Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 Review (Xbox 360)
There’s a lot going on, but the thing is, the single player campaign makes almost zero sense. The battles all happen amid enormous set pieces like the New York Stock Exchange, an African shanty town, or an enormous Siberian Mine. They make for some frankly astonishing visuals, especially given the Xbox 360′s capabilities. But that’s the only reason they’re even there.
A perfect example of the problem is a mission in Paris. For some reason, enemy forces have decided that the most strategically valuable part of Paris is the Pont d’Iéna. Why the hell would a several-hundreds year old bridge across the Seine be considered the place to dig in your forces? Oh, because it gives you an excuse to call in an air-strike that destroys a world heritage site in the most spectacular fashion, and faux-controversial way possible. (See also the scene with the little girl who dies in a terrorist bombing. NOTE: Activision gives you the option of skipping the scene.)
At every turn, stuff just kind of happens, regardless of sensibility or context. Important plot points either remain unanswered or are given casual mentions in offscreen dialogue. Events that players do experience are so devoid of additional context that they mean nothing. And the repetition! At least 4 times during the game, there’s a moment where a flashbang goes off, or a building collapses, or you get shot, and you’re knocked unconscious and then revived and hoisted back up to continue fighting.
Another problem is the wasted voice talent. Only Billy Murray seems to approach his role with anything close to enthusiasm or immediacy. Everyone else seems like they’re phoning it in, especially William Fichtner, who seems to lack an understanding of how to emote without a set and other actors to interact with. His entire job appears to be to say “NEGATIVE WE ARE PUSHING FORWARD” with the urgency of someone reading a restaurant menu. At no point do you feel as though you’re fighting with him. In fact, I spent half the game thinking he was issuing orders from some remote point until I realized he was actually the leader of my squad.
The worst thing, however, is that the single player campaign offers only the most meager challenge. Literally every mission – and I am not exaggerating at all – is a variation of “run here. duck. shoot. receive orders. Follow a squad member somewhere. Hear William Fichtner dully comment on the situation, or Billy Murray bitching about how much he hates Makarov. Run again. Duck again. Occasionally use something other than your rifle.” There’s almost nothing else for players to do, and the game has the annoying habit of making you do it again and again. At best, it barely prepares you for the multiplayer experience.
Mainly, more people than I can count have compared the Call of Duty series to Michael Bay’s films, and Modern Warfare 3 might be the most Michael Bayish of the lot.