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360, PC, PS3

 

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Shooter

 

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Activision

 

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Sledgehammer Games / Infinity Ward

 

ETA

November 8, 2011

 

 

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Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 Hands-On

 

call of duty modern warfare 3          call of duty modern warfare 3

 

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

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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

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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.

 

call of duty modern warfare 3          call of duty modern warfare 3

 

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.

 

call of duty modern warfare 3          call of duty modern warfare 3

 

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 Battlefield 3.

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.

- Siddharth Masand

(September 6, 2011)

 

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