Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 has huge footsteps to follow. Aside from being the latest in a line of award winning critically acclaimed games, tens of millions of people around the world have had visions of MW3 dancing in their dreams for more than a year. Now that the game is here, I can safely say that Modern Warfare 3 is just what you would expect. That's good news and bad news, but it's still a lot of fun.
The campaign in MW3 is full of what we've seen in the previous Modern Warfare games. Huge explosions around the world. Landmark settings. Giant Hollywood moments and bottlenecks of enemies. It's nothing over-the-top spectacular, but fits in nicely with the tale of Vladimir Makarov and the terrorist uprising. The campaign is also where new players will get accustomed to the gameplay mechanics and weapons.
Pairs of players can team up in Spec Ops. There are several missions covering many maps, but my favorite is the cooperative "Horde" style of survival. Fight off wave after wave of increasingly difficult enemies, earning cash to buy new weapons and perks along the way. It's not as great as Black Ops' zombie mode, and limiting the amount of human players is a disappointment. Still, you and a buddy can have a blast.
The meat of any Call of Duty game is the online multiplayer. The system is largely the same, but that's not so bad. Killstreaks have been renamed Strike Packages, and are broken into Support, Assault, and Specialist. Support packages have rewards that are about strengthening the team. UAVs, SAM turrets, ballistic vests and more can be earned by gathering kills, capturing flags, and shooting down helicopters among other tasks. With Support, points carry over even after you die and respawn. Assault packages are about killing the other guys. Predator missiles, AC130 bombing runs, and chopper flyovers can be earned, but your streak resets after each death. Specialist packages give you the chance to have up to six perks if you are good enough to earn them.
The killstreak changes really force you to rethink your strategy online, and are a much needed twist to what is on the cusp of becoming a stale online slate of action. There's nothing fundamentally wrong with the game by any means. It's still fun and there are thrills to be had. However, we're on our fifth game in the series using this formula of two weapons, three perks, find the right camp place and grenade your way to victory. There isn't much groundbreaking gameplay here, but if it ain't broke, don't fix it.
Rewards are flying fast and furious in MW3. It seems that nearly every match, a bevy of player and gun rewards will head your way. The +100s and other rank-up notifications will flood your screen's top corners, but thankfully, focused players will hardly notice them. The post-match report cards can read like a newspaper with all the unlocks and pictures detailing your conquests. This certainly leads to an "ok, just one more game" attitude online.
There's a reason that the Call of Duty franchise has made billions of dollars. The games are loads of fun and have players coming back for more. While MW3 isn't a tremendous leap forward, it is still an exciting thrill ride that carves its own place in the Call of Duty spectrum. Veteran players will find a lot to love, and those new to the game will be sucked in by the flood of rewards. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 is one of the year's most anticipated games, and certainly among the most fun.
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