Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3

Gamescom 2011: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 – Survival of the Fittest

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Like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, Modern Warfare 3 is a game of three parts. It's like a big club sandwich, with a single-player spread, multiplayer paste and a hefty dollop of Spec Ops squeezed in between it all. And while it's a familiar sandwich, it's nonetheless one that we're happy to eat all over again, even if some of it has been regurgitated. That's not to say that Modern Warfare 3 looks like vomity lumps of bread and sandwich filling. Far from it in fact, as MW3 retains the same slick look and 60fps fluidity of the last two games, guaranteeing that it'll sell by the bucketload.

Slightly rubbish sandwich analogies aside, repeated success does not a great game make however, and while Modern Warfare 3 is sure to set tills ringing when it launches this November, there may be a question mark for some people regarding the game's quality. With Call of Duty being an annually updated franchise, using the same old user interface and engine for the last four years or so, you'd be forgiven for thinking that Acti has settled into a groove with the series. But CoD, as everyone knows is an unstoppable juggernaut of a franchise and no matter what you might think of it, there's a reason why it's so massive.

Modern Warfare 3 still runs at a blistering 60-frames per second, it still looks like the dog's nadgers and well, it plays like Call of Duty. What more do you need to know? In the interest of writing this preview, let's assume that you need to know a more than what we've written thus far. Our hands-on session with Modern Warfare 3 takes us into a darkened room, donning a headset and hitting Spec Ops with a member of Acti staff guiding us.

Dropped into a cobbled Parisian market square for 10 waves of Spec Ops' Survival Mode, with a handgun and nothing more, we follow our co-op buddy to the first wave of enemies, which are easily dispatched with the pistol as you'd expect. The ensuing waves aren't such a cakewalk though, so we're told to go and spend some of our cash tooling up for the next nine sets of baddies at the designated weapons cache. This shows up as a pistol icon on your HUD, where you can access a shopping list of weaponry and upgrades, all with a price tag.

While we picked up a Model 1887 shotgun from an enemy we dropped earlier, we decide to ditch our pistol by purchasing an ACR 6.8 combat rifle, which demotes our shotgun to the role of secondary weapon. Ducking through a souvenir store and up a staircase at the back, we make our way to a high vantage point to pick off a couple more waves, before dashing back down to the weapons cache to refill our ammo for a cool $750, and upgrade our trusty new assault rifle with a red dot sight while we're at it. Locked and loaded, the countdown for the next wave commences, and we dig in for the fight ahead.

This next wave is a mix of aggressively hostile shooters and bombers with explosives strapped to themselves. Suicide bombers, if you will. We resolve to take down the bombers as quickly and as efficiently as possible, so with one of my best friends' voices ringing in my head (he's in the Army), we concentrate our fire on their torsos rather than their heads. Apparently Army training dictates aiming at the largest part of a person (the torso), which makes a lot of sense when you think about it. That said, nothing beats a satisfying headshot, so we remember that we're playing a game and revert to aiming at heads.

Some of the remaining enemy riflemen then entrench themselves behind a parked car at the side of the street, so we cook off a grenade and toss it at them, taking care of the small group in one fell swoop. With a few seconds to recoup before tackling the next onslaught, we're directed to the area denoted by a grenade icon, where you're able to buy support items like flash grenades, frags and other explosives. There's also a jet-shaped icon where you can splash out on airstrikes, predator missiles and other air support items. Our buddy gets a sentry turret and installs it at the entrance to a side street leading to the square, where we decide to take cover before the next wave begins.

The next wave is a pair of attack choppers that take both of us by surprise, and our partner is downed. We very nearly follow the same fate as we sprint to revive our bleeding-out buddy, but manage to make it relatively unscathed, returning us both to full strength. With some concentrated fire from our collective assault rifles, we manage to bring down both helicopters fairly quickly, before preparing for more enemies to come. At this point, we're offered some back-up as the cavalry arrives and four allies rappel in from choppers, giving us the opportunity to top up our ammunition once more and prepare.

Enemies with riot shields, more bombers and infantry set upon our position from all sides, marked on our mini-map, closing in for the kill, as the sentry gun helps thin the numbers. As the waves become increasingly difficult, we switch between the shotgun for close encounters and the rifle to keep those pesky bombers at bay. Reaching wave 10 is a real high-fiving moment, but we decide to plump for a bit of decorum since this is the first time we've met the person we're playing co-op with. So, we just say, “nice one, thanks” and leave.

Spec Ops was insanely popular among CoD fans, and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 looks effortlessly poised to deliver more of the same great gameplay again, but with some additional modes and objectives thrown in for good measure. You might be entirely unsurprised to find that MW3 plays exactly like its forebears, but then, if it's as slick as it's always been, then this isn't really an issue. You just have to ask yourself whether you're ready for some more Modern Warfare, cast very much in the same mould as what's gone before. If you're suffering from CoD fatigue, then MW3 isn't going to offer you the antidote, as the phrase “if it ain't broke, don't fix it” springs to mind. But if the answer is, “hell yes”, then you're going to be in for a treat. Nonetheless, we just can't seem to shake the nagging feeling that we've seen this game several times before, and yet having played it, we want it. Such is the inexplicable, irresistible power of CoD...

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 is out on November 8th, 2011.


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US November 08, 2011

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