*Editor's Note: Due to a lack of available screenshots for the Wii version of Modern Warfare 3, this review will use HD screens as placeholders.
Wii-only gamers know all too well the feeling of being overlooked. Ever since the console’s launch in November of 2006 it seemed that third parties completely ignored the little white console or either released stripped down versions of HD titles (Call Of Duty 3) or spin-offs of major franchises (Dead Space: Extraction). Sadly, this lack of full third party support is pretty much guaranteed to be one of the reason’s the Wii is remembered long after we all move on to the Wii U. That being said, there is one bright spot in the Wii’s line-up, the Call of Duty series. The last entry to land on the console, Black Ops, delivered the full COD experience to Wii players while only making a few sacrifices along the way. Now the biggest name in gaming is back for another round. Does Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 deliver the goods or should Wii shooter fans keep their eyes on the horizon?
Picking up right where Modern Warfare 2 left off number 3 wastes no time throwing you right into the action with your Delta Force team being inserted right into the Russian invasion of New York City. From the very moment you pick up the controller you know that you are in for a white knuckle ride through the many theatres of World War III. The story, while seen through the eyes of many different people will mainly follow Soap, Price and newcomer Yuri as they try to track down the madman Makarov and put an end to the greater conflict.
Now I wanted to start this review off with a bang (but the gamrReview higher-ups said that the servers weren’t explosive proof or something) because right from the moment you slide that disk into your Wii you will be greeted by explosions, car chases, intense firefights and huge set piece moments that really make you feel like a solider on the front lines of WW3. The game just never let’s up, every level is a white knuckle action ride through the most intense situation possible and while this will surely hold the attention of the more distractible gamer it can get rather exhausting over the course of a whole game.
The gameplay in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 is... the same that it’s been since the first Modern Warfare in that you take control of a various ensemble of grunts and shoot your way from objective to objective. Along the way the game will throw varying scenarios at you like taking control of a remotely controlled drone or flying a spy plane but for the most part you will be on the ground clearing wave after wave of enemies. Not that that’s a bad thing, the Call of Duty gameplay is still as solid and enjoyable as ever, but the game still relies on its old hooks of ‘forcing’ you to the next checkpoint by throwing endless bad guys at you until you move to the next marker. It worked before and still does here, but a little innovation would have been greatly appreciated, especially considering the highly publicized developer change.
But of course the main draw for any Call of Duty game is the multiplayer, and the Wii version does not disappoint in this regard, in fact, I firmly believe that Modern Warfare 3 is the best online experience available on the Wii, period. All the maps, modes, perks and most of the killstreaks (still no tomahawk missile Wii gamers) are intact in the Wii version, including fully customizable emblems and titles. One thing that still hasn’t made its way over to the Wii however is any sort of splitscreen co-op mode, which would be a nice feature for a console whose co-op multiplayer selection mostly consists of party and family games.
Essentially the multiplayer gameplay is the same it’s ever been. You can still hop into a straight free for all or team deathmatch but new modes, like the very fun ‘Kill Confirmed’, where you have to collect an opponents dog tag to earn the kill and ‘Team Defender’ where you have to hold a flag for as long as possible are welcomed additions. The COD points introduced in Black Ops are gone replaced by an all new weapon leveling system. Now your weapons level as you use them and upgrades can only be purchased for weapons that you have leveled.
Modern Warfare 3 does however bring back one of the more controversial elements from past games; deathstreaks, which essentially reward players who are having a hard time in online matches (IE: being noobs), which is sure to further divide the fan base. This is balanced by the new addition of ‘classes’ for killstreaks (now renamed pointstreaks). In assault class you kill count resets after every death but the pointstreak reward is more geared to the offensive minded. Support class pointstreaks do not reset upon death (something else to rile up the fans) but the rewards are more team oriented and rarely offensive. Finally there is the specialist class which is geared towards more advanced players.
Returning from Modern Warfare 2 (which never did find its way to the Wii) is Spec Ops and sadly this is one area where some cuts had to be made between the Wii and HD versions. Yes the all new survival mode (which is like zombies but… with no zombies) is here, and is an absolute blast to play. Here you and one other player take on waves of increasingly difficult enemies. You start with a simple pistol but with more kills and XP you earn cash to upgrade your weapons and equipment. Sadly the mission mode present in the HD versions was left on the cutting room floor for the Wii version of the game.
Now most people will buy Modern Warfare 3 for the multiplayer, and rightfully so, it comes jam-packed with so many features, modes, maps and extras that you would be hard pressed to find anything near this level on the Wii let alone the HD consoles. But for those gamers that do pick up the Wii version of Modern Warfare 3 be prepared for the full Call of Duty experience, the developers have put more into this year’s edition than ever before and the Wii version stands toe to toe with the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 variants with ease.
Like Black Ops before it the Wii version of Modern Warfare 3 gives players the option of three different control schemes. You can play with the Wii Remote and Nunchuck combo, the Classic Controller or even the Wii Zapper. All the controls are fully customizable allowing you to play exactly the way that you want. Now I’ve said this before, but the Wii Remote and Nunchuck combo absolutely blows a traditional controller out of the water when it comes to first person shooters, and if you don’t mind the drop in graphics then by all means go for the better controlling option for Modern Warfare 3. It’s also nice to see that the game supports the Headbanger headset for online chat, unlike a certain first party mic.
Of course when trying to decide between the Wii version and the HD options the biggest difference is naturally the graphical fidelity, and while Modern Warfare 3 on the Wii looks nowhere near as good as Modern Warfare 3 on the 360 or PS3, it still remains one of, if not the best looking Wii game I have ever played. The details in the environments and weapons are absolutely top notch; the characters even feature detailed facial animations, something which even Black Ops struggled to pull off at times. The only real hiccup is when the game tries to display very large objects like buildings do the textures begin to drop in resolution.
Online however is a different story. While the game still looks exceptionally good in the multiplayer mode (just as good as Black Ops) it’s easy to see that the engine is straining to keep up. Pop-ins is obvious and some bullet detecting issues and lag are rather common. Thankfully the game, like Black Ops, allows for patching and Treyarch has already promised to work out some of the more annoying issues soon.
One thing that Modern Warfare 3 clearly has going for it over the Wii version of Black Ops is that it is much more stable. While Black Ops would cause frequent crashes during the single and multiplayer none of these issues are present in Modern Warfare 3. The game even loads surprisingly fast and always connects to the online servers unlike previous attempts in the series’. That being said it is annoying that the cut-scenes are not skippable (as the game loads all content during them) forcing you to watch them over whenever you want to continue your campaign.
Speaking of the story, like previous Call of Duty games, the story is told from various perspectives. You will go the battle torn streets of New-York to the dusty streets of Sierra Leone and all over Europe as the third world war rages. The story is mostly presented in CNN style news feeds, which are fine, but a bit of creativity here (just look at Black Ops’ story!) would have been greatly appreciated since just how many modern shooters have you played that feature these news clips? Now for the elephant in the room; Modern Warfare 3’s infamous ‘family vacation’ scene. Now I won’t spoil anything for you but let me just say that nothing here is as jarring or brutal as the ‘No Russian’ mission from the previous title. Yes it’s disturbing but we’ve seen worst.
The sound design that is typically top notch in Call of Duty returns in full force here with a heavy metal soundtrack that booms at all the right moments and really gets your pulse going during the more action heavy sequences. The voice acting is also world class as it should be considering all the big name talent that was rounded up to give life to the cast. My only complaint here is that during the missions your brothers in arms will often repeat the same lines over and over… and over. I know you’re reloading; now just do it and shoot that guy!
Clocking in at around 6 hours depending on your difficulty setting, Modern Warfare 3 definitely has one of the shortest campaigns in series’ history. Now naturally you will more than make up these lost hours in the Special Ops and multiplayer portions but it’s still odd to see the series’ take a step back for anything. Modern Warfare 3 is also one of the easiest Call of Duty games I have played, even on the harder difficulties the only really hard parts come when the game just swamps you with dozens of enemies at once.
This version of Modern Warfare 3 does not support the new Call of Duty: Elite site, so you won’t be able to get into all that in depth stat and weapon tracking, but the game does a great job of providing you with enough statistics to keep even the most O.C.D. of us amused. One nice addition is that the game even features a colorblind assist mode, the first I have ever seen in a Wii game, so now even more people can get online and get owned by a twelve year old with a noob-tube.
Last year Call of Duty: Black Ops delivered the full C.O.D. experience to the Wii with little compromises and Modern Warfare 3 does the same. Everything is here, the epic single player, the in-depth and addicting multiplayer and the fun and engaging Spec Ops, all wrapped in the masterful world that Activision, Treyarch, Infinity Ward and Sledgehammer have crafted. The Wii version may not have the visual flare that the HD consoles enjoy and a few of the modes are absent once again but gamers who call Nintendo’s console their system of choice are definitely not getting a lesser version this time around.