Among the most highly anticipated video game releases are those of Activision’s Call of Duty franchise, which recently released their latest installment in the form of “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3” (MW3). Every year, these games break sales records and this year MW3 was no different. According to Activision, MW3 grossed over $775 million in its first week on the shelves, $125 million more than Activision’s previous sales leader, Black Ops. It is clear that MW3 has sold very well and has done better than its predecessors, but that does not necessarily promise a quality game.
Like most first-person shooter gamers, the appeal of the game lies in the online, multi-player experience. The campaign is often a nice play-through, but after the story has been completed, multi-player offers the variation needed to keep the game interesting.
The goal of MW3 multi-player as stated by game developer Infinity Ward’s Creative Strategist Robert Bowling was to create a fast paced, gun-on-gun experience reminiscent of Activision’s 2007 release “Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare.” This game is considered by many in the Call of Duty community to be the best one made in terms of its simplicity and balance. Whether or not this has been achieved and whether or not MW3 lives up to its hype requires an analysis of its perks, weapons, and maps.
As far as perks are concerned, MW3 has a wide selection from which to choose. Perks are split up into three slots, with five available for each slot. Many of these are reincarnations of past perks, but there are a few new ones which add wrinkles to game. Some examples are the Recon perk, which shows an enemy’s location on the mini-map if he has been hit by any kind of explosive damage, and the Stalker perk, which allows faster walking speed with weapon sights raised. Although some perks are very strong, they are generally balanced within each slot because of what must be given up to gain a particular advantage. For the most part, the developer got the perks right.
More important than the perks to of any Call of Duty game are its weapons, and there are a staggering 50 unique firearms to choose from ranging from assault rifles to launchers to shotguns to pistols. Similar to MW2, but unlike Black Ops, most seem to be genuinely useful. The player can almost always find success with certain weapons on a given map. To increase the pace of the game, the developer increased weapon damage as a way to replace the Stopping Power perk seen in previous Call of Duty titles. This has the effect of ending gunfights quickly, but has some poor side effects.
In actuality, the high damage makes the game less about gun-on-gun skill and more about luck. When weapons took longer to dispatch enemy players in earlier games like Black Ops, strafing and evasion would often allow a more dexterous and skilled player to come out on top. Awareness meant more in the past game, and the most aware player held the advantage. In MW3, the high weapon damage helps both new and experienced players get the kills they are looking for, but hurts better players who rely on precise aim instead of just spraying. It is very frustrating to lose a gunfight after getting first shots on an enemy simply because of weapon damage.
The maps of MW3 are what allow most primary weapons to be workable in most situations, but compared to Black Ops, they are poor. Because many of the map settings are in cities, there are a large number of buildings present with dark corners that are more often than not filled with campers. Deaths to these corner campers are very annoying to active players who seek out the enemy and try to play the game, as opposed to just watching a doorway to see who appears. Apart from campers, the spawns on the MW3 maps are also very bad and lead to even more frustration with the game. Upon dying, players very frequently spawn behind or looking at enemy players who are not looking at them. These charity spawns derail kill streaks and for good players lead to unnecessary deaths. Close spawns work both for and against players, but the better player usually gets the raw end of the deal.
In analyzing the gameplay of MW3’s multi-player, the goals of the developer have been met, but at a cost, and the game is not as successful as Black Ops. The perks have been handled just fine, but the weapons and maps make MW3 a very annoying and frustrating game to play. The weapon damage, map designs, and spawns help new players, but hurt experienced players and hardcore gamers. MW3 feels like a “noob” game, and while it can be fun at times in the right lobby, the amount of head-scratching and frustration make it hard to enjoy.
Because of its shortcomings, it is difficult to recommend MW3 to new or experienced gamers. The quality of the game in many ways does not justify its cost. For gamers who have experience with Black Ops, they will find a completely different experience in MW3. Features from Black Ops such as clear game chat, the ability to turn menu music off, and the ability to do a locale only search are gone. The developer sees MW3 as the sequel to MW2, but to the customer it is the sequel to Black Ops. This shortsightedness is the primary reason for the game’s shortcomings. The old features that are missing from the game make a much larger impact than the new features that have been included. For the times when MW3 has actually entertained, the game receives a seven out of ten.