When the Modern Warfare scion of the venerable Call of Duty franchise branched out four years ago, the electrifying campaign and addictive multiplayer cast a new mold for first-person shooters. In the years since, this formula has been consistently refined, shamelessly imitated, and widely adored, making it one of the defining franchises of this generation. Modern Warfare 3 stays the course, delivering an explosive campaign, breakneck competitive action, and challenging cooperative play. This is an exciting and rewarding game, but the series’ signature thrills have lost some of their luster. Modern Warfare 3 iterates rather than innovates, so the fun you have is familiar. Fortunately, it’s also utterly engrossing and immensely satisfying, giving fans another reason to rejoice in this busy shooter season.
The campaign picks up where Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 left off. Our heroes, Soap and Price, are in bad shape, and the villain, Makarov, is still at large. It doesn’t take the pair long to get back in the hunt, and soon you’re hopping the globe in pursuit of your quarry. You make a few forays into backwater outposts, but the most striking situations are when you take up arms in conflicts that consume entire cities. From New York City to London to Paris, no bastion of Western civilization is safe, and the destruction that has been visited on these iconic locations is visually stunning. The impressive scenery makes the action more impactful, and the campaign shuffles you around to different fronts within each city to make sure you can experience the battle from many different angles. Remote air support control, on-foot firefights, and tense vehicle sequences keep the campaign moving at a great clip in these urban environments, capturing the expert pacing that has made past Call of Duty campaigns so exhilarating.