Modern Warfare 3: Is the impressive, movie-like campaign let down by an underwhelming multiplayer experience?

Zoë Ainscough on how the campaign in the third iteration of Activision's seminal first person shooter 'exceeds expectations', whilst multiplayer is underwhelming, glitchy and is a waste of money if you've bought the game soley as a good multiplayer FPS

Modern Warfare 3 Eiffel Tower

It was one of the most hyped up, anticipated games of the decade, and with a fan base that falls into the millions, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 is guaranteed to be one of the biggest selling games of 2011 and a definite contender for many Game of the Year awards. With 13,000 stores opening at midnight, more than 6.5 million copies of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 were sold in the first 24 hours after the game’s release, breaking records for a video game launch.

Campaign

The single player campaign does not disappoint, in fact it exceeded my expectations (this might have something to do with the game being developed this time by Sledgehammer Games, alongside the original developer Infinity Ward). Whether you’re tackling an underwater minefield; a sandstorm shootout in Somalia; or a chemical attack across Europe, this game is a constant thrill ride from start to finish. The explosive action scenes are incredible, the attention to detail is near perfect and at some points you think you are watching a Michael Bay Blockbuster film. But what really made the game such a thrilling experience for me was the sense of ‘urgency’ in the each situation I was faced with. It created an extremely rushed and intense atmosphere, which gave the game a great sense of realness; this is the first Call of Duty game to have this effect on me, I believe that’s the reason I found this particular gaming experience so rewarding.

Modern Warfare 3

There is a certain scene in the game however, which caused a lot of controversy, and by now you’ll probably already know what I am talking about, the  ‘MW3 child death’ scene. Yes, it is shocking, horrifying, and borderline disturbing, but above all that it’s realistic, this scene shows the true consequences of war and it really does hit home. The creators of the franchise are certainly not new to controversy. There was the shocking ‘Nuke’ level in the first installment, followed by the extremely controversial ‘No Russian‘ level in Modern Warfare 2, but in my opinion, this one is the worst out of the three simply because you have no control over the situation. Whilst the Creative Director at Sledgehammer Games has defended the scene, what are your views on this particular scene? Do you think it tops the controversial ‘No Russian’ level from Modern Warfare 2?

Overall, I really enjoyed playing this campaign; it’s certainly been one of my favorites of 2011. The game is fast paced, intense and thrilling, but above all that, it was fun. A truly enjoyable gaming experience!

Modern Warfare 3 Child Death

In what was dubbed 'Modern Warfare 3’s 'No Russian' Moment' a young girl is killed by a truck blowing up in London

Multiplayer

Like most people, as soon as I got the game I went straight onto the online multiplayer, and almost instantly I was underwhelmed by it. There’s nothing special about the online, in fact I have given it the more suiting name of ‘Modern Warfare 2.5’. You will almost always find yourself being spawned near enemies, and you’ll often find them being spawned right behind you, which, let’s face it, is just plain annoying! The maps (and there are a lot of them, 16 to be precise) are nothing special and are on the small side, they are well balanced, but apart from that, I can’t find anything positive to say about them. There is no improvement graphics wise, which I was highly disappointed about, as I was expecting at least some sort of improvement from a game as big as this!

Modern Warfare 3

One significant change in the game is the new ‘Point-streak‘ system, and this is a great advantage for the less skillful players, also known as ‘noobs’ to the more hardcore players. Instead of being rewarded for kills, you now gain rewards by points. You can receive points from a number of actions including: Plants, defends, assists, defuses, kills, head-shots. If you’re one of the people who can’t get more than 3 kills on the run, then you’ll love the ‘Point-streak’ system. I, however am not overly impressed with this new feature, it’s so easy to get a reward now that it feels like too much is going on at once. I much prefer the Kill-streak rewards system, for me it made the online experience a lot more challenging.

My overall views on the multiplayer are mostly negative, I found it to be a huge anti-climax, yes this may be down to me expecting maybe too much, but wasn’t everyone? In my honest opinion MW3 is basically what Modern Warfare 2 should have been. I can’t help but feel the online is just glorified DLC for Modern Warfare 2, and for the people who bought the game just to play online, well you’ve just wasted £45.00.

Modern Warfare 3

Special Ops

With a fantastic campaign, it’s a shame the multiplayer is such a let down. However the Spec Ops saves the online experience from being completely dire. With a choice of mission scenarios, and a new Survival mode it’s a fantastic addition to the game. In the new Survival mode you’re up against enemies that are fast, smart, and increasingly difficult to beat. You can take part in the missions individually, in an online co-op or on split-screen. The action is much more intense and exciting than the previous installment. Unfortunately I haven’t spent a lot of time playing the Spec Ops mode, but from what I’ve already played, I can already tell I’ll be playing it numerous times. This mode provides a very enjoyable experience, especially when paired with a reliable partner, and to be successful, communication is essential!

What are your thoughts on the campaign, multiplayer and game as a whole? Does it live up to your expectations? What are your views on the franchise as a whole?

Modern Warfare 3 is currently widely available from Comet.co.uk (£44.99), TheHut.com (£42.95), Gamestation (39.99), Blockbuster.co.uk (£39.99), Best Buy UK (£39.49), Toys R Us (£38.89), Base.com (£36.99), Play.com (£35.99), Tesco Entertainment (£34.99), Sainsbury’s Entertainment (£34.99), Amazon.co.uk (£34.91), HMV (£34.91), Zavvi (£34.85), eBay.co.uk (from £34.95 at time of publishing).

Zoë Ainscough is a musician, drummer and lover of Iron Maiden. A PS3 gamer, her favourite games are Uncharted, Tekken, and the Call of Duty games. She is based in Liverpool, has interests in gaming, music and football and Tweets regularly at @ZoeeA.