The “Call of Duty” franchise has come a long way since its inception in 2003. Originally a series of first-person shooters set during World War II, the games were among the best of the former console generation. In 2007, developer Infinity Ward took the series in a new direction with “Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare,” which solidified the series’ popularity, helping to make it one of the most popular franchises in the history of video games. Now, Infinity Ward has released the third iteration of the “Modern Warfare” franchise with “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3.” Despite a somewhat underwhelming single player campaign and a few odd changes to the multiplayer gameplay, “Modern Warfare 3” continues to deliver some of the greatest first-person shooter action in recent years.
The single player campaign begins seconds after the end of “Modern Warfare 2.” Over the course of the five-to-six-hour campaign, players experience the story through the eyes of multiple characters in a number of locales around the world against the backdrop of World War III. The story is mostly told through the eyes of Delta Force soldier “Frost” and secretive “Task Force 141” member Yuri. While short, the campaign manages to wrap up the story of the first two games rather well, though at times it feels as if “Modern Warfare 3” tries too hard to impress the player by throwing shallow twist after shallow twist at them. In a way, it seems as if the campaign mode in the “Call of Duty” games has become progressively less important than the multiplayer with each new iteration.
On the multiplayer front, the game continues to shine. The competitive multiplayer continues its use of the Perks system for which the series is well-known, along with the persistent leveling system that has been copied by numerous other games. Many popular game modes, including Team Deathmatch and Free-for-All, return alongside new ones, such as the Kill Confirmed mode, in which, as the name suggests, players must find the dog tags of fallen opponents after killing them in order for the kill to count.
The popular Special Ops mode from “Modern Warfare 2” also returns, with new improvements to its cooperative mission format and the addition of an all-new gametype, Survival. In it, players must use limited resources to survive against increasingly difficult waves of enemies, similar to the Horde mode popularized by the “Gears of War” franchise. The additional mode is a nice touch, providing an interesting diversion from the campaign and competitive multiplayer modes.
While the multiplayer is as solid as usual, the game has begun to handle certain aspects of multiplayer in a rather odd way with the addition of “Call of Duty Elite,” a new yearly subscription model that provides access to new maps, daily competitions, exclusive livestreams of high-profile matches, and other benefits. Additionally, the game now allows players to level up more quickly by the use of its new Prestige Token currency, which allows for two hours of “Double XP” per Prestige Coin. Both of these additions seem to cheapen the multiplayer experience slightly, and their presence does not seem to bode well for further “Call of Duty” games on the horizon.
If there is one central complaint to be had with “Modern Warfare 3,” it is that its basic premise and gameplay is becoming increasingly more stale than in previous games. It seems that publisher Activision’s business strategy of “milk-this-property-on-a-yearly-basis” is growing a bit old, and like many popular game series before it, “Call of Duty” might become a casualty of said strategy. Despite its flaws, however, “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3” is an outstanding first-person shooter that lives up to the quality of its brethren.