Activision's Call of Duty releases are loud and flashy, they deliver state-of-the-art digital effects, and they don't have a coherent thought in their heads. If playing the latest CoD campaign doesn't give you a headache, trying to make sense of its convoluted, preposterous story will.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 (for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC, $59.99; Wii, $49.99) begins with New York City under attack from Russia. How did we get here? In the previous chapter, an American undercover agent is framed in a terrorist attack at the Moscow airport. The Russians are retaliating. Both sides are pawns being manipulated by Vladimir Makarov, who's bent on destroying the West and returning Mother Russia’s glory.

So begins a symphony of destruction that lays waste to cities and landmarks all over the world. You enter an area filled with enemies, eliminate them, then reload and move on to the next zone. It all looks and sounds spectacular.

The big question for this franchise is: Where does it go from here? Creatively, the entire military shooter genre has shown some signs of exhaustion this year. Sales-wise, however, Call of Duty is still doing blockbuster numbers, and Activision has already announced a new CoD installment for 2012. Next time, I hope the developers take a few more chances and try to breathe some new life into a series that's at risk of getting stale.