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Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3

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Game Reviewed: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3
Publisher: Activision
Developer: Infinity Ward
Platform: Xbox 360, PS3, PC
Category: First Person Shooter
ESRB Rating: M
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Game Description:

In the final installment of the Modern Warfare trilogy, the world is at war once again, spurred on by the events of the second game, in which a Russian terrorist named Makarov tricked Russia into thinking the United States was behind a terrorist attack to kindle the fires of war. Now, with the world engulfed in conflict and the surviving characters from the previous game as fugitives, the player must take the roles of various people from across Europe, the United States, and Russia in order to find Makarov and stop him from further fanning the fires of World War 3.

But despite that story setup, the most popular contribution of the Modern Warfare games (and the Call of Duty series in general) is the online multiplayer, which allows any Modern Warfare players to compete in battles of skill, teamwork, and prestige from anywhere in the world. Odds are, if you’re the parent of a teen, you’ve heard the name Call of Duty more often than Halo, Smash Bros., or any other big multiplayer game out there. Modern Warfare 3 broke records as the fastest-selling media product of all time, having reached the $1 billion mark in only 16 days.

Considering the series’ past, Modern Warfare 3 has a lot to measure up to. The first Modern Warfare was a landmark in first-person shooters, redefining many aspects of how online multiplayer works and presenting a single-player campaign that is still considered a pillar of interactive storytelling for its unique and powerful presentation of the story through the first-person perspective. However, seeing as developer Infinity Ward had a bit of an implosion mid-development (the president/game director and CEO were fired, followed by the resignation of about half its remaining employees), doubts have been cast on the studio’s ability to follow up their previous success. So how did it fare? And how appropriate is this game for your children?


What Parents Need to Know

Violence:

Being a modern military shooter, the gameplay of Modern Warfare 3 revolves entirely around using a large variety of real weapons (including many different pistols, rifles, shotguns, heat-seeking missiles, grenades, etc.) to shoot uncountable enemies. There is blood when someone gets shot, most notably when someone is shot in the head and a good deal of blood spurts out the back, splattering on the wall or floor. Though there is no gore in the gameplay itself, some cutscenes get a bit more graphic, including a man whose arm is shot off by a high-power sniper rifle and a man getting stabbed in the neck by the player character (in the first-person perspective).

Language:

The F-word is used occasionally (according to the ratings board; I didn’t hear it once, but they say it’s there).
The s-word is used occasionally.
The word “damn” is used throughout.
The word “Hell” is used in various contexts throughout.
The word “asshole” is often used as an insult.

Sexual Content:

None to speak of.

Spirituality:

None of this either.

Misc:

One scene that deserves mention is a cutscene in which a family is vacationing when a bomb goes off. This includes their little girl, who is standing right next to the truck when it explodes. There is no gore here, as everyone simply disappears into the smoke when the bomb goes off, but the developers knew the scene would be disturbing to some and clearly give the option to skip it. In terms of violence, it’s not too graphic; more on its moral and controversial nature later.

A Child’s Perspective:

I would not personally ask a child to play this game, but I am painfully aware of the fact that the series is very popular among young teens and above.

Reviewers Thoughts:

The campaign of Modern Warfare 3 is a solid game, but the new team at Infinity Ward obviously has no idea what made its predecessors great. All of the Modern Warfare games (including this one) have been intense and well-designed, but the first Modern Warfare is a masterpiece because of its use of first-person storytelling. The most powerful example was when the game put the player in a dying protagonist’s shoes as he stumbled, out of his crashed helicopter while the ruins of a nuked city crumbled around him until he breathed his last. That was powerful use of interactivity that only video games can deliver. A similar feat was accomplished in the second game through the controversial "No Russian" level, which had reason to be so controversial, but also was a powerful and difficult emotional experience.

Modern Warfare 3 has the aforementioned shock scene with the little girl, which was both entirely unnecessary and did nothing special to make it anything more than a shock scene made for the sake of controversy. A few other attempts to tell the story well fall flat from dull presentation and misguided purpose, and the ending is anticlimactic and feels like they just copy/pasted a few elements from the previous games’ endings. Even in terms of the gameplay, the fact is that the formula is getting old. The mechanics are solid, the level design works well, and the soundtrack successfully increases the tension and atmosphere, but the heavy scripting of events and endless waves of enemies are ceasing to be exciting and starting to get a bit tedious. However, the campaign will take only about 6-8 hours to play through, so it won’t take too much of your life if you want to know how the story ends.

The multiplayer is, as expected, a solid experience. If you enjoyed the multiplayer of previous Call of Duty games, I see no reason why you wouldn’t enjoy this one as well. All the elements of leveling up, prestige, perks, classes… everything the series introduced into the multiplayer world is here and intact. There’s even a theater mode almost identical to that found in recent Halo games, letting you explore matches you played from any player’s perspective or a free-control camera.

As for a recommendation… I will leave that up to you, the parent. When it comes down to it, the lack of dismemberment and gore and the relatively PG-13 language levels make this feel like one of the more mild M-ratings out there (though it certainly did earn the rating), so if your kid wants a military shooter, you could certainly do worse. I will make this one request, though; do not let your child make this his/her one constant gaming experience as so many teens do. Video games are so much more than racking up kills over Xbox Live and shooting hordes of enemies, but recently more and more teenage gamers have gotten Call of Duty and simply not bothered with anything else. Video games have a lot to offer as both an artistic medium and a social/competitive platform; I advise against letting your child limit themselves to a single experience.



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Comments on this post

   Samuel Gronseth         12/17/2014 10:05:58 AM

Good question! Most parents seem to either not care, or just assume all video games are the same, so it's good to see a parent caring about this. :) There are a lot of different games out there, and what you'd want to get them would vary depending on their tastes. Sports games and shooters are fairly standard fare for boys of that age to enjoy, but there should certainly be other kinds of games they would like. Which games I recommend could be based on the system(s) they own, but I'll try to point out a few that could work regardless. Some of these games have been reviewed on the Source 4 Parents, so if you want to know the details about how appropriate they are you can check there. Bastion: You could get this one on the Xbox Live store or on the computer, and it's really good. A very fun game, also with a great painted art style and unique soundtrack; the gameplay is fast-paced and fun, and the story is about forgiveness and dealing with tragedy. Spec Ops: The Line: This one is up to your discretion, as it has strong language and violence, but if they're already playing Call of Duty it's not any worse than that. It's actually a loose adaptation of Conrad's Heart of Darkness, and it basically takes the typical Call of Duty formula and uses it to tell a really intense and thought-provoking story. Mirror's Edge: This one is first-person, like Call of Duty, but instead of shooting it's all about running. You can pick up guns, but it's not made for that; it's all about free-running and parkour, and it's really unique and enjoyable. Assassin's Creed: This series is rated M, but won't include anything worse than Call of Duty already does (and isn't quite as intense as Spec Ops: The Line). It's a series of alternate history sci-fi games that actually include a lot of accurate historical details. You can start at the beginning of the series, but most of the recent entries stand alone pretty well. Batman: Arkham Series: I figure it's a safe assumption your boys like Batman. :P This series. Combat is fast and fun, but it also emphasizes smarter tactics like stealth and careful planning, and even searching for clues to uncover mysteries. So these are just some suggestions. Let me know if you have any more questions: I'm happy to help you find something good for them. ^_^

   Serena Dollins         12/13/2014 11:32:05 AM

Your review was extremely helpful. Thank you. My two sons, 13 and 14 want to get this game and their father and I are inclined to let them get it. But following from your request, we are thinking of another game to get for them to balance out their experience. They have car racing, basketball, baseball, football and skateboarding. Any other suggestions?



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