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Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3

Score: 89%
ESRB: Mature
Publisher: Activision
Developer: Infinity Ward
Media: Download/1
Players: 1; 1 - 2 (Spec Ops); 4 - 8 (Free-for-All); 8 12 (All Other Online Modes); 12 18 (Ground War)
Genre: First Person Shooter/ Strategy/ Simulation

Graphics & Sound:

It's safe to say that Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 is one of the hottest games of 2011. Even if you didn't hear about its five-day worldwide sell-through record of more than $775 million or its 1.4 million simultaneous users, you have probably noted that MW3-licensed keyboards, mice, headsets, earbuds, controllers and consoles abound. Luckily, it's not all merely hype.

MW3 has some pretty graphics; highly detailed models and terrains, and destructible environment pieces abound. It's pretty on the Xbox 360 and the PS3, as well, but while those are simply going to work and look the same on any console they play on, the graphics on the Windows version depends on your hardware. Due to this, your graphics can be really nice... or not so nice, depending on your PC. On my system, the graphics were really nice, in general, but I encountered occasional stutter in the CG cut-scenes. I have no idea why, since it's on my hard drive, not on an optical drive, but it wasn't overly distracting, and it didn't affect actual gameplay, so I'm not complaining too much. Just know that, as always, on PC, your mileage may vary.

The sound effects are well done, both realistic and highly directional, which allows you to trust that when you hear a gunshot on the left... there's something dangerous to your left. The Campaign Mode features more sweeping music during the cut-scenes that accent the story, while the multiplayer only has music at the beginning and end of rounds. This isn't a bad thing, however, as it allows you to hear lots of useful ambient sounds, from the sounds of transformers humming to the sounds of the arctic winds blowing or, perhaps, the sounds of an enemy's footfalls as he rounds the corner.


Gameplay:

There are three different modes to choose from in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3: Spec Ops, Single Player Campaign and Multiplayer. Single Player Campaign continues the story from Modern Warfare 2 and provides around 6-8 hours of gameplay, give or take, with some nice twists and turns and some interesting cinematic scenes and drama, as fans of the series have come to expect.

Spec Ops is for one or two players (cooperative), and features two different game types: Missions and, my favorite, Survival. Missions sets you (and, possibly, a friend) up in one of the scenarios from the Campaign. Survival puts you in a hopeless situation, in the middle of a hot zone being attacked by an onslaught of wave after wave of enemies. You'll have to use your wits, spend your money wisely and - if you have a second player playing with you - carefully coordinate with your teammate if you want to survive. As you progress through the waves, you will unlock the ability to purchase new equipment: weapons and ammo, tactical equipment... even air strikes. Put them to good use and you'll make things a bit easier on yourself. Case in point, I've put out enough Claymore mines that an entire wave went by without having to fire a shot.

As mentioned above, 1.4 million MW3 players have played online at the same time. More than 3.3 million unique gamers played Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 in a single day on November 8. These numbers may sound like simple marketing hype, but this is an important factor when it comes to the online gameplay. With such a staggering number of players, it doesn't take long to find enough players to play a match of whatever multiplayer game mode you want to play. I do, however, wonder what makes the inner workings of the player matching service tick, however, since when I was just starting out, I was finding myself in matches with players at level 80. Perhaps it's merely random luck of the draw; it certainly seems it. I would have preferred to be grouped with players at least remotely near my level.

The only complaint I've heard about Modern Warfare 3 is that it's too much like Modern Warfare 2. Then again, I've also had one person tell me that's exactly what they like about it; Modern Warfare 2 was an awesome game. The story mode continues the existing storyline, and the multiplayer mode is different - it's toned down some perks that made things a bit unbalanced, and, with the introduction of Support Strike Packages and Perks, made room for those who aren't necessarily gung-ho run-and-gun types, but prefer to assist teammates and, perhaps, camp and snipe. Personally, I'm not typically a FPS player, but I found Modern Warfare 3 enjoyable... multiplayer's fun, and Spec Ops is a blast.


Difficulty:

The single player Campaign Mode offers some interesting gameplay, and I personally found the game to be challenging, yet not frustrating, at the Regular difficulty setting. There are four difficulty settings to choose from, however: Recruit, Regular, Hardened and Veteran. The main difference between the difficulty is the skill of the A.I. opponents and how forgiving damage is.

The Campaign Mode is fairly forgiving; when you die, you will start at the last checkpoint, of which there are quite a few. If you find you are having problems progressing, however, you can hone your skills in Spec Ops Missions or Survival or, if need be, back down to an easier difficulty level.

Of course, when playing online, the difficulty will depend, to a large degree, on your opponents. That's why I find it odd that I would typically end up in games with players at levels much higher than mine. Being a novice thrown in with much more experienced players, I found that it can be helpful to carefully choose your game type, loadout and, well, your goals.

I found that, when starting out in multiplayer, certain game types expect less out of you, personally, as part of a team. These let you flounder a bit, learn the maps and get some experience without letting your team down too much if you suck. Free-for-All is an obvious choice here, as you're all on your own and if you play poorly, well, the other players are merely happy to have an easy kill... meanwhile, they all have to worry about everyone else on the map, as well.

Another low-impact game type is Search and Destroy. In this mode, there are no respawns. This makes camping not such a bad thing, and, quite frankly, if you manage to take out a single opposing player, you've pretty much done your fair share. Plus, if you die early and use the rest of the match watching your teammates and taking notes, you may learn a thing or two that will come in handy down the road.

Another low-impact game type is the Juggernaut Mode, which sadly, isn't available very early on. In this mode, it's everyone against a single player in Juggernaut armor. Your goal is, basically, to be the last shot on someone in the Juggernaut armor, causing you to gain the armor and then to take out as many players as you can once you're in the suit.

The main thing in multiplayer is not to give up. The more you play, the better you'll be and, since your weapons actually level up with use, find a gun you really like and stick with it and you'll find you level that gun up to something more useful quickly.


Game Mechanics:

While a high-end gaming rig can give you better graphics than the console versions, gaming on the PC is inevitably more susceptible to cheating. During my online gameplay, I witnessed some things that were fairly obviously cheating, such as people shooting opponents through permeable walls without being able to see them.

Quite frankly, I've heard and seen quite a bit about cheating in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 and about "glitching" which means using an existing bug in the game's software to do something unexpected and use it as an advantage to improve your performance. I've read that a lot of players are being banned for this and it's made me afraid that I might accidentally happen upon one of these glitches and get banned, myself. It makes it bad, when you don't know what glitches they're referring to. I've found myself in a corner against a wall and the graphics messed up, allowing me to see through the wall. If I watch through that wall, am I subject to being banned? And, if I don't, do I end up getting shot by someone on the other side of the wall who stood there using the glitch and saw me coming?

This is a PC game, so there will be patches coming soon. Likely, a lot of the glitches will be fixed. It's not unreasonable to expect an update by Christmas that will fix a lot of these types of problems. However, with a large amount of the draw of MW3 revolving around its online gameplay, it's sad for that experience to be tainted by rampant hacking and cheating.

Another thing that I found disappointing is that there is not, currently, a version of ELITE that supports the PC. There are reasons for this; foremost being the fact that the PC is an open platform, which is more conducive to hacking than consoles. While Activision is working with Infinity Ward and Sledgehammer Games in an attempt to create a Call of Duty ELITE membership offering for the PC, due to data security issues, Activision has stated that, "...there will not be an Call of Duty ELITE premium offering on the PC in the near future, but we are continuing to work towards a free Call of Duty ELITE offering and will continue to update the community with more information post launch." So, if you want to use ELITE, for the moment, you're limited to a console version of MW3.

Despite the glitches and cheating that are an issue, the game can still be great fun - especially if you're big into first person shooters. Expect this only to get better as patches get released to fix the glitches and better control the cheating. Cheating or no, MW3 is definitely one of the most popular games of 2011, and if you're looking for your FPS-playing friends, you'll most likely find them here; although, they might be playing a console version if they want access to ELITE.


-Geck0, GameVortex Communications
AKA Robert Perkins

Minimum System Requirements:



Windows XP/Vista/Win 7, Intel Core 2 Duo E6600 or AMD Phenom X38750 Processor or Better, 16 GB Free Hard Drive Space, 2GB RAM, Shader 3.0 or Better 256 MB NVIDIA GeForce 8600GT / ATI Radeon X1950 or Better Graphics Card, DirectX 9.0C or later
 

Test System:



AMD Athlon(tm) II X2 220 Processor 2.80 GHz, 4 GB dual-channel DDR3, ASUS Mainboard, CoolerMaster 850watt power supply, Dual boot: Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit / Windows XP Home Edition, Graphics: ATI Radeon 3000 (on motherboard) / XFX ATI Radeon HD 5750 1GB graphics card, Dual Monitors (Gateway HD2201 21\" HDMI / Sony SDM-HS73), 1.5 TB Western Digital Caviar Green SATA Hard Drive, 750 GB Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 SATA 3Gb/s Hard Drive, Logitech Gaming Mouse G9x Laser for Modern Warfare 3, Logitech Gaming Keyboard G105 for Modern Warfare 3, Logitech Z313 2.1-CH PC multimedia speaker system, A30 Gaming Headset / Munitio Billets Special Edition 9mm Earphones for Modern Warfare 3, Cable Modem

Related Links:



Nintendo DS Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3: Defiance Microsoft Xbox 360 Need for Speed: The Run

 
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