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 »

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  1. hosndosn says:

    “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.”

    Could you please stop hating yourself so much for having an opinion?

  2. Larkington says:

    How dare you subjectively review a bandwagon game with your feet firmly planted on the ground!

    Also, *slow clap*

  3. Larkington says:

    This is awkward. I thought the system ate my first comment, so I had reposted it. Sorry about that.

    • kyrieee says:

      I think there’s a bug where the latest comment won’t show up. Might not happen on the first page.

  4. Tyrone Slothrop. says:

    You know John, the quote about destroying one’s enemies by befriending them is actually a famous quote of Abraham Lincoln.

    I shouldn’t have to preface this by firstly stating that I’m not a fan of the franchise and feel it deserves far more scrutiny than it does but it’s statements such as the one which lead to my above observation that make me feel the line between legitimate criticism and reflexive is getting blurrier each CoD release.

    • Adventurous Putty says:

      But surely a Thomas Pynchon fan knows that words and pretty phrases are all about context?

      That quote, from an apocryphal story about old Abe, draws its power from the context of the American Civil War, a conflict that utterly devastated American culture and ruined a generation’s faith in their country’s future. The story behind it goes that a northern Senator towards the end of the war was ticked off about the administration’s forgiving treatment of the south, claiming, “I believe in destroying enemies.” To which Abe replied, “I agree sir. And the best way of destroying an enemy is to make him a friend.” In this context, it’s an affirmation of the oneness of the American Union, Lincoln’s central propagandistic conceit, but it’s also a message of forgiveness with more than a few echoes of Christ. This is why it’s a memorable quote, and why we continue to tell the story.

      In the context of Modern Warfare 3 — where it was, no doubt, uttered in a bathos-filled gravelly grunt by a soldier character you’ve known for five minutes, during a conflict you don’t care about, with what is probably a different intended meaning — it doesn’t mean much of anything. Thus, when we look back fifty years from now, people will still remember that Lincoln said it — not so much Modern Warfare 3, though.

    • Tyrone Slothrop. says:

      @Adventurous Putty

      But you’ll see in the review, the line is stripped of any context yet quoted verbatim and then commented on with dismissive onomatopoeia as if the line was self-evidently bad.

  5. engion3 says:

    I don’t even consider these “games”. They are more like interactive DVDs

  6. The Pink Ninja says:

    You know, I will probably never play MW2, BLOPS or MW3 because they continue to charge unreasonable priaces for them years after release (MW1 is still £20 on Steam when, say, Just Cause 2 was £5 on sale within one year) and that’s way too much for what you get (I.e. a single player campaign that’s rarely more than average and a multiplayer that becomes empty as soon as the next game is released a year later and isn’t that great anyway).

    But what is with the condemnation in the comments of the people who actually liked it? I didn’t realsie that hivemind thing wasn’t a joke.

    • Dozer says:

      Prices don’t reflect “what you get” – they never did, not for computer games or anything else.

      Prices reflect the sales manager’s opinion on what level of prices will bring in the greatest amount of cash over whichever timeframe they consider relevant.

      If a game is £20 it’s because the sales manager expects they’ll get more profit with a price set to £20 than for a price of any other amount.

      So if MW2 is still £20 while Just Cause 2 is £5, it’s because enough people are still willing to pay £20 for MW2 to make it worthwhile to keep the price at that level. It doesn’t matter if JC2 is objectively better than MW2 – all that matters is the prices the punters are willing to pay. (Or rather the sales manager’s judgement of the punter’s willingness to pay.)

  7. Radiant says:

    It’s not that the single player is bad it’s just that it’s a complete mechanical retread of the previous game.

    Actually that’s not true it’s mechanically worse then both MW 2 and 1 [it’s more of a straight run down the middle pop up shooting gallery].

    Story wise my main gripe is that after the first bit of EPIC SHOOTING it really leaves itself nowhere to go.
    It’s like watching 7-8 [b]late[/b] Steven Seagal dtv movies in a row.
    A least throw in a fucking Marked For Death or Hard To Kill in there? Or switch it up and throw in an Undisputed II?

    No. Epic shooting after epic shooting. No change up in pace no variation, no creativity.
    I really don’t understand how this got universal high scores.

    It’s not that it’s poor it’s that it’s /boring/.

  8. Radiant says:

    It’s also ridiculously easy.

  9. Ruffian says:

    I’d have to agree. the MW series could definitely use a new direction. I can’t say I hate cinematic games, though because when they’re done right (or close to right) ala Metro 2033. They can feel fresh and intense, I think the real difference is imagination in the writing or storytelling and setting and also realizing what you’re building from the start and allowing the player enough wiggle room so as to not feel smothered from the get go.

  10. Brun says:

    The Bioshock or Far Cry/Crysis (1) Model is the correct way to do an FPS. Bioshock trends toward the more exploratory and open-ended side of that spectrum, while Crysis 1 and Far Cry trend more toward the manshooting, but still providing plenty of openness.

    Far Cry and Crysis 1 had large, open maps that allowed you to approach your objectives in a multitude of different ways. They also put you completely in charge for most of the game (no FOLLOW) sequences except during some *gasp* interactive plot events.

    That is why I was so disappointed with Crysis 2 – it got rid of everything that made the original such a good game. Instead of large, open levels we now had cramped corridors (although I’m sure part of that sacrifice was made so that it could run on the aging hardware of the Crapbox 360). Instead of multiple ways to approach objectives we had three or four different approaches that were basically force-fed to you. And most importantly, instead of the lone-wolf point man Nomad, we now have the silent, obedient grunt that only does what he’s told and always FOLLOWs the leader.

    Someone asked earlier what it’s going to take for there to be changes in the formula. It’s going to take one of two things. First, another game (of any genre, not just shooters) manages to achieve the same magnitude of success as the Call of Duty franchise through the use of a different formula. Then, everyone else will rush to catch up and we’ll see the same spate of crappy clones of the “next big thing” as we have with modern shooters.

    The second possibility is that there will be a crash in the industry, or more likely, the shooter genre. The formula won’t change and the quality of these games will continue to decline with each iteration until eventually people realize that the products they’re shelling out $60 for aren’t worth that much. Activision or EA or somebody will spend a fortune making some big-name shooter (MW5 or MW6 maybe), hype it to hell and back, and people will call them on it. Sales will flop, the company will incur huge losses, and the genre will have to reinvent itself. Remember E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial and the video game crash of 1983? Or Pong and the video game crash of 1977? Call of Duty is this generation’s Pong – the market is becoming flooded with clones people will realize it eventually.

    Personally I think outcome #2 would be better for the industry as the lesson would be quite harsh, and create a lasting impression not only with the current bigwigs in publishing but also with their future successors – the publisher’s woes would be entirely self-inflicted and thus the lesson would stick longer.

    • Shooop says:

      A games industry crash has been overdue for at least 5 years now. And because they’re now officially working on the new console game boxes it’s going to be a very long time, even if there will be one.

    • Brun says:

      Agree Shoop. I had been holding out hope that it would happen when the New Crapbox and PlayStation were scheduled for 2014. But now it seems that Microsoft is now targeting late 2012. Sigh.

  11. Brun says:

    RPS Comment system WHY YOU EAT MY COMMENTS :-(

  12. Pointless Puppies says:

    Oh, this is delicious. I saw the fourth screenshot with no context a couple of days ago on a forum and I had no idea it came from MW3. I said that the picture represents exactly everything wrong with gaming in one lovingly amusing image. EXPLOSHUNS! HEELICHOPTERS! ANGREE MEN! FOLLOW WHAT THIS DUDE SEZ!” I can’t believe this came from an actual GAME. The fact that this is MW3 of all things makes the image even more amusing.

    The genre has officially imploded and has become a joke of itself. And the sad part is that the joke isn’t even aware that it’s a joke.

  13. FupDuk says:

    Fair review. I kept pissing up the last bit. Why is there an ‘F’ flashing on my screen?, oh I should press F repeatedly, aw too late, start again… what now it’s Mouse 1, aw bugger too late, start again. Felt like joining Makarov by then.

  14. Severian says:

    When people wonder out loud why this freedom-less,railway drivel is the de facto formula for success in modern FPS, I think they underestimate how much of the targeted player-based is unbelievably HIGH on drugs while playing these games. As such, freedom of choice would be WAAAAAAAY too confusing.

    • blackjackshelak says:

      The funny part is if you look at a good deal of the titles/tags in multiplayer, it becomes pretty obvious that the developer is already aware of that.

  15. MadMatty says:

    Hell, i hate Michael Bay, and i played MW 1 for like 4 hours, which was pretty meh.
    These games are for casuals, thats why they sell.

  16. lijenstina says:

    Potemkin villages look great when you drive 80 mph through them. By stopping and exploring you’ll could clearly see the scaffolding.

  17. Chiller says:

    You know, there was this part where you just switch to a new character and almost immediately a helicopter (iirc) crashes into the room you’re in. At that exact moment, I wondered if my character was going to be killed 10 seconds into the mission, as a parody of the hilarious main char morality rate in Modern Warfares.

    Unfortunately, I lived on to be killed in some other fashion at some other time.

    If Infinity Ward had done that, it would have been their crowning moment of awesomeness more than anything else they have ever accomplished with this series.

    But they didn’t, and overall the game turned out to be pretty crap.

  18. blackjackshelak says:

    I think this review, and the general attitude towards this game (and series) on this site goes a good way towards proving the idea that PC gamers demand more from their games. That’s a wonderful thing, and a big part of the reason why I frequent this site, and hold the PC as the superior choice in gaming. It’s unfortunate that the PC version ended up being so buggy, especially since it already had a lot working against it. Modern Warfare feels to me like a game that never belonged on the PC.

    I’ve played through all three of the Modern Warfare games on 360, so I’ve missed out on the bugs and (for the most part) hackers. I enjoyed this game, but that’s partly because I had the first two as context for what to expect. I already knew about the scripting, handholding, and constant onscreen reminders of who’s in control. I’ve even poked fun at them during play when they decide to be a little too obvious (this happens often). The problem with the “interactive cutscene” style of games is that the developer wants you to play them a specific way. If you can figure out what that way is, a lot of the more glaring issues do a pretty good job of hiding themselves, making the game more enjoyable.

    The fact that I’d played through two games using a VERY similar formula before made it a lot easier to find the sweet spot where the developer says “LOOK! THIS is our game.”. MW1 was a game I enjoyed quite a bit, and the multiplayer felt a lot better in that game before they decided to turn everything (especially air support) up several notches and changed the tone of their game a fair bit along the way. One thing I noticed in MW3 is that the constant stream of enemies seemed toned down quite a bit in comparison to what I remembered of earlier games. I tended to ignore the big “follow” markers when you didn’t actually have to protect somebody (NPCs are usually invincible) and the importance of those characters dropped off to the level of “loud bossy door men”.

    I’m not here to defend this game and say it was “good”, but I enjoyed it more by playing from a very different perspective. Having my expectations of this game tailored by the previous two is probably both blessing and curse, as you could argue that I have effectively “lowered” them. It just feels a shame when the PC end of things gets the worst version of a game when they should be getting the best. This game itself is pretty far off from “the best” and as many people as you’ll see jump on the modern warfare bandwagon because of it, remember that there are plenty out there who realize that there’s a lot more to be offered. The most successful “WoW Killers” are the ones that did their best to make their game at least appear to differ from that formula, the failure of the new Medal of Honor speaks to that mentality in the shooter genre. Who wants to see pretenders to the throne when you can just have an even greater king come in and destroy the whole damn castle?

  19. Shortwave says:

    I CANNOT stand to ever play another game where I am forced to wait for retard AI.
    I stopped this SP after twenty minutes. I got into BF3’s SP about forty minutes.
    I got into RO2’s SP about a half hour..

    All in their own rights a great MP games.. But seriously..
    More or less charging people 60 dollars now for a map pack.
    And that’s right after they bought the last DLC last month…
    Brutal…

    Note, I did not purchase this game.
    It’s so incredibly old and easy now.
    I’m just done with these jokers.
    I just had to see it, so I could laugh.
    And I did..

  20. DocSeuss says:

    “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.”

    I find this interesting, and I can’t help but wonder if there’s a sort of seeping effect in the game community where we all basically have to admit it’s bad and point out its many flaws. Once I realized I was saying “but I enjoyed it despite all that,” and, furthermore, realizing that there were other games where that phrase had more weight (A while ago, I played both Modern Warfare 2 and Saint’s Row 2. SR2 had things that definitely ruined my gameplay experience, while MW2’s problems only cropped up when I went looking for them), and shifted my stance to act accordingly, a lot of my problems with the series disappeared.

    I stopped looking for problems.

    I’m reminded of Lady Gaga, really. For a while there, the popular opinion of a lot of people was that she sucked. They would find fault with everything she did–not intentionally, mind you; it was just a mindset that seeped in. I was the same way. Then I found myself listening to her and going “okay, she’s… actually pretty good. She’s not just a gimmicky pop princess.” Then I stopped getting annoyed with her or even seeing the “mistakes” that a lot of people would.

    Now, granted, my computing experience may be different. I, for one, didn’t experience any bugs as far as I could tell, the AI might have screwed up once or twice,

    Let’s look at everyone’s GOTY, Skyrim: it has bugs where things get stuck in the scenery, it’ll crash at random, it seems to enjoy resetting my graphics settings on my laptop (but not my desktop), not to mention an absurd amount of clipping, an AI companion that shoves me across the map, physics issues, sound bugs,… and so on and so forth.

    If I were to criticize both MW3 and TESV from a technical standpoint, Skyrim is easily the lesser of the two games. I didn’t go looking for bugs in either game, but in Skyrim, they came looking for me.

    • lijenstina says:

      From a technical standpoint monkeys and humans are the same. Monkeys are even physically stronger.

  21. RakeShark says:

    I watched the game being played on YouTube. What’s the difference between that and buying the game and playing it?

  22. M0N0 says:

    I liked the game well enough. This is actually the first CoD I’ve paid full price for. I only just recently bought MW2 when it was on sale for like 20 bucks. I’ll give them one thing they script these games better than anyone. They always feel so fast and exciting as you play them which is why I think most people like them so much. I couldn’t even finish the sp in Bad Company 2 or Medal of Honor but these MW games I’ve had no problem blowing through. I can’t say I’m the world’s biggest shooter fan anymore I think that boat sailed sometime after Counterstrike beta 5 but these games are still a decent distraction for a week or so.

    • RegisteredUser says:

      Having to wait 30-200 seconds before a game gives you back control makes it feel like waiting in line to get 30 seconds of ride before having to re-enter said queue again if you ask me. Not fast and exciting.

  23. Arbodnangle Scrulp says:

    Maybe I’m paranoid but I can’t help but think that whenever a dev announces a new military FPS they get a visit from guys in black suits from the Pentagon with guidelines as to how the single player experience should play out, with the emphasis on not being the hero but the grunt at the back, and nothing you can do will make a difference except by obeying orders. Maybe when this generation of gameplayers leaves school the military recruitment statistics will go up?

  24. AngelAtTheTomb says:

    Errr double post or something?

  25. AngelAtTheTomb says:

    It’s such a shame BF3 got stuck into the copy-MW3-destroy-Activision routine, because there was some genuinely interesting writing in it at times, whereas every single line in MW3 is a variation on “Go America and/or a few British guys!”

    Like the bit in the jeep at the start of the big Russian level where you thought BF3 was FINALLY going to open up for real. “I was dreaming of a vanilla milkshake. What does that mean???” Awesome.

  26. RegisteredUser says:

    You should have just said: what we have here with MWF3 is MWF2 with other names shouted.

    Otherwise it looks, plays and, most of all, BORES the same.
    After having played even “Wolfenstein” – which is no ra-ra-roo wonderfest in and of itself – it feels just incredibly wrong, constricted(2 guns, nowhere to go, nothing really to DO) and most of all: pointless.

    Why am I even playing when everyone else is already doing everything and there is no real coherence or feeling of purpose to me as a player?

    This is a terrible game in terms of a FPS.

    As for the graphics: I was initially worried I might get issues. I have an AMD 5770. It runs fine at 1920×1080 on autodetect & high with 2x AA. It’s still the same as last time.
    It’s still a console game.

    So glad I did not buy this(played at a friend’s place, stopped at the start of mission 2 going “Ok, seriously, what’s the point”).

  27. Lyngbakyr says:

    The detractors are correct. The campaign is rubbish by the given criteria. Purely atavistic of previous iterations of the series, it’s bombast is so loud I can practically hear the Caisson Song rumbling with jingoistic fervor.

    But somehow, I enjoyed it. I was played it through to my thorough satisfaction, with nary a bug. And there seems to be an undercurrent of disdain for players that found the campaign enjoyable; enough of one to consider analyzing why someone might enjoy. Why I myself might enjoy it.

    To complaints of being led by the nose through the campaign, I agree they exist. This undeniably happens. But it doesn’t cause me much concern. I’ve been a soldier for ten years, fought an extended tour in Iraq, worked as a security guard civilian-side… all of these experiences were in some way tied to following orders effectively as part of a team. In many ways, I see these as simpler nostalgic times, bereft of the complexities of everyday life. I can empathize with player’s need for escapism, to transcend the drudgery of the day in which orders are constant, to live briefly in a world where their choice matters most. But for me, even though I’ve since moved on to a position of authority, following orders is akin to pulling on a pair of comfortable shoes. It’s good to walk in them again, if only for a while. And that feels quite nice indeed.

    The game also garners some merited criticism for, as the reviewer puts it, it’s ‘nastiness.’ The game does have a bitter edge to it at times, and it almost feels that it forgot to fill us in on what would make certain characters’ hate (i.e. Price) so palpable. Perhaps I’m guilty of writing a bit of my own story as I play, but again this doesn’t particularly irk me. By the end most character’s violence seems justifiable in a world where mindless hostility is well past having spun, globally, beyond control. I’m no stranger to an existence in which much of the world IS out to kill you, be it with rifles or roadside bombs. And that’s a mean, nasty existence where altruism can be hard to come by, especially when you’re burning your own refuse every other day. And the main characters, by extension, live in a place like that every minute of their lives. Minus the shit burning. That I did. And yes, it IS nasty, and it can make the best people on earth nasty in a heartbeat. So my point is this: war is deeply unpleasant, nasty business. I know, from firsthand experience, that it can make people quite nasty indeed; therefore, the nastiness of the game doesn’t bother me.

    This next point contains a spoiler, so be warned. The review notes that there are a number of instances where civilians are killed while you, despite being armed to prevent it, are not allowed to. You can, however – it simply isn’t encouraged. There’s an instance in an early Africa-based mission where three young men are being executed by a militia with overwhelming numbers. Tactically, attacking would be suicidal, and Price says so. But you can indeed intervene if you wish. Go to scope, hover over the executioner’s head, and pull the trigger. His head evaporates, and a full fusillade of hell is unleashed on you from all directions. Chances are, you’ll die. But while the game may have been fine with allowing the execution to play out so you can stealth merrily along, I refused to do so. I shot the gunman every time. After fifteen attempts and a bit of backtracking, I set up a hard point behind a mud brick wall, weathered through forty militiamen and two technicals, leaving none alive but the three living, healthy hostages, free to go about their computerized business. You CAN save them. But as in real war, oftentimes saving the innocent is a hard, hard business.

    So that leaves me to summarize why I enjoyed the game. In a sentence, the life experiences I brought to the table rendered null the experiential criticisms leveled at the game, and leaving only its remarkably refined mechanics and the tricks pulled from the bag of its aging engine I find no reason NOT to like the game. It’s not a matter of right or wrong. If you enjoy this sort of game, even odds are you already know it. And if you dislike it, by now you know that too. It’s just a matter of what you bring with you.

    tl;dr – People have extraordinarily varied reasons for liking/disliking this game. Make sure both sides are respectful towards the other, and just deal with it.

  28. Salazaar says:

    I had this awesome vision of priests running in to combat with pope hats and crosses until I realised John meant compadres…

    I shall not be buying this now.

  29. dnch says:

    for me, COD ended with “no russian” mission in MW2
    it didnt make sense in the plot, it was clearly tabloid bait to get attention of cheap ass media
    if you tried to stop them, you were killed .. game over.. if you didnt stop them, you were killed at the end.. mission complete.. and it seems MW3 has something similarly stupid, obviously, it worked last time.
    well, back to Dragonsreach, i have some enchantment to do

    oh spoiler by the way

    • Jason Moyer says:

      The “omg shocking” bit in MW3 is less like “no russian” and more like the “sort of interactive bit where you die after a nuclear blast” level from MW1.

      I thought the first act of MW3 was boring as hell, but as soon as you leave NYC and they’re allowed to start blowing up landmarks without fear of making their main customerbase burst into tears things pick up nicely. I still don’t understand why they made such a big deal about adding multiple simultaneous objectives to CoD2 then completely abandoning that after CoD4 (i.e. 2 games). It would be nice to have *some* missions where you can determine the order your squad captures objectives in.

      The last 2 acts were spent having mindless fun blasting and sneaking through some decent wide-ish corridors that were much more fun to fight in than most of the shitty campaign levels in MW2 (or the first act of this) and the story seemed to start getting more coherent around that point too. Not something I may ever play again, and not to the high standards of CoD1/2/4, but I wouldn’t call the campaign a bad experience. I enjoyed the last 2/3 of CoD 8’s campaign more than anything in 5/6/7.

  30. tinners says:

    I thought Inifinity Ward were gods, and Treyarch were the ones that made rubbish Call of Duty games. Now I don’t know what to think!

  31. lordhughes says:

    in MW2 I got seriously annoyed when the idea of a cinematic was that the character I am currently playing should almost die somehow, after the 3rd time I got irritated, so when my character had a near death experience within the first 30minutes of MW3 I just closed the game. CBA with that!

    plus the AI was terrible which furthered my irritation!

  32. Kignama says:

    Well this was open and honest, I actually rather like this review. Thanks

  33. Spiny says:

    I bought BLOPS on day one, thought it was not much cop. So glad I skipped this.

  34. Robslap says:

    Standing in line at the pre release.

    “It totally wont have the awful follow along story that Blops did, IW are loads better than that…”

    What a fool I feel.

  35. RegisteredUser says:

    Don’t forget to follow.

  36. LionsPhil says:

    I approve of these words.

  37. Shooop says:

    http://www.destructoid.com/call-of-duty-modern-warfare-3-is-a-videogame-so-deal-216580.phtml

    Oooooh dear. Look what you’ve done John! You’ve kicked sand in poor “little” Jim Sterling’s face!

  38. Gordonius says:

    I waited till this came down in price and it’s still too expensive for sub-Seagal, sub Jeffrey Archer crap. I think it even beats Michael Bay movies for ratio of stuff happening to lack of engagement.

    Gameplay-wise, MW1 is still the pinnacle of the series for SP, narrowly beaten by MW2 for multiplayer. I wouldn’t have bothered with this one except they don’t maintain the older servers properly for Xbox so every other lobby is hacked; you have to keep up to avoid the infinite noob-tubes.