"Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3" is a big-budget, high-octane shooter that repackages rather than redefines the "Call of Duty" experience. Yet, despite its lack of innovation, "Modern Warfare 3" is a solid, engaging, and ultimately fun experience that fans of the series will no doubt love.

MW3: Solid, but not groundbreaking. Still Explosions are awesome.

Although it does not reinvent the wheel, "Modern Warfare 3" does offer the same, action-packed single-player and competitive multiplayer experience fans have come to expect from a game carrying the "Call of Duty" label.

Jumping straight into the action, the "Modern Warfare 3" story picks up where its predecessor left off, seeing you once again follow the exploits of Soap and Price as they try to stop the villain, Makarov.

Opening with a street battle between American and Russian forces, the game's campaign offers a suitably impressive variety of locations. By the time you finish the campaign, you will have fought your way across half the globe, chasing Makarov from London's underground to the dust-filled townships of Africa -- one particularly memorable scene has you fight your way through an airplane as it is crash landing.

Having gone through the entire campaign, its safe to say "Modern Warfare 3" lives up to the graphical standards set by its predecessors. The streets are littered with rubble, with entire buildings crumbling around you, and the African settings all have a sun-washed look that draws you in and really captures the spirit of the location.

Underwater is fun. Just watch out for the depth-charges

It's on this front that "Call of Duty" really shines. Everything about the new "Modern Warfare" entry screams AAA, high budget.The graphics are sharp and suitably epic in scale. Additionally, the attention to detail adds a layer of authenticity that makes you forget the lack of originality in the core gameplay -- a particularly nice touch came in the game's London section, which sees you catch a team of unaware goons watching football on TV.

However, outside the story, "Modern Warfare 3" really doesn't offer much that fans haven't seen before. Yes, the multiplayer environment has some new perks, equipment, and levels, but the core mechanics are the same. In essence, past a few tweaks, you have the same modes, the same leveling-up system and even -- despite the game's 18-rating -- the same annoying 12-year-old that keeps "p3ning" you online.

This wouldn't be a problem, except that, as is the case with most "Call of Duty" games, the campaign, while fun, is insanely short. Here at the IBTimes, we managed -- albeit with some difficulty -- to complete the campaign in roughly five hours. When the only real change to the game is the campaign's story, it would be nice to have the experience last a little longer.

This said, the multiplayer module is still fun, and "Modern Warfare 3" does see the return of Special Ops from "Modern Warfare 2." Special Ops offer 16 one-off missions that are set in the same continuity as the main campaign. Each mission allows you to delve a little bit deeper into the troubled game's troubled world.

Multiplayer is still really, really, really difficult

Being honest, unless you're one of the elite who can actually play the "Call of Duty" main mulitplayer game online and not have it turn into a lesson in humility, you'll most likely get more out of Special Ops than almost anything else. The feature lets you play alone or on coop, and houses a nice variety of missions. Though most of the Ops can be completed in under 10 minutes, the scoring system and variety of objectives give you enough motivation to return to the missions time and time again.

Additionally, one of the few cool new features in "Modern Warfare 3" is Special Ops' new survival mode. Similar in kind to the horde and firefight modes seen in other games, the survival mode pits you against successive waves of increasingly difficult AI enemies. The mode is available on the same variety of maps seen in the game's main competitive multiplayer. Better still, the mode has its own set of equipment and perks tailored to the Special Ops section. The items are all pretty entertaining and work really well in the game's survival mode -- there's nothing more satisfying than seeing a well-placed sentry gun mow down an enemy.

In closing, despite a lack of real changes to the franchise's core mechanics, "Modern Warfare 3" is still a great game. The AAA polish and true attention to detail make it a blast to play through, and fans of the game's predecessors will definitely enjoy the game.

The only downside is that though the game is great, it may leave fans returning to the series feeling a little disappointed. When the biggest additions are a new survival mode and a few new mulitplayer killstreak rewards and modes, the hefty £44.99 price tag can feel a little steep. All this adds up to make "Modern Warfare 3" a solid, albeit safe, entry in the "Call of Duty" franchise.

The Good

  • Awesome single-player campaign
  • Special Ops is a blast
  • Same great AAA-standard "Call of Duty" experience we've all come to love and expect

The Bad

  • The few changes instituted fail to make the game a marked improvement on "Modern Warfare 2"
  • Multiplayer is still brutal

Overall

4 / 5 Stars 

This article was updated November 30, -0001 00:00 AM
Xbox 360, PS3