The familiar, tinny sound of night-vision goggles powering up, heated radio chatter and a disconnected Xbox controller. Activision kicked off Microsoft's press conference (and pretty much all of E3) with a nine-minute live demo of the latest offering in what has recently become the biggest gaming franchise ever: Call of Duty. Slated for release November 8, Modern Warfare 3 looks to give players another unrelenting, absurd explode-a-thon with little room to catch your breath.
As the demo opened in the mission “Hunter Killer,” you're underwater. You remove a gate and use an underwater device to traverse a flooded subway. Bodies and cars litter the area. You don't engage any enemies here, but reflect on the scenery of mass destruction. Modern Warfare 3 appears to be as linear as the rest of the series, as this was just a straight line traversed with little wiggle room. The demoer had to swim around mines and under docks, by drowned citizens and fellow soldiers.
Next, the underwater craft powered down so an enemy submarine could pass overhead without detecting you or your buddies. The demoer swam towards it, placed an explosive and got the hell out of the way. Kaboom went the hull as the player swam towards the surface, which revealed a very destroyed Manhattan. Ariel and naval battles take place all around in the distance. Random rockets hit landmarks and suddenly the sub you just bob-ombed resurfaces in front of you.
The demoer runs up the side of the ship following Sandman (you will play as Frost, by the way) and takes the fight inside the sub. This is where MW3 becomes a tight, corridor shooter complete with leaking water and random electrical sparks. The sub is pretty much f'ed and you're just racing towards your objective. Bad guys jump out from corners, while the player mows them down easily.
Jumping forward to save time, we watched as the demoer breached a control room and mowed down the baddies inside in slow-motion. Sandman tosses you launch keys and the two of you initiate a rocket attack. Back outside, the two of you get into a nearby boat and speed out of there just as the rockets you recently activated shoot out the side of the sub. It hardly matters where the rockets are going because shit is exploding all around you anyway.
The next set piece has you piloting the boat around the bay, driving between ships (good or bad, who the hell knows?), and taking in the scenery of everything going kablooey. We barely had anytime to register the madness when the boat docks with a helicopter and you step inside. As the heli takes off, you watch more jets fly at Manhattan. And then: the sound of night-vision goggles tuning up.
Co-developed by Infinity Ward and Sledgehammer Games, Modern Warfare 3 looks like a Call of Duty game with insane set pieces and gameplay that gives you barely any time to reflect or rest.
Teasing the November 8 release date, we got no new information on Call of Duty Elite – the service that charges you monthly to determine why you keep dying quickly – and nothing on the game's supposedly super-amazing multiplayer. Ok, we'll tell you what's in it: perks, XP, guitar riffs, dying in one shot, killstreaks and map packs that cost $15.
Still, for as rote as it looks, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 keeps calling our names and killing us softly.
Jun 6, 2011