For those on the outside looking in, the popularity of many of America’s favorite entertainment products and cultural forces can seem mystifying. The obsession with things like the “Twilight” movies, Sudoku, Dan Brown novels, or Justin Bieber is strange to those who refuse to give into the appeal of lovelorn vampires, logic puzzles, goofy fiction, or mop headed teen idols.
There are plenty of people, even some gamers themselves, who feel the same way about the Call of Duty franchise. They shrug when they hear stats about how the games have sold over 100 million units worldwide or how “Call of Duty: Black Ops” set a record for entertainment by grossing more than $650 million in just five days last November.
For those people -- the ones who think you’re talking about a “Lion King” character when you mention a SCAR rifle -- “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3” likely won’t win many converts.
But for fans of Activision blockbuster first-person military shooter it’s time to rejoice and pop your bottles because Call of Duty is just getting better with age.
A New Tour of Duty
As was the case with “Modern Warfare 2,” there are three main modes to sink your teeth into with MW3 -- the single-player campaign, cooperative spec-ops levels and the competitive multiplayer. The campaign’s story continues directly after the events of MW2, with the grizzled characters of Soap MacTavish and Captain John Price returning to track down Russian bad guy Vladimir Makarov behind enemy lines for the sake of revenge.
A dizzying globetrotting tour of duty ensues with travels to London, Paris, Berlin, Prague, Siberia and Somalia. Of course, it’s hard to sight see with bullets whizzing by your head, but some levels are worth enjoying for the atmospherics. Especially noteworthy is the mission where you control a member of an underwater squad trying to sink a Russian submarine that suddenly turns into a wild boat escape in a chaotic New York harbor.
But while parts of the campaign are unquestionably full of pulpy thrills, the action can feel overly familiar for veterans of the series. There are too many moments bogged down by battles against enemies that seemingly have the power of infinite spawns. There’s also the usual feeling of having too little freedom as you move from point A to point B in a tightly scripted manner.
Improved Co-Op Play
If you want to play with a friend, the special ops mode is an improved experience from MW2. There are 16 different co-op missions, which borrows familiar sections of the campaign and turn them into a two-player playground with new objectives. In the mission “Invisible Threat,” for example, one player comes equipped with a bombsuit and is charged with defusing explosive devices placed all over the map while a second player provides cover with a sniper rifle from a distant rooftop.
For those who might lament the lack of zombie mode from Treyarch’s Call of Duty games, MW3 features a new Survival mode that plays a bit like zombies and Horde mode from Gears of War where pairs of players take on increasingly difficult waves of enemy soldiers. Money is earned for kills and then spent on new guns, ammo and equipment.
Multiplayer is Still King
All of these modes, however, seem like icing on the cake because the main course of the Modern Warfare experience continues to be the competitive multiplayer. It’s a mode not radically different from previous Call of Duty games, but more of an evolution that shows evidence of the perfection of the formula. There are still the usual trappings of team deathmatch and a host of other modes on a number of small to medium sized maps, but what has changed is some of the details.
Weapons, for instance, are leveled separately from your soldier, meaning that you can add upgrades to your guns like scopes, sights and dampened recoiled by using that particular object more on the battlefield. With all of the 40 plus weapons and customizations options, your loadout options are nearly endless.
"The biggest and best overhaul of the multiplayer system is the new Strike Package system, which replaces the old reward system that was based entirely on killstreaks."
The biggest and best overhaul of the multiplayer system is the new Strike Package system, which replaces the old reward system that was based entirely on killstreaks. That option through the “Assault” package is still available, but there’s a new package called “Support” that grants useful rewards for people that want to play a more team-based game because you can rack up points by carrying out team objectives like capturing flags and defusing bombs. For the Rambo-types out there, there’s also a package that grants you extra perks after every couple of kills until you become like a powerful one-man army.
MW3 delivers the goods for action gamers. The single-player campaign formula might be growing stale and there are better cooperative games on the market, but there’s still something completely addicting about MW3’s multiplayer and progression system that will keep shooter fans gunning down their friends and strangers online for hundreds and thousands of hours. Well, at least until the next Call of Duty inevitably rolls in next year.
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