In case you’ve been living under a rock, the highly anticipated new entry in the Call of Duty franchise, Modern Warfare 3, was released on Tuesday to much fan fare. While I’ve only gotten about 2 hours into the single player campaign, I have logged over 10 hours on the multiplayer and about an hour or so on the Spec Ops. That being said I thought it would be a good time to give my impressions of the online experience. I will also be a guest on the Hippopodamus in a couple weeks discussing our impressions of the game so make sure to check that out when it airs.
To say that I was excited about this game is an understatement. I’ve been playing Black Ops for the past year and logged over 15 days worth of play time, prestiged 15 times and unlocked almost everything there is to unlock, but it was time for a change. After seeing screenshots and video of MW3 as the release date got closer, I had fears that this was basically going to be a glorified DLC/Map Pack for Modern Warfare 2… and honestly that’s kind of how it seems. That isn’t to say that I’m not enjoying the game, but at the same time I’m a little disappointed.
Click through for the rest of the review
The action in the game seems much quicker than previous installments of Call of Duty. It seems as though “Kill Streak Rewards” are tougher to attain (in the assault package) and the overall game speed seems jacked way up. Where I would absolutely crush people with assault rifles in the previous versions, I seem to be the one getting crushed now. It wasn’t until I switched to an SMG did I feel that my gun speed was able to keep up with the rest of the game. This isn’t a bad thing, it just forces me to learn a new set of guns and how they respond. The other thing that adds to the quickness of the game is the map size. It doesn’t seem as if there are any really large maps, but it could just be because all of the maps are extremely cluttered with stuff. Instead of making maps larger it seems as though they made them higher, meaning that there are more levels in the maps than space. Whether that’s buildings to climb into or areas to go underground, there’s just a lot more nooks and crannies for people to hide in. Now if this were Black Ops I would say that these maps would suck for those of you that like to use sniper rifles, but since Infinity Ward makes the sniper rifle a run-n-gun weapon in their entries, quick scopers are having no issues with this.
As far as loadouts, weaponry, kill streaks, etc are concerned I’m torn. Some things I really, really like and others I’m not too thrilled about. I know it’s a little unfair to say stuff like, “Why would they change things back after making them better in Black Ops” because I know that the development cycles overlap and these are two different studios developing the game. I’m not sure how much communication there is between the studios, but there are definitely some things that make it seem like IW took a step backwards.
Let’s start with weapon loadouts. I don’t really have too many major complaints here other than the fact that it’s a lot harder to use the assault rifles in this one due to the quick pace and smaller, more crowded, maps. I do hate the fact that the riot shield is back. It’s stupid and pointless and should never be put in a game again. I’m not a big fan of claymores/c4 being under “Lethal” instead of “Equipment”, but I guess I see the balancing ideas behind it. Quick scoping is what it is, I can get over it, but I definitely feel that it shouldn’t be in the game and sniper rifles should be used for sniping, not run-n-gun. Weapon proficiencies are a cool idea, but personally I don’t have a need for them and I actually found a few of them throwing me off. So far I haven’t seen any issues in terms of balance when it comes to guns, grenades and equipment, but we’ll see as more and more people start to get to the higher levels and unlock more powerful weapons.
The perks in the game also seem fairly balanced. I know a lot of people were worried about Assassin being too powerful in terms of stealth, but I honestly haven’t run into a huge problem with it. I will say that I’m not a fan of having Sleight of Hand and Extreme Conditioning in the same perk slot, but I’ll get over it. And is it me or does it seem like you can unlock the pro versions of the perks a lot faster than you could in Black Ops? I had barely even played on Tuesday night and it seemed like every perk I had in my loadouts were Pro versions already. So despite a few personal issues with the perks, I don’t see there being any huge issue with the inclusion of certain perks and the exclusion of others. Just glad that commando, one man army and last stand are gone from the perks, although last stand is still a death streak reward.
Now let’s talk about the Strike Packages and how they play into the game. I can tell you right now that along with the speed of the game, this is one area that the Berserk Hippo is going to rant about for weeks. There are 3 different Strike Packages in the game, Assault, Support and Specialist. Assault are your normal killstreak rewards that are now awarded to you based on kills as well as things like flag captures, domination points taken, bombs planted, etc. You get one point for each of those things that you complete that count towards your rewards. And yes, kills obtained through the use of one of these rewards can help you reach the next reward… lame. Black Ops had this right in that only kills by you as a person should count towards your kill streaks. It’s too easy to string rewards together to end up with a million helicopters and airplanes in the sky, just like MW2. The fast pace of the game does help with this a little, but it’s still a problem. This leads me into the Support Package. I think Infinity Ward was thinking that the Support Package would balance out the Assault Package in terms of aircrafts in the sky, and it does to a degree, but not enough. The Support Package never resets and allows those of you that can’t string together the kills to build up towards rewards that will help the entire team to attain the goal of the match. I actually prefer this one as opposed to Assault. I can consistently hit that 18 mark to get the Escort Airdrop which flies in, kills a bunch of people and drops 5 care packages… it’s kind of a beast. I also find that in order to balance out the aircrafts in the air, you absolutely need to have Sam Turrets on hand at all times. So I get where IW was going in terms of the strike packages balancing each other out, but I don’t know if it is as effective as they wanted. Also, there are too many damn UAVs. It’s too easy to get a UAV and an Advanced UAV that they might as well just show everyone on the map at all times. Oh, and going back to weapons for a second, why did they bring back the heartbeat sensor? Sorry, little tangent, back to the strike packages. Specialist is the last one and it basically just rewards you with extra perks as you string together kills. I honestly thought this is the one I’d be using the most, but after playing the game I honestly don’t see the point. Just like MW2 this game is all about the killstreak rewards whether IW wants you to play that way or not. All of the videos I saw from IW said that they wanted to focus on the gunplay in the game, but if that was their end goal, they failed.
So while I am enjoying the game and will continue to play it until the next iteration of the series comes out next year, I’m not sure why Infinity Ward made some of the choices that they did. I really hope that there are some larger, more spread out, maps in the future DLC’s so that people who like to actually snipe can get some practice in and have a good time. I also hope that in the future maybe Infinity Ward and Treyarch can talk and implement some of the good ideas from both games into the new one each year instead of having this weird every-other-year system. I’ll be honest, I was all about the Infinity Ward games in the past. I hated Call of Duty 3, it was terrible, Call of Duty 2 was incredible as well as Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. Treyarch started to get things right in World at War, but then Modern Warfare 2 came out and changed things up again. Black Ops was Treyarch’s way of giving the finger to all of us that doubted them in terms of this series. They perfected a lot of the gameplay, added a lot of things that the fans had been asking for and more. I was truly impressed with Black Ops and continued to play it up until Monday night. Now Infinity Ward is back, the birthers of the Call of Duty series… and now I feel like they aren’t living up to the bar set by Black Ops. Like I said, it’s a solid entry in the series, but there’s no real innovation here and it just feels like an expensive DLC for Modern Warfare 2… I will say though “Kill Confirmed” is a welcome addition to the game modes, but why doesn’t it show you your “confirmed/denied” in the end game stats? That seems dumb to me… I think it does it this in other game modes as well.
As for Spec Ops, I won’t talk too much, but the missions are fun, as they were in MW2, and the survival mode is a nice change of pace from the zombies in Black Ops. I don’t like the fact that only 2 people can play in the survival mode though, that’s kind of lame. I’ll probably play this mode once in a while, but most of the time I have more than 1 friend online that wants to play so this won’t work.
So what do you guys think of the multiplayer so far?