I Might Be Done With Call of Duty November 19, 2011

I’ve been playing first-person shooter games for quite a long time. I remember scoring a copy of Wolfenstein 3D on a 5.25″ floppy disk at a local computer store and playing the hell out of it. From there, I went on to Doom, Duke Nukem, Quake and countless variations and rip-offs, such as Heretic.

However, once games started going the way of Unreal Tournament and Quake Arena, I started getting turned off. These games were less about thinking than just running at top speed around memorized maps, fragging noobs with rocket launchers. At one point I also tried getting into Counter-Strike, but was just rubbish at it.

So for a long time, I stayed away from multiplayer shooters and opted for single-player experiences, even with games that had multiplayer modes.

Right around when Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare came out, I decided to get into multiplayer matches and ended up getting hooked. I bought every other game that came out: World at War, Modern Warfare 2, and Black Ops. The latter I got on launch day and with maybe one or two exceptions, it hasn’t left my Xbox disc tray for about a year. And I’ve never once played the single-player campaign.

So naturally, I’ve been excited to get my hands on Modern Warfare 3. I’d seen the trailers and teasers but would’ve still bought it sight-unseen. I pre-ordered it from Amazon, so it showed up at the house on launch day. That night, I played for maybe 3 hours, which is more time than I rarely get to game in a single sitting.

Almost immediately, something felt…wrong. Right off the bat, it was obvious no attempt had been made to fix matchmaking, if there even existed a matchmaking component to begin with. My first match, I was thrown into a lobby with level-30 players, who had obviously bought the game at midnight and been playing it non-stop.

Modern Warfare 3

It shouldn’t be surprising that the typical opponent still just runs his ass off like a crazy person around the map in memorized patterns. But in MW3, it seems even worse than ever before. Again, I can’t quite put my finger on why this seems so pronounced in this incarnation, but at least a few times I truly wanted to throw the controller, or at the very least, take the disc out and put it away for a long time.

Another annoyance is that the money-based upgrade system from Black Ops was not carried over. At first it seemed strange in Black Ops, but it ultimately meant that you could buy what you wanted, in the order you wanted it. Sure, you had to wait for some things to be unlocked at certain XP levels, but it seemed like a good system. Now, in MW3, they’re back to the old “level up” system, where you have to keep moving up the XP ladder to get the next best weapon or perk. So it was frustrating to immediately get into games where opponents had “bouncing betty” mines and personal radars already, and I’d be hours away from having the points to even counteract them. And so far, I’ve gotten my ass shot off a lot by guys camping with those stupid personal radars (blatantly ripped off from the movie Aliens, by the way).

And speaking of leveling, you even level up weapons now. Where in Black Ops, you could fairly quickly buy a red-dot sight for a gun, in MW3, you have to level up that gun enough to unlock it. Again, I think the money system in Black Ops is superior, in that you can focus on collecting enough cash to get the attachment you really want.

Oh, and did I mention “quickscoping” was back? Yeah, that too.

If you’re a quickscoper, I fucking hate you.

Modern Warfare 3 does have a few unique multiplayer modes, like “Kill Confirmed”, where you collect dog tags from fallen enemies, giving your team extra points. And there’s the usual stuff like Domination and Headquarters, which I never really got into because they’re magnets for camping snipers. I was also hopeful that add-ons like the Call of Duty Elite service and Facebook integration would add some new, interesting aspect. But so far, I’ve yet to see much integration at all. And the Elite app is a completely separate app you can’t access within the main game.

I’ve been lamenting this to people for a few days, and recently talked to a co-worker (a hard-core COD player) that was telling me he’d opted to go with Battlefield 3 instead of buying MW3. The more he described it, the more I started to think I should give it a try. It definitely sounds like it’s slower paced, and is less rewarding to the run-and-gun, quick-draw players.

I’m going to give MW3 a little more time, but I can’t help but think I’ll be making a switch very soon.