So its been almost 3 weeks since I've been playing MW3. So here's my take on the game so far. I've only been able to play multiplayer as I have a good group of friends to play with (Elite Clan Clubsi). In the single player campaign I have only made it to the submarine, which is the second mission in the game. Anyways, I'll review that part seperately one day when I actually play it.
Having pushed through the levels fairly quickly with double XP time and remembering the old challenge system of MW2, I have devised a system that cycles through as many assault rifles I can to maximize time/XP. So I'd use a gun to about 500 ish kills, which usually by then I would have reached level 30 on the gun, then move on to the next. So far the grind hasn't felt that bad, but I suspect it will be harder as I go further up in prestiges. So even though there are 80 levels to go through, with all the various ways to get XP, its hasn't felt that much of a grind.
The Prestige Shop
What also helps is the prestige store, and allowing you to unlock certain items that are normally unlocked high up in the levels. So instead of waiting for your favourite gun or perk, you can trade in prestige tokens to have it unlocked forever. Since I got 3 tokens from previous COD games, I used 2 for extra classes, and after reaching the first prestige, I used 1 token to unlock the Assassin perk, and the ACR. Looking back now, I shouldn't have unlocked the ACR since I cycle through most of the guns, and the M4 is actually really good for a gun thats available from the begining. The second time I prestiged, I used it to unlock the very useful portable radar (which looking back is what I should've unlocked instead of the ACR). If you don't play that much in a group, then the portable radar has less value to you, then I would suggest just using the tokens towards higher end perks or extra class slots. The double XP time is not worth it, as 2 hours does not really last that long, and the extra titles and emblems should only be unlocked if you have all the class slots open.
New loadouts, New strike packages... new options.
So with my focus on levelling up as soon as possible, I don't have as many variances in my loadouts in terms of guns and perks. I do however run variations of strike packages with each class slot, ones that suit certain maps as some maps are more air support friendly than others. For example, on Arkaden & Resistance, I would run Assault with UAV, IMS and the Assault drone. On more open maps like Mission or Village, I would run Predator missle, Reaper and AC130/Pavelow. I would also have a couple support classes (one high - UAV/Advanced UAV/Stealth, one low - UAV/CUAV/Sam Turret) for the times when I'm not really on my game, or I'm up against laggers. With the new point streak systems, I find that the strike package selection is more important than the actual gun/perk loadout.
The maps included in the game so far have been decent, there are some that I like better than others. But I usually like maps when I figure out the better paths and spots on them. I usually "hate" the maps till I figure that out. The two that stick out that I have yet to figure out is Bakaara and Downturn. Bakaara to me is too big for any 6v6 game type, and the positions of the flags aren't that balanced for domination. There ends up being a dead spot on the map.
With Downturn, its the same thing for domination, one flag feels isolated from the other two, as its a longer path between C-flag and B-flag vs. the A-flag and B-flag positions. At the same time, defending A-flag is easier as there's less access points, and there's no upper ground to gain the advantage on as there is overlooking C-flag. Then there's the whole side building which is just one long corridor, and the huge underground section which is the key to holding B-flag in domination. You can get divided by attackers coming out from the building by the bus, where as holding A & B would give you a corner which you can hold that has quick access to either flag, and less exposure to blown out buildings.
Other than those two maps, the others seem to be well balanced, and flow fairly well. The average map size has gone down compared to previous games. As expected with any Call of duty title, you can tell things have been play tested a bit and tweaked for balance & flow. The varying density of buildings do let people try out different loadouts and strike packages which is nice. Hopefully the future map packs adds to this and hopefully there is more larger/open maps to balance out with the standard sized maps.
Some things change, while some things don't....
So with the new title, we see some tweaks and changes to the system to help the overall experience. Some features that were added in BlackOps has found their way into MW3, but some didn't make the transition. At the same time, some of the bad things from MW2 have remained. Hopefully Infintity Ward will actually be actively patching stuff now, but here are a few things that I like that were added, and some things that I feel needs to be addressed.
Partying it up
Backing out with party is automatic, but I think it should be an option like it was in Black Ops, but I do like the feature of passing on the party leader status to someone else. One bad thing they kept from MW2 is the horrible voice-chat codec. Everyone sounds like a broken auto-tune (similar to mr. oizo). Then when you are in an xbox party, the voice chat is not connected to the game, so the arrows on the map do not "light" up like they did in BlackOps. I really hope this gets patched in a future patch, because I liked being able to know who's talking on the mini-map, it helps a lot when communicating with team mates.
Mini-map layers & Objective indicators.
In BlackOps, they made it (I think in a patch) that the on screen indicators fade away when you are aiming at it. This is a key feature that needs to be added into MW3. I don't get why you would overlook this, as it creates a huge blindspot that can be exploited. Also, a minor tweak to the layers of the mini-map would help a lot. Right now, the teammate's arrows are under the objective markers, so you can't see if there position on the map if they are on the objective. Again, a simple patch should be able to fix this. This to me is a case of one step forward and two steps back.
I really liked the added details of the scoreboard from BlackOps, it had columns for flag captures, and defends. I know the game tracks it as its needed for the contests on Elite, and its also used for the leaderboards, but why not have it on the in-game scoreboard. It helps to see how effective some people are at getting to the objective versus just pointing out everyone's Kills, Deaths and Assists. Same with how the playercard is formatted on Elite, the blackops layout showed more details without any hovering over parts of the stats with your mouse.
For the most part most guns are fairly well balanced, but there are the usual set of guns that stand out from the rest once implemented over a bigger group of players. I guess there's only so much play testing you can do, but I am surprised that after all these iterations of call of duty, that such details are not ironed out before release. Akimbo FMG9's having ridiculous accuracy, to the overpowered type 95, they probably were not as overpowered in local play, but with network lag over a mass audience, they really show. Also, enough with the quick scoping already! Why keep it in to satisfy a small group of people, and sacrifice the sanity of the masses who don't need to exploit the game engine. One day, we'll get some of the realism found in BF3, with the COD multiplayer formula.
Things I'd like to see back in from Black Ops...
Other than the voice chat sync with XBL parties, I would like to see the return of the in-game playercard that anyone can look up. I liked having the ability to see the stats of random people or even friends without having to go through various leaderboards and filters. One day...
To be continued.................