Gaming & VFX

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III is a Hit

Modern Warfare III emerges as a noteworthy success in terms of both engineering and design.

SMEBRNovember 15, 20:34
Modern Warfare 3

Call of Duty

Celebrating its 20th anniversary, the Call of Duty series has consistently embraced a dual identity. On one hand, it offers an engaging cinematic journey, guiding players through diverse chapters as the main character undertakes heroic missions amidst cannons and flamethrowers, progressing through checkpoints towards a climax involving Nazis, nuclear weapons, or space lasers—depending on the game's temporal backdrop. On the other hand, Call of Duty undergoes a transformation from a cinematic experience to a competitive sport. This shift is marked by a continuous cycle of matches where teams, composed of either friends or strangers, energetically compete. The ultimate goal is to emerge as the leading team or individual by skillfully employing sniping or spraying techniques to secure the top position on the scoreboard.

Modern Warfare III adheres to this foundational blueprint. On one front, it falls somewhat short of expectations—a campaign featuring generally lackluster missions. Allegedly, time constraints played a role in this disappointment, with reports suggesting that the original plan to set the story in Mexico was altered at the behest of Activision executives who directed the development team to reorient and rebrand the game. However, a different narrative unfolds within the intense multiplayer modes of the game. Here, the experience is revitalized with the reintroduction of some of the series' most beloved maps, the introduction of numerous new locations, refinement tweaks to character movement, and the incorporation of an overhauled system of weapon attachments. This system encourages players to tailor their tools to align with their preferred play style.

The game exudes a sleek and rapid pace, serving as a cartoonish counterpart to the somber war simulations that attract more straightforward players. Engaging in swift sprints and slides, you leap across the scenery, smash through glass windows, and swiftly rejoin the fray immediately after being gunned down. Modern Warfare III reintroduces "slide-cancelling," allowing players to promptly return to an upright position mid-skid. This feature injects a fresh dynamism and speed into matches, enhancing the overall gaming experience.

However, pinpointing the exact juncture where Modern Warfare III begins and its predecessors conclude proves challenging. In recent times, the series has subtly transformed into a live service game with consistent updates. The routine involves checking into Call of Duty HQ, reminiscent of the previous month, where you can choose from a variety of competitive and collaborative modes to cater to diverse preferences and interests. The traditional boxed release seems almost outdated, serving more as a marketing strategy than a substantial evolution. Its purpose appears to be an additional revenue stream for a game that already monetizes players through season passes, digital costumes, and customizable "skins" for favored weapons.

Nevertheless, the maps in Modern Warfare III, particularly the beloved ones making a return, almost validate the expenditure. Engaging in a lethal sniper duel across a snow-covered railway terminal, a heated capture-the-checkpoint skirmish within a vibrantly colored South American favela, or a three-team, one-life-only brawl around a dusty oil well—all of these provide endlessly enjoyable battlegrounds. The game adeptly pairs you with players of comparable skill levels, fostering an environment that encourages improvement without allowing frustration to set in.

For those inclined toward a more cooperative approach, Modern Warfare III's standout mode is Zombies, a significant and brilliant improvement over last year's tentative DMZ. In this mode, a team of three descends into a city, scavenging for materials, upgrading their weapons, battling zombies, and, ideally, evacuating the map with all the loot before the timer expires. As the team delves deeper into the city, the challenges and rewards escalate. A skilled group navigates the ruined city as a cohesive unit, accomplishing small missions, progressively enhancing their offensive and defensive capabilities. Occasionally, they encounter other trios of players with similar objectives. This mode provides tremendous enjoyment and effectively realizes DMZ's potential by transplanting the concept into the post-apocalyptic world reminiscent of The Last of Us.

Although Warzone, Call of Duty's immensely popular battle royal mode, has not yet been integrated into the Modern Warfare III framework, players can currently collaborate in War Mode. This mode pits two teams of six players against each other across a vast map. Defenders aim to hold back advancing invaders, who must pass thresholds and complete objectives to shift the frontline deeper into enemy territory. This involves escorting a tank through pocked streets, leaping into a missile bunker to upload codes, and preventing a launch. It presents a toy-soldier representation of frontline warfare, with its closest real-life equivalent being rugby or American football, where success is primarily measured in yards, not kills.

Evaluating a Call of Duty game in the present day is akin to reviewing a military-themed amusement park: providing a comprehensive assessment is nearly impossible. Much like enjoying the thrills of roller coasters, finding the ferris wheel tedious, and savoring tasty hotdogs, individual opinions may vary. However, the game's murky connections to the US military-industrial complex can be considered deeply problematic. Nevertheless, the developers deserve commendation for steering the game in diverse and intentional directions, ensuring that most players can discover at least one diversion that aligns with their preferences and play styles.

Navigating an annual series into a persistent online framework poses an unwieldy challenge for artists, designers, and programmers, as they strive to reconcile the past and future of video game delivery. Despite these difficult and potentially misguided limitations, Modern Warfare III, campaign aside, emerges as a noteworthy success in terms of both engineering and design.

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