Modern Rehash 3: This Time it's Impersonal!

The time is now. The war is in full swing and it’s time to choose your side. Battlefield or Call of Duty. Choose damn you! Oh. You might want to know a little something about Call of Duty first. Valid desire. Modern Warfare 3 and Battlefield 3 are very different games. It’s important to remember this. Someone might lean naturally towards one or the other because of their gameplay differences. Call of Duty has always been quick and fast (giggity) and Battlefield embodies a slower, more strategic theater of war. Of course, the style of game isn’t the only deciding factor. If the quality of one is leaps and bounds above the other, you might want to think about switching. Is Modern Warfare 3 good enough to make Battlefield players give it a shot? Find out now! OMG the suspense rager!

The single player campaign picks up right where the last Modern Warfare ended. If you haven’t played the last game, spoiler alert (and wtf man? Are you alive?).  Vladimir Makarov is still the bad guy and you’re forced to immediately deal with the knife wound Soap earned himself at the end of the last campaign. After tending to soaps wounds, you’re immediately thrown into the action. Russia is still at war with the U.S. (a popular choice for the modern war game) and New York is under attack. The beginning of the game reminds you of the climax of a lot of war games. A big city and lots of explosions. I can understand why they’d want to open this game in a big way, considering the success of MW2. Seeing this immediately got me thinking about what they might do to top this throughout the campaign.

Unfortunately, they don’t do much. The campaign has you hopping to every major city in the world to fight off Russian attacks without a whole lot of explanation. After a while, the game starts to feel like a collection of encounters rather than a game. Each city looks impressive, but your mission is always the same. Kill some Russians and enjoy some explosions. This is fun for the first hour or so, but it really starts to wear on you by the end of the game. There was no sense of pacing. There weren’t enough emotional peaks and valleys to keep it interesting. Whoever made this game seemed to think the more explosions, the better the game.

The first couple Modern Warfares took pride in having plenty of missions with a calmer tone. It really gave them that “it” factor that allowed them to transcend above “just a war game.” I expected I would be able to shoot a hundred guys in the middle of a major intersection, but I never expected I would get to control the cannons of an AC-130, or wear a ghillie suit and hunt for targets in a ghost town. These were all some of my favorite sequences from MW1 & 2, but moments like these are few and far between in this new installment. The game still has one or two memorable moments, but a hundred that fall flat. Most of them were complete copies of what you got in the previous games and didn’t create any emotions you haven’t felt before.

The developer of this game (Infinity Ward) went through a bit of drama a couple years ago with its publisher, Activision. A couple of the founding members of Infinity Ward (Jason West & Vince Zampella) were fired for mysterious reasons shortly after Modern Warfare 2 came out. Some of the details are still undisclosed, but the rumor is Jason and Vince held meetings with EA that breached their contract. The two developers were also suing Activision, claiming the publisher didn’t pay Infinity Ward the royalties they deserved for MW2. Since their firing, our unemployed entrepreneurs created a new company called Respawn Entertainment with the funding and support of EA. Since then, the majority of the people at Infinity Ward have left to join Jason & Vince at Respawn. It would be easy for me to blame the loss of campaign quality in MW3 on the lost talent, and That’s exactly what I’m going to do. In all seriousness, whoever made the campaigns so memorable in the last two Modern Warfares, clearly left.

Fortunately for Activision, a large population of shooter fans won’t even touch the campaign. The multiplayer is back with everything you expect, and nothing you don’t. The gameplay hasn’t been shaken up at all, and for some long-time fans, that’s a good thing. You can shoot the crap out of your friends across 10 modes (even more if you consider the alternates) on 16 maps. This may sound like a strong selling point when you consider Battlefield 3 only has 2 modes with around 10 maps. However, a lot of MW3’s maps are ripped right out of the campaign and aren’t nearly as big as battlefield’s.

PvP is still just an infantry affair with no vehicles, but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Call of Duty has always taken pride in having really fast paced infantry combat. Shooting your friends in a hectic environment with no respawn times can be fun, but it’s the exact same fun you can still get with Modern Warfare 2. A few things have been added (kill streaks work a little differently and you can now attach two scopes on one weapon), but this does very little to create a new sense of enjoyment. It’ll feel like you’ve already been playing this multiplayer for the past two years. This conservative approach might please some who just want the same game with more unlocks, but frustrate others who waited this long for something different.

Spec Ops also returns with a new mode. You can play the mission mode which will allow you and a buddy to complete objectives together against the A.I. (identical to MW2). The new mode is called survival. This is essentially the Modern Warfare 3 version of a horde or zombie mode. You take on wave after wave of enemies earning cash to build turrets and other defenses. It’s pretty generic and seems to only exist because it’s the law if you are a shooter right now. Both modes are challenging and fun, but it suffers from the same déjà vu as the rest of the package. You’ll feel like you’ve already played it over and over again.

Modern Warfare 3 is a good game, not a great game. It’s missing the surprise and quality that made the previous titles must-haves. I’m giving it the same grade as I gave Battlefield 3, but for different reasons. Battlefield’s glitches held it back, MW3’s gameplay is its hang-up. Which one should you buy? It just depends on the type of fighter you are. Are you slow and strategic (Battlefield 3) or quick and ruthless (Modern Warfare 3)? I tend to be slow and strategic. Battlefield is my choice. I would have even given Battlefield a higher grade were it not for the technical problems (glitches and server outages). They both weren’t as good as I was hoping, but Battlefield won my purchase this year. If you’re still addicted and need your fix, go for MW3. If you don’t want to play the same game for 60 more dollars, give battlefield a try. If you haven’t played either… Good lord man.