Modern Wafare 3’s campaign is really good. As usual, we have our opinions good and bad and, as usual, we feel that everyone is entitled to that opinion. Smear some cream on that STD so you can sit still, shut up and pay attention. Warning: lots of spoilers. Quit reading now if you’re going to get pissy about it.
This will be a long one. Better make a sammich and get a glass of tea.
Realism: though they had Dalton Fury advising, not everything was realistic even by gaming standards. This isn’t as big a deal as some people make it. Let’s not forget, it’s a game. Expecting true realism here is just ridiculous, any more than expecting absolute accuracy in an action flick is ridiculous. If you died quickly, it wouldn’t be much of a game, and if you didn’t have cinematics, it wouldn’t be much of a campaign. We don’t expect it to be completely accurate… “If Ghost and Soap had to submit ConOps to higher they’d never go out on a single mission. Sorry folks, you maxed out the risk mitigation work sheet, looks like we won’t be saving the world today…” (Kit Up’s Jack Murphy again) but having Delta guys storm the beach…hmmm… We could also do without some of the over theatrical stuff. It’s like the Transformers movies, which try to one-up each other every time, until you’re in sensory overload. (Note: we don’t hold DF accountable for this; ultimately the guys making the game have the final say, just like the director of a movie, regardless of what technical advisers tell them.)
Listen, we like steak, we like horseradish, we like bourbon and we like strenuous activities with naughty girls, but if you eat a 32 oz. porterhouse smeared in horseradish while drinking an entire bottle of bourbon and then engage in strenuous activity with naughty girls, bad stuff can happen. It’s called too much of a good thing. You’ll wind up like that one AFT character, making snow angels in the PX parking lot in your own vomit.
But we digress.
Next, let’s get the inevitable out of the closet. There is no way this can be just a review of Modern Warfare 3. It’s a look at the game all mangled up with a comparison to Battlefield 3. No matter how hard they try, the folks behind MW3 aren’t going to get away from the buzz created by BF3, or escape the certain compare-and-contrast commentary. So now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s move on with the review.
MW3. We all remember the first time we saw the gear on those Marines in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare. If you are anything like us, you looked at your fat roommate and said, “Whoa, these guys actually did some research!” If you are not like us, then you looked at your postmodern art class and said, “What’s Call of Duty?” The accurate portrayal of the shooters in this series has always been and continues to its backbone, right down to the 5 o’clock shadow sported by guys who’ve been in the field so long, their white drawers are now desert brown. The problem with this when it comes to MW3 is that that it’s not NEW to the MW world, it’s just EXPECTED. Justified or not, it no longer has the impact it once had—sad, yes, but that’s the reality of it. (BF3 overcame some of this with the introduction of their new engine…MW3 did not.)
The true power of MW3 is in the storyline, and other than appealing to players’ nostalgia and established favoritism, this is where MW3 shows up BF3. We already know the operators, and we’ve been shooting at these terrorists since that one Christmas when our girlfriends it off because becoming Soap for a few hours was more important than a little fun-time bouncy bouncy. MW3 does not disappoint on graphics, accuracy, and playabilit. They met expectations and stepped up their game in a few areas we’ll point out shortly. Unfortunately, they fall victim to the same thing that every trilogy except Star Wars and Rambo fell victim to (no…wait…) Just as there are advantages to knowing the characters there are many disadvantages. MW3 lost the element of surprise. By the third Jurassic Park, nobody cared about dinosaurs going all godzirra on California. Hell we were rooting for the big lizards, except when that one ate the dog.
The only way MW by virtue of the story, so let’s review.
Prologue: When we last saw our war-torn world, WWIII was in full swing, with the US and Russia comparing the age old dispute of ‘who has the bigger wiener.” Our boy Soap, who we did not realize was a Chuck Norris tough gaijin ninja, had just dispatched traitor general Shepard with a knife (conveniently close at hand in his own sternum) to the facehole. Soap collapses and revives to the sight of Capt. Price rushing him to medical attention in a safehouse in India.
Black Tuesday. It’s always a good sign when the first words you hear starting out a first person shooter are “RPG!” because like most girls, we don’t want all that foreplay. We just want to capture the objective, so let’s get to banging. In this case, your task is to fight your way to the corner of Exchange and Broadway to destroy a Russian antenna. There are Russians and unbathed hippies all over the place. Who knew those occupy Wall Street protesters were such good shots? You are Frost, a Delta operator crawling out of a HMMWV so accurately portrayed that it actually has the DO NOT USE GLASS CLEANER sticker under the window. Pretty self explanatory mission, they do a good job of making a tutorial not seem like a tutorial and the action keeps intensity throughout. Look for those intel laptops, they’re not hard to find if you can deal with your delta buddies telling you to “quit draggin’ ass.” You also receive a basic introduction to the predator and minigun time in a little air to air demo riding in a Blackhawk that may or may not actually have a pilot.
Hunter Killer. You already get to do some sneaky secret squirrel stuff. It’s not as cool as sliding out a whale’s ass and blowing up an oil platform, but hey you’re not SEALs. You’re Delta. You get some rebreathers and underwater jet skis. Then you do link up with SEALs (who have presumably recently slid out a whale’s ass to join you) and the fun begins. Avoid the big red balls. They’re apparently mines and not giant aquatic lollipops Clear out the subs, execute your mission then take a balls out zodiac ride into the back of a Chinook hovering right above the water. Go straight from sea to air, do not pass land, do not collect 200 dollars.
Persona Non Grata. You should learn to speak Latin and Russian. Nikolai, your crazy but loyal Russian pilot (oh, those crazy Russkis) introduces you to Yuri. Yuri is an ex-spetznaz Russian who just hates Makarov and is willing to help your cause. Shortly after jamming an epi-pen into Soap’s chest, Yuri watches Capt. Price display his SAS ass-whuppin’ skill on some poor Ivan who breached the wrong door at the wrong time. While evacuating Soap you use Johnny Five’s sociopathic brother, the UGV (which is some serious fun). It’s like those Wall-E robots the EOD boys use, except it has a minigun and disdains hostiles. Soap gets to the extract, Yuri goes for a swim. If you’re not too bright (and we’re not) it takes you a while to reconcile time zones between India and the US and figure out how this mission fits chronologically. Some of you may never figure it out.
You now begin to realize you’ve been cheated. You’re not going to be playing Soap. That’s bullshit, eh?
Turbulence. A nice chance of pace. Now you’re Andrei Harkov (still not Soap or Jonas Blaine), a Russian FSO agent protecting their President and Vodka One. Take a minute to look out the window and enjoy yourfighterescort and the beautiful day, it’s about to get crappy. You do your best, but the story demands you eventually fail. Enjoy killing terrorists in zero gravity and meeting a reasonably hawt Russian chick (the president’s daughter). If you’re seated near an emergency exit, you may want to read your little pamphlet on how that thing works, because all your hard work is for naught. Makarov gives your wife a life insurance check and steals your principal.
Back on the Grid. The chase for Makarov begins in a wonderful state sponsored terrorist country in Africa. Coming up out of the water all Rambo style is a benefit. Interrupting these guys during their afternoon khat break only attracts bullets. Ifyou’re not compromised, you get to enjoy some average knife work cutaway scenes. Once you go loud, don’t get so excited that you quit looking for intel. Enjoy rocking the ma-deuce in the technical and be sure to kill every chicken you see. Take some IDF, give some IDF, it’s like being an arty guy at a FOB in Afghanistan or Iraq, complete with the smell of stale chicken turds. Don’t get so lax in breaching doors that you forget there may be bad guys on the other side. Look around, you may find some decent weapons that will greatly assist your cause.
Mind the Gap. Special Air Service direct action, infiltrate and secure. No plan survives contact with the enemy or a plot hook. You need to go really fast, but you do get to
break a lot of stuff while talking with a Brit accent. Witness a chemical attack as a civilian father (not fun).
Goal Post. Back to Delta. Rammstein AFB is under attack by Ivan ground forces and the Security Forces troops (who probably got held over in Guardmount for some stupid reason) need help. Reroute to extract the Vice Presicent, callsign Goalpost. Back when we were helping design the game we wanted to use the callsign Stripper Pole but too many Congressmen irl were using that. Work hand in hand, fight your way through an ass load (actual Mad Duo SALUTE and METT-TC troop measurement) of Russian shooters. Pay attention to your burner. That M4 has a single point sling attachment and a charging handle extension. It’s the little details we love, like a single dancing mom with just the right amount of glitter on her chest. Eventually you take over for a gunner, providing hate and discontent. CQB in a tank? Yeah, they went there. You go, Delta. Get that VP.
Return to Sender. The horniest part of Africa is your next all expense paid destination. Remember Pripiyat? You and your pal Nikolai and an rc turret dispose of various flipflop wearing jihadists in an attempt to get hold of Waraabe. Once you get him, he receives an interview the Geneva Conventions might frown upon, but you get another lead to chase down., but not before you get caught in a sandstorm. Still haven’t gotten all the sand boogers out from this one. On a note toward verisimilitude, when you shoot out a tire, it will actually drop the vehicle’s profile and expose the head of the tango behind it. Get to work, the TOC is clicking. Just when you think you’re done you get the word someone needs ESAR and you have to do it because he still owes you a beer for jumping on the fat chick grenade and you haven’t collected yet.
Bag and Drag. Remember the first time you had to put on a gas mask and do the CS chamber and you found yourself wondering if the GI Bill was really worth it? Well, here you get to work in a “non-permissive environment” filled with live agent in the atmosphere, a major ground offensive, snotty civilians and contaminated French bread everywhere. Luckily you have GIGN on your side, though much to our dismay they didn’t all have pencil thin handlebar mustaches (nor did they surrender). Looney Tunes lies. GIGN takes you down into the catacombs, a creepy network of burial places and ossuaries , where normal people shudder and Chuck Norris giggles and eats ice cream. You capture Volk and demonstrate the real reason we like those carbon fiber knuckle backs on our gloves.
Iron Lady. Wear a flightsuit. Sleep in air conditioning. Dump a 105 shell into a house for just one guy with a Glock. You know you love it. Wouldn’t be a MW game without a gunship ride. Wreak havoc you zipper-suited sung od you. Watch the Eiffel Tower.
Eye of the Storm. Better schedule yourself a TB shot when this is all said and done. Try to remain undetected. You spend a long time looking at Soap’s taint trying to crawl an dremain undetected. Dog alerts. A sentry yells something about killing and eating the dog. If you’re honest you’ll admit you looked at the mannequin’s boobs before you left the store. Quite surprisingly (not) you’re compromised and you fight your way to the next objective. Even though it’s WWIII you still can’t cross the red velvet ropes at the museum.
Blood Brothers. A nice breather here in an urban hide. Figure out there’s more than meets the eye than Yuri. Careful in the shower when you have the option to pick up soap. Capt. Price has a meltdown.
Yuri. Go back in time. Figure out Yuri’s attachment to TF 141 (which you still can’t talk about). Figure out how clever they have been with this character. Kudos to the designers, nicely done.
Stronghold. Assault a castle…why not? Parachute in, clear the security room, use your knife if you can and save ammo. Now start doing a Shawshank Redemption and snoop around through the walls. Figure out where the Russki president and Makarov and the hawt daughter is. Make sweet James Bond style escape.
Scorched Earth. Go for a skid ride, rescue the damsel in distress. Play with a tricked out M14 EBR and an A-10. Proceed with the mission and—surprise—fail.
Down the Rabbit Hole. Hi ho, hi ho, it’s off to Siberia we go. A diamond mine seems like a fine place to kill everything that moves. Too bad for you the shoddy Russki workmanship means the elevator won’t handle RPGs. Don’t forget to flank. You can really use angles and corners to your advantage if you savvy. You can shoot the vending machine as much as you want, nothing is coming out. Watch for grenades, they have ‘em in plenty. Sacrifice your lives so Price and Yuri can get the Russian President out.
Dust to Dust. Kill Makarov. By now if it’s not personal you’re either one coldhearted bastard or a fan of Bill Maher. The only objective of this level, the only objective of this game, the only thing you can think about after all those deaths is killing this asshole. MW3 takes some artistic license here and devolves into some sci-fi with super armor suits, but we can excuse it because it gives the player the ability to massacre Makarov henchmen with reckless abandon. Eventually your armor goes, but until it does, you and Yuri are a pair of brawling juggernauts pounding it out. We won’t tell you how it ends, but you better have some nimble fingers and thumbs.
Smoke your cigar, the fat lady has sung.
Final Tally: Infinity Ward may not have exceeded expectations, but we weren’t disappointed either. We like the MW3 Campaign better than the BF3 Campaign because the story crafting and plot were much better. Still rather play BF3 multiplayer, but that’s okay. Look, if BF3 hadn’t released just before this game, we’d be raving about how amazing MW3 is. But it did, and because it did, it stole some of the luster from what in the end is a great game and story. We still love you Infinity, please don’t break up with us. We’re still willing to eat crackers and ketchup to save our per diem for your next game. Keep on creating some great first person shooters. Maybe do some DLC along the border, off Somalia fighting pirates or some sort of counter-insurgency. If you do, go with Feral Jundi or Baba Tim for your background research. Maybe follow RYP for some savvy, sarky input.
The Mad Duo can be contacted here on UTR, over on Kit Up! or at Breach-Bang-Clear. High speed, low drag celebrities of the action figure and steely-eyed snaker-eater world, the commentary of Richard “Swingin’ Dick” Kilgore and Jake “Slim” Call has been likened to a .308 op-ed to the head. They don’t like the Taliban, marplots, hippies, sissies or SNCOs and officers who don’t grasp the concept of Noblesse Oblige. Loyalty starts from the top down, assclowns. (Some folks have asked for some background on the intrepid doorkicking twosome: check out Breach Bang Clear for more.)