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Duty: Modern Warfare 3 Hands-On
Call of Dutyís release schedule seems to
mimic those of big named sports titles such as Madden or the NHL series.
It has always amazed me that Activision seems to be able to top
themselves and raise the bar year after year with the last several
iterations of the series. When Modern Warfare 3 was first announced and
shown off at E3, I was a bit skeptical of whether the team at Infinity
Ward could continue the success of the series, given the turmoil that
followed Modern Warfare 2ís release. (Shortly after Modern Warfare 2ís
release, half of the Infinity Ward team
left after disagreements between top brass
at Activision and Infinity Ward in regards to creative control over the
series and unpaid bonuses, allegedly.) In addition to troubles at
Infinity Ward, EA established themselves last year in the multiplayer
arena with the release of the critically acclaimed Battlefield Bad
Company 2. So, how will Modern Warfare 3 compete and address its
internal challenges and how
does it play? Read on.
This past weekend in Los Angeles, Activision hosted Call of Duty XP, an
event solely focused on the future release of Modern Warfare 3. The main
features of the event was to reveal Modern Warfare 3's multiplayer
component and Call of Duty Elite service.
Along with 100+ other gaming journalists, I was treated to some hands on
time with the game during the first day. The last two days of the event
were open to the public where 6,000 plus members of public converged.
One of the most important new features that was heavily touted at the
event was Call of Duty Elite. Geared toward the hardcore players, Elite
is paid service, $49.99 per year, but comes loaded with a number of
features. Elite members will get first access to all of the DLC content
and see new DLC every month. On top of that, members can also create
user-generated game modes and have the community provide feedback on
them. The annual fee also covers all the DLC map packs that will be
released throughout the year. Elite will also be fully integrated with
Facebook and will also let you join groups that share similar interests
such as politics, sports teams and music.
The Hardened Edition of the game will
include one year of Elite Service out of the box. Other notable features
of Elite include competing in tournaments for prizes (i.e. iPads, Jeeps,
etc), 8x more video capacity, access to pro analysis from Call of Duty
players, and support for mobile apps. The Elite Service has also
attracted Hollywood talent including Will Arnett, Jason Bateman, Tony
and Ridley Scott who will be providing episodic content based around
Call of Duty to subscribers of the service. Unfortunately, none of the
episodic content was shown off at the event.
Call of Duty Elite is extremely ambitious and has a lot to offer to the
hardcore players. Typically, Activision releases four map packs per year
at a price of $15.00 each. If you do the math, then you can tell that
Elite is a bargain if you plan on purchasing all of the map packs.
In addition to the Elite service, two multiplayer modes were shown off
at the event: Spec Ops and Kill Confirm.
The Spec Ops Mode is making a return to the series after taking a year
off. Spec Ops is a cooperative style multiplayer mode whereby two
players must work together against enemy AI to complete a certain
objective or goal.. Shown at the event was one map on a new game mode
called Survival. The Survival Mode sees you square off against
never-ending waves of enemies with the sole purpose of seeing how long
you can stay alive. While the idea has been done before in games such as
Gears of War, it still plays quite well in Modern Warfare 3. There are a
total of 16 Survival based maps, all of which are based off the
multiplayer maps in the game
Each wave of enemies bumps up the difficulty. The first few waves are
foot soldiers carrying shot guns while the later waves will have heavily
armored enemies, suicide bombers, attack dogs and vehicles. Each enemy
kill earns your character money which can be used to stock up on new
weapons/upgrades, ammo or purchase support help such as predator drones,
air strikes or the new Delta Squad. Delta Squad is an AI controlled
squad of soldiers that you can call on to provide fire support to you
and your partner. From what I played, Survival Mode is quite enjoyable
and provides a real challenge once you get up to Wave 15 or so and truly
puts teamwork and your judgment to the test as the AI was definitely
impressive, showing effective use of cover and a distinct lack of mercy.
Spec Ops will also feature a character progression system, much like the
competitive multiplayer modes already do. The rep at Activision
mentioned that the Spec Ops mode will be playable via splitscreen, LAN
and online for up to 2 players. It was also confirmed that there were
would be DLC content for Spec Ops.
"Kill Confirm" is a new take on Team Deathmatch. Every time you kill an
enemy, they drop a pair of dog tags that you must retrieve to confirm
your kill. You can also deny an enemy kill by retrieving your teammates
dog tags. This new mode feels like a cat and mouse game as players use
the dog tags as bait to expose a hidden enemy. I was always careful when
approaching a pair of dog tags as an enemy could be lurking around the
corner waiting. It is truly engaging and feels like a breath of fresh
air compared to Team Deathmatch. Talking with the other attendees, Kill
Confirm seemed to be getting high marks from everybody.
Infinity Ward accidentally revealed a new
mode called Team Defender during a roundtable interview. Similar to
Capture the Flag, each team fights over a single flag with the team that
captures the flag taking the role of defender. The team that holds onto
the flag for the longest period of time wins the game. This mode was not
playable at the event.
The killstreak rewards system has been overhauled with what are now
called "strike packages." But what does that actually mean? Players now
choose between one of three strike packages: Assault, Support, and
Specialist. Each strike package features a different set of rewards
based on scoring points in the game. Youíre still rewarded for kills,
but now your also rewarded for completing objectives as well.
Assault is fairly similar to the current killstreak reward system in
previous titles whereby you are rewarded for creating a streak of kills
without dying. The support strike package is geared more towards players
(like me) who actually try to complete the objective of the map, rather
than stack kills. With the support strike packages your kill streak does
not reset even if you are killed. The support strike packages not only
rewards individual player, but their entire team as well. Rewards
included with this strike package include an advanced UAV and ballistic
vests you can give to your teammates. Specialist is a true test of
individual skill as you unlock one additional perk for every kill you
get and once you die youíre kill count is reset. Eventually, you do have
the ability to unlock every perk.
Visually, Modern Warfare 3 looked pretty similar to past titles, I
didnít notice too much improvement to the gun or character models, but
the game still isn't showing itís age. The game runs at a beautiful 60
frames per seconds and is still one of the best looking first-person
shooters around. However, it was a little disappointing to see that
Modern Warfare 3 will not be supporting destructible environments like
On the surface Modern Warfare 3 sticks true to its roots as it plays
quite similar to previous titles in the series. Dig a little deeper and
youíll see the developers have worked hard to fix the balance issues,
address fan concerns as well as include new features to change the
dynamic of the gameplay. Going into the event I was skeptical as to
whether Modern Warfare 3 could win me over, but having played the game,
I am now eagerly anticipating its release this November.