By Video_Game_King 13 Comments
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3
(Or, as the game likes to call itself: Call of Duty: MW3.) Why the hell do I bring this up? First, because I find it infinitely amusing that the official name of the game is an acronym. (Don't ask why.) Second, because I find it mildly interesting how much the Modern Warfare name has changed over the years. First, it was simply a continuation of Call of Duty called Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. When that game became more successful than Halo 3 (go back and listen to all the GOTY discussions in 2007 say the same damn thing), it simply became Modern Warfare 2 (or maybe duty stopped calling). Then the developers realized that defending a Wendy's was a bad idea (are their fries made out of water?) and decided to call this game "MW3" in the hopes you'd forget the mediocre memes of yesteryear. Amazingly, the games themselves haven't changed too much, and this isn't going to interrupt that trend.
Although I guess in some aspects, it should, because for being called "Modern Warfare", its idea of warfare certainly seems reminiscent of the fucking 1940s. (So why didn't I use this for my L.A. Noire blog?) Speaking of the past, remember the previous Modern Warfare game? I certainly don't, and, fortunately, this game doesn't really remember it, either. It spends very little time (in fact, I think it's only one cutscene) referencing the previous two games. Instead, it dives right into the conflict of some British military dudes chasing around a Russian too smarmy to have a Russian accent or a characterization beyond a maniacal laugh. (Massive fucking spoilers inbound.) Somehow, this sparks off the War to End All [INTERRUPTED WITH AN UPROARIOUS GUFFAW], and dear god, is this warry as hell. Just about every level features something blowing up about two feet away from you every three seconds or so. To be fair, it can be incredibly disconcerting and frantic when it wants to, like you're in an actual war. So it very clearly has the "warfare" part down. The problem I have with it, however, is the "modern" part, or, to be more specific, the lack of it. For example, why is America fighting Russians in this game? Last I checked, you guys were on pretty good terms with them. As I understand it, you're also on pretty good terms with Europe, too, which makes it that much more befuddling that half the game consists of blowing up Europe. Actually, I'm kidding; I know exactly why Europe's going to shit:
poor economic policies or something this game's in love with World War II. All I need is this level. How can that be interpreted as anything other than Normandy? Or anything modern? I thought "modern warfare" was just shooting above people until they got into the fetal position; what's this shit about obvious political rivals and scales large enough to weigh the sun? And this is all just talking about the game itself; look at it in terms of the series, and things become stupidly dark in ways I don't think the developers intended. Keep in mind that Modern Warfare's plot began in 2011, and this game continues it all the way up to 2016. Not a day has gone by that that world hasn't been at war. Imagine what kind of bellicose hell you'd have to be in to live in this type of world. I mean, you'd have to live in some ridiculous fantasy world for this to be true, like Warhammer or something. *sigh* Goddamn it, MW3. Just....fuck. (Again, spoilers.)
Yet the story's not all bad. In fact, it can have some particularly powerful moments, whether it realizes it or not. I know that I mentioned the absolute din of war, yet that's not really what I want to focus on.Instead, I want to focus on the more "human" moments. That may sound a bit odd, but what I mean is that there are some moments where you, say, feel the weight of your character struggling to walk through something, or pressing the two triggers in succession to drag yourself forward. Dear god, these are really effective moments. You really feel like these are actual people moving around instead of psychic cameras wielding guns (I have my reasons for saying that (and for using pictures from a different game)). Unfortunately, I'm not sure the developers knew how great these moments were, because a lot of them can be very brief. So what does the story focus on more than that? Death. Death all over the place. Characters dying left and right. (At this point, that's as much a spoiler as saying that Aeris dies in Final Fantasy VII). I'm of a mixed mind of this. On the one hand, I can imagine some of these deaths being pretty big for huge fans of the series. I'm not going to spoil which person dies, but I will say that if you're a fan, you've probably developed a decent emotional attachment to this guy. That's precisely why the other deaths don't work: no emotional attachment. For example, there's this moment halfway through the game where, for no discernible reason, you're in control of a dad taking his family on vacation to London town. The warm, saccharine feel to this scene immediately made me think, "This guy's gonna die a horrible fucking death." And guess what? I was right. It's hard for a plot twist to be effective when it has no bearing on the plot and you can see from halfway across the universe. The rest of the plot, then? It's pretty much an action movie, which means a bunch of stupid explosions, conspiracy theories, an ending half-ripped from Mirror's Edge, of all places, and about twenty things happening per scanline. (I feel like there should be a warning whenever I post something spoiler-y. A bright, yellow warning perhaps.)
Not that that's a bad thing, of course. Hell, that's what probably makes it such a good shooter in the first place. Remember what I said earlier about this game being frantic and chaotic? No? Guess I have to remind you again. This game is pretty effing involved, as tons of shit can be happening at any one time. You'd think this would make the game disorienting, but it only makes it better. Why, you ask? Well, a few reasons. First, it lends the game a primal/visceral sense of fun. I don't know how to put it any better, but there's just something really enjoyable about constantly darting from event to event, spraying bullets on anything that moves. I know this could be said about any other game in the series, but for whatever reason (probably shitty memory), it applies even moreso here. Second, it leads to a decent amount of variety. Turns out that it's hard to get variety across with simply shooting things with guns, so the fine people at Modern Warfare Corp. (was I close?) decided to introduce things that are somewhat different from shooting things with guns. Namely, vehicles. No, you can't drive through any of the levels (this isn't Burnout 3, so I doubt it could make driving in a straight line compelling), but you can use them to shoot people in levels. I know that sounds odd, but trust me, it's different from regular shooting. There can be anywhere between decent amount of strategy and absolutely no strategy to any two events. Trust me; it's better than it sounds. Granted, the quality can bounce all over the place with the vehicles (random game overs in boats aren't entirely fun), but they're still strong enough for me not to beat the developers to within an inch of their life for including them.
But what about the shooting? Seems like Modern Warfare Corp. really knows how to make a solid shooter. (I'd have prefaced that with "I hate to say it, but..." if I actually had an active hatred of this game.) It goes beyond that last huge block of a paragraph though, as there are a ton of cool weapons to be found in this game. So many, in fact, that some of them only get used once, usually when your partners are telling you to shoot the enemy with it. Remember, though, that not all of them are one-time things. You still have your assault rifles and AK-47s and sub-machine guns and other types of guns I'm not familiar with. The amazing thing about all this, though, is just how well each one is pulled off. It may not feel like it, at first, but there's actual reason to switch out your weapons, like reload times or shit iron sights or something else. Granted, pistols are kinda crap, but I think there are only about two of those in the game, anyway, so it can't matter too much, can it? There's still the sniping to look forward to, and there are still moments where you can grab hold of a mini-gun and just go all out Rambo on some motherfuckers. In fact, I think those moments are called "the entire game." Hell, even when it tries on stealth, it accidentally sucks so hard at that that it somehow reverts back to a shootfest. Do you know what that means? Modern Warfare Corp. is so bad at making other types of games that when they even try to do it, they end up making a solid FPS. It takes a special type of suck to achieve something like that.
Only there's one problem with the game....that I haven't listed: it's on the easy side. I'm even pretty sure I know why: the game holds your hand with handcuffs throughout the whole experience. No, I'm not insulting the linearity, although this is a very linear game (the original title was "--------------" before the developers realized that Modern Warfare makes more money). I'm certain you could swap out the maps with something from Final Fantasy XIII and nobody would notice it if you included enough distracting explosions. Again, I don't have too much of a problem with that (it keeps the game focused, after all), but it does get really weird in some areas, like when you have to shimmy across a ledge you can't fall off. It's weirder than it sounds. But none of that has much of a bearing on the difficulty; I'm sure it has more to do with how this isn't a very threatening game. It's usually pretty easy to find cover and heal up, and it's not like your enemies will give you much crap for this. They're perfectly happy to let you regenerate health and briefly pop out of cover to shoot them a bit. But even if the enemies decided to do their job and try to harm you, I doubt it would ramp up the difficulty too much, since the game checkpoints like crazy. I'd suggest turning it into a drinking game, but your liver would probably be safer if you decided to take a shot for every bullet fired. This may not seem like much (if you're the type of person who enjoys really easy games...you pussy), but it does a lot to interfere with some of the story moments. After all, how am I supposed to feel like I'm in danger when there isn't any danger? Maybe that's what the multiplayer is for, I guess. After all, the game's not really long or anything. OK, yea, 16 missions, but that doesn't mean much when each one lasts less than 16 minutes. So go play it for the multiplayer, I guess. Maybe you could even tell me about it in the comments and fail to convince me to rewrite this blog.
- It's an action movie about how awesome World War II was, so I'm assuming that the video game industry hasn't advanced an inch since 2004.
- I can't really insult this game, because it's a pretty solid shooter.
- Wait...I can insult it! This game's way too short and easy. That oughta work.
I think I know what the plot of the next Modern Warfare game (which will inevitably be called Modern Warfare 4: The Call of Duty) is going to be.
(Well, that was certainly a lot to say about Modern Warfare 3.) Will I be able to match it here? Short answer: no. Long answer: fucking no. I'm utterly amazed that I was able to write so much about a game I probably won't remember by the time I post this (I don't even remember it right now), and I doubt I could get that much out of this game. Hell, you can finish it in under an hour. But you probably won't want to. Why? It's an awesome game, and in my experience, I want awesome games to take longer to finish than the blogs for them. I'm cool with them if they are short, though, so....maybe I should shut up and just get to the blog? Yea, that sounds fine.
But where to start? I honestly have no idea. Not because I forgot a lot about the game, but because I can't make sense of what I remember. Just look at the intro. For those of you who don't want to click the link,
YOU ARE TERRIBLE PEOPLE AND YOU SHOULD FEEL ASHAMED OF YOURSELVES YOU MONSTERS it's pretty much everything you could ever say about 90s video game design. Don't believe me? Keep count of all the live actors juxtaposed alongside mediocre CGI, all set to crap rock music. Oddly enough, though, it all manages to coalesce into something pretty cool, possibly because it doesn't know how much I should really hate all of its individual elements. Even odder than that is how the developers continue this trend throughout the game. Yes, these cutscenes continue appearing throughout the game, but they never come together into anything even resembling a story. There are robots, it's the 1950s (I guess that's a twist ending), and...uh...yea, that's all I could get out of it. My guess is that the developers spent so much money on the aesthetics that by the time they remembered that a story would be really nice (given all this other stuff), they didn't have any money left to afford a pencil to write one. Now before you start bringing up El Shaddai (it's a new year, so I feel as though the tables have turned), keep in mind that this game actually has things like consistency and direction of some type. It just lacks any coherence to tie it all together into something capable of being understood. It's all just sort of there, I guess to complement the awesome graphics (I could use a picture of Modern Warfare 3 here and nobody would notice (or they might just think I have more to say about it (I don't))), I guess? I don't know.
The actual gameplay, on the other hand, is much easier to understand. Much easier, probably because it's rail shooter. What's there to explain? I could say "you point at things and shoot", but there's a bit more to it than that. It's more like painting over your targets Panzer Dragoon style and then shooting. It may sound simple (in fact, in the next paragraph, I talk exclusively about that spoilers), but dear god, is the flow amazing. I'm not sure I can put it into words, but there's just something really appealing about gliding from target to target and watching as your missiles turn them into about a billion tiny bits of debris. Granted, it takes some time to get used to (partly because it takes a while to understand that you should always be using lock-on (ALWAYS)), but damn does it rock when you finally get there. I think part of that is just how rewarding it can be, if that makes any sense. This game will not tolerate shit players Suck at the game? Well, then, no lock-on missile upgrades that you pretty much need to beat the game. That may sound harsh, but that's only because you suck at the game. (Presumably.) Once you actually get good at it, the game starts loving you, what with the missile upgrades and that flow thing I mentioned earlier. Add in the "......what?" personality I described earlier and a general arcade feel, and you have a game that I'll probably yell at you for not having played.
I guess this is where I talk about the parts of the game I didn't like. Too bad there aren't a ton. There are, however, parts that I think other people won't like, so close enough, I guess? Anyway, on with this trainwreck. First off, I guess it can be too simple for some people. You don't even need a full hand to count all the weapons in this game on one hand: lock-on missiles, a machine gun that's useful on bosses, and a dash attack that you only use on bosses (because its load time is so long that it crosses between levels, and no, that's not a joke). Not a lot of room for complexity, is there? No power-ups or different forms of any of them. That's pretty much all there is, which probably explains why the game can (CAN) be a tad repetitive. Most of the levels are essentially the same; practice on some enemies, fight a mini-boss, then find out that that wasn't the boss of the level. Oh, and speaking of bosses, the bosses are affected, too, as I implied by directly listing them in the previous sentence. Just paint as many targets as possible, let loose your laser fury, dodge to the side, and repeat until the game decides that you're the more awesome robot thing on screen. They still take quite a bit of skill to get through (especially the later boss battles, which can Second....no, that's about it, in terms of substantial complaints. Just one flaw that I could think of, and it goes up against so much awesome. Now mind telling me why you haven't tracked down this game already?
- You'd think that for all the money invested into the things surrounding the story, somebody would have come up with a story.
- This is the game that makes me question why arcades died in the West in the first place.
- I'm assuming that you guys may not like it for its simplicity, mainly because I assume everybody is, at heart, a cynical butthole like myself.