Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3

I will admit: I did not go in at midnight and purchase Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 when it was released. I didn’t even go in later that day, or the day after. I waited a whole four days until the game was available, used, at my local GameStop (because, hey, I’ve got a wife and kids- I need to feed my gaming habit carefully ;-)). And then, using a coupon (I’m a GameStop Power-up Rewards member), the usual $5 off a used game’s price + 10% off for being a Rewards member, and a trade-in  + 30% additional value because it went towards Modern Warfare 3 (their system didn’t take into consideration that it was used- go me), I got the game for $35, a good $25 off the sticker price. Win.

I wasn’t even annoyed when the single-player campaign came out to be only 6 hours long (on Regular difficulty). The truth is that the campaign is just window-dressing for the real meat and potatoes of the game- multiplayer. Having said that, I did enjoy it; even though it was not as solid a story as the one from Black Ops (probably the best story in any Call of Duty game), it at least ties up the threads running since the first Modern Warfare, giving the series a World War III against which to set the action. There was something striking about engaging in combat in New York City streets, and seeing buildings with battle damage and ablaze. There are also some other very cool action sequences- the mission aboard the Russian President’s plane (very reminiscent of the bonus “Mile High Club” mission from the first Modern Warfare, but this time with a zero-G combat sequence due to a sudden nosedive), the destruction of the Eiffel Tower, a battle in a dust storm, and having a building almost drop on you during a mission.  Like previous entries in the series, it’s high-octane action all the way through, like a fun summer action movie, and you’re never bored or sitting still. The story is a bit disjointed, since it has to tie in a number of international characters and scenarios. But it works, given the tried-and-true Call of Duty formula. The graphics look great- not Rage great- but for this series, probably the best entry so far.

The multiplayer has been a blast, and while I won’t rehash a lot of what’s been covered better elsewhere, a few things became obvious while playing:

  • Changing killstreaks into Strike Packages, and giving players greater flexibility over how to build their loadouts was a great touch.
  • I’ve really liked the maps. Unlike other Call of Duty titles, I have yet to play on a map I dislike (such as “Launch” in Black Ops). But I have yet to play on a map that contains the visceral fun of a “Nuketown” or “Firing Range” (again, maps from Black Ops).
  • Having your weapon level up as well is also a great tweak; it gives you the sense of constant advancement while making your way through the 70+ levels.
  • “Kill Confirmed” is a great new game mode. When a player is killed, a dog tag is left floating above them. For the kill to actually count, you have to grab that dog tag. It adds a frenetic level of play.
  • What? No RC-XD? Boo.

I haven’t even touched the Survival Mode at all, or Spec Ops beyond the first mission or two, but there is a ton of stuff to do outside of the campaign. If you’re a jaded former fan of the series, there isn’t much here to bring you back. But if you loved previous installments, Modern Warfare 3 is a natural evolution for the series, with enough new content and tweaks to make it feel vaguely fresh. While it is debatable whether it is better than Black Ops, is definitely the best Modern Warfare title released.

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