Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 Preview

by on May 26, 2011

On May the 23rd, we were invited down to Activision’s pre-E3 event in north London to check out Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3. When we first received the invitation, the massive leak that would dominate headlines over the next week hadn’t yet occurred, so we really didn’t know what to expect. Any feelings of anticipation to find out about the next Call of Duty game were slightly crushed by the leak. What more could we see? We’d had a comprehensive list of weapons, screenshots and box art. You name it, and it was there in the leak! However, we were wrong. The next 30 minutes or so would go on to shape the discussion in the God is a Geek ranks for the following hours and days.

We were taken into the presentation area, which was lit with the electric green colour that is instantly identifiable with a Modern Warfare title. After being shown a short montage giving a very brief summary of the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare story so far, the green lighting lifted, and much to everyone’s surprise, none other than Infinity Ward’s creative strategist, Robert Bowling, was introduced onto the stage. He was not alone, however, and Bowling was accompanied by Glen Schofield, General Manager and co-founder of Sledgehammer Games. Schofield has previously been the GM of Visceral Games, the outfit behind Dead Space, and the fact that those two guys were present made it obvious that the leaked material wasn’t about to be discussed. This was going to be a detailed gameplay reveal.

Schofield began speaking first, and finally confirmed that “For the last year, Sledgehammer Games and IW have been creating and developing Modern Warfare 3.” Schofield and Bowling went on to show to the audience that Infinity Ward and Sledgehammer had a healthy working relationship, and without mentioning it, that past events at Infinity Ward had done no damage to the development of Call of Duty as a franchise, and more importantly to the next Modern Warfare title. “Coming out of Modern Warfare 2, we had a big vision for Modern Warfare 3, things we wanted to add and deliver to fans this November” Bowling said, “So we had to take a step back and look at how we could execute that, and luckily we found an entire studio with the same passion for the franchise, shared vision and a creative skillset in Sledgehammer games” he added.

Before moving onto the first of two gameplay previews, Robert Bowling was talking up the scale that fans can expect from Modern Warfare 3, as well as revealing some interesting locations around the world where the game will feature, including the Himalayas and Africa. “In Modern Warfare 3, we’re taking scale to an entirely new level. We’re taking players to the heart of major cities all around the world and delivering combat in places like London and Manhattan.” Not content with urban combat in cities, other locations will also feature. “We are also going throughout all of Europe, Russia, Parts of Africa and the Himalayas, it’s truly a conflict that travels the globe.”

With most of the talking out of the way, it was time to see some gameplay in action. Modern Warfare 3 continues right where Modern Warfare 2 left off and the US are deep in battle with the Russian forces on the eastern seaboards of the United States. The level, called “Black Tuesday”, is set in the heart Manhattan, New York’s financial district, and players take control of Frost, a new character for Modern Warfare 3 who is under the command of Sandman. The objective is to first flank the Russians who are occupying Wall Street in the “Battle for New York” en-route to the primary objective, which is to take out a Jamming Station located at the top of the New York Stock Exchange.

The scale that Robert Bowling had earlier talked up was immediately apparent as Sandman opened the door of a helicopter to reveal Manhattan’s financial district. Players are instantly greeted with smouldering skyscrapers and fighter jets flying overhead! Here, we were shown Frost and co. engaging in battle with Russian soldiers both on the ground and in burning buildings. A new type of grenade launcher, the 9-Bang, was also shown. The launcher seems to cause the enemy to become momentarily useless, allowing players to pick off opponents with a rifle. As Delta Team move closer to the Stock Exchange, they are tasked with clearing the Russians from a large store. Here, there was lots of glass smashing as shots are fired, but it looked far better than anything we had previously seen in Call of Duty titles.

After clearing the store, Delta team is right outside Stock Exchange, and proceed to the roof of the building to take out the Jamming Station. Once on the roof, Frost must take out a plethora of enemies using both the standard weapons, and a Reaper Drone which has the power to take out helicopters. The Reaper Drone is very similar to the Valkyrie Rockets that feature in Black Ops, but they are instead controlled via computer.

Once the Jamming Station and rooftop enemies have been taken out, Frost and Delta Team board a Black Hawk helicopter, where Frost rather expectedly takes control of the mounted machine gun. As the Black Hawk flies through the city, Frost must take out enemy helicopters and this part was a great example of the scale, and it put huge emphasis on the close quarters, urban battle that players are right in the middle of. As the airborne fighting heats up a little, the narrow gap between the burning skyscrapers ends and players are left in a gun fight with an enemy helicopter that takes place over a construction site. As both helicopters circle a semi-constructed building, wayward bullets cause the girders to fall from the building, which all but confirmed the rumours going around that Modern Warfare 3 would feature more destructible environments. That’s not to say the building was literally falling apart, but it was a welcome touch that added to the drama of the situation.

After this, the Black Hawk helicopter lost control and it had to make an emergency landing, and it is here where the New York preview ended. The preview gave the feeling of chaos and desperation that Infinity Ward and Sledgehammer have managed to create for Modern Warfare 3. It seems that chaos and desperation will be a common theme throughout Modern Warfare 3, and even when watching someone else play, the whole room seemed to be aware of the fact that every single shot that was fired seemed to have the hopes of the war resting on it. There was a deeper feeling of cinema present, but the gameplay was being shown on a cinema sized projector, after all.

Bowling and Schofield then returned to the stage to talk some more about what we had seen. “Epic scale and urban warfare are just a couple of the things we’re working on.” said Schofield, hinting that there was plenty more to come, “Over the next few months, we’ll continue to dive deeper into all the things fans will experience in single player, Spec Ops and multiplayer” Schofield added. Bowling went on by telling the audience about Modern Warfare 3’s impressive 60 frames per second gameplay; “The campaign is all about that cinematic intensity, and we are locked at 60 frames per second, that’s what allows us to do the high speed gameplay and the tight gun control, and really sells the cinematic experience.”

Before leaving the stage, Schofield introduced the London preview, which would show most of the journalists in the room some familiar sights. “The team is sent on a covert mission to the dock area to put some eyes on a target, combining air support with your team on the ground to get up close and gather intel.” This sounded very SAS like, and before we knew it, we were being introduced to one of the levels set in London, called “Mind The Gap” which is a reference to the warnings found all over London Tube stations.

The aim of the mission was to ascertain the contents of some containers in the docks and clear the buildings en route to the containers. The air support provided the intel for this mission and this was also shown on screen. The co-ordinates for the London mission were (thanks, Nick) N 51 30 10 W 0 0 44, which places the action in the now unused Millwall Docks (image above, marked A) on London’s Isle of Dogs. This made the fact that players were looking up into the dark, rainy sky at the lights of London’s Canary Wharf buildings rather accurate. Although One Canada Square was missing a couple of rather large buildings that stand next to it, Robert Bowling assured us afterwards that this may be due to licensing issues concerning the other buildings. As players fight their way down the alley, we see the use of a sniper rifle to take out enemies in the buildings around the dock area. The docks themselves looked pretty authentic, right down to the details of the cranes that remain in the docks nearby today. Other nice touches like authentic looking number plates of vehicles were present, signifying that a lot of thought has gone into the making of Modern Warfare 3 already.

After reaching the container area, air support comes in and brings with it some awesome firepower to take out the remaining enemies. Seeing the huge explosions and conflict with Canary Wharf in the background was quite the sight to behold, but things soon got a bit more familiar. The level quickly descended into London’s underground Tube network, where players will be tasked with chasing down, and derailing a Tube train, as shown in the launch trailer. The vehicle chasing the Tube passes through a station full of screaming tube passengers prior to this happening. The tube flipping over taking out the supporting pillars with it was visually rich, and it sounded just as good as it looked. This is where the level, and preview event ended.

So what have we learnt about Modern Warfare 3 from the footage we were shown? Well, Modern Warfare is going to be the darkest Call of Duty title to date. There was a real feeling of urgency and desperation in the footage we were shown. It really did feel like World War 3, as teased at the end of the reveal trailer. Also, the mood was a lot darker and moodier to compliment this. The rain pouring down over London in the night sky, was an example of how depressed a normally beautiful city can look, and the same goes for New York too. Enemy troops in two of the worlds most powerful cities tells players all they need to know about the levels of conflict in Modern Warfare 3. The visuals also looked to be a nice improvement on previous Call of Duty titles, and coupled with the new weapons and characters in the game, it is really looking like Infinity Ward, with the help of Sledgehammer Games, have hit that sweet spot once more, and fans should be very excited about what is going to be revealed at E3 in June before Modern Warfare 3’s release on November 8 this year.

We will have more information coming to you at the end of the month regarding the Call of Duty franchise. But one thing we can tell you fans is that 2 player co-op will be back with a bang in Modern Warfare 3. This is something that has made the team here at GodisaGeek.com very happy indeed.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 is set for release on PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and PC on November 8th.