Review: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3
Posted 03 Dec 2011 at 12:34 by Zechs Merquise
|"Most gamers don't buy Call of Duty titles for the single player or co-op game play. The real meat of any Call of Duty title is the online multiplayer..."|
Not many developers have truly mastered the Wii. One of the few developers that have is Treyarch. For the past three years they have delivered incredible ports of the Call of Duty games to the Wii, each one being a marked improvement on the previous entry. Last years Call of Duty: Black Ops not only took the series to new heights but also crafted the single best online system the Wii has had – ridding us of friend codes and bringing us voice chat with a headset. This year Treyarch have brought Modern Warfare 3 to the Wii, a port of the latest instalment in the series that was developed by Infinity Ward and Sledgehammer games.
The first thing any Wii gamer will notice with MW3 is how Treyarch have managed to raise the bar yet again when it comes to presentation. As any Wii gamer will tell you, graphics aren't everything and no one was expecting the Wii version of MW3 to look as good as the PS3/360/PC versions but Treyarch has really pushed the Wii to its limits and delivered what is definitively the best looking Call of Duty game on the system and possibly the best looking online game on the Wii.
Everything looks great. The environments are detailed and full of life – much more so than the ones in previous entries. The character models have also shown noticeable improvements looking much more detailed. A special mention must go to the weapon models though – Treyarch have done a fantastic job recreating these on the Wii, they look brilliant and put to shame those in nearly every other FPS on the system. The other really noticeable improvement in the graphics is the colour. In previous games some colours seemed to look a little washed out on the Wii, this certainly isn't the case in MW3 as everything looks vibrant and full of colour especially the weapon camos
The sound effects have also been improved just like the graphics. The weapons, explosions and other effects all sound meatier than ever before. It's not that any of the other Call of Duty titles didn't sound good on the Wii; but in MW3 they've really taken it to the next level. When all hell breaks loose you definitely know about it!
The improvements don't end with the graphics and sound though. Modern Warfare 3 on the Wii boasts the exact same campaign as the other versions – no cuts at all. It's arguably the best single player campaign of any COD game on the Wii. Treyarch have implemented so many small improvements with the way the campaign plays it really does show an evolution of the franchise. Added to this the exceptional design of the missions by Sledgehammer Games and you're in for a real treat. Obviously the single player game doesn't boast the graphical fidelity of the other versions, but when you're speeding away from exploding Russian war ships on a motorboat or blasting your way through the streets of London or Paris there's so much going on you actually don't seem to notice – it really is that engaging. The missions also bring a lot of new experiences to the table and don't simply feel like a re-hash of previous entries in the series. With this being the fourth Call of Duty game I have played on the Wii I was surprised at how fresh it felt.
The next big step forward is the Spec Ops Survival Mode. Before Wii gamers get too excited, although Survival Mode is in the Wii version, the Spec Ops missions are not. The Survival Mode is basically horde mode, where two players take on increasingly difficult waves of computer controlled enemies in an effort to see how long they can hold out. I'm not the biggest fan of horde modes, but this is fantastic. The design choices are what really push this forward. You can attempt the horde mode on any of the 16 multiplayer maps which are split into four tiers of difficulty. You also level up your character unlocking new equipment, weapons and perks just like in the standard multiplayer. This definitely adds longevity to the mode as the more you unlock the longer you can survive and new higher tiers of difficulty become available. Survival Mode is a great addition to the series and is the best co-operative FPS experience on the Wii and adds real value to the overall package.
Most gamers don't buy Call of Duty titles for the single player or co-op game play. The real meat of any Call of Duty title is the online multiplayer; sadly this is where Modern Warfare 3 takes a slight stumble. It's not that Infinity Ward hasn't tried to improve things in MW3. In fact Infinity Ward have improved a lot of things and added new modes and features which are all fun.
There are many new changes – including the strike packages which change the way kill streak rewards are dealt with. Kill streaks have become point streaks and you now add to your streak by completing objectives as well as killing. Instead of simply picking point streak rewards you now choose whether to equip Assault, Support or Specialist packages. Assault handles just like kill streaks always have, support are mainly non-lethal but streaks don't reset on death and the specialist streak sees you earning additional perks as rewards instead of traditional packages such as choppers and UAVs.
The new Kill Confirmed mode where you have to pick up the dog tags from enemies you've killed before the opposing team collect them is a fantastic addition. Some of the new point streak rewards like the Juggernaut armour also really freshen up the game play and add a new dimension to objective based games. Often the juggernaut if well implemented can be a tipping point in any match so knowing how to best use the armour – and also how to quickly destroy it – is essential.
But here's the rub, for every great new innovation there's usually a major gripe that has come about through a poor design choice. Some of the maps are really good, but they're all very complex making them a campers paradise. Unlike the more simplistic and free flowing maps in Black Ops, MW3 will often have you pulling you hair out as you get shot in the back again and again by someone just sitting in a dark corner for the whole game. Infinity Ward have also brought back quick scoping, introduced massively overpowered dual wield machine pistols and made sure every weapon drops enemies quicker than before. Gone are tactical gun fights and measured team play, it's now for the most part just total chaos.
On the technical side, Treyarch have managed to do some great work ensuring that all the maps, weapons, perks and the vast majority of the point streak rewards are in the game. The usual small cuts were made but that's what we expected. There were some initial technical problems with both hit detection and host lag. Thankfully Treyarch have supported the game extremely well since release and have already released two major patches (at the time of writing/publishing) that have improved performance considerably. Hit detection is now spot on and host lag has been considerably improved; now with a good connection it's far less noticeable and in smaller lobbies it has been completely eliminated. We hope the game continues to receive this level of support in the future to eliminate and tweak other small issues.
It's not that the multiplayer is bad; it's just that it can be hit and miss. When everything's going well and the action is flowing around the map as it should it is great fun. The problems come when you find yourself being frustrated by one of numerous poor design choices and the complex maps stagnate and become huge campsites causing game to rapidly go from being fun to frustrating. So whilst a lot of things have improved in Modern Warfare 3 – the presentation, the single player and the online co-operative – there have also sadly been a number of poor design choices with the online multiplayer which drag the package down. The design of the multiplayer doesn't feel as measured or balanced as it did in Black Ops.
Modern Warfare 3 on the Wii is a great achievement. It's also a great game in most respects and has shown some big improvements over previous entries in the series.
N-Europe Final Verdict
If you're a fan of Wii shooters, this game is a must. The one issue is with the online multiplayer – when it all flows well it's very good, but when it doesn't it can be very frustrating!
Fantastic CoOp Mode
Still the best online system on the Wii
Huge amount of content
Frustrating multiplayer design choices