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Xbox 360 Game Review

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3


Format: Xbox 360
RRP: £49.99
Age Restrictions: 18+
Available 08 November 2011

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 is a direct sequel to the previous game in the series, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, with a campaign storyline continuing the struggle of U.S. forces against an invasion by the Russian Federation following the framing of an undercover U.S. agent in a terrorist attack on Moscow. Together with classic Call of Duty multi-character control, Modern Warfare 3 contains deep multiplayer support, including two-player Co-op Survival mode. The game also contains all-new Kill Streak categories and customisable strike packages that offer more options for player combat styles and strategies...

It's November again and time for the latest Call of Duty (CoD) release. This is of course the best-selling games franchise and chances are you've played one of the earlier iterations.

Before you plunge into the multi-player it's worth playing through the campaign as this has to be one of the best, most intense single player experiences this generation, if not ever.

The story is continued from the previous two instalments and actually concluded here, so this will probably be the final Modern Warfare title although certainly not the final CoD game. If you haven't played the previous two it's certainly worth doing so before attempting this one in order to get the full experience of the storyline. The game can be enjoyed without prior knowledge, it just adds that extra layer of satisfaction. Soap and Price make their return as well as new playable character, Yuri whose story links nicely with previous instalments via flashbacks.

Although the campaign is only five or six hours in length there is very little wasted time and there is a wide range of variety in locations and scenarios. The whole campaign is so over the top and intense that there's never time for boredom or a sense of ennui to set in. After the massacre in the airport and other set pieces in the previous games, MW3 had to ramp up the action again and without giving anything away, just know that they've delivered. This is probably the most action packed full on single player campaign I've ever played, well up there with the high standards of previous CoD titles and certainly the best of this gen. Yes it's short, but it's full of so many f*ck yeah! moments that you'll be back to beat it on Veteran.

The enemies don't infinitely re-spawn as in previous games but the emphasis is still on moving forward as fast as possible. AI team mates will keep giving encouragement to move on and there are generous checkpoints throughout each level which cuts off the flow of opponents. As in other Call of Duty's you quickly get into the flow of pushing forward to trigger the checkpoint, surveying the ground and then pushing forward again. The campaign is easier than previous games, no more annoying Favella levels with grenades and hidden snipers coming from every direction. There's still the Veteran mode but it's more forgiving and on a par with MW2 rather than the hardcore CoD4.

Making a return we also have the co-op Special Ops mode, this time split between Mission and Survival modes with stats carrying through between the two.

There are 16 single short missions, split into 4 tiers of difficulty which are unlocked as points are gained. Each mission is around 8 minutes long for one or ideally two players in co-op, a couple have to be completed with two players. These are fun blasts of action with high replay value to try and better your own score and maybe even make the top of online leader board (or at least amongst your friends list). The missions are based on scenarios from the campaign. Stars are awarded dependent upon completion time and there are 48 stars to collect (3 per mission) compared with MW2's 69 stars.
Survival is a new mode for Modern Warfare but game play wise is similar to the Zombie modes from Black Ops and World at War. This is a variant on the Horde mode from other titles with the player battling increasingly difficult waves of enemies including explosives laden dogs, juggernauts and attack helicopters, often all in the same wave.

Players can team up offline split-screen or online via Xbox Live. Starting out with a pistol, money is earned for kills and multipliers given dependent upon criteria such as head shots, rampage etc. The money can then be spent on ammo, weapon upgrades, perks, sentry guns, c4, predator missiles etc. As fallen enemies drop their weapons / ammo it's best to save the money to spend on building good defences. This is a fun mode although once the player is dead it's game over and play begins again at wave 1. It suffers in comparison to the superlative Horde mode in the Gears of War series and feels a bit rushed. Comparing scores with friends adds some longevity but essentially it serves as a training ground for the full experience of the multiplayer. All of the game's 16 maps can be played in Survival mode and this gives a chance to get familiar with the layout before taking on the world.

Multiplayer is the main reason most people will want MW3.

Previous CoD games have always been frustrating to play as a noob as those who've spent months solid on the game have unlocked all the perks to give them superior weaponry, speed, and other other elusive abilities. I also got frustrated by gamers who would sprint around using the knife for one hit kills or camping in some hidden spot and scoping. These problems seem to have been largely addressed with MW3, the maps are smaller than MW2 and seem designed to discourage camping.

Changes have been made to allow those who prefer a more supportive role to still progress and enjoy it. The “kill confirmed” game mode is a team based game where the enemies' dog tags are dropped when they are killed but the kill will not be confirmed unless you or another team mate pick up the dropped dog tag. Conversely dog tags of fallen team mates can be picked up and the enemies kills denied. This means long range scope kills no longer work as a strategy unless you have a team to back you up. Points are awarded for the collection of tags, making for a more balanced game.

Kill streaks have been re branded point streaks, with players choosing one of 3 different strike packages - assault, support or specialist, depending upon their play style. Assault is the same as in previous games, Support gives access to UAVs and SAM turrets and also the number of kills are not reset when a player dies, Specialist rewards the player with perks after every second kill and all the perks after 8 consecutive kills.

Primary weapons can now also be levelled up with perks such as reduced recoil, and 2 attachments or increased bullet penetration. The attachments customisation and camouflage remain, as well as the ability to unlock different reticules for on-screen sights.

Prestige mode is unlocked at level 80 and tokens are given to spend in the Prestige Shop. On offer are goodies like 2 game hours of double xp, new call sign titles and early unlock of create a class. Prestige level 10 grants the hardcore CoD title and emblem and a chance to reset all stats!

A good new feature to the Modern Warfare franchise is the theatre mode allowing videos of your noble victories to be edited and then uploaded onto the Internet for the world to admire. The last 20 online matches are automatically saved and the sophisticated editing software allows clips to be made from any camera angle within the game as well as following any player. Although, unlike Black Ops, you only be able to follow the other players from a 3rd person perspective, whereas previously you could choose to watch their movements in 1st or 3rd person. Time can be manipulated for those slow motion money shots or sped up fast getaways and then the clips edited together into a short film. This mode was available in Black Ops but now you can also sync with your Facebook account and automatically upload videos to your wall.

The graphics throughout the various game modes are almost photo-realistic and run silky smooth even in 1080p. The campaign in particular is incredibly atmospheric with stunning lighting effects and textures. It seems to be running the same graphics engine as MW2 but the use of dynamic lighting and clever level design makes for a more involving game world. Many times I wanted to notch it down a gear and explore the world a little but the action is always pressing forward, and I guess there's always another play through.

The sound is also spot on, with the ambient sounds further sucking you into the believable world. When played through headphones the surround sound elevates the game play, particularly in multiplayer where players footsteps and the direction can be heard.

The essential game play of CoD remains in this release and you'll probably know already if it's for you or not. Infinity Ward have tried to make it more accessible to newcomers with more balanced game play but it's still a frantic run and gun FPS. If you'd prefer teamwork and strategy, larger maps and vehicles, and arguably deeper game play then try Battlefield III. If you prefer the intense and chaotic rush of smaller claustrophobic maps and shorter hits of pure adrenaline then go for MW3.

There isn't the huge jump in game play and original elements that both CoD4 and MW2 represented and it does at times feel more like a new map pack than a whole new game. But it's a highly polished game with high production values and largely refines what has gone before. This is the arcade FPS at the top of it's game and well worth playing.

If you're new to video gaming and on a budget Modern Warfare 2 offers pretty much the same multiplayer experience and there's still a lot of people playing online so you'll have no problem getting a game.

If you're a CoD freak you'll already have had this on preorder since the Summer and I'll no doubt catch you online.


Richard Arthur Bennett

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