Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 Review

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 Cover

Call of Duty, to paraphrase Douglas Adams, is huge. You won’t believe how big it is. It has expanded incredibly fast, akin to the Big Bang, and few could have predicted it. Just recently, in 2006, when Call of Duty 3 was released, the series was just another well-known but modest World War II shooter, competing for shelf space with Medal of Honor and Brothers in Arms.

But Modern Warfare, released in 2007, turned Call of Duty into a true media phenomenon: a superbrand that generates revenues comparable to those of Tom Cruise, U2, or Manchester United. And just like these giants of the entertainment industry, this brand is as controversial as it is popular.

For every player who loves games for their scope and ubiquitous online presence, there is another player who would gladly dismiss the game simply because of its size. Is it unfair to trim a game just to give millions of players exactly what they want? Or do games that attract a lot of attention and generate huge revenues have an obligation to push the boundaries of their genres?

In any case, Modern Warfare 3 is exactly what you expected. The game is conservative in every sense of the word, an anthem to military superiority. The game will never dare to venture far beyond the confines of the gameplay established back in 2007.

Hunter Killer (sea hunters) - storm the Russian submarine


As in all previous games in the Call of Duty series, the single-player campaign is where the struggle between spectacle and depth is most evident. Starting almost immediately after the events of Modern Warfare 2, the game immerses the player in a world on the brink of a third world war, in which the Russian villain Makarov continues to do everything to make it happen.

The good news is that the story is a global-scale tale of betrayal, terrorism, and all sorts of tricks that would make James Bond nervously smoke on the sidelines – this time it is logically consistent. Compared to the convoluted, disjointed compilation of events that ultimately led to the dizzying final twist in Modern Warfare 2, the plot has become sparse and concise, like previous Call of Duty stories. The events are easy to follow, the characters behave consistently, and although there are a few bumps along the way, they contribute to the narrative rather than speeding it up.

Although the senseless plot has been tamed, the excessiveness of blockbuster antics has somehow increased even more. The Call of Duty campaign is now nothing without concise moments with cries of “holy sh*t!”, and Modern Warfare 3 handles this perfectly. It is a game where you cannot enter an elevator without a helicopter crashing into it, where it is not enough to simply drive a tank through the city if there is an opportunity to chase the enemy inside a multi-story parking lot, blowing up every car along the way.

There is an assault on a submarine. There is a fantastic stealth infiltration into a fortified castle and an equally explosive exit from it. There is a shootout in the London Underground involving moving trains, which is incredibly breathtaking. Despite the constant change of scenery and different perspectives, it all feels like one cohesive experience.

The only misstep is a short and blatantly senseless interlude where you, as an American tourist, witness a “dirty” bomb exploding in London. The scene is certainly not as senseless as the brutal massacre in an airport in Modern Warfare 2, but it still feels cheap and distasteful. Introducing the player to a horrifying, hopeless situation only works if there is a deeper meaning to it. Doing it simply to emphasize the obvious is an insult to the first-person perspective; it is tragic pornography of the worst kind.

Intense MW3 Action

For the most part, however, Infinity Ward has done their usual ruthlessly efficient and high-quality job of transforming a Hollywood trailer into an interactive vignette. The standout moment is the episode where you, as a secret Russian agent, protect the President of Russia aboard his private plane during a hijacking. In addition to the intense turbulence and brief moments of weightlessness as the plane tilts and falls, this episode features perhaps the most intuitive and stunning gunfights of all that I can remember. Part Air Force One and part Inception, it is an excellent showcase of Infinity Ward’s skill in creating memorable moments.

And it works. It works visually stunningly – the revamped MW3 engine delivers 60 frames per second of breathtaking action. If there is one clichéd element of COD that feels very banal, it is the linearity of the game. The game still sharply oscillates between moments that make you want to exclaim “Wow!” and drawn-out checkpoints where you want to bang your head against the wall due to the constant enemy spawns and the frenzied inaction of allies who won’t lift a finger to help you until you cross an invisible threshold.

This is not enough to spoil the impression – the stunning positives linger in memory much longer than the jaw-dropping negatives – but the fact remains that the series is still clinging to this awkward start-stop system, which is concerning.

MW3 Underwater Operations

And now let’s start the game

If the game will seem familiar to a solo player, the multiplayer contingent will find a lot of new opportunities, as the multiplayer mode (it seems that the true gaming pleasure is hidden in it) has truly transformed significantly.

However, COD is almost unmistakable. The game is as insane and aggressive as ever, which gives no reason to believe that Activision was crushed by the excessive attention given to Battlefield 3. Headshots still rule, and all 16 maps adhere to the spirit that serves the series well today: constant movement, constant engagement, constant checking of safe places. In terms of brutality, there is nothing better than a Call of Duty multiplayer match, and the skillfully designed unlocking system guarantees that players of any level can expand their arsenal almost immediately.

These days, the talk is increasingly about progression, and Modern Warfare 3 is better than the rest at fostering even the newest newbie’s sense of growth. Almost everything has its own experience counter and the ability to improve: any weapon, any accessory, any perk becomes better with use and your immersion in the dense tangle of sub-goals buried beneath the arcade surface.

Attention has also been paid to the perk system, so there will be something to counterbalance game-breaking killstreaks and incredibly deadly abilities. And it’s not just about taming the most powerful killstreak bonuses – a helicopter or mortar attack is no longer a reason to give up – but the player is also offered more serious control over the perks you choose, the bonuses you receive and unlock. Thanks to the Strike Packages, this whole system has been seemingly rediscovered, allowing you to choose what benefit you want to get from a strike.

MW3 Special Strike Package

The Strike Package is perhaps the most obvious choice, involving headhunting and rewarding constant kills. The Specialist Strike Package is aimed at more experienced players, offering up to three additional perks of your choice as you gain experience. The Support Strike Package is perhaps the most radical option, offering survival opportunities for players who are unable to keep up with the kill count of top players. Experience for this class is not reset upon death, so it is possible to create a useful character even if you die frequently.

The game modes have also been expanded and improved. The most notable is the new Kill Confirmed game mode – a kind of Team Deathmatch, but with enough strategic decisions to make the game interesting. The formula has not changed much – to get a kill, you need to pick up a military token from a dead enemy – but this change is significant, turning each killed player into a miniature capture point. In addition to collecting tokens from enemy corpses, you can also collect tokens from friendly corpses, thereby depriving the enemy team of vital points.

Call Of Duty Elite, a system so heavily subjected to slander, is actually just an application based on characteristics with bonuses for those who have subscribed to all future DLC in advance, adding even more interest to the gameplay. Heat maps make it easy to analyze post-match results, and based on the analysis of your play style, you will be offered the most suitable weapons and perk combinations, which will help improve your game.

Elite is also at the center of perhaps the most exciting innovation – private matches now have their own exclusive modes. Perhaps recognizing that the COD community is not known for its exemplary politeness, the decision to offer much greater flexibility and variety to those who play with friends will be a boon to anyone who loves the game but cannot endure all the racist and homophobic epithets that are bestowed upon every earned point.

Impressive IW 5.0 Engine in MW3

Among these modes, there are also quite unusual ones – Juggernaut matches, Infection mode where players switch teams after each kill, Gun matches where each new scalp gives you a better weapon. All modes are fully customizable and open to mixing in any proportions. Moreover, these settings can be saved and distributed to friends who will distribute them to their friends – this viral method will spread game modes developed by the gaming community. The best modes will be highlighted in the Elite system, and it is quite possible that they will become part of the game in future updates.

Amidst the talk of COD’s inflated status as the biggest game in the world, it is easy to forget how rich the series can be. There is also a third side to Modern Warfare 3: the cooperative mode. While other titles treat co-op as a negligible side dish, Modern Warfare 3 turned it into a real feast.

You not only get 16 new Spec Ops missions to play with friends (from two-player campaign missions to completely new maps), you also get the Survival mode, which uses multiplayer maps to generate waves of enemies that become stronger over time. Each stage is as fast-paced as the multiplayer mode, but survival battles are more tactical and require flawless teamwork if you want to last more than ten rounds. For a lone fighter, there are months of gameplay hidden here.

A comparison with Battlefield 3 suggests itself, but it is actually useless. As for multiplayer, these two games are much more different than one might judge by their appearance. What COD wins in is its consistency.

Outside of online play, Battlefield 3 seems uncertain, its semi-raw campaign and cooperative modes dictated by a sudden marketing rebranding from a multimillion-dollar (in dollars, of course) David to a billion-dollar Goliath from Activision. On the other hand, Modern Warfare 3 seems more “complete” from the start; the three game zones – solo, cooperative, and multiplayer – seem like parts of a whole, driven by a clear and refined statement of intent.

Breathtaking MW3 Combat


With such a well-rehearsed recipe to follow, there is much more room for innovation than for improvements. Many would like to see Call of Duty being trampled due to a lack of new ideas, but the game itself is built too confidently, too generous in terms of delivering pleasure, to deserve a prolonged pouring of bile on itself. It is a cruel and joyful game that knows exactly what players need and handles it quite confidently.

The weakest point of the game is the outdated single-player campaign, which feels more worn out with each repetition. Its structural limitations are only occasionally disguised by scenes of pompous chaos. It is equally thrilling and familiar – but never, never boring.

The storyline of the single-player campaign brings the Modern Warfare saga to a logical conclusion, which is pleasing. Whatever the next game in the series brings, the reimagining of ideas and concepts will matter. For now, the wild mix of bravado and blockbuster shine guarantees that Call of Duty will retain its crown as the most serious title in the genre for at least another year.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3
PC, PS3, Xbox 360
Action, Co-op, Multiplayer
Infinity Ward, Sledgehammer Games
Release Date:
Editor's rating:
Is it worth playing? (If the score is more than 70%)



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