Modern Warfare 3’s single player mode is set to deliver a truly global conflict. Whereas Modern Warfare 2 focussed in on war-torn Washington DC, Russia and Rio de Janeiro, Modern Warfare 3 has packed its passport for a globe-trotting outing that will take in far more locations, including England, Germany and France.
We were treated to a run-through of a new single-player level last week called Iron Lady. Read on for our thoughts.
Taking place about halfway through Modern Warfare 3’s campaign, Iron Lady is set in the streets of sweet Paris. It’s not quite the Paris you probably remember though; with not a patisserie in sight, Paris is a total warzone. From the off you’ll see just how bad things are getting on the European front, with a massive propeller engine aeroplane crashing into the ground near the allied Delta Force and French GIGN special forces, screeching as it tears through the cobbled paving. Just as more of the world is under fire, more of the world’s elite troops will be out defending it; this won’t be a “Team America” tale of USA saving the world’s butts.
Co-developers Sledgehammer were keen to point out the verticality that the new focus on urban warfare brings to the series. We were treated to an example as the point-of-view shot seamlessly from the ground troops up into the sky for an air-support chopper sequence.
Appearing in all other Modern Warfare titles so far, the AC-130 sequence sees the player laying waste to enemy ground troops with an array of frighteningly powerful airborne weaponry. The improvements to the graphical engine become clearly apparent here; using the same heat-signature filter to spot tiny troops below as in previous games, everything is far clearer and more detailed, making accurate shots easier to pull off. The returning 20mm, 40mm and 125mm cannons are all available, with the camera pulling in closer so that can get a better look at the devastation you’re wreaking. The sequence ends with a jet-fighter airstrike being called in on the tanks battering your allies, with a neat picture-in-picture camera showing your pals slowly advancing.
Swinging back to the ground, we’re put back in a first-person perspective. The aim of the mission is to neutralise a HVT (High Value Target) shacked up in a nearby embassy. To get there, a little sniping is needed, with players swiftly sliding through the shattered remains of a few buildings. The snap of the sniper rifle seems more powerful than ever before now; all parts of the engine, including animations, seem to have been ramped up for dramatic effect.
Clearing a path as a sniper leads you to an open courtyard area, teeming with enemies. After sending a few crouched pop-shots off in a greenhouse (which saw many a plant pot smashed) you make your way to a mounted-machine gun in the centre of the courtyard. It whirs into action, and shows off the impressive damage modelling now present in the engine. Firing at a balcony where a few baddies were hiding out saw the concrete balustrade crumble, adding satisfyingly to the already decrepit surroundings.
The ground troops, after clearing out the courtyard, again hit a brick wall of heavily armoured opposition, meaning it’s time to jump back into the AC-130 for the mission’s climax. After gunning down a few last enemies, a smoke bomb calls in a last aerial bombardment and it’s (seemingly) game over for the HVT.
Though we weren’t given story specifics at the preview, it seems big, bombastic business as usual on the single-player front of Modern Warfare 3. Refinement in the engine has lead to a refinement too of the game’s ample cinematic qualities. It won’t be brainy, but it’ll be blockbuster fun.
After checking out the new single player level we were whisked away to try out the new co-op Survival mode in the Spec Ops area of the game.
It takes the idea of the Nazi Zombies mode introduced in World at War and ranks it up to a whole new level of tension. You and a team-mate must face off against wave-after-endless-wave of progressively tougher foes, building up cash reserves and defending your pal. Once you drop, it’s game over.
Cash is gathered by felling soldiers, with tougher grunts worth more money and a string of quick kills providing cash multipliers. Dotted around each level (all multiplayer maps can be played in survival mode) are ammo and weapon caches, which can be used to load up on better weapons, more bullets, grenades and the odd turret or airstrike if you’ve saved the really big bucks.
And you’re gonna need them all too. Providing you get past the early, easier waves, you’ll soon find yourself faced with suicide bombers, attack dogs, attack dogs with bombs strapped to them and attack dogs with bombs strapped to them with killer bees in their mouths.
OK, well maybe not that last one, but things do get much worse when the attack helicopters come in, and the heavy “boss” troops show up. There’s nothing likely to strike more fear into your heart than the sight of a “Juggernaut” troop rappelling into a battlefield, knowing that even your two saved RPG rounds wont be enough to take him down.
The relatively large, open maps leave plenty of room for tactical play, but also a temptingly large amount of space to run and hide in to. Great if you’re on the backfoot, but there’s nothing worse than getting separated from a bleeding-out team-mate with 20 mercenaries standing between the two of you.
While the rest of Modern Warfare 3’s multiplayer may be resting on its laurels a bit with some spit and polish refining things a little, Survival mode may be where the real frantic action lies. It’s the most multiplayer fun we’ve had from a Call of Duty game for some time, which is a pretty big claim to make considering just how addictive the series’ standard multiplayer offerings are.