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Hate It or Love It
on December 5, 2011
This game currently holds the record for sales in a week and sales in one day for any video game. People like to say this is a bad game that only sells well because of advertisement and hype. If that were true it would not explain why people continue to play it or why they continue to pick this up year after year. Are all these COD fans just miserably playing online not having fun? The series maybe boring and unimpressive to many but it appeals to a demographic and it appeals to it well.
It's simple: if you've liked the previous CoD games then you'll like this one. If you were expecting something ground-breaking and new then this game is not for you. This game is like Madden. All you're going to get is new weapons, maps, some tweaks, and some new features. Whether or not this justifies the price tag is a different story. I'm purely basing my review on entertainment.
As a long-time fan of the series I'll start off with the bad. The singleplayer is as useless as ever with a non-sense story that you simply will not care about. It is repetitive and linear with overwhelming spawning enemy AI shooting from all directions serving as the only challenge. The only variation is some vehicle levels reused from previous Call of Duty entries. There are no tools at your disposable to change things up. It's the same shoot, cover, grenades mechanic in place since the first Call of Duty on PC. At least back then the firefights felt intense and you were part of an actual historical event. While Call of Duty 4's campaign was entertaining the following MW2 and MW3 don't add anything, the surprises and thrills are gone. SPOILER: when Jackson died in COD4 it was dramatic and unexpected. When this same trick is used in MW2 (twice) and MW3 it's just not as interesting.
**My major gripe is that there's no consistency of characters. Characters are constantly being introduced and killed off in every entry. Soap, Price, and Nikolai are about the only consistent thing about this series in terms of story. Even then they are just empty NPCs providing orders and guidance to the player. There's never any interaction or personality shown to make you care.
I'll move on to the reason why most people buy this game or any CoD game for that matter: the multiplayer. As usual thing are played out on medium-sized maps between 6-player teams. The most popular game modes are TDM and Domination. Multiplayer is fast, intense, and catered towards those with short attention spans like myself. You won't have to traverse much ground in order to find something to shoot at. Some prefer more variation, obviously Battlefield 3 being the main example. There's nothing wrong with that game but I prefer the down and dirty street fight. If you do too, you'll feel right at home.
The new "strike packages" are welcome giving players different options in terms of playing style and tactics. For instance, the support strike package does not rely on consecutive kills. It continually stacks and does not reset after dying. This allows players to be more aggressive while still supporting team members. Likewise the specialist strike package allows players to add perks to their original 3. After getting 8 kills they player will have all perks becoming a super soldier. Now they won't be able to call in any killstreaks but the advantage of additional perks is a great advantage in a gun vs. gun situation.
Maps were advertised as being more balanced. This is a matter of opinion but I'll have to agree. For the most part the maps have been designed to weaken camp areas. Most sniping/camp spots will have too many alternate routes to enter and flank. Other spots will just be awkwardly placed not giving the player enough view over heavy traffic areas. There are plenty of camping players but what do you expect in an FPS game.
Perks have been reorganized in a way that forces players to make some hard choices on how they set up their classes. Of course the specialist strike package remedies that but in general I've seen people go with the normal killstreaks. For instance, in previous games the player would use a perk to be invisible to radar. This perk would also double as protection against air support. They have now been separated into two different categories. The same goes for the popular 'sleight of hand' perk that allowed faster reloads as well as faster aiming. Now as two separate perks players will need to rely more on careful playing and good old reflexes.
Not such a big deal since it's identical to MW2 but the weapons are great. In Black Ops each category (assault, light machine gun, sub machine guns) had only a couple of weapons worth using. These weapons were so good there was no point in using anything else. MW3 has the reverse effect where everything works great, almost too great, where gun selection sometimes feels like it doesn't make a difference. It comes down to preference.
The downsides of multiplayer is the lack of dedicated servers which I've complained about since CoD switched over from PC. This causes you to rely on the host system. I'm not sure why but every now and then I'll be 'slower' than everyone else usually getting shot after getting behind cover or just a second before I actually spot an enemy. Sometimes I can tell this is working in my favor and I'll have an amazing time but I'd much rather everyone just be on the same level in terms of online latency.
This system prevents users from joining games. It'll just randomly throw you into any game that has a slot for you or your party. This results in throwing players into a lot of losing games. Why? With a lot of people getting frustrated and leaving a losing round it creates gaps on the losing team. Innocent players looking to join a game are suddenly thrown into a round with a 30 score gap that's about to end. The game counts this as a loss! You literally can join a game, do nothing, and still lose.
Another issue is the auto-balancing system. I don't play in a party so when I do well the next round assures that I get stuck with all of the less skilled players to make sure I lose so things stay 'fair.' I'm not using anything that puts me at an advantage over anyone else so I'm bothered that the game feels I need to be punished for playing well. To put things in perspective I have a 2.00 KDR for TDM but only a 1.20 win record. In theory that is about right since the autobalancing is doing it's job. 50 percent of the time you should be put on a good team and the other 50 the losing team. So maybe this is a good thing for some?
I've ranted on long enough but I will repeat what I said before. People do not like this game and never will. The people that do (there are obviously many) wilkl play it and enjoy it as always. The graphics are aging, the game is very similar to MW2, and if you had problems with the series before most of those problems are still there.
The game is FUN. That's all there is to it. If it's not for you that's fine. To be fair I think this is the last COD game for me. It's a solid final entry to the series but if they make another one and it's still the same I'm probably satisfied with this one.
I look at the progression of this series like this:
COD4 - Introduced classes, perks, modern setting, and more arcade-like gameplay
MW2 - Introduced "super power" type perks, pushed the game over the top in terms of arcade style, introduced killstreaks which would become a staple of the series, finalized the game to a console audience in terms of style, maps, and controls/weapons
Black Ops - balanced the game, took a step back in terms of style, map design, weapons, and was actually a little too watered down from what MW2 was.
MW3 - Balances between COD4 and MW2 very well, really no where for the series to go from here