The Call of Duty series has very effectively cemented itself as the benchmark shooter for hardcore FPS fans. You are rewarded for your constant participation in the system and any slack of involvement is made clear with poorer weapons than your competition and a performance not to your liking. With the release of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, Infinity Ward and Sledgehammer Games have proven that they have truly listened to their fans and have built on its deep customizable multiplayer experience and given more for players of the series.
While people are always quick to jump into multiplayer and consider the story as simply practice for it, it is definitely not one to be missed. Modern Warfare's 3 takes place right where Modern Warfare 2 left off. Soap MacTavish is feverishly trying to be saved as the rest of Task Force 141 is on the run from Makarov's forces, while the rest of the world is still battling Russian forces all over the world in the midst of World War 3. The campaign's story continues to run at a breakneck speed. The game is filled with a number of set pieces that move the story along as it would in any Jerry Bruckheimer movie. They'll be multiple times when you are caught right in the middle of helicopter crashes and will have countless slow motion shootout moments. The story is setup as a high octane thrill ride that any fan of a popcorn action movie would enjoy filled with an impressive musical score pushing home great cinematic moments and enjoyable action sequences. Storytelling is still the same by filling in some of the pertinent mission details with holographic maps and blips on a radar moving left to right, however they have gotten a bit better with some of the dramatic dialogue being delivered during missions by making them louder than the action onscreen so you can actually hear what the soldiers are trying to say to each other.
The increased volume sound of dialogue also points out that Modern Warfare 3 has paid more attention to the sound design as well. Weapon firing sounds like it has more of a kick to it with bullets fired from assault rifles sounding with more of hammering thud to it over just having it sound like paper is being ripped. The improved weapon sound also adds to the feedback you will receive on the controller. While playing through the campaign, the feedback I felt corresponded very well with the sound the gun was giving off. It gave it a heavier feel to it that I haven't fully experienced in the Modern Warfare series until now.
The Modern Warfare series is known for its multiplayer experience and this sequel adds more to the playability. There are still the standard free-for-all and team deathmatch setups to play, however Modern Warfare 3 introduces the new and incredibly addictive Kill Confirmed mode. It works like a standard team deathmatch, but when you kill an opposing team member, they drop golden dog tags that you must collect to score points. Also, you can collect red dog tags your teammates drop when they are killed to deny the points of your opponents. This opens up new ways to play team deathmatches. For people that just like to hold up in a sniper's nest, they can get all the kills they want, but will never get the points for the kills if they do not get out of it and collect the dog tags for it. For loner players like that, it causes them to change their style to more of a close and medium-range style player and must get into the thick of things. However, for snipers that like to be a part of a team it can set up new team objectives for matches. While the sniper stays at a distance to pick off people, another player can always remain close by and be the one to collect the dog tags in the area from the fallen soldiers. The sniper may not get rewarded all the points they deserve, but they are contributing to the overall output of the team's success.
To contribute to the team's success, Modern Warfare 3 has also implemented new Strike Packs. These come in three varieties to fit a person's style of play. If a person is an unstoppable constant killing machine, an Assault Pack will killstreak perks with Predator Missiles, Attack helicopters and Juggernaut Armor will be a perfect load out for them. For the one that likes to manage the overall team's performance, Support Pack comes with killstreak perks such as Counter UAV support and ballistic vests drops to soak up extra damage. There is also a Specialist Pack that gives you the faithful perks such as Quickdraw Pro and Hardline that can come in handy for adding more perks that you don't have equipped in your three perk lineup. It is a great new feature for the series to have. Call of Duty is all about rewarding good performance with bonuses and adding this gives players more to be thankful for when they rack up kills in matches.
To add even more to the multiplayer comes Call of Duty's new service; Call of Duty Elite. If Halo has its Halo Waypoint, then this is Call of Duty's answer to it. This new service will be a buy for hardcore players of the series. With it, you can start and join clans with your friends or random people you meet online. For the tactician of the group, Heat maps come very in handy when planning strategies as they show where most of the firefights happen around the map and spawning points so they can setup chokepoints to stop enemy advances. There is so much more to add about Call of Duty Elite, but a big selling point for players will definitely be the DLC maps that will be released over Call of Duty Elite over nine months.
Spec Ops once again returns and it still has the fun with playing with another friend in one-off missions giving stars rating performance. They have also added a survival mode where two players must last against countless waves of increasingly difficult enemies. While this is still fun, I question the choice as to why this feature is still only limited to two players; especially with the introduction of the Survival Mode. Adding at least two more players would seem fitting for that kind of play style.
While playing multiplayer can be quite addictive, I must say that it is not very accommodating to new players. Modern Warfare has always been a series in multiplayer where playing and succeeding in matches will reward you with better weapons and better perks for character loadouts. This is an aspect of Modern Warfare that I never fully liked. It gives more hardcore players an unfair advantage when going up against more casual players of the series. Their guns and loadouts make it a bit harder for other players to kill them at times while the casual player is easily disposed of. Really getting into the multiplayer like that makes me miss play a shooter like Halo: Reach's multiplayer. All the things you see different about a player there are just cosmetic. The guns are the only thing that is different. You don't get to add things like increased fire rate to weapons. Everything is vanilla. It's basic from start to finish and that it what makes it a bit more pure than the Modern Warfare series. It is solely dependent on skill to get kills. Now don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that I completely hate the way Modern Warfare handles its multiplayer level system. It is still a thrill to see those yellow numbers pop up after you get a kill or when you complete certain challenges. However, it is even more frustrating when those things don't pop up and your kill-death ratio is atrocious after the match is over. It reminds me of playing a game of golf. You feel good about yourself when you make that perfect swing and nail the ball down the fairway, but you just get into a rut when you can barely get it off the tee box.
The Modern Warfare series is a big deal to FPS gamers. The campaign is pretty much the same as it ever was, but Infinity Ward and Sledgehammer Games have greatly added to the multiplayer experience. They don't just want this game to have a constant spot on a gamer's game rack, but to have it constantly running in their system. At this point, casual shooter fans need not apply. This game is a love letter to Call of Duty fans. The developers greatly appreciate the love and participation they have received from their fans and they are rewarding them with a game that gives them a more robust multiplayer experience.