Shooter Showdown: MW3 Vs. BF3


BATTLEFIELD 3 Beta First Impressions
BATTLEFIELD 3 Beta First Impressions

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 vs. Battlefield 3

From: Activision, EA (respectively)

Showdown Review By: Lucas Siegel

'Rama Rating: CoDMW3: 8 out of 10  BF3: 9 out of 10

Two major first person shooters were released this fall, destined for a shoot out. Both games come from long-established franchises. Both feature a modern take on the FPS, with contemporary settings and international forces and scale to the conflict. But despite their surface similarities, we're actually talking about two very different games here, and we'll try to tell you how they're different and why one stands slightly above the other in this brand new Newsarama feature, the Showdown Review.

Single Player Campaign

The story of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 picks up right where the second game in the Modern Warfare line left off. You'll play as and alongside characters who are quite familiar to you if you already follow the franchise, and you'll play a storyline that's familiar as well. This is the big-budget action flick. This is the Michael Bay-directed war film, the over-the-top craziness, the big explosions; in short, everything you expect to find in a Modern Warfare title is present. There's a bit of tension, a couple of controversial scene choices, but overall this is a pretty run-of-the-mill (though still fun) story. The single player game takes about 5-6 hours to beat depending on your personal skill level and how much exploring you do. It's exciting, and there are some fun holy-sh*t moments for sure, but this is very much a been-there, done-that style; it's just a good thing that the previous games' style was a lot of fun.

Over in Battlefield 3, we have a much more focused story, leaning heavily on just two characters, an American and a Russian. This is more of the Tom Clancy novel, more about the precision strikes that are taking out the massive nuclear threat before it happens (or at least before it happens again, but we don't want you too spoiled here, do we?). BF3 is definitely more of a realistic shooter, in all aspects of the game, but obviously has its bigger moments too. The best/worst part of the single player campaign is definitely the realism. It's nice (as ex-military myself) to hear chatter limited, and have terms like "over" used properly. The difficulty level is a little higher, especially as you get through toward the end of the game, where bullets act like, well, bullets, taking you out remarkably fast. There is defnitely more tension overall to the plot of the story, and there is the bonus of being able to play campaign cooperatively with a friend. Head-to-head, BF3's political thriller style eeks ahead of MW3's all-out action for me, but both deliver an engaging experience, just engaging you in different ways, making this closer to a tie for most people.


Battlefield 3 has the aforementioned cooperative campaign, but its competitive multiplayer really shines. This is, once again, a more realistic shooter than its direct competition. For all of the team-based multiplayer modes, you really want to have a team that you play with regularly, who will work well together, take direction, and really help each other out. Running and gunning solo in a team-based map just simply will not work in BF3, making it the ideal group game for your regular gaming pals. There's also that little bit of extra: crazy vehicle-based battles, and even mixtures of vehicles and infantry. That may be a little much for a lot of gamers to handle, frankly, but it is a lot of fun for the once-in-awhile matchup. The variety is welcomed though, and BF3 is definitely serious multiplayer for the serious group of gamers.

But hey, sometimes you just want to jump in, shoot some fools, get ridiculous kill streaks, and talk some trash. That's where Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 really shines. With its new classes, noobs can hang with seasoned killers, still unlocking streaks and perks. The maps push you toward run-and-gun action, with the one slight problem being no mode requires much different strategy. Sure, there are different goals, but mostly you're just focused on shooting your enemies; of course, this is a first person shooter so maybe that's not a problem after all. For the co-op fans, Spec Ops is back, with both mission-based and a survival game that is insanely addictive. The mission games in Spec Ops require more of that strategy we were just talking about competitive MP lacking, and the survival game doesn't get old, with tons of upgrades and perks to purchase and find new ways to make it past wave after wave of increasingly difficult enemies. In the head-to-head, these games are very difficult to compare in MP, since they really are built just plain differently. This one's a wash, with both games sating different appetites.


So that just leaves the way the games are presented: graphics, sound; how it brings you into the world can be just as important as what's actually happening in the world. The trademark digital maps with voiceover are how MW3 takes you from mission to mission, and those are just plain cool. BF3 opts instead for cutscenes that show your main character being interrogated, with a very literal hand-hold of "And here's how this part of the story happened" being your segue back to gameplay.

But that's where MW3's checkmarks in the victory column end in this category. Battlefield 3 is a gorgeous game running on a brand-new engine. The environments are remarkably destructible, often genuinely reacting how they would in real life (there are limits to that, but it's still notable). The level of detail reached from the surrounding buildings down to the rifle in your hands (only pistols are "guns" kids. The more you know!) is incredible, and continues to impress every time you play. The developers at Dice really found a way to maximize this generation of consoles with this game, and make PC-graphics-envy a reduced problem. Throw in things like natural vaulting (the camera doesn't just bounce up and down, you actually lean and slide over low cover), a room-shaking DTS soundtrack optimized no matter what speaker set up you have, and the military-proper dialogue mentioned earlier, and BF3 just takes the modern shooter to another level in all of these ways. That makes it the victor here in this category, and just a bit above overall.

Final Results

Well, you saw the ratings we gave to both games at the top of this, so that was probably a bit of spoiler here. In the end, while these are both modern military FPS, they are varied enough that you can easily enjoy both games. That's right, you don't have to pick one or the other, your console won't explode if you play both! Hopefully the rundown of differences here was helpful, and we'll definitely be back with more Showdown Reviews in the near future. 

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