The Call of Duty franchise was always a successful series of games, a brand that fans of first-person shooters could rely on for decent game-play and a good time. However, it wasn’t always the huge thing it is now, and it wasn’t until the release of Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. Until that point the series was based securely in World War Two, a historical action series that wove its stories and characters into real world events. When they took the gamble to bring the series up to the modern day no one could predict just how successful it was going to be.
Four years after the release of Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare the story started there came to an end in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, Thanks to the hype around this game it became the largest game launch of all time, selling 6.5 million copies within the first 24 hours of release in just the US and the UK. To say that it was a juggernaut hit is an understatement.
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The game put players back into the role of its series protagonists, Captain John ‘Soap’ MacTavish (Kevin McKidd) and Captain John Price (Billy Murray), who have had to go on the run following the events of the last game, where they killed the corrupt US general who was orchestrating a war with Russia. Whilst the heroes of the series do what they can to try and track down a Russian Ultranationalist leader in the hopes of bringing this new world war to an end, the rest of the US is busy repelling Russian invaders from its soil.
Thanks to the global scale of the conflict in this third entry of the series, players get the opportunity to battle across levels in locations such as New York City, London, Paris, Hamburg, Prague, Berlin, and the United Arab Emirates, making this one of the most global games in the entire Call of Duty franchise, with massive destruction and action that was compared to big, cinematic disaster movies.
The comparisons to big budget films was actually pretty fair, as this game went above and beyond what people were expecting. The previous games had featured some cool set pieces, but Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 outdid many of these. You’d be flying around New York skyscrapers in a helicopter shooting enemies; driving speedboats between huge battleships and the water exploding around you; shooting your way through air-planes as they broke apart; chasing underground trains on a jeep; watching as the Eiffel Tower crashes down in a hail of destruction. And those are just the parts I can remember off the top of my head. The game gives you little breathing room as the player is thrown from one action moment to the next. Add into this a cast of voice actors that included names like Tony Curran, William Flichter, Craig Fairbass, Timothy Olyphant, Bruce Greenwood, and Idris Elba, and the game made you feel like you were the star of an action epic.
This was a sentiment that was shared by a lot of people, as the game quickly garnered high scores and positive praise from critics. The Daily Telegraph reviewed the game, describing it as an “exceptional entry in the series” living up to the hype surrounding it. Similarly, video game focused publications such as IGN and Eurogamer gave positive reviews, with Eurogamer calling it a “ferocious and satisfying game that knows exactly what players expect, and delivers on that promise with bullish confidence“.
Despite these accolades there was one thing that fans and reviewers noticed about Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3. Despite the bombastic nature of the single player campaign, it felt like a lot less time had been given over to it than previous entries in the series. This seemed to coincide with a bigger focus on the game’s multi-player elements. Its multiplayer was given a lot of attention both in the development and in the marketing, and there was a sizeable contingent of fans who jumped straight into the online mode as soon as they had the game; forgoing the single player experience entirely.
This is something that many have come to accept as a big part of the Call of Duty franchise over the years, that less time is given over to the single player campaign than is to the multi-player; and with the introduction of paid loot-boxes in more recent games this has only gotten worse. Sadly, despite how fun and engaging Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 was, it really did feel like the beginning of this trend in the series, and the last point where the single player experience was given any sense of care.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 was a fun, bombastic finale to this chapter of the franchise, a chapter that boosted the popularity of the series and broke the developers away from their focus on World War Two. Sadly, it was also the beginning of some of the worst aspects of the series.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 was first released on 8th November 2011.