Let me make one thing clear from the outset: the multiplayer side of this game is exciting and stays true to the style of the series. This is the fast-paced style which Call of Duty 4 (CoD4) revolutionised the series with in 2007 and since then, the new Call of Duty that has come out each year has felt very similar. The reason for this is that all games are based on a modified version of the IW engine and the developers have evolved each game to retain that fast-paced, action-packed style of CoD4.
So each year the new Call of Duty feels like a skinned version of CoD4, with some new bells and whistles (guns, perks, modes, maps, killstreaks and insignias). While some change is refreshing, at its core it’s just an updated version – the gameplay is very similar.
I can remember that when I started playing public online Call of Duty 4 in 2007, I simply couldn’t believe how much fun it was. I had never played anything like it. It was hours and hours for months on end before I got bored. It was addictive fun unlocking the weapons, exploring the maps and finding new ways to kill opponents. Like all things however, I grew tired of it eventually after about six months.
Once again Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3’s Multiplayer version of the game does not take any risks or make any serious advancements. This isn’t a problem if all you’re looking for is the standard Call of Duty multiplayer experience, but after so many years I wouldn’t mind being presented with some serious changes or innovations.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3’s runs through Steam and the game offers both peer-to-peer (P2P) and dedicated servers options. While it’s nice that gamers have the choice of both types of hosting, dedicated servers are not ranked, which means the vast majority of players will end up playing on P2P so they can level up and unlock the bells and whistles I mentioned earlier.
Browsing the dedicated servers at 8PM on a weekday night, I can see approximately 30 South African servers which are almost all completely empty. If I try finding a game through the match-making system however, I can get onto a server almost immediately.
You can read my detailed experiences of the matchmaking system here, when I reviewed Modern Warfare 2 in 2009. My biggest problem with P2P is that it’s such a mixed experience. Sometimes I get onto a server immediately and the hit registration feels awesome, where as other times I can wait ten minutes without finding a game and the hit registration feels terrible.
I also find it annoying to not have an accurate ping reading, let the console users have their bars but give me a numerical value please. The nice thing about a dedicated server is that once you find a good one you can keep on going back to it. With matchmaking it feels like luck of the draw.
A more polished version
There is no doubt that Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3’s Multiplayer has made some refinements to the series. For starters the menus are better, the game engine seems good unlike Black Ops (I don’t lag on a mid-specification PC) and it looks better, although only marginally.
In Modern Warfare 2 there were notifications screaming at you from the middle of your screen for just about every kill, whereas Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 has made these notifications a bit smaller and moved them more to the top-right of the screen, which makes them less distracting and invasive.
The game has a staggering amount of guns, insignias and killstreaks to unlock. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 also sees killstreaks becoming pointstreaks, as players can now receive points for completing objectives. The poinstreak rewards are organised into three different strike packages: Assault, Support and Specalist. Assault offers things like an attack helicopter, Support things like an automatic turret and Specialist offers players perks of their choosing after every second kill. I didn’t feel compelled to unlock all of the guns and the perks but for some gamers this process will be something to play for.
The maps are enjoyable as always an offer the player a diverse set of locations on which to battle. For the purposes of public multiplayer fun they are great.
The ranking and unlocks system has also been changed, with the players’ weapons levelling up as they are used. As the weapon levels up you can unlock new features for it such as silencers and holographic sights. Another cool addition is the ability to use hybrid scopes – so for example you can put both a red-dot sight and a magnified scope on one weapon and switch between the two sights. There is also a Prestige shop, which allows Prestige players to earn tokens with which they can purchase things like double experience and an extra custom weapon class. I think all of these features have added to the game and it’s nice to see the developers are improving on the formula of the series instead of just letting it stagnate. In this regard, I do think that Modern Warfare 3 is the best yet as an overall public multiplayer experience in the franchise.
Of course the gameplay does differ between modes, so in free-for-all you’re running around like a headless chicken and in Search & Destroy you’re trying to plant the bomb.
There are two new modes: “Kill Confirmed” which requires players to collect floating dog tags from the corpse of an enemy before the kill can be registered and “Team Defender” which requires both teams to try capture a flag dropped by the first person who gets killed from each team, and hold it to gain double points per kill while the team without the flag only gets the default amount per kill.
While the refinements are nice, the gameplay remains pretty much the same. It can be a lot of fun but it can also be very annoying when someone camps at the back of a map, gets a huge pointstreak and then calls in a helicopter which sees you getting killed repeatedly as you spawn. If you enjoyed the public multiplayer of the previous Call of Duty titles, you will definitely enjoy this.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 will be played in the 2012 Do Gaming League. A total of R60 000 has already been secured for the competition after Megaromsponsored R50 000 and Monster Energy sponsored R10 000 along with branded clothing and a year’s supply of Monster Energy drinks for each player. The R60 000 will be given away at the DGL Championships which are the culmination of the DGL online legs which are played through the year.