|System: PS3, Xbox 360, PC, Wii, DS|
|Dev: Infinity Ward, Sledgehammer Games|
|Release: November 8, 2011|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Blood and Gore, Drug Reference, Intense Violence, Strong Language|
All of this is tracked on Call of Duty Elite, which is integrated directly into Modern Warfare 3 by way of a simple menu option. There are also mobile and web-based versions of the service, which allows you to study maps (even how those maps are affected by various game modes) and make changes to your custom classes that can be "pushed" to the console. It also institutes a full-on clan system. Worth noting: while one could easily hop from MW3 into Elite, the inverse was not yet possible. One had to exit to the dashboard and reload the game. Elite offers a lot in the way of information, and tons of player choice on how to view and interpret that information, but it will best serve those who are serious about their multiplayer experience, for whom a term like "K/D Ratio" means life or death.
If gaining experience and ranking up isn't your main concern, Modern Warfare 3 also offers an expanded version of private match, with new gametypes to build on such as Infection, which begins with a team of soldiers taking on a "zombie" juggernaut (generally just armed with a riot shield) and usually culminates in a single survivor desperately fleeing from a horde of them. Between this and Gun Game, private match was some of the most fun I had with Modern Warfare 3's multiplayer. The absolute best experience I had with another player, however, was Spec Ops mode.
I'm a sucker for cooperative play, and Spec Ops offers sixteen two-player missions that vaguely connect to the main campaign. They're largely timed affairs, and at least one of them is imaginative enough to put you in the bad guys' shoes for a few minutes. The best missions, though, either provide an asymmetrical experience, such as one player disarming IEDs in a Juggernaut suit while another snipes enemies and mans a Predator drone, or engage the players in free-form stealth. Spec Ops' take on stealth is very fast-paced and engaging. It feels badass—it being incredibly satisfying to quickly pop an enemy in the head with a silenced pistol shot and impale his friend before he hits the ground. Completing missions garners experience, and one levels up separately in Spec Ops mode from the main multiplayer experience. While this has no functional effect on the missions themselves, it's absolutely key to the Spec Ops Survival mode, wherein level-based unlocks are available for purchase using money one gains by defending themselves from wave after wave of enemies. The survival maps are appropriately compact, and seemed to be based on the multiplayer levels, soon filling with enemies. It was a fun diversion, but I found myself wishing that they'd used the time spent balancing out the survival maps to create more Spec Ops missions. Or maybe an entire Spec Ops campaign, full of asymmetrical moments organically chained together.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 largely feels like an iterative title. Its campaign has strayed from its roots as a believable war story to a personal tale of vendetta with a Michael Bay-esque cinematic flair. The core shooting action is very much the same, and feels satisfying in multiplayer, but oftentimes a bit anemic in campaign, when enemies seem to come in endless waves, serving as mere chum between you and your objective. The changes to Killstreaks feel like a tremendous positive, better balancing the game for team play, but the weapon leveling system seems a little gratuitous, with a lot of potential to completely lock out those who simply want to pop in and have some fun into the starting weapons. Spec Ops is brilliant, but leaves a gamer wanting more, and survival isn't something I would play more than a handful of times. This isn't to say that Modern Warfare 3 is at all a bad game—it's an attractive and polished effort with tight controls, addictive multiplayer, and the sense that one is truly on a battlefield, rather than carrying on a miniature war behind the scenes. It is, in fact, an extremely high-quality, well polished, and all-around good game.
It's just very much expected.
CCC Contributing Writer