Platform(s): PC, PS3, Wii, Xbox 360
Developers: Infinity Ward, Sledgehammer Games
Age rating: 18 (PEGI)
Call of Duty has become a household name in the past decade. Many of us are familiar with its Modern Warfare titles, as well as Treyarch’s contribution to the series. The now annual release has got millions of us hooked into both historical and modern storylines, cinematic campaigns and addictive multiplayer gameplay. So, what has the latest title got for us to enjoy?
First off: the campaign. Like its predecessors it is a global story played through the eyes of several characters. The sequel many of us have been waiting for follows on from Modern Warfare 2, as Soap and Price continue their manhunt for Russian terrorist Makarov. The game takes you on a tour of several large cities, including London, Paris and the Big Apple, fantastically blending frontline warfare and urban environments. The visual effects are superb; the details on buildings, aircraft and environments rival anything we’ve ever seen before in the franchise, maybe even the FPS market. Even the destruction and explosions are worthy of the Call of Duty name, from a toppling building to a burning Russian aircraft carrier.
The campaign has both fast paced and slower sections. Chasing suspects through the streets of Paris, storming a castle with Price and providing overwatch on a diamond mine assault are all featured, making both the game and your heart race. However, there are quiet times where you can sit back and take in the magnificence of an entire Russian battle group burning in the Hudson River, the carnage caused by a sprinkling of 105mm shells from an AC-130, or a casual stroll past the bodies of unlucky civilians who couldn’t quite make it. Throughout the campaign you take control of several vehicles, such as AC-130s, chopper gunners and even an assault drone. Control of the vehicles is a lot like that of previous titles, along with the “point and shoot” which features in all the Call of Duty releases. Movement is fluid, aiming is precise and response times are only as good as you are.
Unfortunately, this is where the Modern Warfare story ends. The campaign sees the departure of Soap after he is rescued in Modern warfare 2, and your player is replaced by Nikolai. After chasing Makarov across the globe for two successive titles, the end is nigh. Although it is somewhat predictable from when the final mission begins, it still has you glued to your screen. Eventually, after continuous waves of enemies, attack helicopters and the like, a trapped Price is saved by Nikolai who inadvertently seals his fate. After chasing Makarov up some stairs, jumping onto his mid-air helicopter and completing several pointless QTEs, the ending unfolds in front of you. With a mixture of superb detail, fast-paced action and an explosive storyline, the campaign is an emotional rollercoaster that keeps your focus keen and engaged as it brings the story to a rewarding close.
Like previous titles the campaign is strictly single player, however as this is Modern Warfare you always have Spec Ops to sink your teeth into. 16 missions compliment the campaign, with many more to come in future DLCs. They range from defusing IEDs, rescuing hostages and even assaulting the Russian president’s private aircraft. As always there is a variable difficulty setting, enabling the Call of Duty passionate to rack the difficulty up for hours of challenging fun, meanwhile those who are new to the game can get used to its controls. However, even the longest missions can be completed in around 10 minutes, and you can always improve your score by comparing it to those of your online friends, via the leaderboards.
New to Spec Ops in this title is Survival mode, where you and a friend (split-screen or online), are left in one of the multiplayer maps to fend off hoards of increasingly intelligent enemies. These vary from infantry, to attack dogs, attack helicopters and even our old friend the juggernaut. Starting with the humble Five Seven pistol, and moving up to the Model 1887 and the ACR 6.8, it requires quick thinking and tactical use of every resource you have available to you. Unlocking new weapons, attachments, equipment and killstreaks is achieved by earning XP in Spec Ops missions, and cold hard cash after the completion of each round, which can then be spent on these military goodies. Although bullets and frag grenades are sufficient, there is no substitute for a minigun sentry turret or grenade launcher sentry. The enemies you kill drop weaponry, however it is your purchasing decisions that keep you alive, which can make every game that little bit different.
All of this is nothing compared to the online multiplayer, as the challenges you face in campaign and Spec Ops are just playground skirmishes compared to the warfare found online. The gameplay will be instantly recognisable to those of you who have played Modern Warfare or Modern Warfare 2. Once again it features the XP, ranking and prestige system, which we have all grown to love. Unlike Modern Warfare 2 and Black Ops, the levelling system goes up to level 80, and contains 15 prestige ranks (soon to be 20).
Also new this title is Call of Duty Elite. This online tracker allows you to monitor your campaign progress, Spec Ops completion times and online statistics, whilst analysing your gameplay, customising your clan and boosting your performance, as well as offering advice given by developers and world-class players on weapon set ups and perk combinations. It also links you to people who play similarly to you, allows you to form a clan and enter competitions worldwide. This is all especially helpful if you are new to the game, or enjoyed combat training in Black Ops. Getting to know the ins and outs of maps, game modes and weaponry all helps you gain some experience and find your style. A new game mode called Kill Confirmed was announced as a way to try and remove campers. It involves all the rules of TDM, but upon death you drop a set of dog tags – the first team to collect 90 dog tags wins. No dog tag, no kill. This adds a rather tactical atmosphere to a game mode that many see as a bore, as retrieving your allies and your own tags is as vital as getting the kills themselves.
As usual the create-a-class system features online. However, there have been some adjustments. You unlock attachments, camouflage and proficiencies for your weapons which boost their base stats. This is done by levelling up each individual weapon, unlike the CoD points and purchase system in Black Ops. There have been similar reforms in the killstreaks section, as well as a name change to strike packages, which are earned by killing, capturing flags, capturing domination points and planting & defusing bombs; this tends to put greater emphasis on tactical gameplay.
The available killstreaks vary, and there are several new toys to play with, including a Recon Drone, Intelligent Munitions System and two types of Juggernaut armour, but some familiar streaks are missing. However, many fans will be glad to know the M.O.A.B. is still available.
Recent community changes have seen game modes such as One in the Chamber come to online gameplay. Additionally, Infected features, which sees one player chosen at random who then has to kill every remaining member with only a knife. Drop Zone is also new, whereby two teams have to keep a grip on a certain point on the map, and each successive 5 seconds held is rewarded by a random care package. If you feel the need to play one of the more random game modes from Black Ops, some can be found in Private Match where you and friends can play without any unwanted interruptions.
However, there have been some problems. Like any other game there are positions of power in every map, but to be honest, it’s a challenge to take on board; successfully removing an enemy from a position of power is what proves you are better than them. Many people still remain controversial on the grounds of hit detection and lag, but they are minority cases and the people at Infinity Ward have largely done well. Since the introduction of the Host Migration system a few years ago, many of the games you experience these problems in are paused, and a better host is found within seconds.
In the way of the online formula, Modern Warfare 3 isn’t much different. However, that same satisfying feeling is found when you rank up and prestige, and at the end of the day that’s what the online users are out there to do, so why change it? Along with the rollercoaster storyline, fantastic visuals and ever demanding Spec Ops, it will follow in the path of glory along with its predecessors.
+ Interesting new Spec Ops Survival mode
+ Stunning conclusion to a popular title
+ New multiplayer features advance online gameplay
Summary: Doesn’t let the Modern Warfare series of games down. Another essential shooter – it’s Call of Duty, what did you expect?
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