Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 has to be understood in context. It is undeniably gaming’s biggest title, if you’re judging by sales alone. MW3, and really the whole CoD franchise, is organized around fast-paced reflexive shooter gameplay, and nobody does it better. But how many times have we played this game, with subtle changes?

That’s the problem. CoD sells and sells, and faces no real pressure to innovate. If MW3’s multiplayer feels like an update or a map-pack for MW2, that’s because we’ve been playing this same basic game since 2007. Yes, there are engine differences between developer Infinity Ward’s CoDs and developer Treyarch’s CoDs, but the game mechanics are exactly the same.

So is this a good game? Yes. Is it fun to play? Also yes. If you buy it, are you rewarding Activision for complacency and putting profit ahead of innovation? Most definitely. Activision is clearly approaching brand exhaustion when what should amount to substantial changes to a game feel like window dressing.

Modern Warfare 3 maintains the series’ standard of excellence, but after four straight years of essentially the same game, maintaining the standard just isn’t doing enough. 

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