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Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3

28 Dec

So I now have my new backlit billboard staring at me from across the road and an advert I’m genuinely excited about – Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3.

Now, I usually start each post explaining that I would normally have little to no experience with what’s being advertised and I’m afraid this challenge is no different. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been an avid gamer for as long as I can remember (some of my earliest memories are playing Pac-Man on my Atari at the age of about 3) and whilst I do currently own a Wii, Nintendo 3DS and PlayStation 3… I don’t really do first person shooters. You’re much more likely to find me playing a casual music game such as Just Dance, Rock Band or DJ Hero; or failing that, one of my all-time favourites is Phoenix Wright where – I shit you not – you play the role of a lawyer solving cases in a Manga style point and click adventure set predominantly in a courtroom.

Don't knock this game until you've played it.

However, working in digital advertising I’m often told by gaming websites that “Gaming is even bigger than movies,” and they will almost always pull out the stat that last year’s Call of Duty: Black Ops generated a similar turnover to Toy Story 3. With 100m copies sold since 2003 there’s no denying that Call of Duty is a major entertainment franchise and one that I’ve been keen to, at the very least, try out for quite some time.

The ad made it clear that I had to buy the game on the day of release, but that almost didn’t seem enough dedication for a game with 30m active users (that’s more than the population of Tokyo, New York, Madrid, Paris and London combined). I needed to queue up for the midnight launch.

I discovered that the GAME on Oxford Street was the UK’s official Modern Warfare 3 launch venue and during my lunch break went to check out the situation before the evening’s launch: It was ridiculous. Firstly, there was already a queue of people in the freezing cold 11 hours before they would be able to buy the game who had come with warm clothes, foldable chairs, food supplies and seemed to be in fairly good spirits. Looking at the shop window, it had been completely overtaken by the CoD graphic which also covered the surrounding wall and even the GAME logo on the front of the shop had changed to the official Modern Warfare 3 font.

As tempting as it was to join the queue, my bills won't pay themselves

Inside, the madness continued. Whilst GAME was open for business, all staff appeared to be in Modern Warfare mode themselves. Anyone not behind the till was frantically building one of the official MW3 cardboard shelving units that were strategically placed around the shop, often blocking any other game a customer may have wanted to purchase. Clearly they knew that this was going to be the game release of the year – if not of all time – and my excitement was beginning to grow. However, with the freezing weather and people queuing already, there was no way in hell that I was going to wait outside until midnight.

The next day I revisited GAME at my leisure and was met by a queue that coiled right the way around the shop. The excitement and dedication to this game was unlike anything I’d ever seen and it was only when I left Oxford Street and instead went to my local HMV that I was even able to pick up a copy. With such furore surrounding the launch I was practically shaking with excitement as I loaded the game into my PS3.

Then I waited. Then I waited some more. For anyone who doesn’t own a PS3, each time you buy a new game you have to go through the ridiculous ritual of installing new software for your console as well as the game itself. An hour of updates later and I was finally good to go, palms literally sweaty with excitement. The opening video introduction sets the scene with the voiceover exclaiming “All warfare is based on deception,” with a gun pointed straight at you and then fired to show a hologram of a helicopter. It goes on to explain that “For year’s the west’s hypocrisy has made the world a power feud,” at which point I had already started to lose my grasp of the story arc.

For anyone unfamiliar with the CoD franchise, the game is split into 3 modes: Campaign (the single-player story), Multiplayer (where you can play with friends in your home or strangers around the world) and Special Ops where you can play solo or cooperatively to improve your ranking to unlock weapons, tactical support, levels etc in a variety of missions. The modes I was most interested in were Campaign and the fabled Multiplayer, where I’d heard spotty 12 year olds around the globe where waiting to ‘frag’ me, the n00b (translation: kill my character with ease because I had never played the game before and would therefore most likely suck).

Starting with the Campaign mode, before I could even begin I was met with a “Disturbing Content Notice” that warned me some scenes would be disturbing and that I would not be penalised for skipping these. The music at this point was already ominous, reminding me of the musical accompaniment one hears in line for Colossus at Thorpe Park. I wondered just how bad a computer generated depiction of ‘disturbing content’ could be, so obviously checked the box that ensured this would be included. If you’d like to see for yourself, here is the controversial scene in it’s entirety:

There can be absolutely no denying that the Campaign mode is truly action packed. Apparently you start right where the previous game left you, and in the opening scene can move the camera around as your injured character is carried on a stretcher off a helicopter and into a safe-house. In the first 3 levels alone, you crash a helicopter, navigate a speedboat and slide off a cliff into a river. After that, you’re placed on a plane where you must shoot enemies whilst suspended in mid-air through extreme turbulence and then survive a crash which splits the Russian president’s jet in half.

Although criticised in the media for exploiting the 7/7 bombings, my favourite sections of the game were those based in the London Underground, most likely as a result of being a Londoner myself. This hugely violent segment has the user following a tube train on a 4×4 and shooting terrorists whilst avoiding civilians in order to ensure the train doesn’t reach Westminster station. Although completely over the top, the London settings are actually very realistic and I absolutely loved the level of detail within the station and what was left of the train.

With regards to Multiplayer, at the time of writing this still remains something I’m yet to even begin to master after 6 and a half weeks of daily play. Before buying the game I was sure that a microphone headset would be a must-have; what better way to become immersed in the game than by chatting to my fellow players to discuss tactics and take down the enemy? However, within 2 matches I could see that the £29.99 RRP would be a complete waste of money. The majority of users don’t speak English or indeed to anyone else. My first encounter with a headset user was an Icelandic girl who would hum to herself whilst alive and scream each time her character died. When I finally came across 2 English speaking users (I use the description lightly), the only mutterings I could decipher were “Where is that bastard?” which was met with “I ‘ate the fookin’ French, me.”

My favoured Multiplayer mode is currently Team Deathmatch whereby one must use teamwork to kill enemy players, if only because it means I can hide behind a bush whilst the rest of my team do all the work and I still get the credit. My first 3 Team Deathmatches were a massacre, however my team won at the 4th time of asking with me racking up the following impressive stats – Died: 9 times, Killed: 0 users, Awarded for: Most time watching Kill Cam (the instant replay you get each time you die). The only way I can describe my experience of Multiplayer is taking a few steps, dying, watching a replay of how I was impossibly killed and then respawning to do it all again. If you’d like to take me on, my PSN username is “billiethesquid.”

Me, losing to people across the world whilst in my jimjams.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 has had a lot of hype in the lead-up to release and indeed my own expectations were ridiculously high. With such build-up, I daresay that it was never going to live up to my anticipation however it has come extremely close. The Campaign mode is phenomenal, constantly surprising you with stunning action sequences and hugely inventive set-pieces that put the user in control and need to be seen to be believed. Whilst I’m terrible at the multiplayer, the dedication from users is undeniable given their ability to frag opponents like me with consummate ease and it remains strangely addictive despite my limited number of victories.

With so many chases, explosions and gratuitous carnage, I can totally understand the comparisons in turnover between CoD and movies like Avatar – essentially they’re directly comparable. Yes the game is fun, but more importantly it’s hugely entertaining. There are big budget Hollywood blockbusters that don’t have this much action.

Looking at recent press coverage, it appears that CoD: MW3 has now beaten the sales record set by Avatar. For as long as the games are this entertaining, I’ve no doubt that articles like this will become increasingly common and the huge fanbase will continue to grow. Despite not usually being a fan of first person shooters, I was extremely impressed by the game and am already looking forward to the next entry in the series.

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2 Responses to “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3”

  1. addictegamerlog January 5, 2012 at 2:09 pm #

    wow

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