Review

Modern Warfare 3 review: repacked, recycled and routine

Like the other 6.5+ million people around the globe, I have a copy of Modern Warfare 3, the brand new game in the long running Call of Duty series. I’ve played the original Modern Warfare, MW2 and even Black Ops, and I agree that these games are very good in a multiplayer environment. However something this time, with this release, makes me feel that MW3 should not be receiving the accolades it currently is.

First up is the campaign, which Infinity Ward still slap together for some reason despite most people not touching it. It’s continuing the story of Makarov and his world domination plans (cliché!), how he plans on using Russians (cliché!) to nuke (cliché!) the entire world (cliché!) only because he is greedy for power (cliché!). It’s a pretty laughable story that has been severely overplayed in this type of “modern war” scenario and I seriously hope it dies with this game.

The campaign is not particularly interesting. You go around shooting bad guys with your automatic weaponry in a variety of scenarios; you take the controls of various mounted machinery, explosives and vehicular weaponry as well to provide some variety. There’s some stealth, some running and gunning, some sniping and some mortaring along the way. We’ve honestly all seen stuff like this before.

Unlike a real “modern warfare” environment, nothing at all is destructible. Firing rocket launchers at walls does absolutely nothing, and strategic destruction is something I’ve been (for better or worse) spoilt with by the Battlefield series. There are virtually no team tactics at all, as it’s mostly about how awesome you are at shooting people. The AI are extremely stupid and easy to kill while teammates shoot their guns at pretty much nothing. Even on veteran difficulty it’s a breeze through the campaign.

By itself the campaign is actually quite good, assuming there has been nothing like it before. Unfortunately though, I had a massive sense of déjà vu as the high intensity levels, feel, well painted scenario and mechanics installed in the Modern Warfare 3 singleplayer missions I had seen before in Modern Warfare 2. I also experienced the same sort of stuff in Battlefield 3, but at least DICE managed to make the game a bit more warlike and real.

So forget the campaign, perhaps unless you want the achievements or something, and move on to Spec Ops. It has now been split into two parts: classic Special Ops and a (slightly) reinvented Survival Mode. Spec Ops sees you play through some short scenarios to gain stars while blasting away enemies and achieving various objectives. Some of the missions can here can be fun and entertaining; generally better than what the campaign delivers.

Survival Mode is essentially the Zombie mode from Black Ops/World at War repackaged. Enemies (not zombies, but alive humans) spawn at random locations around the map in waves, and you must kill them all by yourself or with a mate. Killing enemies gives you money to purchase new weapons, upgrades and special items. From the short amount I played it seemed pretty fun and even better with a friend to help you. I would suggest playing Survival Mode rather than the campaign any day.

Now on to the “star of the show”: Modern Warfare 3’s multiplayer mode. Upon first inspection it seemed I was playing a mixture of previous Call of Duty games. On second inspection it felt like I was playing Modern Warfare 2 again. On third inspection it seemed like it was Modern Warfare 2 with some minor upgrades and new maps.

Admittedly, the upgrades they have made are quite good. For example, COD points are no more, instead replaced by multiple ranking up systems. Alongside your main rank, which unlocks new perks, weapons and tactical advantages, you have a weapon rank which unlocks attachments where you previously would have bought them.

Killstreaks have been revamped so that you can choose from a variety of reward systems, and are known as Pointstreaks as capturing objectives and things like that count towards these rewards. You can choose from the Assault rewards system, which is essentially the same as MW2 killstreaks and rewards you things like helicopters and bombing runs as you kill people. The Support “strike package” sees support-type rewards given out over the course of the match, and don’t reset when you die. There is also the Specialist package which awards extra perks after every second kill.

The weapon ranking system and new Pointstreak rewards I really do like about MW3’s multiplayer. It means there are lots more things to unlock and many more tactical options for your gameplay. The Prestige System also sees a revamp for the better, as each time you Prestige you get special points that can be used to unlock bonuses such as extra classes and double XP. Oh, and there are also two new gametypes that are similar to what’s already available.

However these things are just improvements. There are no revolutionary gameplay changes that really differentiate Modern Warfare 3 from its predecessors, especially Modern Warfare 2. The entire game style is still based on single-person efforts (as opposed to Battlefield 3’s arguably better team-tactics style), gunplay is still the same, and maps are pretty much the same style. Somehow, apart from the improvements, MW3 feels like one massive MW2 map pack.

While I was playing multiplayer I felt like I was literally playing a previous Call of Duty game. The improvements are not really enough to class MW3 as an entirely new game: it’s still basically the same as what came before it. The multiplayer from MW2 has been recycled, given a polish and repackaged into MW3, and it’s disappointing. Of course this isn't to say it's not fun, because by all means it is, just disappointing.

What’s even more disappointing is the engine hasn’t really been given much of a polish at all. It’s graphically superior to Black Ops and MW2, but not by much. There are no cool things that you can do, like destructible environments; no amazing new lighting engines or legendary textures; no changes worthy of raving about the graphical quality. It makes me feel even more that MW3 is MW2 in a new package without major graphical improvements.

Again, by itself without any Call of Duty games behind it, Modern Warfare 3 is a very good game. I’m probably going to play it for some time because the multiplayer is genuinely a fun and enjoyable experience. Pointstreaks, Prestige improvements, gun ranks and everything make multiplayer better than ever. Survival Mode is also pretty good, and the campaign is intense and quite cinematic.

However Modern Warfare 3 is, in fact, coming from seven previous games in the franchise. When you’re this far into a series and lacking any innovation and ideas, you simply take what’s been done before and tweak it slightly to make it that tiny bit better. Nothing in Modern Warfare 3 is amazing, or makes me think “well that’s an interesting idea”; nothing is innovative or original to first-person shooters.

So at the end of the day Modern Warfare 3 is a repackaging job of previous games: a good enough repackaging, but nothing spectacularly awesome like the Call of Duty series once was.

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Haven't made it through the campaign yet... too wrapped up in all of the multiplayer excitement. From what I did experience in the campaign though it wasn't so easy on the default difficulty, and I have only made it to the third mission. The first two missions/scenes were great though. I give this game a 10+ as usual for modern ware. I know a lot of you will say it's the same thing but it's really not, not if you're a modern ware player. It has to follow its predecessors I mean its part 3 of the same game. That is the idea. If it was completely different they would have given it a different name all together.

Wait ... you hope the campaign dies with this game? Because you don't play it? Sorry man, but that's a stupid thing to say. MILLIONS of people love Campaign. What a narrow mind. Don't like it? Don't play it. Don't hope that they take it away from the people that do like it. Online only games are crap. I don't feel like I want to jump straight into it. I like a story mode first. I don't own MW3 yet, I am still enjoying Battlefield, and I love the campaign on that, even tho people bitch about that one too. It's ludicrous that people have these silly expectations. Did it cause you personal offence? No? Well, enjoy it for what it is.

Some dont just get this series I like it This is suppose to be simple fun not something should be so complicated that you cant enjoy the game.

MW3 blah blah blah RECYCLED blah blah blah COULD HAVE CHANGED blah blah blah DISAPPOINTED blach blah blah LACKING INNOVATION blah blah.

Some people just don´t get this franchise.

I have to completely agree with this review. I'll admit I was kind of "let down" so-to-speak for what the game delivered despite the media hype and excitement. Does anyone recommend picking up Battlefield 3?

guess your entitled to your opinion but i thought the campaign was the best part of the game...was short...but was everything it was supposed to be...multiplayer is definitely recycled but still fun to play.Just about as much fun to play as bf3 imho.

Just about as much fun to play as bf3 imho.

I haven't played MW3 but BF3 is the only MP game that has stopped me playing CSS playing in a squad with 4 friends talking out solutions and strategies while playing. I can't see COD being that way.

Edited by offroadaaron, Nov 14 2011, 11:37pm :

I am going to agree with the review except on the campaign point: I found the campiagn good. It may have a simple B-movie scenario written on a napkin but I enjoyed it.

It is true that MW3 is a repackaged MW2 but it is still a fun game to play, even more fun to enjoy with friends.

This game should have been an add-on and not a separate $60.00 game. Battlefield 3 is in no way perfect, but compared to Battlefield 3, this game sucks. Sorry, but that's just my personal opinion.

You guys just don't get it. Its not about new graphics, or new story line. It's about multiplayer. You just don't get it. Like if you agree.

So you are upset that a game about modern warfare has a campaign that features shooting people in a modern setting?

"The campaign is not particularly interesting. You go around shooting bad guys with your automatic weaponry in a variety of scenarios; you take the controls of various mounted machinery, explosives and vehicular weaponry as well to provide some variety. There's some stealth, some running and gunning, some sniping and some mortaring along the way. We've honestly all seen stuff like this before."

What else do you want? A laser battle in space? Make some suggestions! You just described every campaign of every "modern" shooter in the last few years. Yes variety is nice, but what would make it better?

"I also experienced the same sort of stuff in Battlefield 3, but at least DICE managed to make the game a bit more warlike and real."

So they are the same, yet battlefield is better?

"Unlike a real “modern warfare” environment, nothing at all is destructible. Firing rocket launchers at walls does absolutely nothing, and strategic destruction is something I've been (for better or worse) spoilt with by the Battlefield series."

Did you play BF3? The game is a constant question of "Will that wall blow up or is it invincible?" They severely reduced the amount of destruction since BC2. How is that more real?

Look, I'll never say MW3 is perfect. The multiplayer is actually rather bland when compared to the previous entry, but you can't compare it BF. I've been saying this forever. COD is meant to be a fun romp around the world blowing stuff up in an arcade fashion. BF is meant to be the squad-based, more realistic shooter. Comparing the two is like saying Mario Kart lacks Forza's realism.

I didn't play all the games in between, so i didn't get burned out. WIth that being said, I love MW3, the last of the franchise i played was Moder warfare.. Oh, and i only got it because of the SP campaign. I for one love the scenarios and different scenes

Activision Blizzard are well known to recycle old content.. just look at the Warcraft debacle and the dwindling subscriber numbers

I don't even find the MP fun to play and haven't done for a long while, at least with other games I get moments where I proper burst into laughter and properly feel I am enjoying myself but the cod games I've barely even sniggered at anything if at all.

I don't play MP. I play SP exclusively because I want some story with my shooting (goes for all games )

The SP in MW3 really isn't that bad. It's an incredible spectacle about on par with the storytelling of Hollywood B-movies with too much of a budget. The ending is kind of anticlimatic, however, and the final levels feel incredibly rushed. Especially the last one where you finally switch off Makarov... come on, the series didn't deserve such an atrocious level in the end.

Anyway, I liked the MW arc just fine. As a single player I have to say it has leaps and bounds over BF3 (which I just couldn't get into at all). It's time for them to get a few fresh ideas.

I find it a bit silly to call for them to not make a campaign anymore just because the writer doesn't play it... I know a lot of people that play ONLY the campaign...

As for destructible levels, that would be cool...

Stingray said,
Horrible review, this game is obviously a tenner.

Lol... so just because its a low scoring means its a bad review? Did you even read it? Hes right about all of it. So many sad fanboys D:

xbamaris said,

Lol... so just because its a low scoring means its a bad review? Did you even read it? Hes right about all of it. So many sad fanboys D:

Your comment is ridiculous, you´re obviously wrong.

Stingray said,
No. You´re wrong and I am right.
You never took a debate class in school, did you?

EDIT: Actually, since I already know the answer to that question, I'm going to spell this out:
What makes this game 10/10?
Can you not find one single problem with it on it's own?
Have you played past CoD games?
Do you think that this game is completely revolutionary, or do you notice similarities to the past games?

Edited by Nick H., Nov 14 2011, 11:06am :

eilegz said,
must be a camperfield 3 fanboy.... so salty review... putting MW3 single player as a con? its he serious

must be a modernborefare fanboy... so salty review... putting down Neowin for its personal opinion? its he serious.


I'd put you as a MW fan, only because you don't seem to have understood his criticism correctly. What he is saying is that while the storyline is good and continues the story from the previous games, there is no reason why it couldn't have been put in as DLC for MW2. There isn't enough improvement to warrant it being a completely new game.

eilegz said,
must be a camperfield 3 fanboy.... so salty review... putting MW3 single player as a con? its he serious

It is a fair point to say the single player is a con due to length of it which was embarrassingly short. As Intrinsica said, it could very well have been DLC but more money to be made from a new entry into the franchise.

don't know what people expect from games these days, for me the single player campaign was brilliant, a bit too short thats my only complaint, but i enjoyed it for sure.

Snakehn said,
don't know what people expect from games these days, for me the single player campaign was brilliant, a bit too short thats my only complaint, but i enjoyed it for sure.
A bit? I know a guy who finished it in 2.5 hrs. It was on recruit, but still.

Snakehn said,
don't know what people expect from games these days, for me the single player campaign was brilliant, a bit too short thats my only complaint, but i enjoyed it for sure.

There's the thing... many hardcore, and even some(?) casual gamers have been swept up in what I'd call the "videogames ARE capable of being 'high art', so recognise me/us/the industry dammit!"-movement. Everyone's pushing game developers, including the developers themselves, to create games that are more "serious" in tone &/or intention, with greater amounts of story depth, social/topical commentary, introspective characters, and further push the boundaries of visuals, aesthetics, and narrative persistence beyond what was seen of yesteryear's games. Sadly, for better or worse (your mileage may vary, of course), Activision doesn't seem to either (a) want to move the franchise beyond movie-blockbuster-style "armament porn", or (b) not know how to do so. >:C

Ryano121 said,
You may say it sucks, but its the top selling game of all time. Obviously they are doing something right.

Its selling because of the PREVIOUS games. People buy it because they've played the older ones so they think this one would be better.

xbamaris said,

Its selling because of the PREVIOUS games. People buy it because they've played the older ones so they think this one would be better.

But I bet you people will still buy the next one...

Ryano121 said,
But I bet you people will still buy the next one...
In fairness, I've bought all past CoD games, but I haven't bought this one yet because of the reviews. I'm going to wait for it to hit a bargain bin before going ahead and buying it. Even then, the only reason I'll be getting it is to finish the storyline.

After that, my future with CoD is quite uncertain. If the series continues to stagnate then I'll be done with it for good.

I really agree with everything you've said here. I've been devoted to every COD since its first release. I'm horribly disappointed in the MW3, as there is nothing to see here move along. I've played multi online for about 4 hours cumulatively and I've now went back to black ops. Seriously the maps are too small, there is no depth of field, reaction times are knee jerk ridiculous, and none of the players concerns with MW2 were fixed with this version. Not to mention it feels like they used 5 colors in the color pallet for EVERYTHING! Everything blends with everything, so you can literally not see an enemy 10 foot in front of you because he blends in with the walls. Has anyone noticed some concrete walls which are supposed to be concrete are shiny? Or the fact that lag compensation for you opponent upon theatre review is an ARE YOU FU^&#NG MOMENT? All in all, I'm going to go to the dark side and attempt BF3 and see how that works out.

abadaba said,
<snipped>Not to mention it feels like they used 5 colors in the color pallet for EVERYTHING! Everything blends with everything, so you can literally not see an enemy 10 foot in front of you because he blends in with the walls. Has anyone noticed some concrete walls which are supposed to be concrete are shiny? All in all, I'm going to go to the dark side and attempt BF3 and see how that works out.<snipped>

Maybe the pallet was purposefully selected (this time) for this very reason. I know a few CoD players that have previously publicly griped to several publishers about the lack of camo, "unsatisfactory" amounts of weapon/gear mods/accessories, & the like. It may be an implausible long-shot, bu this might be the devs having lulzy fun with petulantly demanding customer feedback? /devious

I will agree with you on quite a few points; such as the graphics engine, destructable enviorment, and really any new SP features. Black Ops was not that great, some will say it was terrible, however, they did add some nifty features. One of these being the ability to run and jump. If anything I would have expected this feature to move to MW3 or even improve it by being able to shoot when lunging like this.

In my opinion I believe the only reason why they have not added the destructable enviorment is because the BF fanboys will just be like (and really anyone else for that matter), "hey, they stole that from BF". Yes, many people ask for it, but if it does come all you guys will be doing is smashing them for taking a BF feature which most people begged for.

The campaign is alright in my opinion. I enjoy the new areas and really getting to see what happens at the end. Yes, this game might be some American cliché, but at least they did not rip the story line from any other game/movie unlike BF3 did. For those of you who are going to say something aginst that I can almost guarantee that you have never played Black Ops.

As for MP I would have loved to see some new features brought to the table, but none the less the MP is very enjoyable to play. New weapons and equipment make the game really intersting. I mean I hated claymores and really ****ed me off, but getting killed by these new spinning mines makes me laugh almost just because how neat that is.

Overall I would need to agree that the game lacks greatly where it could have really shined. However, this is not the case. It is a great game, but at the same time it is very disapointing in some areas.

itylernallen said,
In my opinion I believe the only reason why they have not added the destructable enviorment is because the BF fanboys will just be like (and really anyone else for that matter), "hey, they stole that from BF". Yes, many people ask for it, but if it does come all you guys will be doing is smashing them for taking a BF feature which most people begged for.

Who cares? Who can honestly say the game would be worse for having a feature a competing franchise has? That's like saying, gosh Battlefield has guns so we shouldn't.

FPSes have traditionally built off the competitions strengths, not ignored them.

itylernallen said,
In my opinion I believe the only reason why they have not added the destructable enviorment is because the BF fanboys will just be like (and really anyone else for that matter), "hey, they stole that from BF". Yes, many people ask for it, but if it does come all you guys will be doing is smashing them for taking a BF feature which most people begged for.

What a stupid reason. You're very naive if you think that. I guarantee they didn't put destruction in because they didn't have time to develop it.

We all know the problems with the MW3...but c'mon hey....with a 7 you lose any credibility (same rating as the average rating for Homefront), especially when 60 sites rate MW3 an average 8.8.

"First up is the campaign, which Infinity Ward still slap together for some reason despite most people not touching it"

Wanna bet what happens to their sales if they remove it? You really have no clue son...

It's not surprising that after all the negative comments about BF3's campaign in all reviews, you felt the need to attack that area in which MW3 clearly scores light years better, regardless of its shortcomings.

If you want to do this job for Neowin in the most professional matter, them leave your fanboyism OR personal preferences at home. (snipped)

Am I a COD fanboy? Would a COD fanboy only play Skyrim or Minecraft and eventually also play Batman and AC Revelations this month?

Edited by Denis W., Nov 13 2011, 7:31pm :

Probably won't be buying this. I'm extremely pleased with Battlefield 3, and have actually started moving back into some old school Q3 style PC shooters, the CoD franchise has left a sour taste in my mouth.

Got to agree but i'd give 5/10. Very disapointing game and i played nothing but mw2 and black ops the last 2 years. Bf3 has won me over.

Good honest review! I must be the only person who hasn't played the multiplayer side of things! Campaign only took me 4 and a half hours to complete which was extremely disappointing. Hopefully spec ops and survival keep me coming back for more.

I played the Campaign for like 30 minutes and i could tell it wasn't going to change much so i ditched it and wont bother again, you are just running through an artificial battlefield, team mates shooting at nothing, etc..Multiplayer is pretty good though i never played MW or MW2 so it is all new to me.

sopharine said,
The cons is pretty lame for people who have never brought any modern warfare games before.

Considering they sell tens of millions of copies per game (I dont know why) I find it highly unlikely that someone who hasnt played MW1 and MW2 would buy MW3

Pretty Honest review.
I agree with it.
Though i did find the campaign cinematics very intense! and thats a good thing. But all along the campaign. I was just imagining what if this awesome style of action and cinematics was done in FrostBite 2. spoiled by BF3

Nice to see an honest review. Seems most other websites have been bribed by activation to give it high marks.
Stupid game, stupid franchise.

AFineFrenzy said,
Nice to see an honest review. Seems most other websites have been bribed by activation to give it high marks.

Or maybe other people just have different opinions. After all, millions of people love it.

Lamp0 said,

Or maybe other people just have different opinions. After all, millions of people love it.

must be for the mutiplayer as the single player i can't see it being that great as Call of Duty got old for me a while back and with this review here it seems like they basically half assed the single player because they know everyone buys that game for multiplayer.

but even lets just say it's for multiplayer, which we all know it is, i would rather stick to a proper/more fun shooter (i.e. Counter-Strike (or Counter-Strike Source) on PC)

Lamp0 said,

Or maybe other people just have different opinions. After all, millions of people love it.

whenever people flock to the stores to get a copy of a game or album in the first week, its not because they like it, its because they liked the one before. people dont know they like it before buying it.

Lamp0 said,

Or maybe other people just have different opinions. After all, millions of people love it.

Yes, how silly of me to assume my opinion holds more weight than that of the 13 y/o xbox live populace.

Completely agree.

I got savaged on certain forums for saying anything negative and was questioned (along with my sexuality) why I was buying MW3 for SP "because the game is all about the MP."

I havent played the MP and I dont plan to but from what Ive gleaned from your article is that its nothing new, all they wanted to do was monetise it with CoD Elite.

Activision is the new EA.

TheLegendOfMart said,
Completely agree.

I got savaged on certain forums for saying anything negative and was questioned (along with my sexuality) why I was buying MW3 for SP "because the game is all about the MP."

I havent played the MP and I dont plan to but from what Ive gleaned from your article is that its nothing new, all they wanted to do was monetise it with CoD Elite.

Activision is the new EA.

Yeah, I'm sadden too that MW3 is looking to have a poor SP game. CoD used to have great SP player parts and MW1 was a good example. MW2 had its moments but had some really annoying levels. And seeing as the MP hasn't changed much I'll be certainly waiting till this game hits the bargin bin before I think "I want to see how it all ended".

Warboy said,
The first true review of MW3 yet.

Should be 6.0 for $60 pricing as it's not a DLC.

I also like how they say various tweaks and improvements but then say it's same thing all over again.

Warboy said,
The first true review of MW3 yet.

I was very disappointed in the single player of the game, at least for the price they're asking. I'd much prefered for them to have sold the single player content as a DLC for MW2, because lets face it its the same story line continued on. And then just provided an update to the MW2 engine/game and the multiplayer content as another DLC.

It certainly doesn't feel like a game that warrented me to spend so much on new game.

I completely agree, It feels like a expansion. So many companies nowdays evade making a "Expansion" because they can't make a quick buck off it, why charge 30 dollars; when you can charge 60.....

FoxieFoxie said,

Should be 6.0 for $60 pricing as it's not a DLC.

I also like how they say various tweaks and improvements but then say it's same thing all over again.

That is saying the game is the same but at least it has a few welcome tweaks here and there. It's easy to attack the way he put it, isn't it?