It is rare to see an entry into a AAA series that somehow fails to deliver throughout its existence. Most developers simply know that every new entry needs to raise the bar lest the competition steal the show. However, Modern Warfare is a title that is steeped in combat in every single aspect, from the online combat to the slow disintegration of Infinity Ward, the future of that particular franchise has always been in question. Taking into consideration Activision's history with the franchise, and how hard they've tried to prove that they can continue to make millions without Vince Zampella, Jason West, and even Grant Collier, for that matter. It's easy to assume that they'll be pouring every single resource into trying to make this title game of the year. I just don't see how that's really possible.
Modern Warfare is to the FPS genre what a show like Seinfeld or Friends was to daytime television; what exactly hasn't the series done? Terrorists, check. Nukes, check. Killing off the main character is something that MW has done so many times it's impossible to replicate in another game without thinking that Infinity Ward has done it already. It's the game that set a mean standard for shooters online, throwing quick-scoping and killstreaks into mainstream vernacular. It's also the game that let players slaughter innocent people (though in all fairness, you could choose not to partake in the event at all), something the media was all too eager to gobble up for future terrorism references.
The main point here is that Modern Warfare has done just about everything that could be done, and has done so with enough style and presence that the competition has been struggling to find a way to properly steal the limelight since. Perhaps if Infinity Ward was still there it would be a different story, but without the heart and soul of the original developers, I have a hard time picturing anything good coming out of Modern Warfare 3. It's not that I don't have faith in another developer to create something interesting enough to steal the Modern Warfare throne, but what's happening here is something as simple as another writer trying to finish off someone else's book series. Yes, it can be done. No, it won't really be the same.
I'm further disappointed by the fact that Modern Warfare 3's campaign is going to wrap up the trilogy, highlighting the hunt for Makarov and the end of the war at this game's focus. It would have been far more impressive to see the series restarted, in a way, and taken into a completely different direction, but instead I can't help but get the feeling that Activision is trying harder still to prove that Infinity Ward is their's and so is this story (which really, couldn't be further from the truth in anything aside from a legal perspective).
Multiplayer has me filled with concerns as well, Treyarch (though a decent developer) didn't really do much outside of tweaking Infinity Ward's online formula a teeny bit. New weapons are always expected and killstreaks have become a staple to the series and I don't think anyone expects this new Infinity Ward to play with the elements of the series that have become classics at this point, but if that's the case what does that leave us looking forward to? No connectivity issues? Tighter controls? More even damage spread across weapons? A PS3 version that actually works on launch? All of these things would be great, but these are expectations I would have from a longstanding series after a developer has had a lot of time to work with the game and understand exactly where they went wrong in the past. Experience and working together is what makes better sequels, and knowing that Modern Warfare 3 will be going full steam with a fresh developer team brings up some serious doubts as to how solid any final product might be.
Perhaps these fears will be alleviated over time, as we get to know a little more about the game and what exactly it has to offer; it's always nice to think that there are plenty of development teams out there ready and waiting to surprise us all. But I won't be placing any money that Modern Warfare 3 will surpass either of the prior installments, especially considering the current state of affairs at Infinity Ward. There's simply too much that needs to happen with the series in order to truly impress and when taking a long look at how Activision tends to 'gently' navigate the development of its IPs, I find it hard to believe that anything particularly memorable will come out of this one. It would have been a much better move to simply reboot the franchise, rather than drag it onward any further.