...In which the word f*** is used a lot. Does the game deserve it?
Why Did I Play Modern Warfare 3?
Do you remember Half-life 2? How gloriously linear it was? how its pacing shifted from intense action to calm puzzle solving? How it actually trusted the player to figure things out? Well, that era is a distant memory, with brief flashes of brilliance every now and then (far cry 3). The aggressive hand-holding and cheap melodrama of Modern Warfare 3, along with the terrible Battlefield 3 campaign, served to remind us that a truly great first person shooter hadn't been released since the first Modern Warfare. The best modern military shooter released since then, was a brutal evisceration of the entire genre and the people who play them. Spec Ops: The Line revealed how far games like MW3 had crossed the line of decency and gameplay limitations, it had bared the soul of the entire genre, and the black heart of its player characters. After the line had finally been crossed, People started to take notice, heck, even Treyarch had to take a step back and go in another direction with the positive steps of Black Ops 2. While the Modern Military Shooter is on its last legs (medal of honour warfighter), it's worthwhile to take a look at the game that started its downfall. Today I bring you Modern Warfare 3.
Modern Warfare 3 is a borderline terrible game. Filled to the brim with misguided level, art and sound design decisions. Oh sure, almost everyone came for the multiplayer, but the single player is still included on the disc, and therefore must be taken to task for the terrible things it asks of us, and the blatant emotional manipulation it forces on us. (show video of davis family vacation)
Warning: Massive spoilers ahead! skip ahead to the summary for the lite-opinion.
This is a continuation of the story from Modern Warfare 2, which saw Russia Invading the United States, and throws us into the final days of the russian occupation of new york city. The problems with the story start here. We are introduced to the Delta Force team Metal, who are in no way comparable to the marine battalion you fought with in MW2, and they single handedly win the war in America. I'm not even kidding. You fight through New York (beginning with the single most cliche moment i've ever heard, show RPG shout moment), facing the entire Russian army along the way, fight through the stock exchange, which for some reason is undergoing construction and is almost unrecognizable, and take down a full spectrum jammer which apparently causes every single russian soldier to instantly disappear from the battlefield. You then penetrate a submarine, after a blink and you'll miss it underwater section, and use its missiles to take out the entire russian navy. Imma stop you there k. First off, what happened to the US Navy? wasn't it the strongest in the world? Larger than the next 13 largest navies combined? How did they let the entire Russian Navy just sit there in the New York Harbour? I could understand the air assault in Modern Warfare 2. That felt plausible. But I just can't fathom why, even after the EMP blast completely knocked the wind out of the Russian assault, the Russian Navy suddenly dominates. Second, if the jammer was so important, why was it so lightly defended? Couldn't the Russians have posted a full fucking armoured division to protect their most important defence against American firepower? Third, if their entire navy was destroyed by the missile attack, how did they evacuate all of their troops without a massive slaughter? I know that they could have left a lot of troops behind, but I know they didn't, because if they did, then they wouldn't have had the manpower necessary for the next plot point.
You then shift to task force 101, and are introduced to a completely new character out of the blue named Yuri, and off we go to the ludicrous races. You, captain Price, and a wounded yet perfectly fine Soap, fight off hundreds of attackers, who are armed with helicopters, advanced weaponry and well, they fucking outnumber you by the hundreds. But they all fall victim to an rc car with unlimited ammo and the ability to soak up damage like a sponge while remaining perfectly functional.
You then switch to playing as a Russian Secret service agent, protecting the russian leader who is going to negotiate peace with the west. Finally, some sense is being made, but then terrorists hijack the plane, in such numbers that we have to wonder how the heck they got on the plane in the first place. A couple of gunfights later and you survive getting hit with an engine in a plane crash. You then proceed to fight off more attackers, while the russian president's daughter gets evacuated...through the dead of the russian winter...in the middle of nowhere with no help in sight. Remember that, it'll come up later. You kill all possible threats in the area and are about to get the president onto a helicopter to safety, when Makarov appears and you stand there and are able to do nothing for the full 20 seconds it takes for him to shoot you. I wish I was kidding. Makarov then shows us what he really is, a bond villain, not the good kind like Alec Trevalyn or Raoul Silva, but the bad kind, like Max Zorin or Gustav Graves. (Show footage: russia will take all of europe, even if it must etc.) A perfectly reasonable response to decisive military defeat there Makarov. You then die, pathetically, without artistic purpose. The way you are introduced to this character, whose name escapes me (andrei markov), is emblematic of the poor decisions MW3 makes overall. In Mw2 you played several characters who ended up dying, Roach and Pvt. Allen. But you got to play as them and realize their relations to other characters and the plot for at least a mission before they were killed, in short, their deaths meant something, or at least you could empathize with them. Mw3 introduces us to no fewer than 6 characters whom we aren't able to empathize with or care about because our glimpses of them are fleeting, and cliche blips on the radar.
The scene then shifts to africa, where atrocities do tend to happen in real life, but where taste goes out the window. You basically get to do nothing except follow Price and Soap for the first half of the mission. The first really really bad, as in completely terrible part of this game is here. You are basically forced to do nothing as innocent people are killed, never mind the fact that your allies have proven able to hold off literally hundreds of attackers before, but now you are reduced to allowing an atrocity to happen in front of you, all for preserving a stealth cloak that gets thrown off anyways literally 5 minutes later. Fuck you game, at least in MW2's no Russian mission, you had a reason, an actionable, justifiable reason not to act in the face of the horror (show general shepherd telling you" it'll be nothing compared to all who you'll save"), but here you feel incredibly awful for not doing anything. Theoretically you could try and kill all of the enemies, but you usually end up inhaling every bullet ever if you try, so action is useless. You then fight your way through a corridor of lemmings, to get to the plot device, which you just missed. Onward to london, where you play as an sas operative who might as well be nameless for all the effect he has on the plot, as you track down the missing plot device. After causing enough havoc to classify as a large scale disaster, you find that all of the carnage was worth it to discover... absolutely nothing, your efforts were worthless. We then go on to the single most offensively tasteless event in modern day video games, the Davis Family Vacation. No Russian was a masterpiece, the massacre was a poignant reminder of powerlessness in the face of such inhuman slaughter. Davis Family Vacation, on the other hand, might as well be a snuff film, based around a child. We are now all phedophiliacs getting off on the death of a child. Thanks Infinity Ward! Perhaps it is making the same point as No Russian, but it fails precisely because you aren't carrying a weapon, which helped No Russian attain its emotional highs. The fact that you could choose to join in or not was powerful in its implications, which Spec Ops: The Line carried through its veins. In MW3 you are only forced to watch and this dilutes its message considerably to say the least. in regards to the surrounding lunacy and tone problems of the game, this is the single worst level in FPS history.
World War 3 then starts in Europe,(show yahtzee's footage: as in all of it simultaneously) after a large scale chemical attack that, in all rights, would have led to full-scale nuclear retaliation. That speaks for itself. You are forced to go in and rescue the vice president, And the level of firepower you can bring to bear on the enemy beaches really brings up the question as to how the Russians ever proved capable of bringing their entire navy to New York in the first place. But enough of that, you fight through the corridors, while killing hundreds of russians in an unstoppable tank, and for what? A pointless plot thread? This mission would have had more impact if you were rescuing the president himself, at least that would have had more bearing on the plot, as it would have been necessary to secure peace in the war.
The next mission is the best in the game, as you go after the man who shipped the chemical warheads to Europe. It's a fast paced, chaotic mission, that really should have been the template for the game to build off of. But it's sadly short-lived.
The scene then shifts to paris, where the guy who built the chemical weapons is hiding right inside an allied city for some stupid reason. You link up with a french special forces team, after picking your way through a mountain of civilian corpses (courtesy of Infinity Ward), you locate him in the famous catacombs.....Why the fuck is he hiding in one of the most famous places in the city? Sure it's underground, but couldn't he be holed up in a fortress bristling with enemy tanks and machine guns? You chase him down, ram his car, and he miraculously survives a huge car crash. Whew. You then take the wheel of an AC-130 to rain death down on your enemies. Here's another massive problem with the game. Modern Warfare 1's Ac-130 mission was cold and sterile, with no soundtrack pumping you up as you remorselessly killed your enemies. It was a stunningly effective statement on the disconnect between the banter of the flight crew and the carnage on the ground, it was, in short, a work of art. MW3's approach is to flat out glorify this sort of bullshit with soaring music and a frankly ridiculous amount of enemies to utterly destroy with impunity. It's stupidity on a level normally reserved for the worst porn films and that's really what this game is, pure unadulterated action porn. You shift between the AC-130 and the delta team on the ground until you reach a bridge with a nice view of the Eiffel Tower...oh no, surely you're not going to push the boundaries of taste again by destroying a national monum.....(show destruction)...and then glorify it.....(show uplifting music)...fuck this game.
You shift back to Price and the gang, as you learn that Makarov is going to be meeting in the middle of prague. You encounter another moment like the one in Africa (show going under the bridge), but the moment is not as terrible because you can't hold a weapon while swimming (show africa emerging)....well that's my excuse and i'm sticking with it. Anyways, you hook up with the resistance, lead by a familiar face, and strike off into the city to intercept makarov. Of course this serves as a thin justification for launching a full-scale attack on the russian forces in the city, with disastrous consequences for your allies. It starts off stealthy, but instead of reliving the brilliant chernobyl level once again, you are just led along on rails, with no real input on the situation until all stealth is thrown out the window. The russian forces seem to be a little too keen on gunning down civilians in this level ya know. (show montage) Anyhoo. after a huge battle, you make it to a church across from where the meeting is to take place. The next day Makarov arrives, despite the obvious security risk of the resistance having just fought a large-scale battle right next to the location, and gains the power of clairvoyance, having captured your friend. He thought of everything apparently, he even deduced the exact room, of the exact building you'd be in and lined it with a shit-ton of explosives. BOOM. wait a minute. Yuri and Soap are trained operatives, the best in the world, and they didn't think to check the room for explosives? or that it was secure? You pick up the wounded soap, and gain the ability to dodge every bullet in the world, despite not having that ability during normal gameplay (show me dying). Seriously, there's an entire armoured division firing at you, a slow moving target, and they can't hit you!! You eventually arrive at a resistance safe house where soap gets a melodramatic death scene which, after all of the death and carnage you have reigned so far and the terrible performances of the actors, comes off as more than a little false. Yuri is then forced to confess his past to Price, having been named by Soap as knowing makarov. We then see Makarov and Yuri shoehorned into every significant event of the first game, which even further highlights the absurdity of Makarov's villainy. It's not a pretty plot picture we've been drawing up so far kids, and the game is not coming out of this without a bloody nose.
A stealth section then follows, but god is it terrible. You might as well be a parrot on Price's shoulder for most of the level, as you have just as much control as one, but at least the parrot can fucking fly away if things get dicey. You literally get to do nothing but follow him for half of the level. I don't know what school the level designers went to, but they obviously didn't pay enough. This is bad to the point of nearly making me quit the game, it obviously doesn't need me there for anything other than lip service. we finally get to some shooting sections, but the damage to this game has been done. We learn that Makarov is looking for the russian President's daughter, so he can force him to give up the nuclear launch codes. From there we go to Metal team in berlin.....
Wait another second, how the heck did the daughter get from the middle of nowhere and with hundreds of enemy troops and helicopters searching for them, to Berlin, and not get caught already? Sigh...You fail to rescue her in yet another near miss, which is a really terrible way to drive a plot btw. Does this entire game only serve as a checklist? It seems as if the entire invasion of europe was only thrown in at the last minute for a sightseeing tour, and an ugly one at that. This is an entire world war we're talking about here, and so far it's being resolved incredibly quickly, and no nukes are even being thrown around to account for its short length.
The next mission has you rescuing the Russian President and his daughter from a freaking mine. After battling through what should be an incredibly weakened force after all of their defeats so far, you manage to free the president's daughter and blow away the president's captors (in an ingenious sequence, one of the few in the game). With the mine now collapsing from all of the explosions, your forces race towards a helicopter for an overlong, and mawkish death sequence for Delta Team Metal. Let's examine this scene shall we. You have a huge amount of fire being thrown your way, in an amount that makes it certain that your entire team should have died a long time ago. The Delta team could easily have broken off the engagement and gotten on the helicopter, as barely any russians are rushing forward to greet death anyways. And it's miraculous that none of the bullets have struck the president to death. We've barely gotten to know the Delta team from its expository dialogue, and we're not emotionally invested in their deaths as we were with, say, Sgt. Briggs and Gaz from the first game, or even Roach and Ghost from MW2. If the Metal team had been introduced in any of the previous games, or had any dialogue that didn't portend to the plot or technical lingo, we might have felt an attachment, as such, nothing works as intended.
The Russian president then signs a peace treaty with the states, neglecting the fact that they launched what were effectively WMD's on civilian population centres, and not even on American cities, but on nations with their own independent nuclear arsenal's, which would have been right to have launched nuclear strikes on Russia for such acts. But alas we dredge our way towards the final mission, where anti-climactic doesn't even do justice to the events.
Price and Yuri assault a hotel in dubai, wearing juggernaut uniforms, and shoot their way to an elevator. A helicopter, after being shot down, hits your elevator....wait, wait wait wait.. again? (show footage of helicopter hitting delta team hell). Helicopter's DO NOT DO THIS! IT'S PREPOSTEROUS IN EVERY SENSE OF THE WORD. Jeez. You rebound from that stupid stupid moment to get shot at with rockets and transform the game into a quicktime bonanza. After downing the helicopter that Makarov tried to escape in, you find yourself at gunpoint. Now here's the final insult. Yuri saves your life, but gets killed in the process. Here's where it would have been appropriate to get at least some acknowledgement of his sacrifice, but it's one of the few things not rammed into our faces, so I guess the developers just gave up. You quicktime your way into hanging makarov and light a cigar...And that's it. A man who set the world ablaze with war and that's it.......(deep breath)...Continue to spec ops? no thanks.
In brief, this is a terrible excuse for a story in a video game. Too many plot holes, utter garbage for dialogue, terrible characters, a shocking lack of awareness, and no sense of closure make this one of the more reprehensible video game narratives ever put to code. The biggest problem however, is its bizarre tonal shifts. It wants to be super serious, but then has us facing a bond villain, it wants to show real world implications of violence, but then has us mowing down hundreds of russians from the safety of an unstoppable airplane. There was so much potential here, with a whole world going to war, but this campaign, which clocks in at about 4-6 hours, is too short to take any advantage of its setting. The compressed timeframe also exacerbates the tonal problems and makes them unforgivable.
This is an ugly game, with impossibly jagged textures and bland colour palettes. The game looks like someone vomited over every texture and placed a brown filter over the lens, it's unholy. Your allies and enemies are clad in hideous shades of grey and yellow, adding to the ugliness. Buildings look like cereal boxes with bricks painted on them, and smoke looks like someone fooling around with Microsoft paint. There's seriously a spark effect that looks like it was made with the airbrush tool. There are whole sections of the game whose assets are ripped from previous games with no effort to disguise them whatsoever.There's nothing memorable about any of the levels, with most blending together in a grey-brown mass. Make no mistake, this is one of the absolute worst-looking AAA games of this generation.
Sound Design And Music
Recycling is a noble goal, it helps save resources and helps heal the planet, except when it causes me to actively root against it on principle because of this game. I realize that, on a yearly release schedule, there isn't a way to totally recreate every single sound in the game, but come one. There are sounds in here re-used from the fucking world war 2 call of duty's. Every gun sounds the exact same, explosions sound the same, even the hyenas sound the same, as stuff from MW2 and I thought that that game had great sound design. But now that i've played through this monstrosity, MW2 comes out looking worse. Thanks for ruining your previous games for me Infinity Ward.
Technically, it's not a bad sounding game, but it's certainly not a top-tier experience. Dialogue is where a lot of the story gets its impact, but a lot of it, and i do mean a lot, gets drowned out beneath the battle ambiences. As a result, the story suffers. Some top-notch voice talent was hired for this game, but, aside from Timothy Olyphant as a snotty sniper, no one comes across as memorable or particularly inspired. The worst characters are Makarov and Captain Price, who spew platitudes and flowery dialogue as if they know what the words mean, but can't quite grasp the subtleties.
The Music by Brian Tyler comes off better though. It actually tries its best to do something memorable, but it tries too hard to recreate hans Zimmer's sublime score from MW2, which is still one of the best soundtracks of all time. As a result, it just kind of fills the sonic spaces, with the heroic theme being used way too much for it to have much impact (show montage of it being used). All-in-all, the music is the best part of this game, but even it's not that great. And everything good about this game gets lost in some of the worst sound mixing your ears will ever have the "privilege" of hearing.
All of the flaws of the single-player campaign overwhelm any clever moments, any feelings of awe. This is flat-out one of the worst examples of the modern military shooter. It vindicates games that condemn it and offers no defences other than "it's just a game". There are many other nitpicks and major design flaws I could point out, but I'm not the one to kick sorry sacks while they are down. This is reprehensible in every fibre of its being, this is one of the worst video games ever made. Period!
Rating: 1/5 The music saved you , you should be thankful.
P.S. The multiplayer aspect of this game did give me my money's worth, but with the declining population of this game, not to mention it's lag compensation issues and overall bland gameplay, it's probably not worth it to delve in nowadays. Spec Ops (the mode not the game) is alright, it's not great though, but it will kill some time. Ironically it could be the mode where you can get the most value out of this piece of tripe. With Black Ops 2 surpassing it in every way, this game deserves to be buried by the tides of history.