With all of the discussion yesterday about Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 versus Battlefield 3, I felt obligated to put the new game (MW3) in the XBOX and give it a chance. As expected there were some good and bad things, and while I continue to believe they are both great games, in many ways they are very different games. And it's within those differences that you can decide your own preference.
There were a lot of fun things about playing Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, even in the first couple hours of playing the multiplayer. Matchmaking was easy and painless, and even though I was playing on the first night the game was released I had absolutely no problem getting into a game with friends. There was some lag for some players and the game did freeze on me once when it tried to put me into a multiplayer game, but it's hard for me to determine if that was an issue with my XBOX, my connection or the game itself.
The action is quick and fast, and like MW2 and Black Ops the games are quick and intense. I played mostly Team Deathmatch and a variant called "Confirmed Kill" and it was really fun. There's nothing new really to the game play itself and it feels like every other Call of Duty game I've played before. There are some good tweaks to the way you level up your players and get new guns and weapon add-ons, and after about two hours of playing I was able to get from level one to level seventeen with all the perks, kill streak bonuses and unlocked guns that entailed.
But where Battlefield 3 is clearly on the leading edge of first person shooters - especially on a console - Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 is a game entrenched in what has come before. In many ways the game feels very much like Call of Duty: Black Ops with just a few tweaks to make it better. Tweaks that only a real fan of the franchise will only be able to appreciate.
After playing days of Battlefield 3, I found the first screen of MW3 to be almost jarring to look at. Comparatively the game is very "cartoony" and has none of the polish that Battlefield 3 does. Even the animation of running (both your own character and the other players on the map) seems like bad motion capture. I know I shouldn't care that much as long as the gameplay is good, but Battlefield 3 has brought me to a new level of expectation that Modern Warfare 3 is not living up to.
The gameplay itself is very "run and gun" compared to Battlefield 3, and while I expect there are legions of players who prefer this style, for me it gets boring after a while. There is virtually no teamwork in playing MW3 (at least, not that I saw last night) and the game does nothing to engender that kind of teamwork. You can't "spot" enemies for other teammates to take out, and the point system gives almost no incentive for team play (20 measly points for bringing an enemy to almost the brink of death before your teammate steals the kill is almost insulting).
But they are both great games, and what it comes down to is personal preference. Personally, I enjoy a longer form objective game with a team full of friends all working towards a single goal. I enjoy the larger maps that promote this kind of game, and I enjoy the twist that vehicles and destructive environments add to a multiplayer first person shooter.
But if you just want to jump into a game quickly, run around, shoot other players and rack up new guns and points, then Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 is definitely the game for you. And trust me, you are going to have fun.