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Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 Preview

publisher: Activision
developer: Infinity Ward
genre: Shooters

ESRB rating: M

release date: Nov 08, 11
» All About Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 on ActionTrip

Well here we go. Fall is rapidly approaching and the deluge of new releases is set to wash over us. So many AAA titles will soon be here that it is hard to keep track of them without making a list. Tonight in Los Angeles, I got a look at the multiplayer component of one of the most anticipated titles set for release this November, as Acitvison presented Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 (CoD: MW3). On the eve of the first ever gathering for fans, Call of Duty XP (read: Experience), myself and what seemed like a few hundred other members of the press were ushered into four huge aircraft hangers to hear about the next installment of the Call of Duty series and the new multiplayer service: Call of Duty Elite. Let me make it clear that tonight I would be experiencing multiplayer only and there were no details about the story of the game, other than I could guess from the maps and factions I got to play.

As we took our seats in front of a concert stage complete with automated lights, three massive video screens and tall racks of speakers that were cranking out rock and roll music at teeth rattling levels, it was clear that Activison was pulling out all the stops for this first ever fan experience set to run over the next two days. More on this event later. After a few minutes the music faded and the screens came to life with a montage of memorable scenes from previous Call of Duty titles. It was interesting to be reminded of how far the game has come, from its beginnings with campaigns set in WWII with their graphics that were cutting edge at the time, that look so ancient now, to last year's Black Ops with its near photo realistic visuals and Hollywood blockbuster like action sequences. I was curious to see what Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 could offer.

I did not have long to wait as after a briefing by the Activison CEO and a couple of members of the CoD dev team, another part of the aircraft hangar was opened to reveal dozens and dozens gamer stations, each with ten or more setups that allow players to sit down and jump into the multiplayer action. Also scattered around the massive room were other attractions for the COD: Experience slated to start the following day: a snack bar, rooms were panels, discussions and QA events would be held and elevated platform where over the next couple of days gamer clans from around the world would be competing in a million dollar multiplayer tournament.

The various gaming stations scattered around the hanger were running the different modes of play CoD: MW3 has to offer: death match, capture the flag, survival mode (similar to horde mode in Gears of War), kill conformation mode where you pick up dog tags of fallen foes to get more points for a kill or retrieve the tags of allies to deny the enemy those points and even 360s linked to the new Elite service. I was able to sit down and both embarrass myself and pad the scores of my competitors in each mode throughout the evening. While the gameplay was familiar and clearly held the same magic that has made Call of Duty a favorite of over 30 million players, it was clear some things had gotten tweaked. CoD: MW3 still has the basic tenants of all CoD games: Epic realism, Ultimate Adrenaline Rush, easy to pick up and play but hard to master and 60 frames per second ; but then I was told this time around, more than ever before, the dev team has gone to the fans to gather feedback on what needed to change to make the multiplayer component even more appealing to the huge fan base.

Part of that feedback included a change to the in-game arsenal. Weapons have been balanced so that each weapon class has more noticeably specific strengths for different settings and roles. As you play and gain experience you can upgrade or level up your weapons to change both the way they look and the way they operate. Changes to gameplay itself was also addressed as a new kill streak system allows you to gain streak rewards based on the style of play so that if you are focused on team and map objectives rather than just getting the highest body count, you can still get rewards to help you on the battlefield. I was getting more intrigued to try out these new features myself, so I wandered around until I found an available spot in front of an Xbox 360. Alas, there were no PCs to be had at this event so I had to make due with a console for the evening.

Sitting down at one of the stations I quickly re-familiarized myself with the 360 controls and jumped into a fire fight in a battle scarred Paris France. Again, as this event was to show of the multiplayer side of CoD: MW3, we had not been given any details on the story for the single player game. However, based on the intro movies they player for us, and the maps that we played on, it appears this time around we are fighting World War III around the world and in quite a few Western locations like Paris France, England and some U.S. cities as well. The multiplayer side of the game has kept fans coming back well after the single player campaigns have been finished but it's those epic movie style stories that draw new and old players to game year after year and sets the stage for the multiplayer dust ups so the story is very important. Hopefully we get more details on the single player story before the game launches in November.

There were capture points scattered around the map that both teams for fighting for, familiar territory enough. The load out I had selected included an assault shotgun with an ammo drum, flash and frag grenades and a side arm, again familiar enough, however as I began running through the streets and trying to take out the enemy, the described changes to the weapons were becoming apparent. My shotgun was devastating at close range, ok at medium range and completely worthless when the enemy was more than 30 feet away. This is an over simplification for sure, but I could tell a real difference between the weapons after switch to a new load out. It's going to be very interesting to play with the variety of available weapons when the game ships to find the load out that suit my support play style best.

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Burning Up

Promises to be a classic FPS, as much as any of its predecessors.

Hard to tell at this point what could go wrong. Let's hope it doesn't fall into the pit of mediocrity, as most shooters do these days.

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Which multiplayer shooter have you picked?

Neither, single-player FTW!
What are those? Never heard of them.
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