Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 Online Review : What Happened?

What happens when you take the same engine of the most popular game in the world, change a few background aspects, and restrict everything another developer of the same game has made? Well Modern Warfare 3 is finally here and our feelings on it are a bit mixed. The single player is decent but lacks anything spectacular like Modern Warfare 2, and the online multiplayer feels it could possibly be decent but is plagued with more issues than Black Ops launch and Battlefield 3’s beta combined. To be fair I have been ghosting the internet for second takes on every detail I will talk about and as a Call of Duty fan myself, I do not want to bash the game by any means. So don’t take anything in a negative way, think more along the lines of helpful criticism.

Almost everyone that buys the game is obviously going to jump online, so that is where we will start. Like I said the game “seems to work well” when it works, however there is one major issue here. I’ve had the game since midnight on release day and have yet to be in a single game that wasn’t full of total lag or had a disconnect. To ensure it wasn’t my fault I opened my proper ports, checked my connection, and lastly tried other games. I popped in Modern Warfare 2, not a single issue, and Black Ops had it’s usual problems but was nothing as severe as MW3. To say this is frustrating wouldn’t be saying enough. I honestly don’t see how this game is literally so close to not being playable at all.

The game does offer online split screen again so we gave that a go as well. The nice thing is the game works a bit better than previous Call of Duty titles as the entire screen is taken up, and the second player gets his own thing for the most part, but the issues I had above is ten times worse. The game would lag so badly that it would start freezing frequently through every match, neither of us were able to do anything in regards to killing people. We ended up joining a party, while still in split screen mode, and the freezing became even more frequent and killing someone was the luck of the draw. The party system seems to be where a majority of the flaws are found. When not in a party my lag and hit markers are not as severe, but when I do join a party things get pretty bad. Based on both people talking over headsets online and visiting several forums all around the web I can tell I am not the only one experiencing these problems. Yes it is lag issues, but if Black Ops is anything to go by, it won’t be fixed for a very long time, especially on PS3.

As for the gameplay itself, things don’t get all that much better. The game is basically the same thing Black Ops offered with tons of restrictions. I don’t know if its because these two developers don’t communicate or if one thinks the other is stupid or what. The “selling points” of both Modern Warfare 2 and (especially) Black Ops are gone and the more I play the more I miss these things. For example no customization on basically anything, no logo on guns, and no custom tags. The most annoying is the removal of the “MVP System” (At least that’s what I want to call it) where your in game tag will appear in the upper right corner to show you have done something for the entire team. Small little text will appear there instead, barely noticeable at all. Making matters worse the game tag you do get to have is restricted back to MW2 days, so you can’t customize the logo (something I loved doing) and are forced to go back to the pre-selected icon and banner, a majority of which are recycled from MW2.

Something I really enjoyed in Black Ops was the COD XP and it has been removed as well. This is a bigger deal than it seems because COD XP added a lot of depth to Black Ops and allowed you to rank up how you wanted to rank up. I will admit they took things a little too far making you pay for every last detail, but why not just tweak and change things? With its removal you go back to your standard system MW2 offered where you get the better stuff at certain ranks, and yes it does take forever to get the guns that everyone is abusing. They made one minor fix to the leveling system. You get prestige tokens, which are already being abused by marketing promotions, but they overall are a good thing. If you have prestiged in past Call of Duty titles you will get prestige tokens, which can be spent on things like double XP. Once you prestige in the game, and if you use all the available ways to get double XP it will be fast, you will receive another one at which you can spend it to keep one weapon at your side. Normally everything resets back to one, so this makes life a little more bearable.

Along with the change in gameplay depth, the lack of COD XP also means you won’t get the pleasure of contracts or wager matches. I was extremely good in Black Ops, constantly finding my way to the top of the boards after every game, and personally that can get boring at times. Contracts made up for this, it made me play the game out of my usual comfort zone even though I didn’t need the points to unlock anything. It was fun, and wager matches needed some tweaking but I really enjoyed the gambling aspect of it.

I don’t understand why Sledgehammer and the new IW decided to throw out the door everything MW2 and Black Ops advertised, why not work with it? It doesn’t end there either. Black Ops improved a lot of issues of MW2 and over time fixed a lot of issues that existed in both titles with updates, yet MW3 takes a step backwards in these areas too. For the most perfect example Black Ops finally (FINALLY) made it to where a person that shoots an enemy and puts him in last stand would get the kill, not the person that finished him off. I loved this because I was a victim of it a lot, yet the fix doesn’t exist in MW3. Other issues that have existed in the franchise are still very apparent in every way in Modern Warfare 3. The game has a good frame rate until a lot of things start happening, luckily that isn’t too often anymore. You get overpowered sniper rifles again with quick scoping galore. The hit detection is worse than that of Black Ops, not sure if it’s due to everyone lagging or what, but it is. Watching the final kill cam, and the kill cams of my own, you will see people shooting right by people and somehow still killing them. The most obvious testament to this issue is the sniper rifles, people will quick scope and shoot a good two to three feet to your side and somehow get the kill.

The only two things MW3 really has going for it are the new maps and the background changes they made, nothing else really has changed at all. For the first part I am not too fond of the new maps. A majority of them look the same and I’m left wondering if we ever changed maps at the beginning of each round. Walking around these maps and you can’t help but notice how almost all of it have been recycled from MW2. I didn’t have this issue with Black Ops because they made the maps in a way that it wasn’t too noticeable, perhaps it was because it was a different location. Another issue I have with the maps is it seems that I’m always facing the wrong way and constantly being shot all the time, even when I just spawned two seconds ago.It’s hard to complain about gameplay aspects like this because I can’t tell if its due to the lag or what. The spawn system is a bit flawed because several times in domination I have spawned directly on the enemies flag, even when we have already had one or two flags ourselves. The maps feel extremely linear and way too small, and personally I prefer the maps from Black Ops in most cases. That’s not to say there isn’t a couple good ones in MW3,  but if I were to pick just them I might as well buy some DLC instead of a full game.

The game is supposedly more “tactical” than the past Call of Duty titles, as mentioned by some people online. However this isn’t what I want from Call of Duty. I want to be rambo, I want to run and gun, I want to simply have fun. Anyone that has played with the Call of Duty community in general will know 9 out of 10 others will be the exact same way. I don’t see why its suddenly so hard to do this.

The game offers a brand new game mode called Kill Confirmed. From what I read this game mode was a team deathmatch to prevent the campers, and it fails in every way in doing that. I think this game mode should have been more “hardcore” in a sense that you literally need to confirm your kills. When you kill someone they drop their dog tags, you get points for the kill and points for the confirmed kill. The “camper prevention” was supposed to be the fact you need to leave your spot to go pick up the dog tags. Why it doesn’t work? Well anyone on your team can pick up the dog tags and they will score the point for your team and it will give both the player picking up the tags and the player that killed the person the points. So if anything it completely promotes camping because they are sharing the points. I have played it more than anything because of the immense lag ruining Team Deathmatch for me, and have come across campers in 9 out of 10 games. Campers don’t contribute to teams as is, why would they do it here? It’s clear they have no skill. I say it should be more “hardcore” because I think for one the kill shouldn’t count unless they confirm it. Two they shouldn’t share even amounts of points, the person picking it up can get the full 100 points, and the person that failed to pick it up can get 50 or, better yet, 10. If you don’t go that far then at the very least take away kills if the kill is denied by the enemy. The only thing the game mode has going for is the fact kill confirmed by your team will add a point to your side. However if the other team pick up their teammates dog tag they deny the kill and your team gets nothing.

Like mentioned the game offers background changes as well. The most noticeable change you will come across is how the kill streaks are set up. You can now pick assault (which is your normal kill streaks), Support (points streaks that help your team), and Specialist(basically giving yourself bonus perks). Assault is your typical get kills get a streak formula that COD is known for. Support on the other hand is them basically handing you the kill streaks for playing the game and life couldn’t be anymore easier. Support perks do not reset upon death, so as long as you don’t quit you will get everything. This makes the later ones such as EMP not as special and the game feels more like a casual experience, let alone the early perks are constantly being used so they might as well just keep a UAV on for everyone.

A lot of past streaks still exist but are named differently for who knows why. I think a lot of the perks need tweaking because things like the helicopters are absolutely overpowered, even though they said they would prevent this after the problems with MW2. Every time there is a helicopter I die by it about 6 times constantly, and I hear teammates complaining about them as well as going outside at all will almost always mean death. It seems all the helicopters and other perks linger a bit too long.

The game is too clunky and my complaints about the maps being poorly built doesn’t allow the game to break out in mayhem like MW2, which in return gives it that underlying boring tone that Black Ops could get overtime. Everything else like the perks and so on are basically just mixed up and made in a way so you can’t create similar classes as past titles. Love it or hate it I guess. Of course the game does offer a few “hidden” perks such as the nuke, and personally I found that rather neat.

The game is much easier in many aspects, and too complicated in other aspect. For example kill streaks are handed to you, but you can’t pick that many kill streaks because so many are the same amount needed and get locked out. It’s easy to kill someone, but it’s easy to get killed. They supposedly added “controlled weapon damage” where longer shots take less health from the enemy, but things like this over complicate the casual arcadish experience COD is known for.

Overall this is my least favorite Call of Duty. It isn’t a horrible game by any means and when it gets fixed it will be worth checking out. Like I said earlier, don’t take this as “hating the game,” and think of it more as helpful criticism. I for one want to see Call of Duty improve, and this game didn’t even attempt to do that. Hopefully the upcoming patches will fix the lag issues among other tweaks in gameplay so it’s not as frustrating to me, but this won’t fix the lackluster and linear feeling a majority of the maps offer. The Call of Duty engine is getting pretty old at this point and when you don’t attempt to hide things like Black Ops you get the nagging issues MW3 has. I also wish all the issues of past games would finally get fixed, but that’s wishful thinking when MW3 took a step backwards in many area’s compared to Black Ops and added pretty much nothing new. A few tweaks that I can compare to certain yearly sports franchise is about all we got. If it’s one thing I ask it’s a mute all feature to be added. A lot (no not all) of the players I come across on this game are extremely annoying and going through muting them one by one in the lobby is tiresome, especially when I keep my surround sound turned up.

Raven Software is rather awesome at doing maps, they have proven it with every past Call of Duty title (they do all the DLC) so I’m much more excited to see what comes from them. They most likely will bring the fun back into it, I just hope we get a lot of good maps like Black Ops and not “re-releases” like MW2 saw.