It's an offensive, utterly mindless amusement-park ride masquerading as interactive entertainment, where shooting dogs in the head and watching (in first person, mind you) little girls getting blown up by car bombs somehow pass for gritty.
At no point does Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 elevate to the level of a “game.” You are continually told what to do, when to do it, and how to do it. The brief moments of apparent freedom are prefaced by orders, and if you end up doing anything different, you’re punished.
The Call of Duty series (and I’ve played nearly the whole thing) has always been about event triggers, but MW3 takes this to the height of passivity. Just run down the obvious corridor, duck when you’re getting shot at, and press a button when told. Killing enemies isn’t really the goal; instead, you merely move to the next blast point.
The overwhelming audio assault creates such a noisy baseline that almost nothing rises above it. It’s just hours of blaaaaaaaaah, punctuated only by the briefest moments of verbal blather. The voice acting is flat and boring, as if the participants never saw a full script or were told what would be happening when their lines were played. (Then again, the writing itself is so mediocre that you probably won’t even notice the acting.)
Gun sounds are good, as is the atmospheric ambience, but they’re outclassed in punch and realism by the sonics of the brilliant Battlefield 3. Furthermore, the visuals here — relying on an aging (though highly modified) graphics engine — show some aliasing and a blandness of palette.
Maybe I have little idea of what makes a game popular. In its first 16 days, MW3 tallied $1 billion in sales. I take comfort in knowing that my reaction to this game isn’t due to the fact that I’m getting older. No, it’s only that I never had such “taste” to begin with.
So, yes, Modern Warfare 3 is offensive. But in the end, I was offended not because certain things happened but because they happened for the sole purpose of trying to offend me. That’s not a game; that’s just antagonism.
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