I had a large masturbatory article for Modern Warfare 3. What I liked about it, and what I hated. There’s so much I dislike about the game’s campaign I had to make a bullet point list to condense my frustrations at the game, and looking back at it, I was still pulling a few punches. I had a whole paragraph dedicated to Player Fatigue, it was just such a wank fest that reminds me of film studies classes. So I’m going to focus on two things about the game: one thing I didn’t like, and one thing I did. Then I’ll give a list of the dumb things that happened. Spoilers Ahead.
First the bad, which stems from the absolutely fantastic The Vet and The N00B commercial.
It makes the game look like a fast paced action funfest that doesn’t take itself seriously. It reminds me a lot of Edgar Wright’s Hot Fuzz, and I would not believe the director of the commercial wasn’t directly inspired by the movie. The issue here is that the game is not like this. It’s a super serious, military jargon filled game. Any jokes made in the game (I cannot think of one funny or even lighthearted scenario that happened) are suffocated by the unemotional warfare you slog through. The dynamic of the Vet and Noob duo, while obviously a film cliché, isn’t even brought into the actual game.
The Vet and the Noob doing fun stuff that you won’t do
You’re just a gruff military man among many with little to no personality other than your preference of hair and moustache style. This is why when one of the staple characters of the series died (Soap); I felt nothing, not even as another character (Price) was desperately trying to save him. Neither of them were actual people to me, they were just soldiers. Now in real life that would be a terrible thing to say, but in fiction, a character is a bundle of traits. If the only visible traits are being a soldier and sporting a Mohawk (or wearing a skull mask), I can’t care about them. But MW3 actually has a sympathetic character, which leads to something the game did right.
When Soap was dying, he told Price that the character I was playing as (Yuri, a Russian against the Ultranationalist Russian government), was known personally by the Big Bad of the series, Makarov. This was a fantastic moment because it created a tension I’ve never seen in the series before. I just witnessed a man lose his best mate whose dying breath implicated that I was not someone to be trusted. The game then throws you into having to escape the area with Price, but as you open a door, he sucker punches you down a flight of stairs and demands to know what is going on at gunpoint.
Here we get an actual backstory, where Yuri was a supporter of Makarov who witnessed Price’s sniper mission from the other side and Makarov’s nuclear detonation from MW1. Moving forward, we see Makarov shoot Yuri in a parking garage for being an information leak right before the infamous No Russian scenario. Yuri regains consciousness and drags himself into an elevator, and pops up just behind Makarov and his crew shooting up the airport. He takes a fallen cop’s gun, and before he can get a shot near Makarov he collapses due to his wound.
That entire scenario is controlled by the player, and it connected me with Yuri. I, like many, hated No Russian for its stupidity on multiple levels. If you were playing as a CIA operative undercover to prevent a terrorist attack, why wouldn’t you stop the shooting of an entire airport . Because I guess Russians aren’t people or something. If you attempted to shoot the other terrorists in No Russian, you were told Friendly Fire wasn’t allowed and had to restart the mission. That way you could watch wounded people drag themselves across the floor again.
So my anger towards No Russian was reflected by Yuri’s inability to stop it. We both wanted Makarov dead for personal, emotional reasons beyond Price’s lack of motivation beyond whatever concept of duty he has in being a soldier. Unfortunately, the big revenge mission at the end has the player control Price instead of Yuri, which feels emotionally flat even with possibly the most brutal take-down I’ve seen in a video game.
This brings up the second good thing about MW3. It has no No Russian parallel. Sure, you control a dad video taping his family vacation in London only to get blown up by a truck, but you’re not driving the truck and purposefully blowing it up right next to a little girl. You also don’t force feed a man glass like you did in Black Ops, so good on you MW3; you didn’t turn me into a terrible person for the sake of whatever immature plot you made up.
Bonus Mission: Stupid things in MW3
- The US blows up the Eiffel Tower to get soldiers with a VIP to safety. I guess we still don’t like France
- The only civilians you see in the entire game are Resistance fighters in Prague that you use to get to the Big Bad, Makarov. New York City, Paris, and Berlin are invaded, and no one is seen but Russians and American soldiers? Really?
- There are no female soldiers visually depicted in the game. There are two, and they’re both in aircraft. Perhaps that’s more realistic in terms of what kind of warfare is depicted in the game, but current modernconflicts utilize female soldiers more than ever before, and a nod to these women who serve our country should be more than a voice from an airplane.
- Price has a contact in the US military, and it turns out to be the soldier you play for the other part of the game. This connection is never explained.
- In the mission in London, you’re given intel that chemical weapons are going to come out of a waterside building. You watch trucks leave and then you attack the compound. You manage to take down one truck later but the rest explode their chemical payload all over London, essentially killing the entire population. This is absolutely retarded.
- I thought the US President was dead from the attack on the White House in MW2 due to an offhand comment about the President’s bunker not holding. For the longest time I thought America was being run by whatever Overlord was, but the President shows up in one of the mission briefings. I know it’s a game about the world being destroyed, but the developers really need to work on world building.
Final Review Score: Go watch The Rock, Battle Los Angeles, and Black Hawk Down instead. I don’t recommend these movies, but they’ll save you time and money. Actually, go watch Hot Fuzz. You’ll love it.
- Emerson Flynn