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Critical Reception: Sledgehammer And Infinity Ward's  Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3

Critical Reception: Sledgehammer And Infinity Ward's Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3

November 9, 2011 | By Danny Cowan




This week's edition of Critical Reception examines online reaction to Sledgehammer Games' and Infinity Ward's Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, which reviewers describe as "a startlingly huge, polished, and downright entertaining shooter experience." Modern Warfare 3 currently earns a score of 90 out of 100 at Metacritic.com.

Andrew Hayward at Official Xbox Magazine rates Modern Warfare 3 at 9.5 out of 10. "Over the course of the last seven Call of Duty games, we've seen almost every imaginable combination of soldiers, weapons, vehicles, and explosions," he notes. "So the surprises in Modern Warfare 3's single-player campaign simply aren't as surprising this time around; you'll probably anticipate some of the scripted moments that might've floored you once upon a time."

"Though that familiarity slices a thin layer of pop from the experience, Modern Warfare 3's campaign remains startlingly effective as a showcase of cinematic craftsmanship," Hayward says. "Every bit of the adventure demonstrates remarkable care and polish on the part of Infinity Ward and Sledgehammer Games so much so that this game is arguably the slickest Call of Duty to date."

The multiplayer modes are similarly refined. Hayward explains: "In addition to the expected batch of ranked play modes (like Domination and Team deathmatch), MW3 adds new options such as Kill Confirmed -- in which teams duel to collect the most dogtags from slain enemies -- and Team Defender, where your team earns points simply for holding the singular flag."

Hayward continues: "It's the Private match modes that offer some of the most pure fun we've had playing any Call of Duty game online. Wager Match holdovers Gun Game and One in the Chamber take on new life as 18-player affairs, while fresh modes like Juggernaut and Infection -- both of which center on killing and becoming hulking, heavily armored warriors -- are an absolute blast."

"Modern Warfare 3 serves up one startlingly huge, polished, and downright entertaining shooter experience," Hayward praises. "Sure, we can come up with a list of things we'd love to see from the series -- whether it's a revamped campaign approach or a revitalized game engine and aesthetic -- but when everything here is this well-executed and offers so many enduring thrills, it's hard to knock it too much. MW3 absolutely delivers."

Gamespot's Chris Watters scores Modern Warfare 3 at 8.5 out of 10. "Modern Warfare 3 stays the course, delivering an explosive campaign, breakneck competitive action, and challenging cooperative play," he begins. "This is an exciting and rewarding game, but the series' signature thrills have lost some of their luster. Modern Warfare 3 iterates rather than innovates, so the fun you have is familiar."

"As with its predecessors, the Modern Warfare 3 campaign has a few tricks up its sleeve aimed to shake you up or make you cry out with excitement," Watters explains. "The latter are more successful than the former. A jet flight gone wrong and a chase through Parisian streets are highlights, using environmental upheaval to make you feel like you are struggling for control in an out-of-control situation.

"These sections are definitely exciting, but because Call of Duty has trained you to expect the unexpected, they lack the extra spark of surprise that kicks exciting up to thrilling. Modern Warfare 3 also takes a startlingly out-of-place shot at wrenching your heartstrings, but the outcome is so obvious from the moment the scene starts that you're left to watch dispassionately as the characters set up and fall victim to tragedy."

Watters praises the game's new Survival mode: "Survival pits you against wave after wave of increasingly difficult AI enemies on the same maps you encounter in competitive multiplayer. [...] As you progress through waves and earn money for killing enemies, you gain access to hotspots where you can purchase items from your unlocked arsenal. While you can always pick up the guns your enemies drop in a pinch, the weapons you purchase are likely to be the ones that give you staying power."

"Modern Warfare 3 doesn't take any chances with the tried-and-true formula," Watters admits. "Whatever diversions or innovations may lie in Modern Warfare 3's future, the competitive multiplayer still offers the same sweet satisfaction you've come to expect from the series. This is some of the best online shooter action around, and with the daunting challenges of Spec Ops and the exciting, globe-trotting campaign, Modern Warfare 3 stands tall as another great descendant of the game that changed a generation."

Tom Chick at GamePro gives Modern Warfare 3 4 out of 5 stars. "If you want another go-round on Activision's action movie rollercoaster, you'll get just what you want," he writes. "But the uninterested party should know that this go-round has some important differences. In fact, this might be the Call of Duty for you."

"New to Modern Warfare 3 is perhaps one of the single most important additions for us: the Support Killstreaks," Chick continues. "This tracks your kills over the course of the match. So even if you're frequently on the wrong end of a rifle, you can still call in fun toys like the recon drone, stealth bomber, and juggernaut suit. What's more, Killstreaks aren't just Killstreaks anymore. You can earn credit with assists and game mode objectives like capturing points. The basics of multiplayer are still the same, but now it's more democratic, varied, and flexible."

Chick finds that Modern Warfare 3's multiplayer is more accessible than it was in previous Call of Duty titles. "If you're not interested in the leveling-up process, Modern Warfare 3 is exactly the Call of Duty for you," he asserts. "Players can host private matches in which they set their own rules, including some special game modes you might recognize from other games. In these private matches, everything is unlocked. Everything. You can make any kind of loadout you want, bring along any weapon fitted with any mod, use any perk, and line up any Killstreak."

The campaign suffers, however. "The single-player is the usual nonsense, ponderously written as if you closely followed the nonsense in the last game," Chick says. "It's mostly an incoherent jumble among different locales with various characters, including a new guy who turns out to be the Zelig of Modern Warfare. It's all very serious, self-important, and familiar."

"At least it's spectacular nonsense," Chick concludes. "Not-very-bright men will be shot by the hundreds along the way. It will all be very war-like and just cinematic enough. It will be yet another go-round on the same rollercoaster. And this time, to enjoy it fully, you won't have to measure up at a sign that says 'you must be this obsessed with multiplayer to ride this ride.'"


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