Do you still like Call of Duty? I don’t mean the WWII shooters that started the franchise, I mean the multiplayer-focused more modern ones that have become as akin to November as the Saw film series was to Halloween. Every year, since 2007, we’ve gotten the latest entry in the series, and it hasn’t really evolved. It hasn’t needed to. Last year’s Black Ops is the best selling game ever. For better or for worse, the Call of Duty franchise is the dominant one for the medium, and the Modern Warfare games define it.
Picking up where Modern Warfare 2, the campaign basically explodes at you non-stop for 5 hours. Everything was as you left it: Price, Soap and Nikolai are hunting Makarov, the evil Russian who forced the USA and Russia into war. Soap is still really badly injured, Price is still really pissed, Makarov still has a really distinct, evil voice. As is always the case, you’ll play as a few soldiers all over the world, getting to see the fight from our disavowed heroes’ POV as well as visit the front as Americans and good Russians.
Modern Warfare campaigns were never very long, but I was done with this one in four and a half hours. Two sittings. That’s not a lot of time. But, when you consider that Infinity Ward basically imploded during this game’s development, it’s obvious that something had to give. Most every level feels short, but the story is full of pretty crazy moments that culminates in a very finite conclusion. It’s hard to imagine them calling a game Modern Ware 4, since Infinity Ward is such a different company now, so it’s nice to get a clean break.
In comparing Modern Warfare 3‘s campaign to Battlefield 3‘s, it’s a little difficult to qualify why Call of Duty is better. I guess in part it’s because this game is so over-the-top. While Battlefield 3 made a big show of knocking down a building, in Modern Warfare 3, the Eiffel Tower will get totally unnecessarily toppled right in front of you. While it does have its fair share of turret sequences, they’re generally more entertaining simply because more craziness is going on. Gunfights are just as clearly linear, but that’s really not the issue with either game.
There are plenty of people who probably never even played the Modern Warfare campaigns. For them, these games live and die by their multiplayer. And, once again, not much has changed. Gone is everything that Black Ops did, this one is basically identical to Modern Warfare 2. The most meaningful evolution is the way streaks work. Now called pointstreaks, you’ll earn credit for objective now, instead of just kills. You get to choose a “strike package,” which alters what kind of streaks you can get. The classic style is the assault package. With the support package, your streak continues even when you die, but as a result, your perks are more defensive. The specialist package has to do with consecutive kills and rewards you with perks. It’s a great new system that helps lesser players, like myself.
In a great move, the zombies mode is gone and Spec Ops is back. Spec Ops was probably the best part of Modern Warfare 2, giving players fun two-player missions to complete together. It’s just as fun this time around, although keeping it limited to two players was a mistake. This stuff is really good, let me play it with all my friends! The more the merrier, as they say. They, being my cold-blooded killer, Call of Duty-playing friends.
So do you still like Call of Duty? There’s two ways you can answer and either is fine. If you like ’em, good on you, here’s some more of that. If you don’t, if you’ve been fatigued by the series lack of progress bigger than the occasional baby step, well, at least this presents you an opportunity to put an end to the story that started five years ago. If you even care.