play it. Or rather, the die-hard fans. You know, the ones who do nothing else with their lives but play this game. I know they’re out there because the game’s only been out for about two weeks and several people I played with had already maxed out at level 80. 

I had planned to say that MW3 has nothing that I haven’t seen worse of, but its die-hard fans prevent me from doing so. They’re just as obnoxious as they’ve ever been, droning into their mics like drool monkeys and shouting obscenities at each other in between matches.

Another thing: Parents, quit buying these games for your kids! Seriously, did you not see the “”Blood and Gore, Drug Reference, Intense Violence, Strong Language” warning? Nothing irks me quite like hearing a five-year-old in the games lobby, with the exception of hearing someone my age (at least in body) cuss out said five-year-old. Yeah, it happens. I know it’s disgusting. 

Overall

You know, I’ll never understand this, but as many complaints as I’ve listed above, I just can’t bring myself to say it’s a bad game. I won’t even pretend to understand why. 

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not great by any means, but it was still good enough to keep me playing the multiplayer for several hours. Not to brag on myself, but I was kicking some butt on the multiplayer.  Maybe that’s what it is. Maybe it’s the feeling of dominating your opponents that makes you want to keep going back. 

I’ll say this: nothing, absolutely nothing makes me rage like Call of Duty’s multiplayer. No other shooter pisses me off as badly, not even Halo. I also know that as angry as I get, others are far worse. This game will fuel an unhealthy hatred for your fellow man, that’s for sure. 

Investment suggestion: Look, here’s how you make this choice: If you liked MW1 or 2, then you’ll like this one, because it’s the same. You can decide whether that’s a good thing or not.

The above is only my opinion. It just happens to be right. 

Where to Purchase

Here's some great local places to pick up this game: , , , and .

Robert Powell December 03, 2011 at 10:31 PM
I liked the ending credits for MW2, it was cool. I went straight from MW to MW2, my brother's friend lent his copy of MW to him to catch up on the story and play MP with him right before MW2 came out. It is interesting to look back at MW and MW2 see the exact same game and suprising to realize they weren't. I stopped playing MW2 MP, the story and spec ops were better, as I remember it, than MW3's, when Bad Company 2 came out. It was only in 2011 that I started playing MP MW2 again. It almost seems like they abandoned their idea of the invasion and take over of the U.S. immediately in the beginning of MW3, I guess they had to try and wrap things up in a trilogy. This game may seem exactly the same as MW2, but it does seem lesser, it's not as good. Now to play BF3 then R3, in that order. I agree with everything in this article. It's funny about the children who play this game, hearing a female voice realizing it's a 10 year old boy, and the closer to my age adults who play are just as funny. One of the first multiplayer games my brother played, there is a feature that allows you to hear your enemy's mic after you've killed them for just a second, he did this impossible kill apparently, surviving his attacker, and the person said, "F*ck yo' Momma, b*tch!" angrily. Hilarious, typical MW3 gamer etiquette. Anyway, dinner. Enjoyed your article. Funny and accurate. Thanks Adam.
kevincorona December 04, 2011 at 08:50 PM
I was actually going to value your opinion until I saw that you're a fat basement dwelling virgin.
Adam Alexander December 05, 2011 at 12:03 AM
If only. If I were fat it would mean I could afford to eat out all the time, if lived in a basement I wouldn't have house payments every month, and if I were a virgin I would be more in tune with my Christian faith.
Adam Alexander December 05, 2011 at 12:06 AM
Thanks! I appreciate the kind remarks, and I'm glad you enjoyed it.

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