Written by Joe Baker Tuesday, 08 November 2011 21:54
Shooter aficionados worldwide are waiting with bated breath for tomorrow’s release of Modern Warfare 3, the newest entry into the MW branch of the Call of Duty franchise. In fact, some of those aficionados may already be waiting in a shivering line outside your local GameStop (the smart ones pre-ordered). The release is one of the biggest this year, as evidenced by its timely pre-holiday release, which will put it up against the year’s best, most notably – again for shooter fans – Battlefield 3.
The ascension of both brands over the past decade has played a pivotal role in the developing rivalry between the two franchises, each replete with its own blindly dogmatic fanboys and fangirls. Despite the fact that these two a shooters that have delved into concepts of war as it used to be (Battlefield 1942) and war as it may be in the future (Modern Warfare, Battlefield 2142), the new incarnations of each franchise don’t have much in common.
The videos that Infinity Ward has released to promote the game showcases a slew of the same features that endeared gamers and shocked everyone else. Narrative plays a strong role in the single-player campaign and the over-the-top plot twists and story devices have been ramped up considerably to keep the rabid fan base hooked.
Many recall the media storm that swept over the “No Russian” mission in Modern Warfare 2, and suffice it to say that Modern Warfare 3 definitely sets out to press some buttons – if you’ll forgive the pun – with an episode featuring birds, a family’s home video and a terrorist explosion in the streets of London.
MW’s ties to its predecessors are clear: provocative narrative, visual set pieces and an experience that attacks the senses. The previous MW games laid the groundwork for the upcoming sequel, dishing out more of what gamers love, if not challenging themselves to do something completely different as the initial offering, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, did. CoD:MW now stands as the paragon, the blueprint, what those in toymaking or model building would call the “rapid prototype” for the games that followed.
The benefit of this focused vision is that Modern Warfare 3 looks extremely polished next to Battlefield. The visuals are par for the course, and the course is excellence; few games are as pretty as MW3 on consoles with its 60fps and all-explosions-everything approach to action shooters. Not only that, but the actual narrative has been fleshed out, using old tricks of perspective to place the player into the shoes of multiple characters, not just the traditional godlike mercenary (read: Halo’s Master Chief, Duke Nukem, etc.)
The most exciting thing about the release of Modern Warfare 3 lies in its narrative. Many games give the player a gun and tell them to shoot bad guys. Call of Duty 4 upended the genre in its groundbreaking opening and its subject Yassir Al-Fulani.
Modern Warfare 2 and its “No Russian” mission put players in a position to commit to or abstain from an atrocity taking place all around them, thus beginning a discussion within the gaming sphere and beyond about what is acceptable in a video game and whether a video game's narrative can add anything to the greater lexicon (it can). My hope is that Modern Warfare 3 can extend beyond ludicrous plot twists and perspective games to actually broaden the cannon of shooters specifically, and videogames generally.
It’s a big moment for fans of the genre, but it’s also a big moment for fans of the hobby. I hope Infinity Ward doesn't blow it while they are blowing everything else up.