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November 8, 2011

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 Review

The Verdict on


In a year full of thirds, Modern Warfare 3 is probably the biggest of them all.  It’s certainly the most popular, and along with this massive surge in popularity of the franchise, huge expectations are levied on each rendition of the Call of Duty brand.  This release is somewhat different than previous iterations. A legal battle between the creators of the Infinity Ward studios and Activision, led to the departure of the creators of the original franchise, who skyrocketed the series into fame.  While Activision retained some of the talent from Infinity Ward, it also called on talented developers from Treyarch, Raven Software, and Sledgehammer Games to take the reigns.  The question is, were they up for the task?

Well that answer is sort of complex.  Depending on how much you value minor changes to the core infrastructure of the game, you may either love or hate Activision’s latest.  This isn’t one of those games that has undergone massive changes. There was no engine overhaul, and you’re likely not going to be blown away by what you play in any of the games modes from a visual perspective . That is considering you have played a Call of Duty game in the last four years.   Underneath the shiny new logos and expanded perks system, the core gameplay of Call of Duty is very much intact in Modern Warfare 3. With a few game modes, and tricks up its sleeve to expand on the popular premise, Modern Warfare 3 is here, and it’s pretty much more of the same solid gameplay.

When Modern Warfare first hit the scene, the single player was an impressive beast of a game.  It offered a multitude of scenarios where the everyman solider was placed in extraordinary conditions.  This time around, the game is definitely more centered on the story at hand, the characters that have developed over the course of the series,  continuing from Modern Warfare 2.  You’ll pick up right where you left off, the race to find Makarov before he completely destroys the entire free world, is the mission at hand.  The action will take you jaunting across the globe on numerous missions that lead you to your ultimate showdown, and while the setting is nice, it doesn’t quite hit home like Modern Warfare 2 did.  The campaign is littered with what you’ve probably come to expect from a Call of Duty game.  Vehicle based chases, Breach and Clear scenarios, and enough explosions to put Michael Bay to shame are mainstays of the franchise.   Unfortunately, for a game that is as action packed as Modern Warfare 3, the in-betweens had a bit too much handholding for my taste.  Following NPCs that feel a little behind the pace, Modern Warfare 3 never really puts you to the test when it comes to the actual first person shooter part of the game in its single player portion.  It’s a treat to look at, and many of the effects are very well done, but as short as the game is (5hrs), you’d think it’d be able to make it through without feeling stagnant.  After playing through the first two games, fans who persevere through the campaign will definitely be rewarded with an ending that doesn’t leave YOU hanging.

The perks system while touted as a game changer, doesn’t quite come off as different as advertised.But the single player isn’t what makes Call of Duty so incredibly popular.  The burgeoning online community, that is the COD faithful, won’t likely be disappointed in the least.  16 new maps to play on, a completely redesigned progression system for both your player and your weapons, and a newly remodeled perks system, will definitely give you plenty to unlock, and test to your heart’s content.  The gameplay is largely the same as its predecessors at its core, however. Subtle tweaks from COD: Black Ops have removed diving, and of course the weapons are of the more modern variety, but all in all it’s a COD game.  The biggest changes really occur in the new progression system.  You’ll still be leveling your online account as usual, but this time around, getting more kills with each weapon will unlock new attachments that you can use on each gun.  It’s a fairly straight forward system for the gun progression, with most of the weapons following similar paths.  It can make switching between weapons somewhat disadvantageous, but the basics, like red dot sights and grenade launchers can be had fairly quickly.  You also unlock weapon perks as well, and these can range on a number of features, depending on which weapon you are using.  Perks like extra attachments, reduced kickback, or being able to shoot through walls can be unlocked for each weapon as you progress.

The perks system while touted as a game changer, doesn’t quite come off as different as advertised.  It feels largely derivative of previous games, with a large emphasis placed on racking up kills to get the best and most powerful weapons.  The most devastating weapons are of the traditional variety.  Stay alive long enough with the Assault Strike Package and you’ll find that you can call in many of the same tools of destruction as in previous games:  Attack Helicopters, Pave-lows, UAVs, Care Packages, Predator Missiles, and other tools that will certainly ruin your opponent’s day. What has changed is the two new Strike Package classes:  Support & Specialist.  With the Support Strike Package you don’t need to stay alive to rack up the bonuses.  As its name states, the support packages largely help your team on the battlefield with things like UAVs, Ballistic Vests, Booby Trapped Care Packages, SAM Turrets, Recon Drones, and other items that can turn the tide of the battle.  For the Call of Duty novice, that has hard time staying alive, you’ll get your shot at calling in the big guns as well, albeit not nearly as decimating to the enemy team.  With the Specialist Strike Package you don’t get any of the big weapons, but the tradeoff is that you can unlock up to six perks, instead of the traditional three.  So instead of your standard three perks that you select in a custom kit, you can now have three extras which unlock much like the Killstreak Rewards.  Die, and you lose them however.  While the changes may seem pretty significant, they don’t appear to change the game all that much.  There’s definitely a lot more going on with players having a much greater propensity to earn UAVs and SAM turrets that run the support class, so they can negate some of the helicopters and other heavy weapons of the assault class.

Modern Warfare 3’s multiplayer is still one of the best out there.Alongside the new systems involved with the core gameplay, a couple of new game modes have been introduced to the multiplayer community.  Kill Confirmed and Team Defender aren’t exactly new ideas, but there inclusion into COD is certainly a new twist, when you factor in the Kill Streaks and other features of the multiplayer that carry over with them.  In Kill Confirmed, you fight to collect and protect dog tags as each team races to collect as many as possible.  Killing an enemy will drop their tags, and you only get points if you manage to collect them.  Team Defender is an odd ball or president style gamemode where you must defend the flag carrier from the enemy team.  Of course there is also a wealth of customizable gamemodes in the private match section, which also house some unique options such as Juggernaut, Gun Game, One in the Chamber, among others many others.

Modern Warfare 3’s multiplayer is still one of the best out there.  It’s the same smooth and consistent experience that its predecessors were. And the new gamemodes and options afforded to the player are more than enough to keep you busy for the next year or so.  Focusing even closer on the multiplayer aspects of the game, Activision also introduced the Call of Duty Elite service, which ties directly into the Modern Warfare 3 experience.  With an app on Xbox Live that lets you seamlessly transition into monitoring stats, contests, groups, videos, and a wealth of other content, the Call of Duty fan will almost certainly always have something to keep them occupied. Though I must note, some of the features in Call of Duty: Elite are reserved for premium members and that premium is an additional $49.99 per year.

For many, that’s enough.  Right there, your price of admission for a year’s worth of first person shooter goodness is a pretty good value.  Though if multiplayer isn’t your thing, there’s still the Spec Ops mode that returns from Modern Warfare 2, as well as a new Survival Mode that is a great bit of cooperative fun.  The Spec Ops Story missions follow the same outline as they did in Modern Warfare 2.  They’ll place you in scenarios from the campaign and have you fighting your way through enemies much like the single player portion, to earn stars for progression.  In a way, these missions display more pure shooter action in Spec Ops, because you don’t have all of the grand events of the campaign.  The mode is better enjoyed with a friend, as working together to complete objectives is always more fun than going it alone. You’ll get a chance to man an AC-130, fight off enemies behind the bad assery of a juggernaut suit, or just stealthily escort hostages to safety.  The real changes to the Spec Ops mode however, is the Survival gametype.  Akin to the popular horde mode in Gears of War, Modern Warfare 3’s Survival Mode will have you fending off wave after wave of enemies, while offering you purchasable upgrades to help you along your way. Again, this mode is also geared towards the cooperative, but it is only limited to one other player.

At the end of the day Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 isn’t a huge departure from a comfortable spot for the franchise.  The gameplay in multiplayer is still the same, tight, controlled, chaos.  The single player might be getting a little long in the tooth, but it’s definitely enjoyable for either the new comer or the old hand, if just for the spectacle of it all.  The enhanced cooperative modes are certainly always welcome, but really lack the staying power that the multiplayer has.  It’s quite amazing that even with all of the turmoil that hit Infinity Ward over the past year, they were able to get out this final chapter in the Modern Warfare franchise, and have it be as polished as Modern Warfare 3 is.  The collaborative effort delivers on the same level as Modern Warfare 2, and may have launched with more polish and balance. Fans of the first person shooter, or Call of Duty games, should be more than impressed with MW3’s impressive collection of new content, even with much of the remaining infrastructure still intact.

Say Something
  • drake

    i really like this kind of grading instead of an arbitrary number, the main reason i read these reviews by the site. Anyway it’s not loved by the site only liked so bring on the flame War!

    • Allen

      yeah I do love this site. They only liked MW3 and loved BF3 – sounds perfect to me.

  • Mike

    Great review William, but be prepared to be hated on and called a BF3 fanboy. Don’t think I will waste my money on this years COD release, does look fun but so is MW2 at a third of the price.

    • Frank

      Comments saying William is a BF fanboy:1. Now, lets flip the switch. What if Mw3 got “Loved” and BF3 got “Liked”. What would’ve happened then?!? Why is it that when CoD games get scored higher(which happens all the time) it’s because Activision paid off the reviewers, but when BF games get rated higher(rarely ever happens) no one questions those reviews? I guess that makes sense…if you’re mentally retarded. P.s, if William wanted to get higher hits for this website, he would’ve given MW3 the higher score, because by the looks of it, most BF fanboys that bought it and were mad that they made the wrong choice are all hanging out on this website. You know what they say Will! Controversy=Cash!!!

  • tim

    now im not here to start a fanboy war, just stating the facts.
    BF3 = Loved by Attack of the Fanboy
    MW3 = Liked by Attack of the Fanboy
    I only play the ‘Loved’ games from this site, and it has never let me down. All ‘Loved’ games are top notch.
    In my case, ill just go with Battlefield 3, Skyrim and Batman Arkam City.

  • Jason

    Looks like I will be sticking to BF3!

  • nick

    Good review. But AOTFB is going to be called a BF fanboy site now. Get ready.

    • AKA Zzz

      It always has been. They’ve been posting anti-Cod pro-BF articles for months now.

    • nick

      AOTFB is reporting things from a neutral standpoint. So the fact that they make Battlefield look better shows that Battlefield IS better, not that they’re biased towards battlefield.

  • Bacon

    I’m a bf person n my gf is a mw person…fml lol

  • Cam

    I think this is a solid review when i saw the game I felt that Infinity ward/sledgehammer are being forced to push out a cookie cutter CoD game with minor tweaks. Not saying I don’t love CoD’s core gameplay and it’s online game play but i was looking for to wow me in my next shooter I buy, and as far as I can tell according to this site, Game informer and many other. It’s a solid game and fun but it is basically like MW2 with some added stuff

  • Cam

    I think this is a solid review when i saw the game I felt that Infinity ward/sledgehammer are being forced to push out a cookie cutter CoD game with minor tweaks. Not saying I don’t love CoD’s core gameplay and it’s online game play but i was looking for to wow me in my next shooter I buy, and as far as I can tell according to this site, Game informer and many other. It’s a solid game and fun but it is basically like MW2 with some added stuff

  • Thal


    Ur a lucky man then. Most of us hear….”would you turn that dumb game off”

  • nick

    Battlefield 3 – loved
    MW3 – liked


  • Lolsome

    Too bad its been hacked online already, way before the game was even officially released. So much for the “improved security.”

    • Frank

      Proof? Oh wait, i bet you’re one of them battlefield droids.

  • Zentrix

    Mw3 game of the year baby. Good review

    • Allen

      LOL GOTY my ass

  • Frank

    Lol meta critic mw3:90 bf3:85 nuff said!

    • lol

      so you base your opinion of a game on reviews by other people’s opinions? lol frank lol

      fyi: check the user scores in a few months that’s what really matters

    • That Guy

      battlefield 3 : 6.8 user score on console
      MW3: 2.8 user score

      professionals can be paid off, users cant. nuff said.

    • Frank

      Yeah, but those reviewers aren’t blind fanboys. Plus, paying off for reviews? Which publisher is worth more? EA or Activivsion? Users scores are completely irrelevant because of blind sheep like you retards who hate everything that’s successful. BF fanboys are a disgrace to the gaming world. AGAIN, which has received higher critical acclaim? MODERN WARFARE 3. Read the user reviews that are submitted by BF3 fanboys: This game sucks, it’s modern Warfare 2.5, the camera angle sucks. LMAO Your arguments hold NO SUBSTANCE!

    • That Guy

      the same could be said for the cod fanboys that posted on the bf3 review. yet bf3 STILL managed to get a higher score…

  • Jimmer

    Holy crap, I cannot wait to rush to the store and NOT buy this game. I’ll be getting the MGS HD Collection instead. Possibly Battlefield 3. Gotta say after playing every other COD game online, I’m not willing to be let down by another one just yet.

  • Thal

    Been seeing stuff on Twitter the game looks like MW2 with Black ops hit detection. Not buying it

  • Hungreehypo

    A very refreshing review.

  • josh

    lol @ 2.2 metacritic user


    You guys fell right into the hype that AOTFB created, obviously they downgraded MW3 so the BF3 fanboys could have a ball on MW3’s score

  • Titan

    I’m a battlefield fan, but I checked those user reviews and the majority of them have Battlefield 10 and cod 0.

    Worse Fanboy trait is posting fake reviews.

  • Cool dude

    2.78 User reviews on Metacritic on all platforms???? Whoa!?!

  • Bryant

    Same game, different coat of paint. Im not saying that I didn’t expect it but I’m still disappointed. Hopefully the terrible user reviews of the game will open up their greedy eyes. I really love call of duty but I just think activision needs to make the smart decision and invest in a new generation engine and not do yearly releases or else call of duty is gonna end up like guitar hero

    • Frank

      NO they won’t. Why? Because those user reviews are fucking terrible! Again, why would a developer care that some random nerd who lives with his parents hates their game? Read the user reviews. Those people shouldn’t be given a voice. They’re all ignorant and again, hate the game because they either suck at it, or because of the name of the cover.

    • nick

      I heard Black Ops was the best game ever. Or at least thats what the reviews say. Fucking moron….

    • Hoppsy

      becasue those random nerds who live with their parents buy the games.

      i’ve seen some retarded things said on this site before, but frank…….you have been crowned king retard

  • Donky Dic

    I just don’t understand how fun a game can be when there is never a chance of a tank rolling up a road or down a street.

    A soldier that only has to fight other soliders is not a soldier at all, it’s so unrealistic and the kills are based too much on chance.

  • BIGRED15

    U guys can piss and moan about the writer being a fanboy its not going to change the fact that he simply liked bf3 better. Let the man have his opinion. It wont matter anyway. Any fanboy here can rest assure that there is no way BF3 or cod will get goty. I for one knew that from the gitgo. That title belongs to the most deserving which in this case is uncharted 3 and arkham city of course.

  • A113n

    100% Truth here

    The only contenders for GOTY are Skyrim, Uncharted 3 and Batman Arkham City

    • Jeff

      Don’t forget Skyward Sword!

    • nick

      And Blackwater Kinect.

    • Hoppsy

      nick lol!

      ps3 guy here but i have to say even though i have never played it, based on reviews as well as those games you mention gears of war is in for a shot at GOTY.

      personally i think skyrim or batman will take it though

  • abc


    youre pathetic

  • Frank

    Lmao abc! I’m pathetic? Why, because I’m not afraid to voice my opinion? Because I’m not conforming into one of you guys that hates cod for no reason? I love cod, so what? I’m not into BF but you don’t see me bashing it. What’s sad is that I’m 18 and show more maturity(and proper grammar) than 95% of the users on this website! But you know what they say! Opinions arelike assholes, everybody has one! People like different shit, deal with it. Just because reviewers rate cod higher than bf, doesn’t mean their “paid off”. Coming up with conclusions that makes you look dumb, like when Arkham asylum released and was the first amazing batman and a website took heat for supposedly getting paid off. What happened next? The rest of the reviews were releaased proving everyone wrong.

    • Dovahkiin

      Proper grammar? LMAO
      I spotted at least 3 errors in your comment just by skimming through it.
      Seriously? You’re not afraid to voice your opinion? hahahaha! Wtf, lol.
      It’s the effin’ internet man.

    • abc

      trying to post intelligently wouldnt make you any less of an idiot.

      18 year old virgin

  • drake

    there’s one thing about an opinion and there’s another about being ass about it, you seem to be offended and like to get all defensive, if you love cod you would be playing it right now, ignoring other people’s comments instead of commenting on the review

  • ian

    Okay having played the game for about 7 hours today as a family member bought a copy this is how any fair real review of the game should be in line with.

    Graphics: 5.5/10
    While the game has had some slight improvements over the previos MW title the overall feel and look is about the same. With graphics what would have been Considered “good” in 2007 it is not a bad looking game but there is really nothing to it and for a huge franchise like this it is a disappointment.
    Note this game on console is a Sub-HD res 1028*600

    Gameplay: 6.5/10
    The gameplay is still the same base that Call of Duty has always had the shooting is nice for the most part with a good pace to it. But the game lacks anything new apart from some equipment you can place. apart from that it is the same old run and gun game play that we have seen before feels like a return to the past. old but still quite solid.

    Sound: 6/10
    While some of the sound is nice and crisp there are many other parts what sound flat. several of the voices have good depth and some nice voice acting. some of the explosions are of an acceptable level but nothing special the big let down is the gun noise sounds like air soft guns. the only highlight of the sound is the feedback from hitting someone and the fact that foot steps are nice and clear.

    Overall 6/10
    While this game is 100% another CoD title it yet again fails to take the franchise anywhere new. If you want more of the same in new maps and a few new game modes then you would consider buying this new game but if you wanted something new then give this one a miss.

    Think of this as MW2 refined.
    (Don’t buy on PC the FoV is set to 65 and has a very high chance to make you feel sick after playing for more than 1 hour)

  • Heard it here first

    Why not use their billions to make a new engine and stuff? they could do so much, but won’t because Activision thinks they are gods.

    • ROFL Waffle

      And they think/know their customers are idiots for buying the same repackedged game all over again.

  • Gman

    Wow I really have to applaud to this site for actually stick to their guns and gave an honest review. I facepalmed all day reading other reviews for giving MW3 the same or even higher score than BF3.

    BF3 have dedicated servers with server browser and history and favorite section, that should be enough for bf3 to get higher score.

  • Brian

    We saw Battlefield 3 make all that noise only to find a disappointing single player and average multiplayer experience.
    We saw MW3 coming without noise but more arrogant silence only to find a MW 2.5.

    Critics have praised both the games alike and there is no clear loser. (Cant talk about winning when both are disappointments)
    The only thing these games managed to do was to clearly demarcate angry fanboys into two tight compartments while both gaming companies laugh all the way to the banks.

    If gamers cant recognize this I worry about things to come.

  • LetTheWookieWin

    Just following the game through press over the past 6 months or so put a nail in COD’s coffin for me. It’s funny that almost every review I’ve read the journalist is somehow trying to justify the game being built on the same foundation of it’s predecessors. And the Dev’s claim the engine is a porche.. Ya a Porsche with way to many miles on it. Come on, they changed the progression system and some new modes one of which was ripped from Crysis 2 and called it good. My time and dollar are valueable to me and this game is almost insulting. I loved MWF 1 (MP) Single player, meh, the next one was ok, they offered a new experience from CS and BF. Now it’s stale and droves of people will eat it up. COD is a fad now and won’t last much longer. I don’t know, mabey I expect to much for my hard earned 65 bucks, but I can’t justify playing or buying this trash. Sorry it’s how I feel.

  • http://i Frank

    Lol I’m being an ass about it? How so? Have you seem the Pro bf comments on this site? People butchered this game before it came out, but me brining up actual numbers makes me an ass? Lol whatever. As for reply 2, thanks for pointing out my “grammatical errors”. Lol and agains for abc. Lol really,18 year old virgin? You don’t even know what I look like but your’re calling me a virgin? LOL! Think what you want bro because same can be said about you. I’m not going to lie and say “oh, I fuck mad bitches”, because i dont. Ive been going out with the same girl since 8th grade, and believe it or not, I don’t give a shit honestly, im not a virgin. Smh -___- you went from talking about video games to talking about my sex life. Nix for know you can hold an argument buddy, especially to an 18 year old that has seen more vagina than you have!

    • nick

      lol Franks desperate that cod is failing dramatically. Keep raging buddy.

    • Frank

      So outselling your opponent that shit talked about you through out the entire year, and on average your game having higher review scores than your main rival means “failing”? So you must be pretty successful!

    • nick

      MW3 lead platform critic review score = 8.9
      MW3 lead platform user review score = 2.6
      BF3 lead platform critic review score = 8.9
      BF3 lead platform user review score = 7.2

      yea better scores totally yea go ahead.

      And sales? Really? Wii Play is also one of the best selling games of all time so I guess thats better than cod. And you should really be playing MW3 on Wii, because the Wii is the best selling console, therefore it HAS to be the best. Heres some gameplay to help you decide.


  • drake

    “if you love cod you would be playing it right now, ignoring other people’s comments instead of commenting on the review” again, i think those who hate cod aren’t hating the game their hating the fanboys. btw you obviously did not see the video of someone already prestige hacked the game a mere 6 hours after launch

    • nick

      totally agree.

      Using that logic, people who even like cod a little, MUST be playing it 24 hours a day. Yeah totally.

  • josh

    The only thing that looks like I’d play in this game is survival and spec ops for a couple hours.

    That is not worth 60 $ good sir.

  • thx

    MW3 is by far the best patch for MW2 we’ve gotten.

  • Frank

    LOL Hate all you want because once sales are released I’LL be the one laughing! I mean, MW3 already has gotten higher reviews, what else do you retards want?!? LOL I bet the next argument will say “But of those 40 million that bought the game, how many of them are likely to recommend it to a friend?” LOL Battlefield fans have nothing better to do than to troll on blogs because they bought the wrong game. If BF3 was so good, then why is it that you guys are all trolling so hard?!? You “mature adult gamers” are pathetic and are the reason why gamers are looked down upon. You guys can’t even hold an argument properly stating why you hate CoD! I don’t like BF because the game controls like Killzone 2 did. Controls felt too heavy. And as for gameplay, it felt too slow for my liking. I’m more into a faster paced setting, it’s just more fun in my opinion. See what I did there? I explained why i don’t like BF3, in a normal manner, unlike you BF3 fanboys that say “Modern W4rFa!L Izzz f0r nEwbzzzz Battlefield !zzzz bettrrrr!!! with th333 graphixx”. LOL Get a LIFE! My rants will come to an end once I get my copy. And if someone could answer why you BF fans are trolling on a games review instead of playing the self-proclaimed “best game ever”, that might be the look into the mirror moment in which you guys see how stupid you really look for hyping up a game and only playing it once. Good night!

  • http://i Frank

    But nick. Do you really think that these companies give a shit about anything besIdes sales?!? Like when activision threatened Sony that theyd stop supporting the ps3, why was that said? Because of sales. Notice how whenever ea talked shit about IW, they always mentioned sales and rarely ever beating it in terms of actual quality. You guys make me repeat the same shit over and over. User scores are irrelevant. When uncharted 2 won goty over odst what was the first thing the fanboys did? Troll uncharted. When dead island recieved lower scores than resistance 3, they trolled it. There’s a reason why those user scores arent looked at by publishers and developers, because they give people who have no clue what they’re talking about a voice.

    • nick

      THEY care about sales, WE care about games. None of us work for IW or sledge, so I dont see how sales concern anyone here. User review scores are inflated by morons, but at some point it’s impossible to ignore them. A 2.5 AVERAGE user score doesn’t come out of nowhere. Obviously a lot of people are unhappy with the game for whatever reason.

  • Truth Be Told

    The game was awesome as always but I would’nt say the best of all time. Multiplayer wise I loved it,campaign wise liked it, I would have loved the campaign if it was’nt for its short length.

  • tim

    HAha HeavensWarrior the troller isn’t here!

  • El Chombo reasoning

    Well, MW3 is pretty much MW2 with slightly modified old weapons and like 6 or 7 new weapons, the same perks that might or might not have different names, the same killstreaks (maybe 2 new ones that replace the old ones), new maps that are ALOT shittier, and the exact same graphics. I got this game and now that I think about it they should have called it Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2: Extension pack

  • Theguy950

    spawns suck

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