Modern Warfare 3 has arrived as we continue on our global search for Makarov. Along the way there have been many twists and turns in the story and we have finally reached a point where all of our questions will be answered. The will of a single man igniting World War III is an intriguing concept for the series and they have done a brilliant job of explaining how the three titles tie together. What happens next is the culmination of a fantastic trilogy of events.
Modern Warfare 3 begins with Soap in really bad shape after his encounter with Shepherd. After you get through the introductory phase the game immediately places you in the middle of a war zone in New York. You are trying to fight your way to the Stock Exchange to prevent the enemy from overtaking the city. Leading up to the game there were trailers that were showcasing various locations around the world and we were lead to believe that Makarov was trying to start World War III. All of the different locations are pretty amazing and the graphical fidelity is pretty impressive. There were a couple of times where I would just stand there in awe and rotate the camera around for a moment so that I could get a panoramic view of everything that was taking place. One of the best moments in that regard is when you emerge from under water and you get this amazing shot of New York under attack. It seemed like every location has at least one big “wow” moment where you got to do or see something really cool.
The AC-130 has also made its return, however, Infinity Ward and Sledgehammer mixed it up a bit. During one particular AC-130 mission you would start out in the sky looking down on the enemy and then once you accomplish your objective you would be transported to the ground to help out your comrades. You go back and forth as the mission necessitates which I thought was a really cool idea. Infinity Ward and Sledgehammer did an amazing job with the story and the way that they tied together events from all of the Modern Warfare games is fantastic. If you have gone through the first two Modern Warfare titles then you will definitely enjoy this campaign. I went through and beat the campaign twice before writing this review and after absorbing all of the storyline details and such I was very happy with how it ended and thought the development team(s) did a great job of tying up all of the loose ends.
With all of that said the campaign for Modern Warfare 3 is very similar to the first two games. While I have personally been a big fan of the Modern Warfare series, if you aren’t a fan then this won’t convert you. The campaign length is around the same as the previous titles and some of the AI quirks are still present. If you haven’t enjoyed the storyline from the previous titles then you probably won’t enjoy this one either. This game was definitely made for Call of Duty fans and, as such, they didn’t stray too far from an already winning formula. If you are looking for something different than you might want to look elsewhere.
Spec Ops makes its return in Modern Warfare 3 with two different modes for you to play. There are the Spec Ops missions for you to play similar to Modern Warfare 2 and then there is the Spec Ops Survival mode. Spec Ops Survival is essentially Modern Warfare’s version of a horde mode. You have to fight waves of enemies which will get increasingly harder as you get to the higher levels. While you are eliminating enemies you are also earning money. In between rounds you can use your hard earned cash to buy all sorts of upgrades. You can buy things such as ammo, turrets, new support items, air strikes and more. There is no level cap to Spec Ops Survival so it is a true test of your skill to see how far you can go before getting taken out. A good strategy that my friend and I used was picking a spot where the enemy couldn’t attack us from behind. With us not having to worry about a sneak attack he was able to take one side, I was able to take the other and then we also placed a turret there to help us out as well. The turret ended up being dual purpose for us as it would often see enemies before we did and would act as sort of an early warning system for us. There are sixteen maps that you can pick from for Survival mode with the first four being available initially. You will unlock the other maps as you level up to level 8, 15 and 25 respectively.
Spec Ops in Modern Warfare 2 proved to be pretty popular and the developers have made these missions even better for Modern Warfare 3. The Spec Ops missions here actually extend the story from the main game by giving you alternate scenarios. In one of the first missions of the game you have to board a submarine and you have some objectives that you need to complete. Well, one of the Spec Ops missions has you on that same submarine and you have to stop it from going nuclear. There was another level in the campaign where there was a nice twist in the story and the mission ended immediately after that twist. The Spec Ops mission that goes along with that picks up immediately where the mission ended and you have to infiltrate an enemy base to find something you need. I really love the concept of getting more out of those missions and they are even more fun to play with a friend. It is a great way to gain a different perspective on a situation and there are some very interesting situations that they put you in that I won’t go into here so as not to spoil it for anyone.
Then, of course, you have the multiplayer suite. This game offers multiplayer over Xbox Live, split screen and via system link. The multiplayer comes with sixteen maps on the disc. There are a bunch of different areas such as a coastal town, a construction site, a village and much more. You have your standard modes such as Team Deathmatch, Domination, Capture the Flag and more. Two new modes making their debut in Modern Warfare 3 are Kill Confirmed and Team Defender. In Team Defender you grab the flag and protect the flag carrier to increase your team’s score. At first glance this might seem the same as capture the flag, however, it isn’t. In Capture the Flag you are trying to capture the flag and then return it to your base. In Team Defender you are simply trying to protect the flag carrier to increase your team’s score. This mode requires a lot of teamwork and communication between everyone if you want the flag carrier to stay alive long enough to rack up the points. It seems like Team Defender would be great for clans who play together a lot and can work as a team.
Kill Confirmed is the other new mode and is definitely a new favorite of mine. The basic concept of Kill Confirmed is simple. Once you kill an enemy he will drop his dog tags. To get credit for killing him and to get a point for your team you need to grab those dog tags. That is the only way you can score in this mode. With that said though there is a way to deny a kill. If you grab your comrades dog tags before the other team then you will deny them the point. This new mode adds another layer of complexity to the multiplayer as you have to employ new strategies if you want to be successful. There were some times where I would see a dog tag and run to go grab it but I had someone waiting for me and they shot me the instant I picked up that dog tag on the ground. You have to really decide whether the reward outweighs the risk here, especially if the dog tag is in the middle of a field or somewhere else where you can get easily shot by a sniper or someone else camping the location. There were even times when I would collect my own dog tag and you get extra points if you are able to do so. The mode works really well and I look forward to playing it with my group of friends for a long time.
As I alluded to above the way the Modern Warfare 3 multiplayer works has been changed up. You no longer have killstreaks. Now you have pointstreaks which are similar to killstreaks, however, you don’t have to kill anyone to earn points and unlock perks. My favorite package was the Support Strike Package because my streak did not reset when I was killed. The Support package does just what it sounds like, it helps out your team. When I would get my streak high enough I would lay down a SAM Turret that would shoot down any enemy helicopters in the area or simply use my UAV to help my comrades see where the other team was on the radar. With the Assault Strike Package point streaks will chain and are designed for more direct damage (Predator, helicopter, etc) just like they did on Modern Warfare 2. Your streak will end when you are killed though. The other one is the Specialist Strike Package and this one is for someone that might have the “lone wolf” mentality. This is for the more experienced players and rewards come in the form of more perks. A player activates additional perks as they progress in a points streak and these perks will last until you get killed. Unlike the other two packages the player who utilizes this package will be alone. What that essentially means is that he won’t have access to any air strikes or anything of that nature.
Modern Warfare 3 also offers something they call a “Private Match”. This is where you can host a custom game where you can play with your friends over Xbox Live. You have the standard modes you can use here such as Team Deathmatch, Headquarters, Domination and Kill Confirmed. You also have alternate modes though such as Drop Zone, Team Juggernaut, Juggernaut, Gun Game, One in the Chamber and Infected. Drop Zone is where you have to hold the drop zone for team points and care packages. In Gun Game you have to dominate with every gun and it works as a progression system. You’ll start off with one weapon and then when you kill someone you will move up to the next weapon until you have cycled through all of them. It is a really fun mode and a great game to play with friends. One in the Chamber is a mode where you gain ammo by eliminating enemies. As the name suggests your ammo is severely limited in this mode and you can only get more by taking out your opposition. Juggernaut is a really fun mode where it is everyone against the Juggernaut and the person who takes him out becomes the new Juggernaut. This mode is a lot of fun because you never really know what is going to happen next. There were times where I would be focusing on the Juggernaut in front of me and then the guy behind me ending up killing him and becoming the Juggernaut. With that happening the new Juggernaut was obviously behind me so we had to spin around and try to focus on him before he took us out. It got pretty wild and chaotic at some points and was a whole lot of fun. Team Juggernaut is similar where you have to defend your team’s Juggernaut to become the next Juggernaut. Finally, Infected is where you started off with one player that is infected and then if you get killed you become part of the Infected and have to try and take out the remaining Survivors to make them Infected. You have to infect everyone or survive the game to win and this one was definitely fun to play as the tables could quickly turn on you without you ever realizing it. You can also choose what options you want such as how long the round goes, what the point limit is, whether the KillCam is enabled, whether there is a respawn delay and more. You pretty much get total control here which I really appreciated because it allowed my friends and I to craft our own experience.
The development team has given Call of Duty fans another great game that should keep everyone busy for quite a while. As soon as you start up the game, before you even begin playing, there is Makarov talking about previous events from his point of view which immediately gets you in the mood to see where Modern Warfare 3’s campaign will take you. If you care about the story at all it is definitely recommended that you play the first two titles prior to starting this campaign. Modern Warfare 3 succeeds in every area and the development teams at both Infinity Ward and Sledgehammer Games should be extremely proud. The global hunt for Makarov is on and Modern Warfare 3 is the best installment yet.