This post is particularly hard for me to write. When I wrote this originally, the game was having a free weekend on Steam, as is common for a lot of PC games these days. Since I’m not the richest person around, getting a taste of these big budget AAA games are a treat. But then there’s Modern Warfare 3, and how particularly busted it is. Modern Warfare 3 is a bad Call of Duty game, and you shouldn’t play it.
I should back up a bit. I’m not one of those pretentious jackasses who bemoan that “Call of Duty is killing the video gaming industry.” I mean, it’s part of a larger problem, but I’m not one of those hipsters who slam the big budget stuff and praise stuff like McPixel. (This is not to say McPixel is bad. It looks pretty fun, actually.)
In fact, until about a few years ago, I was a Call of Duty nut. I owned practically every game in the series up to that point. I played the multiplayer a lot — perhaps not as much as the maximum level max prestige players, but enough to still have a blast playing it — and I even enjoyed the campaigns of each despite how much they’re corny action movies in disguise.
You wanna know my dedication? I did an unboxing of Modern Warfare 2‘s Hardened Edition, at launch, in one of the last times I’d go out for a midnight launch for anything.
But as I kept playing Modern Warfare 2, I came to a realization. It wasn’t as great as Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare was. Treyarch’s World at War felt better at times.
Modern Warfare 2 is basically Michael Bay: The Video Game, complete with homages to The Rock. They even got Bay stalwart Hans Zimmer to do the score. But the story was full of nonsensical twists, ridiculous American jingoism and cliched catchphrases of Keith David yelling at Ramirez to defend a Burger Town.
The multiplayer, which is basically the major reason I played Call of Duty was not very well balanced at launch, and prone to bizarre bugs like the “Javelin glitch” — where you could prime a Semtex grenade, cancel it by switching to the javelin, and cause a massive explosion when you died. A few times I accidentally joined hacked lobbies of 16-player Rust where the only winning outcome was the game-winning Tactical Nuke. This was not long after launch, even.
It really felt like Infinity Ward didn’t have the passion or love, throwing anything at a wall and seeing what stuck. Then the Respawn fiasco happened in 2010 where about half the team left due to creative differences between them and Activision, then it all started making sense.
2010 was around the point when I started losing interest in Call of Duty: I didn’t pick up Black Ops until earlier this year, and as of this writing, I never bothered grabbing Modern Warfare 3. After replaying MW3‘s multiplayer again through the Steam free weekend– the third the game has had since launch — I realized why.
While there are a few cool new things, such as the small skirmish Face-Off mode and Kill Confirmed, it’s the same multiplayer stuff from Modern Warfare 2, just amplified to a ridiculous degree. The maximum level is now 80, and there’s a whopping 20 prestige levels! Weapons have levels now, them trying to fix a problem that was already fixed in Black Ops. You can get prestige tokens that unlock double XP bonuses. There’s new guns, new killstreaks, they added deathstreaks, there’s perks for weapons now, the whole nine yards.
There’s a big problem, though: Much like Modern Warfare 2 had balance issues, MW3 has those same problems. Wanna kick ass and take names easily? Once you acquire the FMG9 machine pistol in multiplayer, equip it on a loadout. Level it up ’til you unlock the akimbo attachment. Combine it with Steady Aim and you have a bullet-spewing death machine. If you wanna slog further through the experience system, add an MP7 as your primary weapon to further annoy your enemies. It’s the “akimbo 1887s” problem all over again.
The game has problems where it still uses matchmaking like in Modern Warfare 2, and it’s still clunky there. I’ve always had NAT problems with COD games, and this is no exception. Combined with hackers and frequent host migration problems, it just feels like all the same garbage I went through in MW2, except worse.
Modern Warfare 3 is a pretty busted game, all things considered. It just feels like Modern Warfare 2 Plus, and if I wanted that, I could boot up Modern Warfare 2 on my Xbox 360 right now. I don’t need a copycat of it.
I played a lot of Black Ops, both on 360 and on Steam free weekends, and I realized it did a lot of things I liked. You could buy guns with in-game credits, which you’d get for completing objectives, contracts and generally during play. Wanted something like a scope? Just buy it with credits, no need to farm 50 frags to get the Gun Attachment That Makes This Gun Suck Less. Just having that ability makes a difference.
But that’s not all. Diving to prone. A deep emblem customization system. Wager matches! Gun Game! It just felt like Treyarch had rejuvenated COD in a way I hadn’t played since COD4.
Modern Warfare 3 on the other hand, feels like several steps backwards. If Modern Warfare 2 was Infinity Ward cranking everything to 11, Modern Warfare 3 is them trying to crank it further and breaking the knob off, causing a massive feedback loop. To go from the greatness of Black Ops to this just feels incredibly disappointing, especially to die-hard fans like me.
Playing these games on PC feels like a fool’s errand. Low player counts, no sense of care for balance or fun, just a below-average experience overall. I wouldn’t recommend grabbing MW3 on PC unless you’re invested in the campaign mode or something.
I’m gonna go play something that I enjoy instead. My apologies for the angry rant, folks.
With Call of Duty now going through many different iterations since, this post isn’t really that helpful these days. The yearly cycles of COD games means this advocacy post I made has long outlived its usefulness. However, I decided to update this with a more general feel of how I felt about it.
In the years since, I rented this game through Gamefly, then eventually bought the game proper on an Xbox 360 for real cheap at the 2015 Portland Retro Gaming Expo, and all the problems I had with it were still there: Hackers, no proper sense of balance, terrible maps (except for Dome, that one’s alright), the ridiculous bolted on mechanics, the works. Knowing that this game was mostly fixed by Sledgehammer Games hastily after the exile of Infinity Ward members leaving for Respawn Entertainment better explains the disjointed, half-baked nature of it.
You might’ve noticed that I didn’t really talk about the campaign in this article. Well, I didn’t enjoy that a whole lot either. When you have to create a Mary Sue-like character that was conveniently at the most important events of the previous Modern Warfare games, you’ve written yourself into a corner. Granted, Call of Duty isn’t Shakespearean literature, but it felt like the story dipped in quality after the first Modern Warfare, which I still think holds up today.
Modern Warfare 3 was the point in which I really stopped caring for Call of Duty. I couldn’t keep up with the year-in, year-out releases, and even with different studios doing a COD game each year, it doesn’t resolve the franchise fatigue this series has felt since.
I have played other installments since: Black Ops II was alright but the future stuff did nothing for me, World War II was enjoyable and one of my multiplayer go-tos in late 2019, Black Ops IIII felt uninspired and overly complicated, and the 2019 Modern Warfare reboot has an alright multiplayer, but it just felt like same old stuff I’ve been playing since 2008. Even them cribbing from both Battlefield and Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds couldn’t hold my interest for very long.
That’s not to say I’ve become the so-called “hipster” I mentioned in the original version of this article. I still enjoy Call of Duty sometimes, but it’s definitely a game series I can only enjoy once in a while.
Would I recommend Modern Warfare 3 now? No. I mean, if you’re invested in the paper-thin story of the series, the singleplayer’s a decent action romp with an incredibly hokey story. But the multiplayer for any COD past the most recent one is usually dead, especially on PC where I played this originally. Do what I did and get it for $5 or less somewhere if you’re really that interested in it.
I always keep thinking that Call of Duty is gonna stop being popular and will fade away to irrelevance, but with each passing year, they seem to prove me wrong. While I may not be an ardent fan of it anymore, I can still find some enjoyment despite its flaws. But Modern Warfare 3 is still not a good game.
(Screenshots taken from Mobygames.)