Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 Review (Xbox 360)
There’s something to be said about McDonald’s. They may not provide anything particularly nutritious, but the food is always exactly what you expect it to be, and the experience of stepping into one of their locations is identical to any other. That makes things very easy for the hungry consumer who needs to stuff their face with salty fries and enormous cups of soda. That they occasionally add new items to the menu – Filet o’ Fish! McDLT! McRib! – just guarantees that the old, familiar, deeply unhealthy experience has just enough new stuff to keep things feeling fresh, even if the food, you know, isn’t.
Such is the Call of Duty experience. Far and away the most popular first person shooter franchise of all time, the series’ success is built on having literally invented the modern war shooter and then recreated that experience in game after game. It’s always (mostly) fun, always easy to pick up and always delivers exactly the experience you’re paying for, and that’s never been more true than with the latest release, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3.
It’s just that upon completion, Modern Warfare 3 feels something like gobbling down a Big Mac in 5 minutes and then wondering how you can feel so full and yet still be hungry. Its barely-written story and phoned-in acting provides the player with a zero stakes experience. Fortunately, multiplayer itself has been upgraded with some new goodies that actually improve upon previous iterations, and the new and improved Spec-Ops mode is almost worth the price of admission. But it probably should have been called Modern Warfare 2.5.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 – Xbox 360 (Reviewed), Playstation 3, Wii, PC
Developer: Sledgehammer Games and Raven Software, Infinity Ward, Treyarch (Wii)
Release Date: November 8, 2011
MSRP: (Standard) $59.99; (Hardened Edition) $99.99
Picking up exactly where 2009′s Modern Warfare 2 left off, MW3′s single player campaign is a repetitive exercise in meeting – but never exceeding – expectations again and again. After a brief prologue that begins at precisely the moment MW2 ended – it’s actually a cool scene, ‘playable’ in the sense that the player controls an injured character who, when conscious, can move his head around and groggily look at your surroundings – the familiar COD formula kicks in. That means zipping back and forth between two different storylines and multiple playable characters.
Storyline one involves Task Force 141, now on the run after killing General Shepherd. That’s Price (Billy Murray), a recovered Soap (who is not a playable character this time out) and Nikolai, joined by new playable Character Yuri, ‘the only man who hates Makarov’ more than Price. Their missions involve chasing down Makarov in locations ranging from Sierra Leone, Somalia, Prague and eventually Dubai.
Storyline two involves completely new Delta Force squad ‘Team Metal’, engaged in some of the major battles of MW3′s global war with Russia. They include new playable character Sgt. Derek “Frost” Westbrook, and NPCs Sandman (voiced by William Fichtner), Truck (Troy Baker), and Grinch (Timothy Olyphant). You’ll play as they fight to liberate New York City from Russian forces, then move on to fights in London, Paris, Berlin and eventually Prague.
Team Metal and Task Force 141 take up the majority of the game, and their stories eventually intersect as they combine forces to track Makarov down. You’ll also play as an SAS officer during one memorable scene in London, and as a Russian secret service agent tasked with protecting the Russian president.