If it were a film it would be a popcorn flick at best and at worst inexcusable b-grade rubbish. But because of its delivery as a game, like the previous Modern Warfare titles, it's yet again quite a spectacular all-out action interactive experience. But is it as good as its predecessors?
Looking at the plot, there's a lot of talking to create it, which breaks up and fills-in what would otherwise be a plot-less, soulless shooting gallery. There's no real story told by your actions, which include almost exclusively running through streets and shooting waves of enemies. Rather the plot is conveyed through the dialogue along the way. As usual, this approach works a charm in turning Modern Warfare 3 into yet another seemingly rich and well conceived tale of conflict.
"The set-pieces are as Hollywood as ever, with some absolutely thrilling plane crashes and train derailments."
The voice acting is generally good, both in-game and during cut scenes. My only issue on this subject would be the choice of voice casting with certain characters. Looking further into the audio, again it's of a high quality. While no Battlefield 3, which we're yet to publish our review of, it's nothing short of the excellence that we've come to expect from Modern Warfare and the Call of Duty series.
As I've already mentioned, you'll get to play with some returning Modern Warfare characters, such as Task Force 141 Captain John "Soap" MacTavish. I was excited to do so, and it's a great value-add for those who have finished the previous two installments. There are also a number of fan-serving tie-ins throughout the plot and cut-scenes which are sure to be appreciated.
Something I found particularly enjoyable was the diversity in battleground. From Manhattan to Prague, Paris, London and more. If you've spent any time in any of these locations you'll see that they've been recreated with some accuracy, and it really adds to the immersion and your emotional attachment to the mission at hand.
The string of missions that tie the campaign together are all short, sharp and explosive. The set-pieces are as Hollywood as ever, with some absolutely thrilling plane crashes and train derailments. None of it is at all believable of course, but if you're a sucker for adrenaline, turn your speakers up loud and you won't be disappointed.
The entire campaign took me just a fraction over 4 hours to complete. Before you get your panties in a twist, I'll reiterate my feeling yet again that this isn't a problem. I'll take four hours of quality over 24 hours of filler any day of the week. Go and see any two hour 3D movie with popcorn and a Coke and you have exactly the same value equation.
While the length didn't bother me, the content started to. As exciting and action packed it was, it is comprehensively just more of the same. The formula is getting old and I'm a little bitter about spending $60 on that basis alone. I expect more from every sequel but there's the feeling I didn't get that with Modern Warfare 3. I understand it's a winning formula, one that appeals to the mass-market, but I have to wonder how long they can keep doing this for.
A pet hate of mine is their mechanic to force a slower pace of play. Often you're asked to follow a soldier to a point. If you break away you're often automatically spotted even without having been seen, at which point an entire platoon's worth of bullets and fire lands on you from a place that doesn't exist. I wonder how quickly the game could have been completed otherwise.
My biggest gripe with Modern Warfare 3 was the engine. While other games continue to improve year-on-year, Modern Warfare has made only incremental improvements that just aren't keeping up. While it doesn't look any worse than previous Call of Duty games, it feels like it does because its competition looks comparatively so much better.
It does look better than Modern Warfare 2 however, which is thanks to the work they've done with the lighting. Everything else about it is a little embarrassing, such as trucks turning on a central axis while helicopters fly around in an unnatural fashion, as if they're on a wire. Paired with the underwhelming environmental effects the believability is sucked right out of certain scenes. Visually it's not all bad, but it's certainly hit-and-miss and certainly disappointing.
Without seeing some obvious and serious innovation next time, I really don't think that Activision deserve any more of your money when Modern Warfare 4 comes along. The future aside, I did have a lot of fun with Modern Warfare 3 and objectively I can't say it's not a good game. If you enjoyed the second, you'll probably enjoy this as well.