Monday, November 7, 2011

MW3 Review

So, this happened to fall into my lap recently, and I spent the entire weekend playing it.

Street dates, they have been broken
Anyways, I figured that since this game drops at midnight tonight, and major review outlets won't be posting their reviews until then, that I would write my own little review on this year's entry in the ever popular Call of Duty series.

Now, before I start, I feel I should make a few things clear. Months ago, I was anything but excited for Modern Warfare 3. Nothing I saw interested me. E3 came and went, complete with a live demo of the game during Microsoft's press conference, and I could have cared less. Same went for the Call of Duty XP event, where they unveiled the game's much touted multiplayer mode. It seemed that absolutely nothing could get me on the hype train for this game. But then, I saw this...

Oh ya, these games have a single player component, and damn good ones at that (At least IW does)

So in the span of 4 months I went from having absolutely no interest in this game, to getting it before the official release date (11-8-11, just in case you have managed to avoid the media assault).

Now, for the real question. Is this game actually any good, or will I be standing in line at a midnight release to go trade it in?

While it may not be the prettiest game out there, Infinity Ward's latest iteration of the IW engine, IW 5.0, manages to produce great looking visuals and and spectacular effects, all while maintaining a buttery smooth 60 frames per second. The single-player mode is full of grand action set pieces (as is expected from these games), and even while you call in an airstrike while enemy armor is shelling you in a city that is literally falling apart all around you, the game is still keeping that fps count locked. In multiplayer mode, the HUD has been cleaned up a bit. No longer do accomplishments like leveling up take up center screen, now they are put off to the side of the screen so they aren't a distraction. Also, now there is a spot in the HUD that shows your current pointstreak (the new name for killstreaks) along with your rewards.

I know what you're thinking, "Who plays the campaign for these games anymore?". Well, if you don't care about the single player, go sit in the corner quietly while I talk to those that do. After the clusterf**k that was the MW2 campaign, MW3 certainly redeems itself. It still has all the explosive action of a Michael Bay movie, while remaining (somewhat) competent. Weighing in at around 6 hours, it's a short ride that is fun while it lasts.

And for those wondering, no, this is not going to be Stay Frosty: Oscar Mike 3: Frost do Everything
Back for round 2 is the cooperative Spec-Ops mode, but this time around it's broken up into two parts. One part is the Spec-Ops you know and love from MW2, where you complete arcade style challenges to earn stars. Not much has changed here, so if you enjoyed it the last time around, you enjoy it again, if not.....well, there's always multiplayer. The other part of Spec-Ops is the new Survival mode, where you and a friend work together to combat endless waves of enemies on any of the games multiplayer maps, similar to the fan favorite Zombies mode from the Treyarch COD games. While the odds may be stacked against you, both you and your friend have access to machines that allow you to purchase weapons, weapon upgrades, airstrikes, perks, and the like. However, this all comes with a catch, you have to be a high enough level to get the stuff. See, a new twist with Spec-Ops is that it has a level system. Similar to multiplayer, you have to play more an level up in order to access bigger and better weapons, airstrikes, and perks. Survival mode is a blast to play, and my only problem with it is that you can only have 2 people playing as opposed to 4 like in the Zombie modes of WaW and BO, but it's understandable considering some of the multiplayer maps aren't as big as the fully opened up Zombie maps.

And now for the one mode that thousands upon thousands of people buy this game for. I have to say that there have been quite a few tweaks to the formula. The most noticeable of all is the addition of Strike Packages, which groups the pointstreaks into the areas of Assault or Support, or a third package, Specialist, that gives you perks instead of streak rewards. The Assault package,which most players will probably stick to, has mostly offensive streak bonuses like predators, chopper gunners, and the AC-130, and resets after each death. The Support package has streak bonuses that benefit the team, like ballistic vests, an advanced UAV (Blackbird), and an EMP. The main thing about the support package is that when you die, your counter does not reset, it keeps going until you reach you max pointstreak, and then resets. While I did not get a chance to play all the new maps, there were things I did notice on the ones I did play. There seem to be fewer places to camp from, which also means you need to pick your hiding spot carefully if you want to call in a streak reward that takes control away from you. Also, I have yet to see any wide open maps similar to Wasteland that can be dominated by snipers, which I'll consider to be a good thing. For the most part, there are a lot of things being done right here, and why fix what isn't (completely) broken?
Now, one thing that bothered me was that whenever I got gunned down, I would respawn, turn the corner, and see either the guy that killed me, or someone else from the enemy team. It may have just been me, but if it is a problem, hopefully it gets sorted out in the next few weeks. Another thing that seemed a bit strange was that Assault Package pointstreaks would reset after reaching the top reward, similar to the Support Package. Now, this wouldn't be that big of a deal if it weren't for the fact that they have returned to allowing streak bonus kills to count towards the next streak bonus. I can easily an entire match being dominated  by a single person that has pointstreak bonuses that rack up a lot of kills, allowing them to continue earning more and more bonuses.

All in all, this seems to be a solid entry. There are a few issues, but nothing that should really be gamebreaking. Hopefully this doesn't devolve into the glitchy madness that MW2 turned into weeks after its release.

I give it a 9/10

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