Wot I Think: Modern Warfare 3 Single Player

By John Walker on November 18th, 2011 at 12:32 pm.

Follow follow follow follow follow follow follow.
Yes, this is a touch late. As you’ll know, Activision aren’t really ones for providing review code ahead of launch to the likes of us, and then by the time we had it to play, Skyrim was out. You’ll understand. But I’ve persisted, and now finished the campaign for the third of Infinity Ward’s Modern Warfare games, and thus shall tell you wot I think.

I’ve just this minute finished the single-player campaign for Modern Warfare 3. It leaves a very bitter taste at its climax. But perhaps not the same bitter taste that flavours it throughout. It is an enormously high-achieving action FPS, on a scale like nothing before it, turned to 11. And it’s a bloodthirsty, bombastic and clumsy un-game, with a core of nastiness.

Clearly I’m getting old. I feel like someone’s gran who’s wandered in on an action movie, and can’t understand why anyone would want to sit through so much noise. But clearly people do. An enormous number of people. It is clearly the thing that most people most want from their games, if the extraordinary sales are to be understood. And yes, of course, most of those people intend for it to be a multiplayer game, but there is no questioning that this is the accompanying single-player that’s expected and desired by the largest number of players.

And Infinity Ward are incredibly good at it. While the game is riddled with bugs, clipping, AI issues and especially on PC, a litany of crashes and conflicts, despite all this, the achievement is remarkable. It is a non-stop barrage of enormousness, each level trying to outdo the last for scale, magnitude and destruction. When the collapse of the Eiffel Tower is a side-note in your world tour of explosions, you’ve gone all the way up the bombasto-meter and lit up the prize sign reading “!!!MICHAEL BAY!!!”. Despite an engine that’s creaking at the edges, and a weirdly washed-out pastel world, there’s enough artistry in the design of the demolition that its sense of scale is undeniable, and often breathtaking. Boring as all hell, but undeniable.

Playing the familiar characters from the Modern Warfare series, along with new-boy, Yuri, a dissident Russian, as tradition dictates you skip between characters and countries at a ferocious rate. I didn’t finish MW2, because no one was paying me to, so I really have no idea where the story begins here. It certainly doesn’t make an effort to catch anyone up, and you’re supposed to rush in pre-armed with all the plot information you’d require. Let me help: Russian terrorists trying to take over the world. There’s some Russian guy your team really hates, and then, er, that’s it. At some point it becomes about trying to stop the baddies blowing up the entire world with nuclear missiles (which you can’t help but think would a. be the largest scene of explosions the game could offer, and b. set the series up for moving to its inevitable post-apocalyptic future once IW get fed up of near-future war, but sadly you obviously prevent). And then it’s about rescuing the Russian President and his screamy daughter. And killing that other guy.

It’s not as if the game is dismissive of plot, by the way. It has an enormous amount of it, shouted at you in extensive cutscenes between levels, and then played out in the endless stream of scripted sequences throughout. It’s just that it’s a bloody terrible plot, written with all the thrill of a seven year old playing with his toy plane, train and boat as they career inevitably toward smashing into each other. Dialogue is beyond parody in its cliche awfulness. We’re getting our mission details. Where are we heading?

“What’s the location?”

“Brooklyn Battery Tunnel”

“I thought it collapsed?”

“It DID.”

… While the ceaselessly shouted lines ensure everything sounds ridiculous in its desperate attempt at pompous severity. I think perhaps it bottoms out with, “You destroy your enemies when you make friends with them.” Bleaurgh.

But following the series before it, and the spate of copycat attempts to cash in on this enormous success, it is the crowned king of the follow-em-up genre. While the game isn’t bad, like the awful Medal Of Honor reboot, nor the laughably terrible Homefront, it is a special achievement in ensuring you never, ever feel like you’re really playing.

Videogames often allow us to live out fantasies, to be who we could never be with our saggy, regular-person frames and lives. A soldier fighting in a near-future war, with access to the finest in military hardware? Maybe I could be the squad leader? Maybe I could be the hero? Maybe I could be the one who’s allowed to open doors? But no, of course not, you are – as ever – the grunt, being barked at throughout, forced to do whatever the game/game characters tell you to, which is usually to sweep up after them and the party they’re having in front.

It fascinates me that this is the successful formula, the secret behind being the biggest FPS series of all time. It turns out people don’t want to be that hero at the forefront, making glorious decisions and bravely leading the way. They want to be the nobody who can only ever do what he’s told, and that’s on the rare occasions when he’s actually able to control himself. This game has the word “follow” on screen almost as often as it doesn’t. It floats above the head of whomever it is you’re with, ensuring you know your place, which is never to be in front, never to pick the direction, never to make a tactical decision. You follow. It says so.

In fact Modern Warfare 3 seems to make special effort, more-so than ever before, to literally shove you out of the way if you ever get ideas above your station. Realise you’re going through that open tunnel next, because there’s nowhere else to go? Just try it. The NPCs immediately barge you out of the way, bumping you to the back of the line, like the bigger kids in the dinner queue, making sure they leave you only the cabbage. Reach a closed door, and you’ll have to wait for everyone else to get there to open it for you, because you are below the status of someone who can open doors, and you should bloody well know it. Get to the back, shoot the baddies that are left over when the game people have had their fun, and shut up. There’s one level, halfway through the game, where you’re literally told every single move you make. “Jump over this! Crawl here! Stand still! Drop down under there! Wait by this door!” It’s like the world’s worst tutorial escaped, grew sentient, and programmed itself into the bulk of the game.

Of course, it’s not quite that simple. Irregularly, despite the “follow” instruction floating above your companion, it’s actually not going to progress any further until you walk through the invisible trip-wire that triggers the next event. So trained are you to never dare pioneer a move that you’ll often sit there shooting a comically infinite supply of enemies until you realise, for once, you’re supposed to disobey the rule in order to trip that script. At which point your padres will charge ahead of you once more, just in case there’s fun to be had. But for the most part, run ahead and the game will instantly murder you for your ghastly nihilism.

Often as I played I would comment out loud to the characters, “Hey, can I have a go with that?” as they use some massive weapon to saw down a door, or perform a splendid move to take out an enemy. Heck, they even get to use their hands to smoothly vault objects, while I must just Mario-boing my way over the walls with the spacebar once they’ve gone ahead. On the rare occasions when it’s your turn to do something crazy, like open a door, it’s because the game wants to force one of its irregular, and very peculiar, moments when everything goes slo-mo and you have to shoot all the baddies in the head before your superpower runs out. So I guess it’s cool you have an involuntary, very occasional superpower.

Another thought that kept coming to me as I played was the memory of how the phrase “scripted sequences” used to be spat out with such disdain when it came to the FPS genre. Like QTEs, no one liked them, but every developer included them, and we’d all grumble in commentary that the game was fine, but spoiled things with too many scripted sequences. But Modern Warfare 3 is about seven hours of scripted sequences, occasionally broken up by the odd burst of first-person shooter. That’s not my being facetious, that’s what this is. And those few gaps are actually pretty good! It’s shooting gallery run-n-gunning, but it’s fun, because in those moments you actually feel as though you’re the one playing. But they’re few. Did we all stop minding that when I wasn’t paying attention?

And so on it goes, with uninterrupted noise. Noise, noise, noise, as everyone alive bellows everything said, while everything inanimate blows up or falls over. Main characters expectedly die in what were clearly supposed to be dramatic scenes, but instead just become unfortunate comedy as the grunting actors attempt pathos, and all the while civilians are slaughtered for your viewing entertainment. Because more than anything, it’s nasty. It’s nasty in an unsubtle, barely-even-insidious way, where chest-thumping, log-dragging bloodlust and gruesome revenge are saluted like a flag. Yes, there’s the scene where a little girl gets eviscerated so we can all remember that war is tough on the kids or something, but actually that’s just the least subtle of a constant theme, where the game takes away your controls and makes you watch as innocents are murdered. You’re maintaining cover. You’re obeying orders. You’re dazed. Whatever the script says, it makes sure you can’t turn the camera away, removes your ability to use guns, holds your eyes open Clockwork Orange style, and has you watch.

But masterfully. There are non-stop glitches, characters running on the spot, doing crazy dances, entire squads becoming hell-bent on murdering a lamppost, but really the entire game is a spectacular effort. This is clearly the work of enormously talented game creators. It’s paced such that you always find yourself embedded in the next stretch of action, compelled to continue, to see what will blow up or fall down next. (Although this is partly due to the enormously stupid decision to refuse saves the ability to recognise checkpoints. The checkpoints are regular, and exquisitely well placed, but for some inexplicable reason you cannot save-and-quit and then return to one. It’s start the entire mission over, soldier, because you dared to stop playing. Which also becomes a problem with its propensity to crash – something that seems more ironed out since the latest update. Oh, and while I’m on that, there’s also no option to create profiles, so want to play through the game alternating with a friend/relative, etc? Well tough.) This is the Michael Bay/Roland Emmerich film of gaming, and as such it’s going to be derided by critics like me for being an endless stream of ideologically unsophisticated bombast and roaring, while adored by a legion of consumers who just want some brainless fun. Except, the thing is, I love brainless fun, and as much as I recognised the craft and success that had gone into this game, I absolutely hated it.

It’s a game that really didn’t seem to want me to be playing it, far preferring that its own characters enjoy themselves. It feels like it resents being played, and to get its passive-aggressive revenge, it’s going to make sure you know what fun you’re missing out on. Oh, and make sure you watch as lots of civilians get shot in the face while you’re holding a weapon that could prevent it, because YOU MUST KNOW THAT DEATHS WILL HAPPEN FOR THE GREATER GOOD. Except that greater good here appears to be the revenge of the few characters IW let live this far through. Which while hardly shocking or offensive, is in fact just nasty.

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251 Comments »

  1. Ed123 says:

    Hmm. This review matches my personal feelings on the SP Campaign, therefore John Walker must be the greatest reviewer in the world.

    • Runty McTall says:

      So far, I agree. Sorry though, did you mention which platform you played it on? I’ve got it on the pc and after about 40 minutes or so I was so nauseated by the limited FOV that I had to stop and lie down. It’s unplayably bad and I’m a bit ticked off about it tbh.

      I really bought it for the co-op options more than anything – spec ops and the new survival style game are too rare in pc games imho. I get so little time to play games now I’m a grownup (physically, anyway) that I almost always game with someone (being the chance to also catch up and chat and share an experience).

    • hymnharmonia says:

      Yes, John, did you mention what platform you played it on, in “ROCK PAPER SHOTGUN – PC GAMING SINCE 1873″?

    • John Walker says:

      Megadrive.

    • Frankie The Patrician[PF] says:

      I was guessing NES…darn, a near miss

    • ynamite says:

      ^^ LIES!

      I guess for a 1st time visitor it may not be immediately obvious that this is a PC gaming site. Although there are certain, shall we say, hints.

    • goosnargh says:

      Usually the internet calls it by another (awful) name. It shouldn’t, but it warms my nostalgic heart to see it refered to as a Megadrive.

    • lurkalisk says:

      It’s because the internet feels North America to be superior.

    • Runty McTall says:

      Heh, fair enough I guess. Apologies for missing the tag line (came via another site) but I was at least polite in asking about the platform and I also agreed with you on your conclusions?

    • John Walker says:

      Runty McTall – You are officially today’s best new person.

    • Runty McTall says:

      Well, cheers man. Just, you know, before I start printing out certificates and handing them out to my family (mum’ll be so proud!), how many people am I up against? And also, uh, was that sarcasm?

      Again though, liked the review (did you hate the FOV though, or is that just me?)

    • Adventurous Putty says:

      This is RPS — everyone always bitches about the FOV, then goes into the console/.ini file to fix it.

      By the way, welcome! Have yourself some tea! (Are you an American? Well, then, have yourself some tea!)

    • Dozer says:

      @Runty McTall: That wasn’t sarcasm, and I’m not being sarcastic when I say it’s not sarcasm. I’m also not being sarcastic when I say that I’m not being sarcastic when I say that John’s reply was not sarcasm. Etc.

      It’s geniunely refreshing to find friendly well-written people on comment threads. Although the RPS commentors are known to be much nicer than the Internet average…

    • Runty McTall says:

      Ah, adventurous putty… been there too, my friend. Never seemed to be able to quite get all of it out though.

      I’ve had a quick google around for ways to expand the FOV on MW3 and so far have come up short. Have I missed something (other, apparently, than the raison d’etre of this stite)?

    • bear912 says:

      The maximum FoV of CoD games tends to be 80 degrees if I recall correctly, though recent titles have usually had their FoV default to 65 degrees, or thereabouts. One thing you could try is editing the config file, which is located in Steam/steamapps/common/call of duty modern warfare 3/players or something like that. There should be both a config.cfg file and a config_mp.cfg file, and you should be able to search for “fov” in your text editor of choice to find where this value is set.

      That said, there are some caveats. You may need to set the config file to read-only by right clicking it and changing the file properties. Or editing the FoV via config file may not even work, as it seems they’ve been doing some rather odd things with those config files in recent CoD games (read: ignoring them), particularly in the Infinity Ward branch of the engine.

      Also, since the config files use UNIX-style line endings that don’t display properly in Notepad, I’d recommend opening them in Wordpad, or better still, Notepad++, which you can download for free.

      (Also, the CVAR for FoV is called cg_fov, if I recall correctly. Just thought throw that in there as well, in case it proves helpful.)

    • Shih Tzu says:

      RPS has the nicest, chummiest, and most erudite commenters, not just of all gaming news sites (a bar it handily clears), but of the entire Internet, period. I’m not even kidding. Maybe once or twice a year there’s a dumb flame war about piracy, or gays, or gay pirates, but that’s about it.

      Good show, everyone! I give you hugs with my smelly American arms.

    • The Tupper says:

      @ Shih Tzu

      Man, I’m so with you. I discovered RPS roughly a year ago via an idle Google search for “John Walker” – I’d always enjoyed his reviews of old titles in PC Gamer, but had never really cared enough about online opinion to bother looking for gaming websites. I then found this place and realised where all the good guys had gone to.

      BTW – I’m Scottish and my arms are therefore WAY smellier than yours.

    • Thiefsie says:

      Just get Widescreen Fixer to fix the FOV.

    • bear912 says:

      The word on the street about Widescreen Fixer is that it will get you VAC banned if used in MW2. I’m not sure about MW3, and I’ve never used Widescreen Fixer myself, but be warned that there is some risk that you’ll end up on VAC’s bad side. Editing config files, on the contrary, will never get you VAC banned. I’d try that first, certainly.

      Edit: Now that I do a bit more research, there are some sources that would indicate otherwise, so perhaps I’m just paranoid. That’s entirely possible, so take what I said with a grain of salt.

    • Runty McTall says:

      Thanks for the tips guys, will check them out. My hopes for the .ini files are not great though as word on the net thus far seems to be those are locked down and the FOV is fixed.

      Also thanks for the hearty welcome. Regarding the tea, you so kindlly offered Dozer, I’m afraid that I must decline. I never graduated from soft drinks when I was growing up so the caffeine in tea and coffee just makes me completely off the wall (kinda like that Futurama episode 300 Big Boys if you’ve ever seen it).

      I used to work on the periphery of my country’s millitary and every time I visited a base somewhere they would offer me like crazy strong tea or coffee. Being young and polite I always felt I couldn’t refuse. Then I would go onto this mad caffeine high and generally embarass myself. One time I was on a base in the way wild north (was in the middle of nowhere so if the torpedoes stored there went up it wouldn’t kill any civilians – the logic of which really uplifted the staff based there) and they gave me a cup of tea so strong I started to get hot flushes and had to ask them to open a window (it was like minus five outside so they weren’t that happy to do so).

      Another time I had a cup of naval coffee so strong it could nearly support the spoon vertically. After that one I was just jabbering away so repetitively and fast at this naval officer that she just looked a bit freaked out and my boss had to step in take over the interview while I “took notes”. Afterwards, as I was crashing badly, I suggested to him it hadn’t gone very well and he cheerfully turned to me and said “No, you were sht!”

      So no tea for me, ta. A glass of water would be lovely if you have it though. Also, hugs are always appreciated.

  2. pauleyc says:

    “It’s like the world’s worst tutorial escaped, grew sentient, and programmed itself into the bulk of the game.”

    That has to be one of the best lines in games journalism ever.

    • abigbat says:

      A fact hammered home when the game constantly throws up massive tutorial messages throughout the campaign.

      Press C to crouch.

      Remember, C is the button to crouch!

      ARE YOU CROUCHING YET?

    • ran93r says:

      I now want a t-shirt with ARE YOU CROUCHING YET? printed on it.

    • PoulWrist says:

      I want that tshirt.

    • Hoaxfish says:

      C to Tiger Crouch, H to Dragon Hide

    • Kandon Arc says:

      A better T-shirt would be one with ‘Follow’ printed on the back. Then you could walk down the street and instantly tell who the MW3 players are.

    • Jockie says:

      The unfortunate side effect of which would be, lots of MW3 players following you around.

    • abigbat says:

      1) I am now constructing the crouching tshirts.

      2) A tshirt which compels MW3 fans to follow a la the Pied Piper of Hamelin would be a wonderful tool. Strap a parachute on, go for a nice long walk through the city to gather a decent mob of slavering XBOXers, then meander off the nearest cliff.

    • Heisenberg says:

      so FOLLOW on the back and CROUCH on the front?hehe.

      ….the game certainly does feel more so then ever, like a big tutorial.

    • MattM says:

      In JRPGS there is often an opening sequence where you are given a temporary high level party but most of your abilities are locked out. Whole game elements like the menu and the ability to equip items aren’t available and you are sent down a linear path while watching an abundance of cut scenes. It can be an exciting way to start the game, but I am always relieved when it is over and I can actually start playing and making a few choices. COD takes that part and bases a game around it.
      I played and enjoyed COD1,2 and Big Red One, and years later when they finally reduced COD4 to $10 I played the SP expecting a short but exciting ride. I was really disappointed, the enemy spawning, no tactics or choice, always charge ahead into fire to progress style had really gotten stale and COD4 seemed to emphasize its worst aspects. I never felt like I got to do anything cool or challenging. It didn’t even seem to have more impressive set-pieces than other FPSs that also include gameplay.

  3. Nighthood says:

    The games industry is basically a sped up version of the film industry.

    • konrad_ha says:

      Exactly.

    • Fierce says:

      I truly do get the impression that those who are becoming disillusioned with MW games (SP mode) are those who are unsubscribing to the “Video Games as Action Movie Storytelling” ethos that are so ingrained in their function.

      Recent MW games literally cannot be “played” more than they can be “triggered”, despite how hard critics like to spin MW’s brand of ‘play’ and ‘triggering’ into “experienced” and “interacting”, usually prefixed with a demographically acceptable adjective from the ol’ Marketing Thesaurus. ‘Epic experience’ and ‘Awesome interaction’ leap easily to mind.

      Oh well, clearly some people like it and some don’t, so it all boils down to Opinions Opinions Opinions Opinions. Still, at the end of the day…

      Lead > Follow.

  4. TheApologist says:

    Perceptive, entertaining criticism that’s prepared to talk about game design and narrative in their ethical context, as well as whether or not they are a fun way to spend your spare time.

    RPS is a rare and valuable thing. Thanks, guys.

  5. WhatKateDoes says:

    ” weirdly washed-out pastel world.”

    = GRITTY REALISM. Doncha know.

    Not like crazy brown-world of Quake. Nor the xmas festiveness of UNREAL/UT.

    this is so that people can sit in front of the game with it matching their reality and ask “WTF!? IS DIZ SHIT REAL?”

    I blame Ridley Scott. He seemed to introduce washed-out colour in movies. Also somewhat fortuitously (for the consoles) a reduced framerate in high action scenes… to intensify the EMOTION!

    • Rao Dao Zao says:

      Viscerals = 10/10

    • Muzman says:

      Just to be Tedious McTechnicalpants for second; Steven Spielberg actually sets the earlier benchmark for washed out and jerky action (not sure if he’s the true originator though).
      Also, the jerkiness is achieved by using a narrower shutter angle and not by adjusting the frame rate.

      I said it was tedious.

    • bear912 says:

      One thing to make sure of with Call of Duty games is that your brightness is set correctly, particularly if they appear washed-out. There’s a slider for it in the graphics options, and you can change it with the r_gamma CVAR if you’ve got a console. I have no idea if Modern Warfare 3 has one of those outlandish console things, though, so the CVAR may not help. I tend to play on a very low r_gamma setting, since otherwise CoD games tend to look rather washed out on my machine. Perhaps this lended to the “weirdly washed-out pastel world”, though it may just be the style that they’re going for in this most modern of warfare. I just know that lowering my brightness/gamma made previous CoD games look much better for me.

      Also, while I’m being tedious, too, I should bring up the fact that gamma and brightness are not the same thing, Infinity Ward

  6. abigbat says:

    That review was a thrill ride in itself; he likes it! No, he hates it! Wait, he likes it again! Oh no, never mind, hates it.

    Which sums up the confusing mishmash of emotions I experienced during the campaign also. Ultimately I think I enjoyed it towards the end, but the ride was an extremely bumpy one.

    It also made me feel very sorry for helecopters.

  7. 2late2die says:

    More than anything else, it makes me sad that games like this are so successful. It does not bode well for the future of the industry and I can only hope that after the 3rd iteration of the same formula people will finally start getting sick of it.

    • goosnargh says:

      3rd? I think it’s at least the 8th.

    • Fierce says:

      I would think that the reaction reflected in the Metacritic User Score is indicative of this happening already. While it didn’t stop it from making Space Shuttlefuls of cash, I would definitely say that a vocal and growing group of customers are getting upset at being fleeced for recycled goods… even if they opened their wallets several times too many to get to the realization.

      And yes, I’m taking into account the possibility that the Metacritic User Score could just be one massive trolling effort by thousands of bored tweens for the lulz. A simple counterpoint however is that the Law of Averages, or perhaps just the Law of Large Numbers will ensure that some of those dissatisfied 0s and 1s on Metacritic were sincere disapprovals from disgruntled players.

    • The Pink Ninja says:

      MW3 is just the same as the regular high profile shit that predominates in TV, music, film and literature. It’ll just be replaced by some other over hyped, over marketed turd with equally fanatical fanboys.

    • Mman says:

      “And yes, I’m taking into account the possibility that the Metacritic User Score could just be one massive trolling effort by thousands of bored tweens for the lulz”

      Except this has already been proven to be true multiple times over the last year or two. Metacritic user scores manage to have far less credibility than the critic scores, which is saying something. “Law of averages” is irrelevant to a site where it’s very nature means almost anyone posting reviews has some sort of agenda.

      Bringing in Metacritic user scores to argue that more people are getting disgruntled with COD can only harm that point.

  8. Serge says:

    but for some inexplicable reason you cannot save-and-quit and then return to one. It’s start the entire mission over, soldier, because you dared to stop playing

    Lies. You can do that just fine.

    its propensity to crash

    Not a single one during my 4 evening long SP play time. MP disconnects? Yes. SP and MP crashes? Not a single one.

    Agree with review.

    I’ve played it and personally LOVED it. Best game of series so far(Hated MW2 with passion, but liked MW1)
    Guess, everyone has it own tastes. My only complaint is: music. Its much weaker compared to MW1 and MW2.

    • Bhazor says:

      “I LOVED it.”

      I’m truly sorry to hear that. My condolences.

    • John Walker says:

      Erm, no, it DOES make you restart the mission, as it says when you quit: “Warning – checkpoints will not be saved if you quit…” or words to that effect.

    • Drexer says:

      “Not a single one during my 4 evening long SP play time. MP disconnects? Yes. SP and MP crashes? Not a single one.”

      How nice it is then, that we live in the age where PC hardware is universal all around and crashes happen all for the same reasons across all computers.

      Oh wait, we don’t.

    • Chorltonwheelie says:

      Mine restarts from the last checkpoint. I checked and two mates agree.
      I have an old 6600 Duo and a 560ti. It never crashed once and maxed out graphically.
      You contradict yourself several times in the review.
      All in all a bit snide.

    • Oozo says:

      “Agree with review.
      I’ve played it and personally LOVED it.”

      Honestly, I’m not sure if that’s actually what Mr Walker would agree with.

    • harvb says:

      Err, well, all I can say is that if I get to a checkpoint and then Quit, when I go back it takes me to that Checkpoint. Yeah I get a message about it wiping out the checkpoints, but it takes me back to it. Honest guv. I couldn’t have played it through otherwise.

    • ynamite says:

      Have you actually tried quiting and continuing the game, John? Maybe the message when you quit is just misleading.

    • stahlwerk says:

      As long as you don’t switch off your computer while checkpointing, you’re usually fine.

    • n0s says:

      @harvb

      Could it be that you always chose to quit playing at the particular save spots? I havent played this iteration of the series (nor do I plan to), but checkpointsaved games often are built in such a way that it doesnt really feel natural to quit playing other places than the designated savepoints. Personally, I never save if i am in the middle of something. I always make sure to leave my game in a calm state for when I come back to pick up where i was. Preferably at the start of a storyline or a sequence.

      Some ppl don’t care and will hit alt-F4 as soon as the doorbell rings. I’ll usually tell my guests I just have to find a quiet spot first…

    • Fierce says:

      Could it be that what John is experiencing is what occurs when he ACTUALLY EXITS the game?

      Essentially people are saying “You’re wrong, I’ll hit ESC, click on ‘Save & Exit’, it’ll save and take me to the main menu, where I can click on ‘Resume Game’ and I’ll be right back where I hit a checkpoint.”

      Perhaps what John is describing is him clicking on ‘Save & Exit’, EXITING AND CLOSING THE GAME when he subsequently reaches the main menu, then boots the game up again and clicks on ‘Resume Game’ only to have the mission start from the beginning?

      Or does such a situation take one to the Checkpoint as well?

    • Ergates_Antius says:

      You contradict yourself several times in the review.
      Does he? Where?

    • DocSeuss says:

      @John Walker, either that’s bullshit (and, having been following you for a while, I doubt this) or you have a weirdly bugged copy of the game. It does not restart the mission if you save and quit–it goes back to the last saved checkpoint in the mission. Every Call of Duty since 2 has done this, and Modern Warfare 3 is no different.

      @Fierce, no matter what you do, if you save and quit, you should go back to the nearest checkpoint from where you saved and quit. This is what happens for me, and has happened since Call of Duty 2. The only way you’d go back to the beginning of the mission was if you saved and quit before hitting the first checkpoint after the mission began.

    • Amun says:

      @DocSeuss, et al: What about review code? Did Mr. Walker get the same code that the rest of us (er, not me…) got?

    • medwards says:

      Confirm on game loading on checkpoint. I was maybe a third of the way thru the Hamburg mission and it was time to socialize. Came back to the game the next day expecting to show my friends the impressive opening to that mission and find myself in the middle of a firefight. Game was quit and reexecuted in this span so it isn’t that if the game is left open it remembers.

  9. zoombapup says:

    I’ve been a long term fan of FPS games and I really have enjoyed most of the COD series. But this one is the one where I drew the line and said “no sale”. Hearing about lack of proper servers and all of the dumbness of the last COD release, I decided that I’d buy BF3 but NOT this one.

    Your review really justifies my decision. I simply can’t stomach the current vogue of having games where unless you have exactly the same mindset as the designer you simply cannot be entertained, much as in the use of QTE’s which are everywhere right now.

    So thanks for one COD fan who decided enough was enough. You’ve confirmed my decision as the correct one.

  10. Untruth says:

    HOW did it come to this? How did beautiful Half Life immersive scripted sequences lead us to this tedious, horrendous mess of Track and Field with guns?

    • Morganman says:

      Actually, I would totally play Track and Field with Guns.

    • Untruth says:

      FOLLOW this person currently running in 1st place

    • RevStu says:

      “How did beautiful Half Life immersive scripted sequences lead us to this tedious, horrendous mess”

      Inevitably.

    • zoombapup says:

      I actually started to write that I blamed halflife scripted sequences for this mess, but actually I remembered the number of games with similarly scripted sequences before halflife and decided they weren’t entirely to blame.

      I actually attribute a lot of this kind of thing to the success of Uncharted actually. That promoted the idea that “movie style” games make more money as much as any of the COD franchise. Plus they added the silly QTE business into combat shooters.

      Ultimately, the game industry has just factored in that plenty of console players enjoy these kind of thoughtless games. Its the inevitable conclusion to making mass market games. Only they aren’t at all in any way mass market.

    • simonh says:

      Why blame Uncharted, and not the original (PC only) Call of Duty games? They’ve always been this scripted, having you run through invisible or actual corridors for the whole game. They got a great reception because of the (at that time) truly innovative cinematic experiences (remember Stalingrad?) they could pull off because of their restrictions of the player. They’ve just kept going with the same formula ever since.

    • Telemikus says:

      “Actually, I would totally play Track and Field with Guns”

      Err… Track and field did have guns. The Skeet shooting section? Yeah, and actually that required more skill and was more exciting to beat than the most bombastic of Modern Warfare shooty shooty sections.

  11. kyrieee says:

    I loved reading this. Not going to play the game because I know I would feel the same way about it, in fact I thought CoD4 was just like this too.

    • phenom_x8 says:

      Yeah, I just re-installing my MW copy just to remember how MW3 would feel (uninstalling again after the 1st mission,though) And John summed it up nicely here!

      I also have tried MW offline multiplayer (I bought it for SP only back in the day) with PEZ bots mod installed! Graham smith from PC gamer sum up my impression rather well :

      “There’s a kind of domino effect to the game: you see someone running, you stop, aim, fire, and kill them. Almost instantly, someone behind you is shooting at you. You rarely have time to get to cover or to turn and shoot back, and so you die, too. By that point, there’s someone behind your killer, shooting at them. A few steps later, you’ve respawned, and killed someone, and are right back in the same position.

      http://www.pcgamer.com/2011/11/08/modern-warfare-3-pc-impressions/

      PEZ bot surely more than capable on simulating COD player behaviour.

  12. Gap Gen says:

    We’ve been talking a lot about this on another forum, mainly in relation to Battlefield 3′s campaign. I’m not convinced that Call of Duty ever really tried to present war in the sensitive light that I assumed it did before. It just did it by accident, the result of aping the pathos in Stephen Spielberg’s WWII films and TV shows (and frankly, the moment-of-glory for a character in Saving Private Ryan being executing a prisoner of war was really fucking ugly, whether or not it happened in reality). When it came to Modern Warfare, they were transitioning between that and Michael Bay / 24, so I guess it’s natural that they’d slowly shift from a vaguely-sensitive treatment of war to one in which it’s OK that operatives torture and mutilate everything they can get their hands on because otherwise the terrorists win gawblessmerica.

    • djbriandamage says:

      In my mind there are two kinds of wargames – “tally ho!” wargames and “oh my gawd, the bastards got little Jimmy!” wargames. CoD have always been the former.

    • Gap Gen says:

      I dunno, the earlier games do build up pathos, and do have a sense of being trapped in something bigger and more hideous than you can control. Like I say, it does have a certain spill-over gravitas to it that it inherits from the WWII films and TV shows around at the time, even if it doesn’t consciously design it.

    • djbriandamage says:

      Nah, there’s nothing really hideous about CoD 1 and 2. Not by my definition, anyway. I might have thought otherwise if I hadn’t played Brothers In Arms which was much more serious and even a little heartwrenching.

    • briktal says:

      Call of Duty started out as “war movies” but, somewhat with MW but especially with MW2 became “action movies.”

    • Gap Gen says:

      djbriandamage: I remember being stuck under a log with a German tank pounding at me in Brothers in Arms, thinking “this is horrible”, before a Sherman shows up and blows up the German tank. But I’d argue that aside from giving your allies a bit more character development, Call of Duty and Brothers in Arms come from the same stable of games trying to be Band of Brothers and Saving Private Ryan. Can’t remember in detail, though, as it’s been a few years since I played either.

    • Ergates_Antius says:

      “(and frankly, the moment-of-glory for a character in Saving Private Ryan being executing a prisoner of war was really fucking ugly, whether or not it happened in reality”
      Except that wasn’t a moment of “glory”. It was the opposite. It was the moment when the horrors of war turned the innocent into a murderer.

  13. phenom_x8 says:

    4/10, I guess!

    Mmmph, where do you put your score,John?

    EDIT : Honestly, your writing get better after your marriage, John (this and SR 3 )!
    Marriage not always bad,folks! Take a note!

    • Dozer says:

      Mrs Walker is John’s shadow writer. Now he has her in his clutches he keeps her locked in the basement with a gaming PC and a laptop. For every 10,000 pageviews, a piece of toast is automatically vended from a machine. Meanwhile John is riding on a jet-ski.

    • Outright Villainy says:

      MUST… SCORE… EVERYTHING?

      I rated my tea a 7.5, could put in better effort.

      The weather was definitely a 3.5 today, utterly failed to live up to expectation.

      I rate the satire I’m writing now a 6.2, good idea, but unoriginal, and merely competently executed.

    • Jarenth says:

      What? Everyone else is rating your satires in the eights and nines, it’s getting 83% on Metacritic. You’re clearly just desperately trolling for hits.

    • fallingmagpie says:

      META

    • Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

      Dozer, thank you. My manservant will be along shortly to deliver my compliments and a celebratory cigar.

  14. Stellar Duck says:

    Wait, so you have to follow that guy in the first picture, even when you’re stuck in the same boat? Do you even have a choice to not follow him?

    • Orija says:

      Not since the Russians took down Twitter.

    • CaspianRoach says:

      The ‘Follow’ mark is on the boat that is slightly ahead of you but yeah it’s silly. Instead of the thrill of riding a boat between massive ships I yawned all the way through because I was just following the white dot on the screen.

    • Stellar Duck says:

      Thanks for clearing that up, CaspianRoach.

      Guess it wasn’t quite as silly as I feared, but it sounds bad enough.

    • Jarenth says:

      You could turn off the game and go play something else instead?

  15. sonofsanta says:

    I’m increasingly feeling like MW3 is just trolling us here, seeing how far it can push things and still, somehow, hilariously be the juggernaut it is. It’s the finest example of brand over brain going.

    I mean, by everything you say, it’s barely even a game anymore, yet the Metacritic scores (bleurch, but, still) will end up ranking it as one of the finest video games of all time.

    Personally, I blame FMV CD-ROM games for this Hollywood infatuation ruining our fun. Everything was fine when the most advanced game was Skool Daze.

    • Bhazor says:

      Well mercifully Metacritic scores are sinking. Only the wider media are giving it perfect scores.

      Of course the people buying this aren’t the people reading the specialst game sites. They’re too busy wrestling in the backyard. Naked.

      They’re people who buy two games a year the lastest CoD and their countrys annual sports release (Madden in USA and Fifa everywhere else).

    • John Walker says:

      And don’t forget, scores for the game will likely include the multiplayer. I haven’t played it, but I assume it’s quite good, and that will rightly affect the overall score.

    • Mad Hamish says:

      I dunno, I watched aul Mr Biscuit’s review of the multi player. It sounded horrible. As is to be expected I guess, it’s really only worth while on a console.

    • RedWurm says:

      Might look up that review. I played the previous MWs to death in multiplayer, but this one really isn’t grabbing me, largely down to the weak maps.

  16. Nate says:

    Do not see the appeal of these scripted, single player campaigns.

    • Apples says:

      I see the appeal – I might enjoy a game if it was an excuse for a developer to show off a good story and some great set-pieces. I just don’t see the appeal of wanting to pretend to be a “FUCK YEAH AMERICA” soldier in a grey-brown world where all the plot revolves around those goshdarn foreigners invadin’ are country (sic) and the setpieces are all explosions.

      Bioshock was a similar ‘run from this setpiece to the next while shooting’ sort of game and it had some rather enjoyable aspects. It’s not one of my favourite games, but I didn’t actively hate it like I did MW1. So personally I don’t find a problem with the format, just the subject matter.

    • malkav11 says:

      Bioshock is much more exploratory and has relatively few straight up scripted sequences. It’s not at all the same sort of game.

    • djbriandamage says:

      CoD stories are hella stupid but I enjoy the games. Infinity Ward is incredibly talented at shooting galleries and I enjoy running through lush environments putting holes in people of inappropriate nationality. I especially liked the challenges in MW2 (the latest one I’ve played) which cut to the chase and give me the pewpew without all the qq.

      Single player is all I buy CoD for (years later, on sale). I tried multiplayer a couple of times and was greatly put off by the juvenile community.

    • Milky1985 says:

      I will get it when its cheaper (no activsion tax), as its nice every now and again to have a dumb manshoot to play, you sit back, you watch stuff go bang and you shoot things (i have heard the spec ops mode is back and i actually liked that in MW2, althought i hope the box doesn’t lie this time, never forgiven them for not letting me get all the stars cause of 2 co-op only missions)

      I admit its not the best game however

    • Untruth says:

      Bioshock is a story driven FPS with a short number of fully-scripted sequences, and many, many more in-game sequences that you can choose to interact with, or ignore if you wish. There are large expansive areas that you can explore, with the only thing stopping you being enemies in those areas or inventory items you do not yet have. These inventory items can more often than not be collected in any order you wish.

      The difference between this and a QTE-tunnelled game is astoundingly big. In some ways this is closer to Lylatwars/Starfox than Bioshock(!)

    • sneetch says:

      “I enjoy running through lush environments putting holes in people of inappropriate nationality.”

      Now that’d be a winner on a dating site!

    • Walsh says:

      To be fair, you play as an american solder maybe 1/4th of the game. You also play as limey SAS guy, expat russian, russian presidential bodyguard and I think I’m forgetting another one.

      The other games you play as an american soldier for maybe half at most, and usually the american soldier dies.

      I agree with the review. I guess I’m getting old too, I keep assuming turning the difficulty up will make the game more interesting but instead it just makes you die quicker in more frustrating ways, and I still feel like I’m on autopilot. They really need to end the infinitely spawning enemies until you move 5 feet nonsense.

  17. Shazbut says:

    So many colours

  18. pauleyc says:

    There’s one thing that struck me as especially nasty towards the player (even more than Modern Warfare’s tendency – nay, tradition! – of killing player characters, which is a very cheap shot) was the attempt to evoke a sense of guilt for straying off the predefined path: a single message proclaiming that “You got [insert current commander/father figure/bully] killed because of your actions”. They might as well add a “YOU MORON!” at the end.

  19. AshRolls says:

    Great review thanks, a great tear down of both the terrible game mechanics and it’s morally dubious war-porn theme. It depresses me that this is the world’s biggest entertainment product.

  20. Excelle says:

    The Eiffel Tower gets blown up? Well then, can we just have Activision stops skirting around the issue and just make Team America – The Game?

    • Dozer says:

      FUCK YEAH

    • TheApologist says:

      I want to play the vomiting mini-game.

      VOMIT HERE -> (press Y) BLEEEEEURGH….BLEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUURGGGHHH (etc.)

    • schnydz says:

      You are playing an American soldier maybe a quarter/third of the game. I would not necessarily brand this as a “Team America” type game.

      Good review though. Although, like all media, there are different types. This one just happens to believe you should sit in the passenger seat while it drives you around telling you a story. Nothing wrong with that. I took it for what is is and had a good time enjoying the SP campaign.

  21. Alfius says:

    I’m genuinely not sure what the problem is here, I’d not had the chance to blast through CoD4:3 yet but CoD4s 1 and 2 were a laugh and a half. Utterly over the top yes, scripted like nothing on earth yes but nonetheless stupidly entertaining for their short duration.

    I remember the frustration in FPS games of old that not only was the player inexplicably a superhero in comparison to any NPC but that neither were any of them capable of doing anything remotely useful (remember trying to coax the Barney clones over the slightest obstacle in Half Life?) One answer is to spend literally years developing a better, more sophisticated AI which STILL fails to get in cover and avoid trees properly (I’m looking at you ARMA). The other solution is heavy scripting which in a game like CoD works just fine. Can we not just accept that CoD is at its core an on rails fun destructo-fest and please for the love of Christ stop looking down our collective snooty noses at people who enjoy this sort of thing.

    • thepaleking says:

      If I wanted a heavily scripted on-rails shooter I’d go to the arcade and pay $5 for a Time Crisis session that would have more actual gameplay than the average MW campaign.

    • Walsh says:

      You’d go to an arcade?

      Where the fuck on earth does an arcade still exist?

    • Acorino says:

      In Japan?

    • chopsnsauce says:

      I agree with Alfius.

      SHUT UP YOU CUNTS!

    • VelvetFistIronGlove says:

      Aberystwyth. There’s a very small arcade on the pier. And it has Time Crisis II. It is a little out of the way, though.

    • pertusaria says:

      I think Dr. Quirkey’s is still on O’Connell Street in Dublin, but I haven’t gone and checked recently.

  22. pheonix says:

    7 hours? I logged into a friend’s steam account and played it. It took me 4 hours and 10 minutes (I used a stopwatch) on normal, including all cutscenes, loading screens, death, etc. If I played on easy, I definitely could have done it in 3.5 hours.

  23. malkav11 says:

    Maybe it’s just me, but I never did mind the scripted sequences, and I’m guessing neither did most of the gaming community. It’s just the reviewers who got sneery at it, and most of those people have continued to dislike it. Sure, Call of Duty gets good reviews, but it seems to do so mostly on the strength of its multiplayer. Most anywhere you go it’s “sneer, linear short scripted” about the actual campaign. I just take that into account when I completely ignore critics on that subject. (FWIW, I really liked much of MW2′s singleplayer when I played it recently, thought Homefront was remarkably short but not actually awful, and haven’t managed to sustain enough interest in the largely tedious and decidedly unspectacular campaign of Medal of Honor to get anywhere near the end.)

    It’s certainly not the way I want the entire genre to go, and I think their prices are ludicrous ($15 is about right for the singleplayer and I care not a jot for the multiplayer). But it has its place.

  24. Quizboy says:

    Given the whole ‘follow whoever’s in front of you’ thing, and the way you don’t really have control over the direction you take, I think the market’s ripe for Modern Warfare: The Human Centipede.

  25. d00d3n says:

    I think the comparisons with a Michael Bay movie are somewhat misguided. Bay is infamous for obscuring his action scenes with quick cuts and distracting visual effects. It is never hard to follow what is happening in MW3, even during the most intense destructathon moments. Picture quality is chrystal clear, the frame rate is high and you are free to explore your surroundings during most of the scripted events. Level design and gameplay objectives are not confusing. I agree that player interaction is limited throughout much of the game and the “follow” signs on Sandman, Soap and Price are a constant reminder of this, but “noise” is not a big problem in the game as I see it.

    Battlefield 3 SP has a far worse “noise” problem compared to MW3 SP. There are not as many “explosive moments” but virtually every single one of them is confusing as hell. Additionally the post processing used in the game makes events less clear.

    Also, I played through MW3 SP without encountering a single bug as far as I know.

    • John Walker says:

      I think when your argument begins with finding Michael Bay films confusing, you’re not on a strong foot : )

    • malkav11 says:

      Bay films may not be particularly complex in the plots, but as he says, are bastions of the modern movie tendency to chop action sequences into confetti to the point that it’s impossible to tell what’s happening or enjoy it even on the most primal “things blow up” level. I seriously could not follow any of the action sequences in Transformers 2, for example (yes, I saw it, no, it was not by choice.). Though that was only one of that film’s many, many problems. I honestly think it may be the worst movie I have ever seen.

    • Urthman says:

      But John Walker, that’s precisely what sucks about Michael Bay movies.

      Stupid action movies are fun. Stupid action movies where the action is poorly edited so as to be confusing and incomprehensible are boring.

    • Oozo says:

      If you want to learn more about the difference between good and bad action sequence editing, David Bordwell is the man to turn to. This here is highly illuminating, for example:
      http://www.davidbordwell.net/blog/2010/09/15/bond-vs-chan-jackie-shows-how-its-done/

    • chopsnsauce says:

      On behalf of d00d3n.

      DOOOO fuck off John, there’s a good chap! ;)

  26. Squire says:

    Since IW won’t bother to send review copies to sites/people who actually might provide a REAL opinion of it I’m thinking you should obtain MW4 [Nevermind the inevitable MW3.5, it will only be 0.00023% different from MW3 anyway] “covertly” before the release date, play it, then wait til release day when you have a retail copy in hand and release the review. That way some PC gamers might actually be released from the strange vice grip these games have on their brains and buy something better. Hopefully.

    IF its even released on PC, I have my doubts ha

    On the other hand why even bother to play it since it’ll be the same old crap.

  27. JackDandy says:

    I wonder what the next big FPS craze will be like.

  28. Pop says:

    I’m waiting for the Wii balance board tie in. Call of Fitness: Modern Workout

    • stahlwerk says:

      Lean left to follow.

    • Pop says:

      Lean forwards to follow

    • stahlwerk says:

      Center your weight and breath slowly to cause open door.

    • InternetBatman says:

      Wouldn’t that be an improvement by the sheer virtue of making the game more reactive? Also, I like the wii balance board, it’s nowhere near perfect but the games are fun.

    • elfbarf says:

      Thrust pelvic region to shoot hinges.

    • Flimgoblin says:

      No, no no… none of this leaning lark.

      Stand still to follow.

      Stand still to let your comrades open the door.

      I can see this being an excellent balance trainer game – stand perfectly still for 7 hours to win.

    • RakeShark says:

      Stand on one foot for the duration of the scripted event.

  29. Dawngreeter says:

    I remember when I was a young gamer and thought that games were ‘my thing’. Other people had their football or cars or whatever passed for popular music in the early 90′s and I had games. Some I liked more, some I liked less but that was my turf, broadly speaking.

    I’m not exactly sure when this happened, but I became aware of it only recently with games like this one appearing all over mainstream news sites. Games are not my turf anymore. The games I like seem to be nothing more than a subculture while most of the industry focuses on pop games. For better or for worse, I don’t think I’m a ‘gamer’ anymore. I’m a subculture dweller. I have very little to talk about when talking to other computer game fans.

    Not that I’m complaining, I was a subculture dweller when it came to music, too. It’s just new to think in those terms when it comes to games.

    • Jarenth says:

      Hey now. You may not fit the pop-culture model, but I’d say everyone who plays video games as a primary use of free time can call themselves ‘gamer’ if they so choose.

      Remember that this current glut of military man-shoots is as much a subculture in gaming as sandboxes, sports games, RPGs, indie games, and even Facebook games. Just because this is the image that’s currently in the news the most doesn’t mean we’re obligated to care about any of it.

    • goosnargh says:

      You are not alone. In fact I see similar sentiments from developers on Twitter or talks they give at places like GDC. Some of them work on games that are guilty of these things too.

      The much praised Bioshock Infinite isn’t doing much for me yet since it seems to have upped the man shooting, and that was the least interesting part about Bioshock. I just don’t know how much more been-there-done-that combat I can take. It peaked in 2005 for me with F.E.A.R. and has mostly regressed ever since.

      Games just need to fucking grow up, but I have a feeling the big barrier here is the publishers afraid to take risks. What will it take?

  30. djbriandamage says:

    Jim Rossignol’s book, A Gaming Life, quotes Will Wright who says that games are like an incomplete model with the player filling in the blanks and allowing the world to continue. Call of Duty is the opposite of that, with the player being incomplete.

    It’s depressing that this is the publicly agreed-upon blockbuster, as if the American dream has become following someone else to success. I’d prefer Oblivion or Doom any day – I want to be the big cheese.

  31. HisMastersVoice says:

    You didn’t like the MoH single player? Of all the recent Big War Games, I considered this one to have the best campaign, both on the Tier1 side as well as the Ranger sections. The part where you defend a ruined building that essentially disappears around you was more intense than any exploding Eiffel Tower could ever be. Yes, it was short and had some pacing issues, but it was miles ahead of anything CoD produced since MW1.

    • Runty McTall says:

      I enjoyed MoH too actually. If it weren’t for the FoV issues that seem to be a common technical get out for FPSs these days (marvel at our smooth 60fps through this incredibly narrow tube!) I’d replay it more often. That game was in many ways more annoying than CoD for having such a narrow view as you often had a guy basically right next to you offering you a leg up or boost and if they slipped out of frame I would have to pan around agonisingly slowly as they kept shouting “Over here!” right in my ear. Interestingly I saw an interview with a genuine Tier One operator who had been a technical advisor and he highlighted the limited view as his number one gripe because in real life apparently your peripheral vision is key to keeping you alert and alive.

      Hated that disappearing building mission though, as it happens :)

  32. Raidensoul says:

    As a bigger fan of RPGs than FPS in general, CoD 4 was the first FPS I really got into; it took immersion in shooters to another level with just the first tanker level. I didn’t even notice the handholding up until Black Ops, by which time I’d sunk just shy of 100 hours into MW2′s multiplayer. It was then I realised that the single player is a tutorial of sorts; the best game manual ever written. It’s supposed to get you to learn the basics of shooting and rudimentary military tactics to prepare you for the multiplayer, hence your grunt status.

    That said, I’m now a full convert to Battlefield 3; the multiplayer offers immersion above the MW experience stated above. I played MW3 to finish out the trilogy (I actually enjoy a little mindless action!) and tried multiplayer, but people jumping a metre in the air to avoid getting shot just felt wrong after BF3s realism.

    I’m an RPGer in an FPS world, and kudos to Modern Warfare for bridging that gap for me. Meanwhile, when I finish lightning blasting dragons in Skyrim, I’ll be back to levelling up my Assault Medic in BF3.

  33. razorblade79 says:

    I thought the first modern warfare had a great single player campaign (except for endless respawning baddies.)

    Too bad everyone thinks going mainstream means the game has to play itself. Even BF3 fell into that trap even though it would be the perfect game for letting you go wherever you want.

  34. scab says:

    A thoroughly awful review, full of contradictions, seemingly holding a game responsible for giving its audience exactly what they want.

    • skinlo says:

      You could say that for any review of a product that a single person like. If its the worst game in the world, yet one person likes it, you could argue the game is made for that one person.

      You can’t explain away reviews you disagree with like that.

    • stahlwerk says:

      This review didn’t seem that negative to me. On the contrary, the game was lauded for being really good at what it is trying to be.

    • John Walker says:

      Aw, scab, I preferred your first version that read:

      “A thoroughly awful review that panders to the perceived RPS audience, doing little to mask an apparent grudge against the game’s publishers.”

    • Shooop says:

      A review that covers both what the reviewer did and didn’t like about the game! How absolutely terrible!

    • Pop says:

      Scab, it’s all very well using words to express your opinion, but could you summarise your review in a number, ideally out of 10?

    • Colthor says:

      “A thoroughly awful review that panders to the perceived RPS audience”

      Because reviews being tailored to the people they’re being written for is terrible.

      ALL OBJECTIVITY, ALL OF THE TIME!

    • scab says:

      Both are pretty valid John, but I made a messy double-post and found myself confused.

      Technical issues aside (which apparently weren’t ubiquitous), your biggest gripe reads to be that this type of game is popular, and that feels like an unfair criticism of the game itself.

    • sneetch says:

      To me, it seems that John’s biggest gripe with this (and other recent shooters like last years Medal of Honour, which I really liked, therefore John is both wrong and a monster, but I digress) is that you are a follower, a tag-along who is taken by the hand and led through the game by the real stars; the NPCs who open all the doors and start all the scripted sequences and increasingly seem to be the ones who are playing the games while we watch. Maybe I’m wrong though, I’ll give it another quick read.

      Edit: no, no I was right, that’s his main problem, he goes on at length about how the game plays itself, letting you tag along because it has to not because it wants you there. The game is like a big kid who doesn’t want to take his little brother along but has to otherwise he can’t go either.

    • scab says:

      That’s just one of many complaints aimed at mainstay features of the series. John also criticises its loud noises, bombastic nature, cheesy plot, scripted linearity, constant prompting, hand-holding and progress without participation, etc, but it’s these very things that give COD mass appeal. That the game is very successful at giving more of what its target audience wants is a bizarre criticism.

    • Pointless Puppies says:

      That’s just one of many complaints aimed at mainstay features of the series. John also criticises its loud noises, bombastic nature, cheesy plot, scripted linearity, constant prompting, hand-holding and progress without participation, etc, but it’s these very things that give COD mass appeal.

      I read this and I couldn’t keep a straight face.

      I’m sorry, but are you seriously suggesting that John’s criticisms are invalid because a large collection of sheeple disagrees with his opinion?

      That is perhaps my favorite “I DUN LIEK DIS REVIOO!” argument. “Everyone loves the game! Everyone! You don’t so you’re wrong! How dare you go against the current and have a different viewpoint! You’re only doing it to seem contrarian! If you don’t follow the industry hivemind you are a cancer that must be removed! Down with the naysayers!”

    • Ergates_Antius says:

      I find it interesting that you criticize the review because it “panders to the perceived RPS audience”, then criticize it for “seemingly holding a game responsible for giving its audience exactly what they want”

      So, if a game panders to its audience it’s OK, but if a review panders to its audience it’s bad?

    • scab says:

      I’m sorry, but are you seriously suggesting that John’s criticisms are invalid because a large collection of sheeple disagrees with his opinion?

      John’s opinion is perfectly valid, but I’m not sure that making criticisms of the game’s successes (in appealing to its target audience) carries much weight. Worse, John recognises that he’s not among the ‘sheeple’ the game’s tailored to in the initial few paragraphs, yet still proceeds to use that as a basis for most of the criticism.

      It’s almost like complaining that Peggle lacks depth. It’s valid, but a bit meaningless.

      That COD’s developers achieved exactly as they set out to do is surely objectively worthy of praise.

      So, if a game panders to its audience it’s OK, but if a review panders to its audience it’s bad?

      To some extent yes?

      A game exists to cater to its audience, whereas a review is there to infrom the audience, not give it what it wants. I’m not sure this is the case here though, and I accept I haven’t been particularly coherent!

    • Dozer says:

      I read it as MW3 is poor as a game (an interactive entertainment environment where the player solves puzzles and overcomes challenges and exercises arbitrary skills and participates in an engaging narrative) because it’s been written as an interactive Michael Bay Experience, where the player isn’t doing anything intrinsically interesting but instead is taken on a guided tour of some set-pieces and explosions.

      Kind of like the difference between visiting a foreign country on holiday and planning your own itinery, or holidaying in North Korea where you may only travel in the company of a government supervisor and can only visit tightly regulated tourist areas.

    • Dozer says:

      Do you know, flashless IE7 doesn’t allow me to edit my comments?

      I forgot to say, MW2 might be an excellent Interactive Michael Bay Experience. And maybe millions of people just want an IMBE. But that doesn’t make it a good /game/,

  35. Leandro says:

    This is why I love RPS. Where else would I get a review that focuses on the single player campaign of the game (since I don’t care for multiplayer) while being completely honest about not liking it?

    Reminds me of my time with Modern Warfare 1. I bought MW1, Crysis and BIoshock at the exact same day. In 2 days I had completed MW and it was a blast! I loved every minute of it, but replaying it did not provide the same thrills at all, and the way the game railroads you becomes much more apparent. Then I spent many weeks with Bioshock and Crysis, and I loved every minute of those too, except they lasted me much longer, and let me pause, think, do things my way. I know where I got my money’s worth.

  36. Lagwolf says:

    Solo game is longer than the last one (MW2) and I would say a bit more fun to play. I had a few crashes but overall its worth it to be able to play “Spec-Ops” bits which unlike in MW2 are actually rather fun. Multi is still crashy, laggy and hacked to bits though.

    • sneetch says:

      MW2 spec ops aren’t fun? Why not? Bugs or poor design?

      Me and a mate are really enjoying them in MW3 and I was going to pick up MW2 for them to play after we’ve finished MW3.

    • Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

      The MW2 Spec-Ops where one player runs for extraction while the other provides covering (friendly) fire from an AC-130 is one of my favourite gaming scenarios of all time.

    • Runty McTall says:

      FWIW, my brother and I have played almost all the Spec Ops missions in MW2 and really enjoyed them. That covering fire from an AC130 level is pretty entertaining, yeah :)

  37. Shadowcat says:

    “The game was absolutely riddled with clipping, to the extent that I could totally make sense of the 3D environment. Bastards.”

  38. stahlwerk says:

    Single player BF3 and single player MW3 enter a room… who comes out?

    • Shooop says:

      Trick question!

    • Mman says:

      Even with the things mentioned in the review, MW3′s campaign is easily superior (then again, most of the flaws are the same, it’s just that BF3′s execution is far worse).

    • Snuffy the Evil says:

      Neither- they’re too busy following each other in circles.

    • Mad Hamish says:

      also neither are aloud to open doors.

    • Shortwave says:

      They both end up having homosexual relationships most likely.

  39. Eukatheude says:

    Just come and laugh with me at this:
    http://www.gamechronicles.com/reviews/pc/codmw3/codmw3.htm

    • Shooop says:

      “Despite its aging graphics engine, the game maintains a fluid 60fps while pumping out graphics that are easily on par with Battlefield 3.”

      I stopped reading here out of fear my laughter would interrupt the entire office. I’m no fan of BF3 since it’s basically the same game, but it is a graphical marvel.

    • Heisenberg says:

      is he serious?
      maybe on the consoles the graphics are similar but you have to be insane or blind to even compare the 2 games on PC.(graphically speaking)

      also “The game has dynamic checkpoints, so if it detects you are having difficulty it will actually save your progress a bit farther than the normal checkpoint.”
      i didnt know this.

    • Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

      “There are no missions stuck in there just because they are “cool”,…”

      Yes. The destruction of the Eiffel Tower was an integral and emotional part of the deeply-considered plot.

    • zacaj says:

      Weird. The game didnt crash once for me, the AI never messed up, I never got stuck on anything… I didnt see a single bug in the whole campaign. Scripted sequences? Theyre everywhere, but unlike every other game Ive played this year, they NEVER take control. The world may be exploding, but you have to option to look away, or run in a corner. In any other game, you wouldnt be able to do anything, except maybe look an inch to the left IF youre lucky. Clean up what the AI leave behind? Why arent you in front. I played the whole game by immediatlly sprinting forwards, shooting a few bad guys, they jumping on top of some cover, and sprinting sideways, and repeating for about 20 seconds before landing behind cover for a few seconds while the blood dissappeared. I think I probably killed about 4/5 of all enemies in the game, and I barely died at all. About the time Id mopped up the last enemy and landed from a running jump in front of the next door, the AI would be about 10ft away, and Id just hop in place for a second in front of the door until they opened it, then lay into the next room of enemies. If anything, it reminded me of playing Quake 1. No staying behind one piece of cover, standing up, shooting, and ducking again. You can run all over the place. Since the levels ARE linear, and theres always a light over whichever door youre going to have to have opened next, you dont actually have to follow them at all. You can just run around the whole level without their guidance, and arrive at the door about 5 seconds before they do. (I think theres some kind of rubber-banding going on, where if you get too far ahead they teleport so you never have to wait too long). Those doors are really annoying though

  40. Shooop says:

    Just as I expected really.

    Whatever happened to the player being in charge of most the action instead of just something that trips the invisible wire to make the next big event happen? When did “less participation is more fun” become true for the majority of gamers?

    • Shortwave says:

      It didn’t but most people don’t give a fuck and the devs apparently know they can get away with it.

      Personally I’d be embarrassed to even call that a plot, or call myself a writer of any kind with this crap.
      I don’t care how much it made me.. I’d just feel like a hollow piece of turd.

      Uhh, I guess it’s cause theres so many new people into gaming these days it seems.. And all these new people don’t know any better because.. They are new.. So it’s just acceptable to them.. Yeaa.

    • Shooop says:

      The worst thing of all about this horrible trend is games like MW3 could have really worked.

      The bombast and non-stop “Oh no everything is on fire now” moments would have been really fun if only the game actually let you play it instead of just using the player as a trip wire activator. Just look at Saint’s Row 3.

  41. The Sombrero Kid says:

    Never played it, don’t want to cause it looks truly awful.

  42. eraserhead says:

    It’s good to read an intelligent review. Opposed to the 81 score on metacritic.com – With games like this you’d need a good Hollywood director, I wonder when this will happen first.
    I didn’t even enjoy the interactive part, the shooting galleries. I don’t see the point: shoot everyone, then run forward 10 meters, shoot everyone again, run forward. All the bells and whistles make it cool for like 5 times and then it’s just boring. Or funny, like on the plane, when there’s an endless stream of terrorists coming from the cargo bay if you just keep position. That must be a really big plane with absolutely no security to allow hundreds of terrorists on board. It’s sad this sells so well, but I guess it’s like a Twilight movie or the latest Adam Sandler Comedy – going for the lowest common denominator.
    Anyway, I’m really glad I discovered this site, it has the best game reviews I read in a long time!

  43. Eukatheude says:

    Let’s laugh at this:

    http://www.gamechronicles.com/reviews/pc/codmw3/codmw3.htm

    EDIT: Sorry for the double post, the other comment didn’t appear until now.

  44. Fameros says:

    The militaristic FPS single player campaign is getting shorter and shorter and more scripted at each iteration. In the limit, the single player campaign will be a two-hour action movie directed by Michael Bay. I estimate this revolution in gaming will take place around 2014. It is unfair of critics to judge these campaigns as “games”. If you guys judge COD3 campaign for what it really is, an action movie in the closet, you must admit that it has achieved an unprecedented, even revolutionary, level of interactivity never before experienced in the movies. It is a new chapter in the history of cinema.

    • sneetch says:

      It is, however, very tricky to play with most DVD remote controls.

  45. alt24z says:

    Sharqi is going to be awesome

  46. pkt-zer0 says:

    A MAN CHOOSES.

    A SLAVE OBEYS.

  47. akeso says:

    Damnit John, this is why we can’t have nice things.

    If you would have done your job and followed people around for 6 hours and have them open doors for you; and then told everyone how much you loved those nice polite npc’s for holding the door for you like proper English gentlemen; maybe we could get early review copies.

    But noooooo.
    You had to go and be a leader.

    Now we’ll never get that ping pong table that comes with the MW4 early review copy.

    Good job.

  48. Roshin says:

    I enjoyed the singleplayer game in MW1 and thought it was a great ride. I enjoyed the singleplayer game in MW2 a lot less, because it felt overly familiar, like an old sock I had worn out. MW3? Nah, this is where I sign off or desert, if signing off isn’t allowed.

  49. Freud says:

    Nice review of MW2. Now do one for MW3.

  50. asshibbitty says:

    Thank god now after reading this review the last person on the planet who doesn’t know what Cod plays like will learn wha it plays like. Or maybe he could just ask his Cod-playing dog to describe it to him.