A world at peace

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Alejandra Rangel
@alejandrarangel
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Version tested: Xbox 360

Infinity Ward's feat is one that makes your wrists tremble. Repeat the success of Black Ops of friends / rivals Treyarch and put an end to one of the trilogies that have most marked the gaming world in recent times, all with a very different team than that of the beginnings, but which thanks to the connection in the running of Sledgehammer Games (and with the collaboration of Raven Software) seems to have found a natural replacement for the genius of West and Zampella, the bosses who escaped from the American software house in 2010 for "misunderstandings", with a lot of long judicial quarrels to complicate the what's this. Now that Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 is finally in the stores we can without a shadow of a doubt say that the work done by the developers is respectable, much better than the second chapter, able to propose a game offer that, while fitting in the tradition of the series, manages to putting together, as we usually say, quality and quantity, then taking the luxury of going to overturn some of those basic mechanics that have made the franchise successful.



Once the disk is inserted what we find in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3? The menu is substantial. A campaign lasting between five and six hours if played normal (few, but unfortunately in line with today's skimpy average), sixteen Spec Ops and sixteen Survival maps, plus all the multiplayer, playable not only online but also via split screen and system link. Undoubtedly a very large package, a sign that the couple of developers at the helm did not limit themselves to doing the so-called homework, but aimed to package a title that could expand what was already proposed in the previous chapters, in order to face the close competition. these days across the board.



Kill Makarov

Many had been disappointed by the Modern Warfare 2 campaign. Short, not very intense, with numerous recycled phases and above all plagued by narrative choices that have compressed everything into a sequence of unrelated and unintelligible missions. In short, a half fiasco. In this third chapter we start exactly where we left off: in the moments following Makarov's escape, with the third world war now a reality, so much so that the Russians have now taken the east coast of the United States. The story follows several protagonists on the battlefield, but basically the main events narrate the American counteroffensive in America and Europe, while the revived Soap, together with Price and Nikolai continue their personal war against Makarov around the world: in India. , in Africa and again in Europe, with the final missions that will toss them between the Czech Republic and Siberia. The pace is very fast, the events overlap one on the other, each with direct consequences both on the gigantic pitched battles in European cities (Paris, Hamburg, Berlin) and on the "silent" operations of Task Force 141. In this perspective, the developers they were good at not repeating the mistake made earlier, that is, throwing ourselves into battle without a necessary "preparatory" narrative outline, with the sole purpose of stunning us thanks to a thunderous staging of modern warfare.

However, we are very far from the desire to tell a Black Ops story, there are no cutscenes, there is no time to stop and "see" what happens or happened between one mission and another, and when the twists arrive. they give the impression of not being a mere deus ex machina, but well inserted in a plot that comes to an end without too much forcing, closing the circle opened in 2007. The seventeen missions that make up the campaign are as varied as they are memorable. Certainly there is no lack of "normal" phases or moments (especially when the spaces tighten and everything becomes a long track in which to do the pigeon shooting), but more generally the staging and the quality of the scripts literally explode in the larger spaces, where it was possible to put in polygons and textures all the usual cinematic mastery of the guys from Infinity Ward together with Sledgehammer Games. And this despite a graphics engine that has now arrived decidedly at sunset, which does not enhance in terms of detail and effects, but which still manages to make credible phases in which one wonders how it is possible to keep the frame rate anchored to 60 frames, despite everything that happens on the screen. In short, the developers have been good at showing us (or noticing) only what they want, perhaps hiding from view a 2007 backdrop that is certainly present, but which is ultimately just background noise. There is really everything, nothing new and original means, but the impression is that everything has been filed and corrected, inserting it at the right times and without overdoing it. There is no long and tedious final mission like the one with the dinghy in Modern Warfare 2 and the African "favela-like" are better done, with a better level design and without an annoying and invasive respawn. Nothing has been invented, there is also a "disturbing" part that it is possible to decide to skip beforehand, but everything works in an excellent way, it is fun and we are passionate until the end.



Some moments will remain impressed, such as the invasion of Hamburg, the taking of the launch codes from the Russian submarine in the New York bay, the battle under the Eiffel Tower or the amazing protection mission of the Russian president in full "Air Force" style. One ". However, the list could be very long, what is most liked is that each mission varies considerably during the same, perhaps part stealth, to go through means, moments with high pyrotechnic content and stampede. All grafted onto a type of gameplay that is what we all know, linear and highly scripted, but which manages in terms of level design to often and willingly offer rather open spaces where there is always an alternative way to get to the next checkpoint. We are obviously not talking about open maps to be navigated in complete freedom, but the search to move away, albeit in a "superficial" way, from the dreaded track to follow slavishly, which as previously written is only present in some phases, is appreciable. In short, we liked the campaign a lot, perhaps a little too short and easy if played normal, perfectly recognizable by style, totally in the tradition of the saga, but much better than that of the second chapter: more compact, better narrated and with rhythm without annoying ups and downs.

Xbox 360 achievements

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 rewards the player with 50 achievements for a total of 1000 points. They are earned by simple progression in the campaign and have a variable value depending on the chosen difficulty level. The Spec Ops give objectives to the achievement of particular conditions, not always easy to implement. Greater satisfaction is obtained by completing the campaign in Hardened and Veteran (100 points) or by reaching the fifteenth wave in each single Survival mission (40 points) or by reaching the maximum quota of stars, 48, in the Spec Ops missions (40 points) .



Really special operations

The game package also consists of sixteen Spec Ops to be played decidedly online with a friend, since you immediately notice that the difficulty is set upwards if you choose the "only play", but above all because many are structured so that the two players have different roles and actively cooperate to get to the end of the mission. They are of various types, from the classic stealth one in which you have to kill enemies simultaneously without triggering alarms and freeing hostages at the same time, to that on running vehicles, to that in which a sniper from the roof of a skyscraper must protect his fellow Juggernaut. on the ground, using both his own rifle and the Predator's missiles, up to the London mission in which one has to clean up offices while the other remotely controls armed turrets, being careful not to incur friendly fire. More generally, they take up the setting of the campaign, reinterpreting what was played also with interesting reversals of perspective. The special operation set on the Russian president's plane is exemplary in this sense. At the same time it is also possible to play the sixteen Survival, which is a sort of cross between the horde mode and Counter-Strike. The mechanics are simple but highly addictive. Between one wave and another (opponents' respawn does not start from fixed points) it is possible to spend the money earned with kills to buy new weapons, upgrades, ammunition, grenades and Kill Streak, in short, everything you need to defend yourself from waves gradually more numerous and lethal, complete with helicopters, dogs, explosive soldiers and Juggernauts to complete the list of bad guys who want to get their skin. Here, too, the difficulty level is set upwards: playing with a friend is the best way to move forward with the waves.

Survival is in effect a multiplayer gym, but the inclusion of the store expands its "tactical" aspect if we can call it that, to encourage cooperation with your partner. For all those who were wondering, Spec Ops and Survival don't share the same progression system as multiplayer. The more you play and the more weapons you unlock, the higher the difficulty level you choose, the more points and stars you get. If it all worked more than just fine in Modern Warfare 2, we can say the same now. The missions, with objectives and timed, are absolutely fun and in addition to being well thought out and varied, they are in effect a valid alternative to the cooperative campaign, which is always missing. With this in mind, the various Spec Ops extrapolated from the single player perfectly capture its spirit and expand it in all respects, resulting for most of them perhaps even more original and demanding. Sometimes one gets the impression that they are almost "cut scenes", obviously not for the success of them, but for choices related to the general balance.

Challenging choices

So far the only novelty of the game is the unprecedented Survival mode, with multiplayer, however, many others are added. We have already talked about it in depth at the reveal of September from the CoD XP in Los Angeles, we can briefly say that Infinity Ward and Sledgehammer Games have completely rethought the distribution of Kill Streak and the growth system of both the player and the weapons in use. . The sum of this real reboot of the typical mechanics of the series has brought the title almost to the inclusion of specific "classes", even if it is possible to snip as always with the free choice of one's alter ego. First of all, the Kill Streak are activated not only for kills, but also based on the objectives acquired with the system called Point Streak. The more bombs you defuse, the more flags go up for example, the faster our kill counter goes up. This is an effective way to help those who are not professional killers and who prefer a "slower" style of play than the hyper-frenetic one practiced by most players. The most important thing is asked of us before entering the game. In the usual customization menu we can decide between three types of "assistance", also called Strike Packages, or Assault, Support and Specialist. The first is fully versed in attack actions such as the Predator, the AC-130, precision bombing, the strafing run of a large group of helicopters and much more for a total of fifteen aids (with seventeen maximum kills per the Osprey Gunner).

As usual, with the death of the player the kill count is interrupted. Support, on the other hand, is dedicated to defense and therefore particularly useful in objective modes. Next to UAVs and against UAVs we have the bulletproof vest, the SAM launcher, the automatic turret, to be controlled even remotely, the EMP bomb but also a nice Stealth bombing. In this case we have a total of twelve assists, with the last one, the Escort Airdrop, which is obtained with eighteen kills. Contrary to Assault, the death of the player does not stop the killing race, consequently you can reach the highest Kill Streak even by dying often, for this reason Support is more defensive than offensive. What is certain is that if the team is well-knit, perhaps taking advantage of all the possibilities of level design, the lethal union between Support and Assault could unbalance the games a little, at least those that see veterans and noob challenge each other. The many hours spent together with European journalists starting all from scratch did not show this problem, but it is possible to imagine that the entry into the game already in the shops for some time may exacerbate this criticality, which has always been present in the series. The third, Specialist, removes all assistance, both offensive and defensive, to enable three Perks to go up in kills, in addition to the three by default and which remain until the player's death. It was not the most used Strike Package, the pyrotechnic charm of the great explosions is undeniable, but by testing all twelve perks, no one gave the idea of ​​creating a sort of invincible "Jedi class". The advantages are there, perhaps enabling the new Perks such as those that make us invisible from above or from the various detectors (Blind Eye and Assassin) or the one that enables a better aim from a distance (Marksman), but they seem to be fairly balanced and well inserted. in the context of the gameplay typical of Modern Warfare.

The new additions don't stop there. The couple of developers went out of their way to avoid a Call of Duty that is always the same. In addition to Strike Packages and Point Streak we also find a new weapon progression system. As you level up, new weapons are unlocked, but only by using each single gun is it possible to unlock optics, reticles and camouflage patterns. In short, nothing is common, each add-on must be taken with consistency in the game and with the overcoming of the many challenges weapon by weapon. Also noteworthy is the introduction of some real Perks to be activated to increase the effectiveness of the weapon, such as less recoil, greater impact of the bullets, better stability or the possibility of enabling the double slot on which to insert the usual vast possibility of upgrade. The growth path of multiplayer is therefore very long and full of "crossroads" to take, but above all it succeeds in the intent to greatly diversify the style of play, making Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 really very configurable and reducing the run-up to Prestige only a small part of the gaming experience. The most important thing is that all these changes to the mechanics typical of the series are well inserted within a perfectly recognizable gameplay, really balanced, unchanged in being fast and frenetic, sometimes punitive of course, but at the same time immediately gratifying, which he is not afraid of losing something in terms of tactics, but gaining points in immediacy and fun. In this light, the novelties expand the game offer without weighing it down, all in perfect balance between "classicism" and "modernity".

Around the world

In terms of level design, the sixteen maps are a perfect counterbalance to what was previously written. Setting aside the interactive desire of Treyarch's work, the developers have created settings capable of enhancing every type of game in which openings with a thousand covers alternate, with mazes of narrow streets and narrower spaces, where vertical development or alternative ways are present. always in large quantities, with the numerous points of access to the "hot" spots that multiply the tussle when it comes to defending or conquering a position.

The settings are also very varied. We pass from Sea Town, a small town in North Africa with its narrow streets and blind spots in Arkaden, designed especially for Search & Destroy, set in a destroyed German shopping center, to the beautiful African maps Village and Mission or the Siberian Outpost, in the usual (gigantic) base of the cold war or the evocative American Downturn and Interchange, with the second that makes us run among the remains of a huge bombed overpass, between smoking cars and the remains of the roads that break the lines of fire. More generally, it is possible to say that the largest maps are certainly the best, capable of entertaining all round. The news does not stop there, we also have two new game modes, Kill Confirmed and Team Defender. The first is a variant of Team Deathmatch. Once a kill has been made, the golden dog tag issued by the victim must also be recovered, otherwise the point will be lost. We can collect ours, those of teammates, but also catch the red tags of the enemies in order to deny them the kill. Doing so enhances the "cooperative" component of the mode, it is always advisable to go at least as a couple to avoid succumbing to an unseen opponent, and in the meantime steal as many badges as possible around the map, perhaps unleashing the wrath of the companions left behind. empty hands. A system that works, that puts pressure on the player and that virtually eliminates snipers since shooting from a distance is useless if we then have to confirm our kill by running into the open on the other side of the map. Team Defender instead is similar to Capture the Flag, in this case, however, the team that holds it longer wins.

A very fun mode from the start, as teams tend to cluster around the bearer unleashing gigantic gunfights. The downside is that if you manage to find a particularly defensible spot, the task for the attackers will become difficult, turning quick shootings into real siege battles. The rest of the modes are the usual one, with the variant of playing Veteran or Normal. By choosing private games instead, unrelated to the progression of multiplayer, we will find some types of games that are also quite numerous, ranging from being interesting to completely free and ultimately almost ridiculous. The best are certainly Drop Zones where you have to conquer and hold the release points of the support crates, Team Juggernaut where you have to defend your team's Juggernaut or those derived from Black Ops such as Gun Game and One in the Chamber. The worst always has the Juggernaut as its protagonist. There are no two teams. Whoever kills the first randomly chosen Juggernaut from the system becomes an armored super soldier himself. The result is that often there are ten of us stamping their feet in a small room to shoot a single person, the digital version of the so despicable trap.

Old war

From a technical point of view we are faced with the engine used for the two previous chapters, the ancient but super optimized id Tech 3, here present in the version heavily modified by the developers who in fact prefer to call it IW5 to make clear the distance that passes between the very first version of id and that of Infinity Ward. The results are more than good, thanks above all to the granite sixty frames per second that give the title the solid fluidity, a real commandment to be respected when developing the game. Speaking of the countryside, the detail is not always on a high level, as is the polygonal construction.

But when the whole game world explodes, when the buildings collapse, when the pitched battles fill the screen and destroy the most famous environments, when in short the perfect scripts show all the cinematic strength of the title there is simply none for anyone. . In terms of impact, Modern Warfare 3 always remains unbeatable, despite all the intrinsic limitations of the case. However, there is no shortage of good special effects, shaders and even some well-made but elementary particles (the escape during the sandstorm is exemplary in this sense), but it has really reached the point of no return, a new concept engine is a request. obliged. We therefore hope that the new consoles will arrive soon. Multiplayer exacerbates all of these issues. Apart from the detail of the soldiers, everything is even simpler and more static. Extremely functional, we will never stop reiterating it, but a change is necessary. As for artificial intelligence, the only thing to note is the absence of particular invasive scripting and respawn problems. For the rest, everything is as expected: brute force prevails over tactical acumen, the soldiers limit themselves to a few short movements and do the usual up and down behind the covers, nothing exceptional then.

Call of Duty: Elite

With the release of the game, the Elite platform will be launched, a real social service set up to connect the entire Call of Duty community by dramatically enriching the multiplayer component and making it navigable and analyzed in all its statistics. Elite is developed through an easily navigable and very deep website in which it is possible to monitor both our performance and those of other users, carefully studying every single game played, from the kill ratio to the hot areas of the map, or interface with users by creating clans and customized challenges, and participate in tournaments with digital and "physical" prizes, with the latter unfortunately not present in Spain due to legislative problems. And if we want to learn the game in every single nuance, we can devote ourselves to "reading" the extensive information section Improve. Among the various possibilities offered by the platform, it is very interesting to prepare a class "remotely" and then use it in the game, or to create customized game modes that can be copied and used by each player. All for free, with only the major features dedicated to the clans if you want to pay the annual subscription which also includes all the DLCs with a monthly release and the Elite TV with documentaries and satirical programs themed Call of Duty.

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Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 is the answer to those who say that the franchise is always the same, changing little or nothing from year to year. The news are many, substantial and all perfectly integrated into the game mechanics. The classes and the development of the weapon give an unexpected tactical flavor to the gameplay, as well as the new game modes. Really well done then the campaign, better than that of the second chapter, with a good rhythm, very varied and that worthily closes the trilogy. Ultimately a game package of great value: an apt campaign, many and various Spec Ops, sixteen maps and countless game modes based on revised mechanics that work. In short, quality and quantity.

PRO

  • Compelling and varied campaign
  • The novelties of multiplayer work and specialize the style of play
  • The Spec Ops are many and well thought out
  • Visually striking single player ...
AGAINST
  • ... but the engine is now at the limit
  • The campaign is not very long and is not particularly demanding if played normal
  • In the long run, balance problems may occur without proper matchmaking
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