In the last few weeks, some top-notch video games have hit the market, Uncharted 3, Gears of War 3, Batman: Arkham City, and Battlefield 3 (well, at least the multiplayer half is great). But it's a safe bet that no 2011 game will be hotter than Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, the latest installment in Activision's storied first-person shooter franchise. So what do the critics have to say about Modern Warfare 3? Let's go to the scorecards.
"The bigger-than-life plot touches down in London, Paris, Berlin and Prague, as well as Siberia and Somalia," writes Mike Snider of USA Today. "Players will be pleased to again be teamed up with returning characters, Task Force 141 members Capt. John Price and John 'Soap' MacTavish, who at the end of Modern Warfare 2 was wounded while dispatching a bad guy, renegade U.S. Gen. Hershel Shepherd. There's still work for Price and Soap to do because the ultranationalist Russian force remains on U.S. soil. The game involves tracking down its leader, Vladimir Makarov. What ensues is a tour of duty that lasts about six to 10 hours -- depending on how you play-- of adrenaline-surging action."
The story, part two
"The plot serves as a showcase for the spectacular setpieces, the excellent weapon balance, but also the futility of war," writes Ashton Raze of the Telegraph. "There are brief moments of reflection, the sense of loss and rage and futility conveyed surprisingly well for a game which is all about shooting people in the face. It doesn't hide the fact that in this context, it's making wargames fun, but never tries to glorify this either. The goal here seems not to shock but to impress, but the game isn't afraid to take the occasional time out to remind you that yes, war isn't very nice. It's comfortably the best Call of Duty campaign yet, with consistent high points and none of the lows that have occasionally punctuated past games."
The story, part three
"Still, Modern Warfare 3's campaign suffers from a run of the mill story and the patented Call of Duty monster closet syndrome, a common shooter ailment that occurs when infinitely spawning enemies pour from around corners, doors and stairs without end... The story is difficult to follow as usual," notes Anthony Gallegos of IGN, "and while it does wrap up the arc begun by the previous Modern Warfare games, it isn't ultimately all that interesting or satisfying. Moments of emotional weight fell flat as I found it difficult to muster up feelings of sadness about the death of one named soldier after witnessing the countless deaths of hundreds of other Americans."
"Activision continues to wring richly detailed settings from a mostly unambitious engine, which again sets it apart from the hugely ambitious spectacle of Battlefield 3's graphics," writes the team at GamePro. "Your console version will not be compromised, your PC will not be overly taxed, and yet everything will break, collapse, or blow up at exactly the right designated moment. Not-very-bright men will be shot by the hundreds along the way. It will all be very war-like and just cinematic enough."
The graphics, part two
"Modern Warfare 3 comes to us by way of an older engine, but still looks great," notes Mr. Gallegos. "Sure, it's not among the very best out there nowadays, but it performs well. At any given time the screen appears ready to burst with effects and visual madness. Entire battles are waged before you; buildings burn and crumble while a steady flow of explosions batter your senses. This is Call of Duty, and Modern Warfare 3 collects these moments of boom in abundance, presenting them in all their 60 frames-per-second glory."
"There isn't a huge list of new multiplayer features to go around, but the few that are there really work hard to change the game," writes Mike Schramm of Joystiq. "Gone is the frequent goofiness of Black Ops (no crossbow, no remote-controlled exploding cars, no zombies, no Nuketown); instead, the game offers a strong core-focused competitive game, designed to pit players against each other without a lot of fluff."
The multiplayer, part 2
"16 new maps to play on, a completely redesigned progression system for both your player and your weapons, and a newly remodeled perks system, will definitely give you plenty to unlock, and test to your heart's content," writes William Schwartz of Attack of the Fanboy. "The gameplay is largely the same as its predecessors at its core, however. Subtle tweaks from COD: Black Ops have removed diving, and of course the weapons are of the more modern variety, but all in all it's a COD game. The biggest changes really occur in the new progression system. You'll still be leveling your online account as usual, but this time around, getting more kills with each weapon will unlock new attachments that you can use on each gun."
The last word
"[Modern Warfare 3 is] thrilling and familiar in equal measure – but never, ever boring," writes Dan Whitehead of Eurogamer. "That the single-player story brings the Modern Warfare saga to a fairly definitive end is, then, cause for celebration. Whatever next year's entry brings, some measure of reinvention will be essential. For now, its exuberant blend of... bravado and blockbuster gloss ensures that Call of Duty retains its crown as the shooter genre's biggest, boldest rollercoaster ride for at least one more year."