The Call of Duty franchise is inarguably the most popular game franchise of this generation, which means that it gets an equal amount of naysayers as it does people that are happy to plunk down $60 a year to play their favorite shooter. Despite the increasing number of gamers that say they won’t touch the game, the number of people that buy into it does, too.
Competitors are constantly gunning for its place at the top of the heap as well, with the recent Battlefield 3 being the latest attempt. It’s a fine game for sure, but whether it manages to chip CoD‘s sizable player base remains to be seen. It’s also no secret that there have been some … personnel changes over at Infinity Ward, to the point that the newly-formed Sledgehammer Games had to help put the game together, with Raven Software and Beachhead Studios also chipping in. This raised more than a few eyebrows, leaving people wondering if the original Call of Duty studio’s best days were behind it.
Maybe, maybe not. What I do know is that Modern Warfare 3 is a damn fine shooter.
I kicked off my time with MW3 by playing through its campaign, and make no mistake: this is one of the most pulse-pounding experiences of the year. The story, which picks up right where Modern Warfare 2 left off, certainly isn’t going to win any writing awards. However, the excellent variety of mission tasks and jaw-dropping set pieces show that whoever was left to work on the game still understands what makes an action game fun. And that’s just it — while other games try to beat you over the head with stories that think they’re better than they really are while trying to make you care about personality-deficient characters, Modern Warfare 3 just makes sure that you’re never bored with it. There are minimal quick-time events and no moral decisions to make. The game simply tasks itself with entertaining you from beginning to end, and does so with flying colors.
The campaign also addresses my largest complaint with the series, which is when they used to spawn an infinite number of enemies at you until you managed to push forward; thankfully this is gone now. Paired with competent (but not totally impressive) AI partners that are helpful without doing all of the work for you, I rarely found myself frustrated while playing through the story. When that AI is the wonderfully-mustachioed Captain Price, all the better.
The Special Operations mode also makes its return, and aside from one major addition it’s much like what you saw in Modern Warfare 2. A large number of missions are laid out for you to tackle either on your own or with a buddy, and many of them are scenarios ripped right from the campaign, though usually with a twist. Where in the campaign you were trying to stop a group of people, here you’re in the assailants’ shoes. Spec Ops also has its own leveling system, which is similar to what you see in the game’s multiplayer. You earn XP as you play, and you earn new weapons, perks and equipment as you level up.