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Published: 12/1/2011

GAME ON

Modern Warfare 3 keeps Call of Duty on the throne

BY TOM FISHER
BLADE STAFF WRITER
A screen shot from Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3. A screen shot from Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3.
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Call of Duty has been the most influential franchise to hit the gaming market since Doom created the first-person-shooter genre oh so many years ago, and it seems that every title in the series improves on its predecessor.

The story picks up where Modern Warfare 2 ends and we follow captains Price and Soap all over the world in their continued quest to find Russian ultranationalist Vladimir Makarov. But you don't play as these characters. Instead you will mostly play supporting roles in the form of Uri, a former Spetznaz soldier, and sergeants Frost and Burns from different U.S. military squads.

Game play is so similar to Modern Warfare 2 that I'd recommend the Hardened difficulty setting for CoD veterans who want to get a better first impression of the game. Weaponry is locale-tailored depending on where you are in the world, but, as usual, there is plenty of firepower to be found as you can use any weapon dropped by the enemy.

As expected, the weaponry is impressive in its detail. Every gun has its own reload times. Some are a lot longer than others, so you must become familiar with what guns are better suited for a particular purpose. Sniper rifles are great for long shots but take far too long to reload and hold a much lower capacity than your average AK-47 or other assault rifles, making it a poor choice in close combat. Each hand cannon also has its own sound and fire rate and you can tell the difference between the power of one gun over another. This is the real reason that fans love this series, the firepower is so real and impressive.

CALL OF DUTY: MODERN WARFARE 3

Score: 4.5 stars

System: Xbox 360, PS3, Nintendo DS and WII, Windows

Genre: Combat Sim/FPS

No. Players: 1-2 (2-18 online)

ESRB rating: M (mature)

Every character is flawlessly rendered and moves with fluidity and authenticity. Even the in-game graphics are nearly cinematic. All of the scenery was fresh and new and you really get the feeling that you were in a war zone. Fire is always burning somewhere in a pile of debris or rubble and there is never a quiet moment without gunfire in the background.

During one helicopter ride I remember thinking how real the ocean and shoreline looked. Every whitecap and motion on every wave felt so much like an actual video that you can hardly tell the difference. You can practically smell the salty air and taste the briny mist. The reflection of the sun as it skipped across the water was flawless and you felt as if you could really fall from the chopper and sink into the drink.

The campaign mode is a tad short, which seems to be a trend games are following. A game with a shorter play time will have you wanting more sooner. But that doesn't mean that the game has limited playability. On the contrary, the developers also brought back the Spec Ops mode where you and a friend can tackle missions or survive wave after wave of ever tougher bad guys for as long as possible. You can also play solo in the Spec Ops modes but there's a lot to be said for having someone else to draw some fire. You can only protect one flank at a time and so the other is doomed to get cooked.

The true Call of Duty fan will likely spend most of his time on the online multi-player and he or she will not be disappointed here either. Team death match and the other classic multi-player modes make a return but the newest modes will change the game strategy a bit. The first is the Team Defender mode where the first person to be killed is marked with a flag and whoever picks up the flag gets double points for every kill. It's sort of a King of the Hill meets Tag. In the Kill Confirmed mode you have to retrieve a kill tag from every person you take down to gain points. The trick is that the tag can be taken by anyone, so you have to get to it quickly. Or you can send a teammate to retrieve the tag if he's closer. Whoever has the most tags at the end wins.

An item of note: One of the things I've liked about the Call of Duty franchise from the very beginning is their conscientious approach to the theme of their game. Once again it starts with a warning about some of the shocking content and offers to remove it for those sensitive to war and all the hell that comes with it. They have also set up a Call of Duty Endowment (CODE) fund which helps veterans make the transition back to civilian life. And in November, after record sales from Modern Warfare 3, they donated $3 million to that fund.

Call of Duty is the reigning king of combat sims, which will be apparent to anyone who plays Modern Warfare 3. And while it's good to be the king its even better to be a good king. The CODE fund alone is evidence of the king's wisdom, but this isn't charity. You'll get every penny's worth of fun and satisfaction out of Modern Warfare 3.

Contact Tom Fisher at tfisher@theblade.com.



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