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Modern Warfare 3 First Look

by Garnett Lee, May 26, 2011 5:00am PDT

If you've seen Modern Warfare 3 in action in the reveal trailer, then you probably have a sense of the downtown destruction feel the game is going for (who am I kidding? Many of you reading this have watched it many times looking for all the details on the game it may reveal). Robert Bowling, creative strategist at Call of Duty creator Infinity Ward, reinforced that intention in his introduction of the game to the press at the game's debut event. Urban combat taken to a whole new level of scale is part of what Bowling termed the very strong vision the team had for Modern Warfare 3. Then he turned the stage over to Glen Schofield, the studio head at developer Sledgehammer Games, who more or less ran the demo from there on out.

I suppose that more answers than asks the question of who is doing the heavy lifting in putting together the campaign in the game. It really doesn't come as much of a shock. From the legal drama, we know a goodly number of the staff followed former Infinity Ward heads West and Zampella to their new studio. Handing the demo reins to Schofield simply confirms that Infinity Ward is serving more in an overarching role in putting together what's sure to be a massive package for Modern Warfare 3, with other developers assembling the individual pieces.

And as soon as the action started, it left no doubt that regardless who coded it, this is Modern Warfare at full volume. The first of two sections of the game on show joined Delta squad in a decimated section of Manhattan. Occupying Russian forces have set up a jamming device atop the stock exchange building that must be destroyed. The running street fight to get there highlighted Modern Warfare's signature ability to maintain a tempo that keeps pressing the action forward.

Along the way, the longer ranged gunfights afforded an opportunity to show off a cool new flip sight for the assault rifle. Mounted to the main body of the gun, it could be equipped with a quick flip to allow a full telescopic sight for more precise shots. When business got a little closer, a flip put it back to the weapon's side, allowing for traditional iron sights that offer better peripheral awareness.

Things got plenty up close and personal when Delta reached the stock exchange building and made its way to the roof. Chaotic fighting, with enemies around every corner and lots of places that created exposed flanks, pushed the intensity of the fighting ever higher. Both inside and out, I did find it difficult to pick out enemies both from friends and the environment in general. That might be an accurate representation of urban combat, but in such an action-packed approach, I don't want to get hung up trying to figure out where to aim. Most of the time, though, it looked like it came down to if it's at the other end of the sights, shoot it.

The second section in the demo picked up in London. As a member of a British special forces team, the player attempts to interdict the arrival of suspected explosives at a dockside warehouse facility. A firefight ensues leading very quickly to a "get the bad guy" vehicle chase through the mazes of the London Underground. Even for Modern Warfare the whole thing borders on absurdity. Racing through the dark tunnels, our hero pursues his prey who is now on board a train, inexplicably defended by squads of armed soldiers firing away. The chase runs at breakneck speed, with a surprise around every corner, like the catastrophic derailment seen in the trailer.

It all ends in an appropriately explosive climax and for a moment I sat there letting my head catch up with all the sensory input from the few minutes we saw in the demo. Regardless of the developer, this demo left no doubt that Modern Warfare 3 aims to make good on the bigger, badder, better mantra for sequels. On that note, Bowling did say that the game would by locked at 60 frames per second to ensure it plays smoothly, and the unique co-op "Spec Ops" mode will be back, with a few improvements. And of course there are big plans for multiplayer, which we should learn more about shortly. No one can accuse Modern Warfare of not putting together a full package for a modern shooter and despite this first look at the single-player, Shacknews will be ready for more should it be there at E3.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 is scheduled to launch for PC, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 on November 8. It's developed jointly by Infinity Ward, Sledgehammer Games, and Raven Software, and published by Activision.





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