The Call of Duty series is kind of like a pizza. The first time you eat it, it's delicious, but then you realize it's really not that good for you, but you can't help it, you just keep buying them, even though you keep telling yourself, "No more!"
When Modern Warfare came out, it was an amazing game. It brought modern weapons and locations into the first person sphere in a big way that had been missing from the genre, and gave a compelling Tom Clancy style story to go with it. Then Modern Warfare 2 came out and they started to fray a little at the edges, tending towards enormous, fluid battlegrounds and a highly improbably, conspiracy-laden plot. Then there was Black Ops, which was pretty wretched in terms of gameplay, but was so cool you couldn't help but play it and eat up the paranoid Cold War-era story of brainwashing and deniable CIA assets.
Which brings us to Modern Warfare 3. The story has gotten even MORE outrageous as World War III continues in full force, primarily seen through the eyes of Delta Force team Metal 0-1 as they fight through New York, Paris, Berlin and Siberia. Meanwhile the deniable Task Force 141 is on the run from the authorities after assassinating a corrupt American General. Soap, Captain Price, and newcomer Yuri take us through all the James Bond-esque levels, such as a two-man infiltration of a castle in Prague, or kidnapping a warlord in Somalia. It provides for plenty of cool moments, but after a while, one starts to realize that the series has gone over entirely to the dark side of spectacle over gameplay. Granted, it's impossible not to get just a little into it as you conduct a desperate last stand in a Siberian mine, or machine gun a group of soldiers in slow motion, trying not to accidentally plug their hostage in the fray, but in the end it all feels like cool set pieces tied together by frustration.
Not the least cause of this frustration are the combat mechanics. For the most part, MW3 uses the dread "endless spawn." A lot of video games will send a finite number of enemies at you. In an endless spawn, the game will continue to generate enemies until you trigger certain events or reach certain points. What this means is that you can stay in one place and shoot enemies for an hour with no cessation, but the moment you cross a particular doorway or enter a certain road, the battlefield goes quiet. It would be significantly less irritating if MW3 did not also force you down certain routes. This started with Black Ops, but is mind-bogglingly obvious here. You will continue to die in certain portions of the game until you realize that you have to go from this car, to that boulder in order to survive. It's attaching a sort of patterned-gameplay one would expect in an old school arcade to what is supposed to be a cutting-edge shooter.
Granted, it all comes down to the pizza comment at the beginning. MW3 is the product of a franchise that is starting to look like it needs to be rebooted. But it still provides plenty of fun moments, even if they are almost always outweighed by the frustration that led up to them. But let's be honest: it's pizza. You're still going to buy it, and you're still going to consume it.