Special Ops gameplay (cooperative missions)
The Special Ops mode that was such a welcome addition in Modern Warfare 2 is back, and it serves up another dose of painstaking challenges for you and a friend to navigate through. Achieving 3 stars in each mission here provides ample distraction, something particularly welcome once the frantic multiplayer action has begun to drive you mad. Taking the impetus from games such as Gears of War and last year’s Call of Duty: Black Ops, MW3 also brings in a Survival mode, which can be played alone or with a friend, whether local or online.
Bizarrely, this mode is spoiled by what seems to be a glaring oversight in only allowing the mode to be playable with up to two people, rather than four. Even the lackluster Black Ops
offered a 4-player Survival mode, so it seems peculiar that it is not available here. Aside from that, the mode really delivers by steadily increasing the oncoming hoards of enemies that you must defend yourself against. Strategy is everything here, with wave after wave becoming more varied and aggressive in AI tactics. You are aided by three laptop terminals that provide weapons, equipment and air support, but only if you have the cash. Some of the goodies that you can bring in to use once you level up some are fantastic, creating some truly epic battles.
In my efforts with this new mode, I stuck largely to a shotgun to try and drum up the bucks, funneling the enemy into tight passageways. Twenty waves later, I was in a full-scale panic, rushing round corners, dodging the enemy fire and then turning quickly to pop a couple of attack dogs. This mode really tests your speed as you will be desperately deploying a predator missile to thin out the numbers, while hoping those claymores all around you hold back the oncoming enemy long enough when you’re most vulnerable. It truly is a thrilling experience that completely wipes the floor with Black Ops
’ repetitive zombie horde mode, at least in my opinion. Also, to my surprise, MW3 actually opens all the multiplayer maps up to be playable as survival maps, rather than restricting you to a measly few.
Graphics & Engine
Let’s face it, the graphics engine is old, but MW3 puts in a stellar effort, especially considering the scope of some of the set pieces. The great aspect here is that it runs at 60fps and appears to have a much less haphazard and jolty time than the aforementioned Black Ops did. Everything flows really well and I never felt in my entire run through the single-player campaign that the game was struggling to keep up. Some of the same problems from previous installments do crop up again, with textures occasionally lapping over each other, as well as some gun models and backdrops feeling a bit bland and uninspired.
The gameplay mechanics have had small tweaks and touch-ups, with bullet register being at its best yet. The controls are as responsive as ever, though the knife attack seems to not only have been reduced in its range, but also become rather glitch-prone. I suppose it might just be me, but having your player go prone in multiplayer seems to give you a brief time of invulnerability as you drop down, too. Time will tell how well the guns and perks are balanced, but my initial impressions are that the guns feel more evenly weighted (the grenade launcher has finally been toned down), though a certain ‘Type 95’ rifle does seem to put people down incredibly well.