Infinity Ward made me a happy man when they released the first Call of Duty video game back in late October 2003. The gameplay and graphics were awesome. I remember fragging my LAN buddies for countless hours. Those were good times and Activision refused to let them go. CoD's initial success has since ballooned into a multi-billion dollar cash cow with annual refreshes and countless mini-expansions.
Despite my interest in the early games, I haven't entirely kept up with the franchise. I played some of Black Ops' single-player campaign last year, but I skipped right over the multiplayer experience. Likewise with 2009's Modern Warfare 2. Don't get me wrong, it's not that they're horrible games, in fact they remain extremely popular but in my book they're just not particularly innovative.
As you've undoubtedly heard, Modern Warfare 3 launched this week and, well, what can we say? The game has reportedly sold a record 9.3 million copies in a single day. It should be noted though that over 50% of those are Xbox copies and less than 4% comprise PC sales, according to VGChartz.
As usual we'll refrain from pretending we've played the game enough to form a comprehensive opinion about it, but external reviews suggest the game is a valid sequel that doesn't bring new elements but instead relies on the same old formula with a few tweaks to deliver an overall fun game to play. PC Gamer concluded about the PC version: "Modern Warfare 3 is linear, badly written and one note. It’s still, from a certain angle, regressive. It’s also fun."
In terms of graphical fidelity, Infinity Ward's latest effort is about as visually appealing as its predecessor, which was about as visually appealing as its predecessor. No, I don't stutter. Unfortunately, the company has focused on optimizing the game for consoles while ignoring PC development for the last five years. If you're itching to see how your DirectX 10 or 11 GPU handles a DX9 engine, then maybe MW3 has something to offer you.
Those playing the game on Xbox 360 will find that it runs at a resolution of 1024x600 with 2x multisample anti-aliasing. Naturally, PC gamers are afforded a broader range of resolutions along with 4x MSAA, but there are few visual enhancements beyond that. Considering our platform of choice, it's disappointing to see the lack of progress.
For obvious reasons we kept Modern Warfare 3 in our shortlist of games to benchmark once it was out. But once we got it, we asked ourselves, should we even bother? We finally decided to give the series one last spin. Let's compare some in-game screenshots before moving on to the benches.