Call of Duty: Black Ops on Wii was a nice surprise last year and a worthy alternative if the HD version was not an option. Treyarch has returned to assist Infinity Ward to develop their best-selling console game of the year into something Wii gamers can appreciate.
What Modern Warfare 3 Got Right
The single player campaign - Modern Warfare 3 concluded the trilogy with arguably the best single player campaign in the larger franchise’s history. Infinity Ward and Treyarch have done a great job transferring the action-packed narrative to the Wii, keeping everything intact from the HD version.
Visuals aside, the single player experience should be exactly the same on Wii as it was on PS3, Xbox 360 and PC. That’s what multiplatform titles on Wii need to have any chance of success, and follows the strong foundation of last year’s Black Ops.
The controls - Modern Warfare 3 includes support for the Classic Controller Pro and Wii Remote and Nunchuck. Each has a number of presets, but the real beauty comes from the customisation options. Like all successful third party shooters on Wii, Modern Warfare 3 allows the player to customise the controls, and essentially make the Wii Remote the better option, as it needs to be tailored to each style of play.
Once you’ve tinkered with the sensitivity, the Wii Remote pointer gives an unprecedented level of control and plays to the Wii’s strengths. Unfortunately, it does run out of buttons and relegates some crucial functions to the awkward D-pad, but that’s where the Classic Controller comes into play.
All shooters need to offer both options and Modern Warfare 3 does them both well.
Decent multiplayer - I’m tired of the phrase “for a Wii game” but Modern Warfare 3 is just that when it comes to multiplayer. It doesn’t match the HD version, but Treyarch could only use what they had to work with. Considering, it’s pretty good, but it’s hard to envision anyone who wants to play a game like Call of Duty online regularly not owning a HD platform.
Most elements from the HD multiplayer have made the journey, albeit on a lesser scale. The new weapon levelling system is included, but matches are reduced to just 5 per side. Once again, it is the only series on Wii to implement real voice chat. In terms of content, the multiplayer in Modern Warfare 3 is second only to Black Ops, but unfortunately doesn’t work as well as it should in practice.
What Modern Warfare 3 Got Wrong
Waterdown version - Nobody expects the Wii version to be superior, and it’s good to see the Wii remembered, but we have to wonder why they bothered. It’s obvious why Modern Warfare 2 only supported HD platforms. Nothing is as good on Wii, and there’s no point in buying it over the HD version.
That just raises further questions. What type of committed Call of Duty player wouldn’t own a PS3, Xbox 360 or PC? Surely, outside of Dads who rarely game, that’s a tiny number. There isn’t going to be a strong community on Wii, and there’s no reason to look at it unless you have no other option.
Performance issues - Modern Warfare 3 retains most of the features of the HD version, minus some Spec-Ops missions, but with a significantly lowered performance. At times it is crippled by performance issues that suggest more content should have been omitted. It constantly lags in framerate and online. It regularly drops to 30 frames per second, rather than the 60 we expect, which at times makes it unplayable in a hectic battlefield.
Furthermore, the online functionality is much better in theory. It sounds great, retaining most of the content from the Xbox 360 and PS3 version, but it just doesn’t work as it should. It is plagued by performance issues that will eventually turn away the already small audience. I’ve had some lag issues playing on Xbox 360, but overall they are minor. Lag feels as if it is an intentional addition in the Wii version. It is always present, and there’s seemingly no fix.
The intense, constant lag removes any semblance of skill. It all comes down to luck, as better shots don’t necessarily result in kills. At its worst, you’re better off shooting in the vague direction of an opponent and hoping for the best. It’s not always that bad, but there’s always at least a trace of lag, which degrades the otherwise positive experience.
Terrible textures - Modern Warfare 3 on Wii is not pretty. The graphics are decent and had strong potential, but the good is let down by terrible textures.
Some of the textures look like they were made during Year 2 Kid Pix class. It would have been acceptable if the trade-off was lessened visuals for improved performance, but that didn’t happen. In the end we get a game that doesn’t look or perform at its best.
Loses impact - Modern Warfare'3 campaign was so enjoyable because of its spectacle. It looked fantastic and was full of vibrant explosions. There was always something happening and it immersed the player into the destructive narrative. That doesn’t happen with the Wii version. It comes across very dull at times and loses the impact that made the HD campaign so enjoyable.
Stick with Black Ops - The Wii version of Black Ops was great last year. There still wasn’t any reason to buy it over the HD version, but it is superior to the Wii release of Modern Warfare 3. Its multiplayer works much better, and it doesn't have the same textural issues. If you’re looking for a Wii Call of Duty game, head to Black Ops first.
The Final Verdict
There’s no reason to buy the Wii version of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 unless you have no other option. The HD version is superior in every way, as expected, and even the Wii version of Black Ops is the better of the two. Having said that, it has a solid campaign and the multiplayer includes most of the same content as the HD version, reduced down to five versus five. It’s just a shame to achieve that performance and textures had to take a considerable hit. Modern Warfare 3 on Wii will offer some fun if it’s your only option, and while it nearly matches the HD version in content, don’t expect it to come close in performance.
By Ben Salter