REVIEW: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 (Elite)

Gerald Lynch Gaming, Reviews, Tech Digest news Leave a Comment

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Name: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3

Genre: First Person Shooter

Platform: Xbox 360 (reviewed), PS3, PC

Price: £38.91 from Amazon on Xbox 360
£38.91 from Amazon on PS3

£34.91 from Amazon on PC

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 – Single Player Review
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 – Multiplayer Review
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 – Special Ops Review
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 – Overall Verdict

review-line.JPGModern Warfare 3 isn’t just about killing people. With the built-in Call of Duty: Elite network, it’s about making friends, winning prizes and improving your online skills too. Oh, and yeah, killing people too actually. But do we really need a Facebook for fragging? Read on to find out, and make sure you’ve also checked out our single player, multiplayer and Special Ops reviews, as well as our overall final verdict on Modern Warfare 3.
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Describe Call of Duty: Elite, in a sentence. Well, a decent stab at that request would be “a war-themed Facebook with heatmap-kill-ratio-infographics instead of drunken snaps of your old school pals”. A new digital service that launches with Modern Warfare 3 (but is backwards compatible with Call of Duty: Black Ops, and will be supported by all future Call of Duty/Modern Warfare titles), it’s designed to keep you playing the online component of Modern Warfare 3 even longer than you were planning to by teaching you ways to improve your online shooting techniques, connecting you with other like-minded players and challenging you to compete for real world prizes.

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Available as a downloadable in-game add-on for the Xbox 360 and PS3, a web client for the PC and as an iPhone app (with an Android build in the pipeline, as well as tablet versions too), Elite is a two-tier system that has both free-to-use features and premium, members-only content too.

First off, lets have a look at what you get absolutely free with Call of Duty: Elite.

Split into three core sections, we’re going to start with the area we feel you’ll spend most time in: Improve. This area gives you access to more stats than you could possibly track manually, and is like Rain Man’s wet dream, were he to have an interest in sub machine guns. Tracking your entire Modern Warfare/ Black Ops career, it has detailed information on every map you’ve played, who killed you where, what gun they used, where you spent most of your time hiding and so on and so forth. There’s information on your accuracy with each weapon, which is your proffered weapon, how best to wield it, and detailed explanations of every gun’s pros and cons. A mixture of graphs, charts, tutorial videos and user-generated hints and tips, it’s like having a personal trainer purely to up your online game. Spend time exploring the reams of information offered here and you’ll be top of the deathmatch leaderboards in no time at all.

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Next up is Connect. Here you can track all your Xbox Live pals, as well as random gamers you’ve encountered in-game, and compare your stats to theirs. You can create and join groups, browsable via tags, which we think could create some really excellent rivalries online. Just imagine a “West Ham United” group organising a team deathmatch against a “Millwall FC” group (actually don’t – that could cause real-world bloodshed) . There’s even Facebook integration, telling your Modern Warfare-playing friends when you’re online through Zuckerberg’s network and vice versa (though we’re not sure we like the idea of our hot Facebook pals knowing we’re such massive Xbox Live dorks).

Lastly, the Compete section. Each week the developers over at Beachhead will set-up community wide events with a chance of winning real-world prizes, ranging from (according to one Beachhead team member) “everything from coffee coasters to trips around the world”. Competitions will be tiered, meaning more skilled players get prizes worthy of their devotion to the game, while also allowing casual gamers a chance to grab some goodies too. Competition winning criteria will vary wildly too, meaning a high kill/death ratio is just as important as having a good sense of humour and the skills to make a decent “Machinima” video using the game’s built-in video uploader.

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Much of this is accessible via the iPhone app, which, while stripped back, hooks up with your Modern Warfare gamer tag to offer plenty of information too. It’s particularly useful to have the app open while playing online, as the built-in Elite platform can’t run at the same time as the actual game; you have to jump between the two. With the mobile app, you’ve got constant, real-time access to your stats without needing to jump out of the game. The app also lets you build in-game load outs on the go, letting you perfect your ideal online arsenal while on the way to school or the commute to work, and have all your custom weaponry synced and ready to go when you head online with the actual game.

As a free service to delve in and out of, it’s obviously a no-brainer that Elite is a great addition, helping you to hone your skills and build up interesting relationships within the wider Modern Warfare 3 community. But what about the “Premium”, £34.99/$49.99 annual subscription service? Obviously you get all of the above, but what’s extra there and is it worth your money?

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At this point it’s a little harder to tell. Developer’s Beachhead are the first to admit that this will be a constantly evolving service that will be tweaked as time passes, but the initial outlook for Premium subscribers is good. Most importantly, those who cough up the extra dough will get early access to all future Modern Warfare 3 DLC at no extra cost, which, when compared to the usual individual pricing of DLC packs, will lead to considerable savings.

Premium subscribers will also get far deeper Clan support, giving gamers who regularly play together the ability to level up as a group and compete in exclusive Clan Operations. Premium subscribers will also be able to compete for exclusive real-world prizes in the Compete area, some of which will only be available to Clan players. Multiple prizes will be available each week, and they’ll be won not just through reaching the top of kill tables, but by submitting inventive, criteria-filling videos too, meaning plenty of people will have a fair chance at winning stuff. It’s yet to be seen how inevitable cheaters will be dealt with, but the prize list so far is looking impressive, with everything from iPad 2s to Jeeps up for grabs.

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Then there is the “premium episodic video content” on Call of Duty Elite TV to look forward to, featuring Hollywood talent such as Will Arnett, Jason Bateman and the legendary Ridley “BladeRunner” Scott on production duties. In this age of bootlegged YouTube videos locking stuff behind a paywall seems pointless; there’s nothing to stop someone with a camera recording the footage off of their TVs and posting it online, though there’s no denying they’ve got some big names lined-up to feature in the vids.

Modern Warfare fans were wary of Elite when it was first revealed, fearing that their beloved multiplayer antics were to become a long, itemised shopping list. But the reality is that even the free features offer comprehensive and useful insights into the game and its vast player base, as well as intuitive mobile apps to bring some elements of the game on the go with you. The Premium package is a tougher sell, one that Clan gamers and DLC fanatics should certainly snap up, but perhaps an extravagance too far for the average frag fan.

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By Gerald Lynch | November 8th, 2011