Since its humble origins back in 2003, Call of Duty (COD) has grown exponentially, becoming the biggest grossing gaming franchise of all time. Representing the final story arc for developer Infinity Ward’s Modern Warfare branch, this isn’t a revolution in gaming but presents a natural evolution for the series.
The single-player campaign will be instantly familiar to anyone who has played a previous title. COD has always done the blockbuster effect well and Modern Warfare 3 is no different. Players are treated to the familiar formula of fast-paced run and gun gameplay combined with explosive set-piece cutscenes and a soundtrack matching most Hollywood action flicks.
Where the series begins to show its age, however, is through the visuals. The graphics themselves still hold up relatively well considering the benchmark set by new releases such as Rage and Battlefield 3 but the failure to update the game’s engine in any significant manner means that once you scratch at the surface, the graphics and core gameplay mechanics themselves are very reminiscent of earlier itinerations.
That being said, many fans will delight in the reworking of what is arguably a successful format and satisfying gameplay experience.
In terms of depth, Modern Warfare 3 certainly improves upon its predecessors. The single-player campaign, whilst relatively short, is an enjoyable experience and presents a satisfying end to the Modern Warfare story arc, if a predictable one.
Infinity Ward have really offered an improved package however when it comes to their “Special Ops” mode. First introduced with COD: Modern Warfare 2, Special Ops mode now offers even more cooperative missions in a range of formats which can see players teaming up to defuse IED’s or take part in the kidnapping of the Russian president.
A completely new addition is “Survival” mode which sees players pitted against waves of enemies ranging from standard Russian soldiers to attack helicopters and heavily armoured juggernauts. Although similar in its format to the popular “Nazi Zombies” game mode found in both World at War and Black Ops, it still offers enough unique features to be a welcome addition to the game’s overall package.
The staple of the COD series however is of course its multiplayer. Whether you will enjoy this aspect of the game depends entirely on your feelings about its previous multiplayer offerings. The formula is instantly recognisable and the gameplay lighting fast. The maps are well laid out and perks have been reorganised to improve game balance.
A range of new weapons such as the CM 901 and old favourites like the AK-47, all of which can be customised, offer the freedom of choice which COD has become renowned for. The tweaking of certain perks and the refinement of previous gameplay problems such as grenade launcher spamming means Modern Warfare 3 presents a slick if familiar multiplayer experience.
COD: Elite also adds a new dynamic with the offering of accurate statistic tracking and the ability to import your Facebook friends. Although the base product of this new feature is free, a premium version does exist and a years subscription costs around £30. This includes the ability to level up your clan, immediate and free access to all future DLC releases and the chance to win prizes, both in-game and material. Doubtless many will see the introduction of this new service as a cynical attempt by Activision to suck even more money out of their fanbase but it has to be remembered that premium features are optional and aimed at a more hardcore competitive multiplayer audience.
For those who feel disaffected with the series, the familiar core gameplay mechanics and somewhat outdated visuals will enforce the idea that the series has become complacent and a little lazy. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 ultimately offers enough to draw veterans of the series back for more fast-paced action, new features and tweaks which are extremely welcome.