A globe-trotting single player campaign, addictive new co-op modes and unbeatable multiplayer mayhem – MW3 has it all
After last year’s Black Ops explosively covered the Cold War, 2011’s obligatory Call of Duty game returns to the present day for a third instalment of Modern Warfare. With series creators Infinity Ward back at the helm, MW3 treads familiar ground with its unique spin on global counter-terrorism, an action-packed campaign and intense multiplayer action.
Picking up right where Modern Warfare 2 left off, MW3 begins with a grievously-injured Soap MacTavish and an emergency evacuation from a sandstorm. After that, it’s typical Call of Duty all the way – a rollercoaster ride from fire fight to fire fight with huge explosions, awesome set-pieces, taciturn US Special Forces and sarcastic SAS.
The run-and-gun mechanics have barely changed, with the emphasis still very much on inching forward; as with previous Call of Duty games, enemies keep spawning until you’ve pushed past a certain point. As most of the missions have a sense of urgency (find the hostage, chase the buy guy and so on) this doesn’t feel too forced, but your comrades’ constant shouts of “we’ve got to keep moving!” begins to grate after a while.
There have been some tweaks to the formula – support units such as Predator drones and AC-130 gunships are now more smoothly integrated into the action. In some missions your character can reach some dug-in enemy troops, take cover and whip out a laptop to call in a drone strike or toss a smoke marker to show the Air Force where to bring the rain. Even missions where you control the guns of an AC-130 to support ground troops flow seamlessly between controlling airborne howitzers and running with the grunts on the ground – there’s even a picture-in-picture feed from the infantry to keep you in the action.
The variety is welcome, the trademark globe-trotting locations and astonishingly visceral action scenes are what really draws you in. The plot makes more sense than MW2’s quagmire, but really acts as an excuse to fly all over the world making things go boom. Highlights are an assault on a Russian submarine complete with jaw-dropping speedboat escape, chasing a Tube train through London and assaulting a Czech castle by night, but the whole game is one astonishingly exciting thrill ride. Its six hour length is virtually standard fare for a modern Call of Duty title, but also acts as the perfect transition to the multiplayer portion of the game.
Continuing the Call of Duty tradition of instantly gratifying persistent weapon, perk and kill-streak unlocks, Modern Warfare 3’s multiplayer is as fast paced as ever. Infinity Ward has done well to keep the action intense, yet still address the arguably imbalanced Modern Warfare 2 experience. XP is now earned for more than just scoring kills – teamwork and objective-based play is encouraged through the new point streak and strike package system.
Traditional kill-streaks still remain in the form of the Assault strike package – offensive abilities that grow in power as you accumulate more points, but reset on death. The support strike package won’t reset if you die, but its unlocks are almost all defensive actions such as UAVs or radar jammers. The final strike package is Specialist, which unlocks extra perks rather than kill-streaks. You earn one for every two kills up to six, then unlock every single perk at eight.
A large collection of military hardware, both old and new, is available to inflict pain on your enemies, but these two have undergone some revisions. You now don’t have to complete specific challenges to earn weapon attachments – instead, every gun has its own weapon level that unlocks camouflage patterns, attachments and proficiencies as you use it. The splash damage from the notorious under-slung grenade launchers has been greatly reduced, which has already led to a lack of n00b-tubers online.