The 10,000lb gorilla that is Call of Duty: Modern Warfare returns for a third outing this autumn, continuing the legacy of explosive campaigns, behemoth multiplayer modes and billion dollar revenues. Modern Warfare 3 sees Infinity Ward joined by co-developer Sledgehammer Games to create a globe-trotting story that takes players through America, Europe, Russia, parts of Africa and the Himalayas. But things have changed since 2009's Modern Warfare 2 ripped up the first-person shooter rule book, and Activision's flagship franchise will face one of its toughest ever challenges this autumn from EA's Battlefield 3; so will Modern Warfare 3 be able to retain its crown? Digital Spy checked out New York and London-based levels from the game's single player campaign, finding the Call of Duty gorilla in monstrously full effect.
Schofield, the general manager and chief executive of Sledgehammer Games, promised that Modern Warfare 3 will take the franchise to "a whole new level". He said that the developers are "locked in" to deliver the single-player campaign at 60 frames per second, enabling real "cinematic intensity" in the action. The story picks up at the end of Modern Warfare 2, with Washington DC in flames after the Russian invasion and the whole of the eastern seaboard of the United States a warzone. Once again, the whole planet will act as a theatre for military operations, as presumably World War III breaks out.
The demonstrator moved through a tight urban street, taking out the Russian troops with gun sights or hip firing, along with grenades and flashbangs. The recreation of New York doesn't feel quite as jaw dropping as Crysis 2 and also lacks the visual impact of Battlefield 3, but Modern Warfare 3 is by no means a bad looking game. Working through the streets revealed devastation everywhere, with classic yellow taxi cabs and NYPD cop cars in mangled heaps of wrought metal. All around the streets were supply boxes stamped with the Red Star of the Soviet Union, but just exactly how the Russians could invade America still remains a bit of mystery. It seems like quite a stretch to imagine a resurgence of the red menace so long after the Cold War, but hey, this is very much a blockbuster take on modern geopolitics.
The ensuing firefight was classic Call of Duty, as a flood of enemies stormed in, requiring a constant move-and-fire approach mixed with grenades attacks. After surviving the fight, the demonstrator exited the building, crossed an open square littered with bad guys and entered the Stock Exchange. This triggered another frantic firefight not dissimilar to the battle at the broadcast operations room in Iraq during the first Modern Warfare. This time, the fight unfurled among banks of trader monitors, requiring the player to always watch the flanks and try to weather the storm while taking out as many bad guys as possible.
The Reaper is basically a laptop controlled missile system, which tags targets from the air and then allows the user to guide missiles down on them. After killing a few Russians and an enemy attack chopper, the squad jumped from the building into a waiting helicopter, with the demonstrator getting on a mounted chain gun. Flying around the buildings meant tackling an opposing chopper with the gun in an airborne duel, blasting away until the rival craft was taken down, but not without sending the marine's chopper into a tail spin. The pilot eventually managed to right the craft, which was where the demo ended.
The second mission shifted the location to London, as a special ops team was sent into a Dockyard area close to Canary Wharf to "put some eyes on a target". It started off in an air support plane, before shifting to a ground team featuring the return of long-running character Captain John Price and what appeared to be Lieutenant Simon "Ghost" Riley. The demonstrator assumed the role of a soldier called Burns, although his back-story was unclear. The team moved through the dirty alleyways and warehouse rooms in pursuit of a high value target, taking out Russian operatives with silenced weapons. Dancing red lines indicated that there was sniper support from the surrounding buildings.
What ensued was a rather preposterous on-rails chase as Burns stood on the back of the truck firing at the enemies in the escaping subway train. The chase moved further down the tracks, passing through a station packed with travellers screaming for their lives. The chase temporarily moved out into the open air, as London's skyline came into view, before moving back underground. One of the pursuing trucks then flipped under fire and smashed into the train, triggering a massive crash of Die Hard with a Vengeance proportions as the demo reached its conclusion.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 will be released on PS3, Xbox 360 and PC on November 8.
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