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November 16, 2011
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 - PS3 Review
Release Distributor Publisher Developer Offline Players Online Players
8/11/2011ActivisionActivisionInfinity Ward
Sledgehammer Games
Media HDD Space Resolution Sound Format Tilt Controls OFLC Rating

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Artistically MW3 is very impressive.
When a game in a franchise sells 10.6 million copies (and we're only talking the PS3 version), it's little wonder that the next game in the series would be one of the most anticipated games of all time. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 is that game, and perhaps the most interesting aspect isn't how this game continues the storyline from Modern Warfare 2, but how has this game has turned out following the implosion of Infinity Ward following the departure of Jason West and Vince Zampella in March 2010 and several dozen other key staff. So how does this latest title fare? Very well. In fact, it's business as usual for the biggest FPS franchise...

Modern Warfare 3 takes place directly after the events of Modern Warfare 2 with Russian operatives still looking to take over the American mainland however their invasion has now moved across to Europe as well with missions taking place in England, France and Germany. The fate of the world rests with only a few men.

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It's a Russian Gun Turrent.
The single player campaign in Modern Warfare 3 certainly is impressive with plenty of jaw dropping set pieces and locations, some fantastic, frantic action and a storyline that seems to (for now at least) wrap up the Modern Warfare storyline. Gameplay is fast and frantic, but also super-slick with a very familiar feel for those who have played previous Call of Duty titles. Action takes place in a wide variety of locations thanks the storyline which sees you playing multiple characters in different parts of the world. It must be said that there are some scenes the will (again) stir some controversy, but nothing like the mission in Modern Warfare 2 where you roamed through the airport slaughtering in6nocent civilians - although there are some moments here that, well, I won't spoil it. There is an option at the beginning of the game to skip the more confontational moments in the game.

Controls remain identical to previous Modern Warfare titles so it wil be easy to pick up and play for most gamers, and indeed these controls are used to many PS3 FPS's. L1 looks down the sights of your weapon or zooms in on targets if you have the sniper rifle equipped, R1 shoots. L2 throws a flash grenade to disorient the enemy, whilst R2 throws a frag grenade to, um, explode them. R3 controls your knife for melee attacks, and holding down L3 makes your character run. The D-Pad is use for options such as grenade launchers, or selecting items such as claymores while the game also includes several Quick Time Events.

Yet again our main complaint about the single player campaign is the length - it's just too damn short. Without rushing we completed the single player campaign in 5 hours 3 minutes and we're sure we could push that significantly lower if we went on a second play through. If you only want this game for the single player experience then you really have to question the value. It must be pointed out though that we didn't find all the intel hidden around the levels - that could add some time.

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Modern Warfare 3 takes the action to Paris.
Moving on from the Campaign mode, Modern Warfare 3 sees the return of the Special Ops Missions which includes a Survival mode where you will take on countless waves of enemies over sixteen different maps. The game also include 16 missions, which have a variety of game styles and objectives from a target range, to full on assault. The Special Ops missions can be played Solo, Split-screen or Online and there's quite a few hours of fun to be had here.

Multiplayer has always been an integral component to this franchise, and Modern Warfare 3 is no slouch in this area with online modes equal to, if not surpassing, every other game in the franchise. As with previous games you can use a standard class of soldier but upon reaching Level 4 can Create-a-class to select your own Primary and Secondary Weapons, Lethal and Tactical items, Perks which give you special abilities, a Strike Package which allows Assault, Support or Specialist killstreak rewards, and a Death Streak reward (where you receive an enhanced ability when you die a certain number of times). As with previous games it's possible to set your Title, Emblem and Clan Tag while the Barracks provides access to Challenges, Accolades, and Leaderboards.

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The RPG flies by, thankfully!
Game modes are extensive, so much so that they have been split into two groups. Standard Playlists includes; Team Deathmatch, Kill Confirmed (more on that in a moment), Mercenary, Free-For-All, Domination, Ground War, Team Defender (again, more on that soon), Demolition, Sabotage, Headquarters Pro, Search & Destroy and Capture the Flag. The Advanced Playslists (many of which aren't unlocked until you reach Level 19) include Team Tactical, Mosh Pit, Hardcore Team Deathmatch, Hardcore Kill Confirmed, Hardcore Search & Destroy, Hardcore Domination, Hardcore Team Tactical and Barebones. That's an impressive list and with hundreds of thousands of players online at any moment in time there's always plenty of games to join (with or without a party of friends).

There have been several changes and enhancements to the multiplayer aspect of Modern Warfare 3 (which we must point out also include Split Screen and LAN play). The biggest, and best addition, in our books is the "Kill Confirmed" mode where, when you kill an opponent their dog tags will be dropped and must be collected by someone on your team to gain the points. If, however, someone on your team is killed you can collect the dog tags to deny the opposition from scoring. It's a brilliant, engrossing mode that has us absolutely hooked. The other new game mode is "Team Defender" which is a modified version of Capture the Flag.

Other smaller additions and changes include some new game modes for Private Matches, improved Killstreak rewards, hybrid scopes and a new "Prestige" Shop where those that reach Prestige Level get access to new items such as an Extra Custom Class, Double XP, and the ability to Reset All Player Stats for those on Prestige Level 10!

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Running around on the submarine deck.
As with previous games in the franchise finding faults with the multiplayer aspect is like picking faults with a masterpiece. Ever since Infinity Ward launched the first Modern Warfare this franchise has been the pinnacle of online gaming. Sure people may not like the gameplay itself - indeed some people prefer more simulation styled shooters - but in terms of the game modes, customisation, options, maps and network code no other franchise comes close. Nitpicking I would have loved to see the developers include some more maps for multiplayer (although we know Activision are going to release some over-priced map packs that millions of people will purchase). It would have also been nice to see the developers push up the player count from the current maximum of 18 players in Ground War to 24. Most game modes only allow 8-12 players. Still, by keeping the count low the frame rate is kept high, and the lag to a minimum.

One aspect of this game which we haven't looked into - primarily as Activision didn't supply review codes, is that of Call of Duty: Elite. This service, which costs $AU69.95 per annum, allows you to track, share and compare stats with friends, create custom leaderboards between friends, analyze heat maps detailing match performances including where you killed or were killed, analyze weapons performance, upload and share videos, customize load outs from web devices, create clans with friends, connect with Facebook friends, and much more. Like we said, we haven't tried this out but apparently a lot of people have been as the servers have been overwhelmed since launch.

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Battles in Modern Warfare 3 are intense.
Artistically few games can compete with the Call of Duty franchise. Everything just looks amazing with superb level design, wonderful cut-scenes, and a wide variety of locations and set-pieces. This latest title uses IW Engine 5.0 (dubbed the MW3 Engine for obvious reasons), but essentially it's the same engine that has been used since IW3.0 for the first Modern Warfare in 2007. That is, in part, one of the disappointments of this game. While the native resolution for the PS3 version has been bumped up slightly to a native 1024 x 600 (compared to 960 x 540 for in Black Ops) that's still a low resolution and it shows in places with some jaggy edges. A positive to this lower resolution however is the near 60fps frame rate which the game achieves giving is a slick feel, and very responsive controls.

Where the game wins though is on the previously mentioned artistic side with locations from underwater, to the streets of Paris or New York, or outdoors. Where this game shine though is simply the amount happening on-screen be it the waves of enemies advancing on your position, the explosions and smoke, or the myriad of massive set pieces - which we won't name as they would provide some spoilers.

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Heading to the submerged submarine.
Activision's Call of Duty franchise has always been very strong in the audio department, and Modern Warfare 3 certainly isn't breaking this trend with a fantastic sonic experience from start to finish. Weapons all have unique sound when firing and those tuned into the title will be able to pick not only your weapon, but also the enemies, by the sound alone. Naturally the surround sound use is aggressive and assists in pinpointing enemies. Also impressive are the other effects including the roar of explosions, the splash of waves, the crumbling of buildings and everything you'd expect from a triple-A title, or indeed a feature film. Special mention must be made of the voice work which is, yet again, superb with fantastic scripting and delivery. It's not just dialogue during cut-scenes either, but even during the heat of battle you'll hear friend and foe shouting out commands. Finally the music, composed by Brian Tyler who has worked on films such as The Expendables, Fast Five, Rambo and Eagle Eye, is atmospheric and at times quite moving.

Ultimately Modern Warfare 3 is a very polished title, up there with the previous games in the series however it lacks and real enhancements to the franchise and unless you play online the single player is still criminally short. Still, when the previous game (we're talking Modern Warfare 2) was so far ahead of the pack, there's little need for Activision to take risks. If you're a fan of the franchise, this this latest title is unlikely to disappoint.

Review By: Dave Warner

GRAPHICSThe engine is aging but the 60fps feels slick. Great set pieces and level variety too.
SOUNDVoicework is super while the sound effects and music are no let down either.
GAMEPLAYThis is the game Michael Bay would make if he made games. Fast, frantic, action packed. It's pure enjoyment despite pushing few new elements.
VALUECampaign mode is criminally short (again), but Spec Ops adds value. Multiplayer could keep you playing for months (hell, we still play MW2 on occasion!).
OVERALLDespite concerns about Infinity Ward's implosion this latest game delivers everything we hoped for and then some. It's a must have for fans of the franchise.

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