After the keynote to kick off the innaugural Call of Duty XP weekend, fans and journalists alike wanted to jump onto the myriad Xbox 360s and play Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 for the first time. We got some hands-on time with both the competitive multiplayer and the new co-op survival mode, and the best indicator we can give you is that we played over and over and over again.
With the return of the cooperative Spec Ops multiplayer, a new mode is added, called Survival. Survival mode will feel pretty familiar to fans of the last few years of shooters. Similar to the Gears of War series' Horde mode, or World at War and Black Ops' Zombies, the game mode has waves of enemies attacking you and a friend as you simply try to survive. The twist though, is this one uses a fair bit of strategy. The level we played was set in the streets of Paris, and we luckily had a courtyard to protect. Setting up there, it was a matter of watching the three avenues of approach and taking on wave after wave of soldiers, dogs, helicopters, and even massive juggernauts.
To aid in the battle, you have access to upgrades to weapons, air strikes, sentry guns, and even the ability to call in some assistance from four Delta Force squad members. These are all purchased by logging kills, and things like your Delta strike team and sentries logging kills does still earn for you. The strategy comes in what weaons to pick up, what upgrades to pull, and where the best spot to defend is. As the waves increase, so do the difficulty level of enemies, and the frantic nature is incredibly fun. This is an improvement of the wave-based genre in nearly every way; it's just a shame it's limited to only two players, as a four or five player version seems like it would be even more fun. Regardless, this is a great value add to the game, and a way for people who aren't too into competitive multiplayer to jump in with a friend.
As for that competitive multiplayer, it is definitely more accessibly to the newer or less naturally talented players. For point streaks (not just kills count now), there are three different basic types. Two of them are pretty traditional: kill a bunch of people in a row, you unlock things like aerial support or perks. The third however, "Support," gives newbies a chance to hang with the big boys and still unlock streak benefits. In this version, you might not get the coolest streaks, but your count doesn't reset when you die. This restructured streak method opens up the game more, and is a welcomed change. The "traditional" ones are great for experts as well, as they now unlock more than ever. One even allows a player who gets a large series of kills to unlock every available perk; it could create one heck of a powerhouse soldier.
It's nice to see that Activision's multiple developers aren't just resting on the laurels of having two top-selling pieces of entertainment in two consecutive years. They're playing with the formula, moving things forward, and allowing new players to jump into the fun. It looks like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 has everything long-time fans need, and everything gamers who haven't broken into the franchise an easier avenue in.
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