The problem with the continued success of the Call of Duty series is that its rhythm became familiar long ago. An endless network of trenches, Nazis and glowing TNT charges which you held 'E' in front of formed the framework for the first games and, while you could never call them bad, they did suffer from diminishing returns. Fans, tired of fighting the same war forever, cried out for change - what they got was Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare.
And, for a while, that was enough. Modern Warfare kept everything we loved about Call of Duty, and brought it clapping and whooping into the modern age - but Activision's biggest problem since then is that it's fallen back into bad habits. As was the case with the WWII series before it, Modern Warfare has become tired and transparent in its lack of ambition. An endless network of city streets, Russians and glowing C4 charges for you to hold 'E' in front of form the network of the latest games.
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Call of Duty has become boring again, and it's once more because the series has proved incapable of offering anything new to punters fatigued by a procession of too-familiar faces and levels. Even the controversies that surround the game seem obvious and hollow, with a new spectator level where you watch your fictional wife and daughter blown up acting as this iteration's answer to No Russian. Modern Warfare 2's civilian slaughter at least formed an important (if not interesting) aspect of the plot - the events in Modern Warfare 3 are a foregone conclusion, just like the rest of the game.
For us, the franchise has actually become painful, as we're behoved to relay certain details in spite of the fact that you'll be able to guess them easily, assuming you didn't know them already. And actually cared.
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The single-player game picks up shortly after the events of Modern Warfare 2. It follows two main paths, alternating between Price's continuing quest for revenge and random snapshots of the larger war. There are quicktime events. The campaign is very short. There are stealth missions. There are escort missions. There are set-piece power-ups, such as Predator Drones, at regular intervals. There are lots and lots of turret sequences.
We have to relay these facts, but you don't really need to be told, do you? Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 is fundamentally the same as all the other games in the Call of Duty series and, face it, nobody was really expecting anything different. That we have to proclaim it in this way, and that doing so could be considered controversial is one of the most depressing things about the games industry.
Next we'll talk about the sodding multiplayer, which we'll acknowledge is the main reason most people buy the game, and which has undergone a handful of tweaks that enliven the action without fundamentally changing it from the standard template. Again.