Modern Warfare 3 DLC preview - snowmobiles, hostages and the ruins of Air Force One

Modern Warfare 3’s year, or “season,” of downloadable content continues with tomorrow’s release of an extra map and, more excitingly, two extra Spec Ops missions. Wondering whether they’re worth your time? We’ve played all three – continue reading for our hands-on impressions.

What is it? Starting tomorrow, Call of Duty Elite Premium members on Xbox 360 can download two new Spec Ops missions (Black Ice, Negotiator), plus a new multiplayer map (Black Box), as a part of that subscription. Each highlights a very different setting and gameplay style.

Who is the developer? Infinity Ward, Treyarch and Sledgehammer all contributed to the DLC, just as all three contributed to the making of Modern Warfare 3.

How does it look? Just as big, bright and boldly over-the-top as the scenes from the single-player campaign. Black Ice sees you racing down a bleak Russian mountainside – on a snowmobile, of course – as enemies jostle for position and lethal shooting angles on their own high-speed vehicles. It’s a blood-splattered SSX blur. Negotiator is another kind of race altogether, as you and a buddy run through a colorful Indian village freeing hostages before they’re executed. This mission is purposefully chaotic, and it’s easy to confuse your squadmate for an enemy or vice-versa. Black Box isn’t a Spec Ops mission like the two just described, but still tells a story through mise-en-scene alone: whether competing in multiplayer or partnering for Survival mode, you can’t help but wonder why Air Force One has crashed in the midst of a posh Beverly Hills-esque neighborhood, and why you’re now battling around the wreckage.

How does it play? In Black Ice, one player steers the snowmobile while the other rides back-to-back, taking out enemy vehicles as they pull up behind or sneak to each side. After plenty of frantic speed and daredevil cliff jumps, you end up in a dark and cavernous base, ducking behind crates as you make your way to the end of the mission. This latter half is what separates Black Ice from similar snowmobile Spec Ops missions in Modern Warfare 2.

We found Negotiator, however, the more unique and pulse-pounding of the pair. Sitting together on a snowmobile is a bonding experience, sure, but imagine starting the mission with only seconds to save your buddy from execution. One player is bound and gagged as his captor shoots the surrounding hostages, while the second must sneak up behind an enemy, steal his weapon, then breach a door for a slow-motion rescue. The rest of the mission is like a complex shooting gallery, with bad guys and innocent prisoners popping up on all sides, occasionally even in the balconies above you. The timer does not sympathize, either – if you’re like us, you will need to repeat this several times to succeed.

Finally, Black Box is a map, ready for whatever type of match you want. We tested Survival mode here and found the layout extremely simple to learn and strategize. The ruined fuselage of Air Force One lies in the center of the area, but it’s the circle of half-destroyed houses on the edges that you’ll gravitate towards. We set up a turret on the second floor of one mansion, facing the plane, and then headed downstairs to eliminate any enemies who survived to the front door. Black Box’s buildings are nicely spaced, and the landmarks of the map are inventive enough that we predict it’ll be a popular playlist choice.

When is it out? If you’re a 360 owner and a Premium member of Elite, the new missions and maps are available to you for “free” (after all, you sort of already paid for them) starting tomorrow, Tuesday March 13. Regular 360 players can purchase this package, which will also include the previously released maps Piazza and Liberation, a little later on March 20. Availability on PS3 and PC is still to be determined.


  • drake-wayne - March 29, 2012 7:02 p.m.

    I love this game! Best one yet. My most favorite part is the guns! I found this cool place to find all the guns from the game, check it out Just got my M4 from there and I love it!
  • The_King_of_Nothing - March 13, 2012 4:50 p.m.

    I know exactly why 360 gets it first when it comes to just paying for the game already created, but when they advertised as getting DLC early for Premium members, they made it sound like we would get it first, then non-premium 360 next (assuming that pattern still followed). They definitely should have specified that me paying more had little no effect on the 360 pandering that I got over during MW2. I still think that system a idiotic, but I have come to not care because stress sucks. This is on a different level and that's why I am pissed about it. I waisted $40 on Elite, which sucks, that I can never get back. It's not a fortune, but it's still money. Don't claim I don't know what is happening. I never said I didn't understand why they are doing it, just pissed off about it and felt like stating my opinion. That's what comments are for. I researched it a long time ago and I DO have a reason to complain. I know it'll make no difference in the end, but venting relieves stress, which once again, sucks.
  • mgl-sufi-mygamesterlife - March 13, 2012 6:23 a.m.

    the only reason xbox gets the DLC before PS3 is because Activision and Microsoft have a contract regarding all DLC created, that contract is up soon I think, and hopefully for you, PS3 will pick it up, then PS3 will get all DLC before Xbox. Stop complaining about this stuff, it's old, everyone on PS3 that complains about this should ask themselves why this is the way it is, and go research it, find out why, then you will have no reason to complain.
  • TheLotusReborn - March 12, 2012 5:08 p.m.

    I don't see the complaints for the DLC here. I got the DLC already relaesed, and it's solid. But I enjoy Mercenary quite a bit, which isn't available in the Elite. So I play Standard half of the time. The game still is great without ANY DLC or Elite service. What's the complaint of the game being both popular and great with the amount of people both with and without DLC? Video games cost 60 dollars. My gas has gone up, my cable has gone up, my groceries have gone up, my cable has gone up, my commute has gone up, my groceries have gone up, my rent has gone up, my EVERYTHING has gone up. But video games still cost 60 dollars. Why do you think that is? DLC. For all the DLC I DON'T buy, for over half of the games I own, I save money. If you DLC whiners have your way, DLC will be free but a game will cost $100 or more! Just THINK about it.
  • DecoyOctorok - March 13, 2012 11:05 p.m.

    That's not what they're angry about. PS3 owners that paid for the Elite subscription will still be waiting for the content even after it's available to 360 owners that didn't pay for COD Elite.
  • TheLotusReborn - March 14, 2012 8:10 p.m.

    Ah. Well, that is a little ridiculous. At the very least, PS3 Elite subscribers should be warned, "btw, you'll only get this stuff 'first' from the rest of the PS3 people...the XBox people paying ANOTHER 50 for Gold get it FIRST-first, because of contacts". Yeah, that's pretty crappy. DLC is great--even when I DON'T buy it, because it keeps games down. But Elite on its own in barely worth it (I personally love COD so I get all new maps), but that is crazy to expect people to pay extra to NOT get extra content lol Thanks for the clarification.
  • talleyXIV - March 12, 2012 2:48 p.m.

    DLC in this case could stand for Dick Load of Crap, but to be accurate it would be Baby Dick Load of Crap as Modern Warfare's map packs sell for a ridiculous $15 and have also nothing in them. (When compared to the old and new Treyarch map packs.) World at War Map Packs - $10 for three new multiplayer maps and a zombie map. Great Modern Warfare 2 Map Packs - $15 Five maps, 2 recycled from MW1. Really? Black Ops Map Packs - $15 Four multiplayer maps and one zombie map. Good Modern Warfare 3 - (Presumably $15) Probably three multiplayer maps and two maps for honestly the worst try at imitating zombies ever in a video game. Everything about survival mode is a hilariously bad replacement for zombies that screams "Look at us! We have a lot of enemy types! And air support! And more guns!" But nothing can replace shooting an undead guy in the head. The point at the beginning of that was that Treyarch gives more bang for your buck, and their map packs are more satisfying.
  • tymillz102 - March 12, 2012 2:15 p.m.

    "Infinity Ward, Treyarch and Sledgehammer all contributed to the DLC, just as all three contributed to the making of Modern Warfare 3." Treyarch didn't help make the game. It was IW, Sledgehammer, and Raven Software.
  • talleyXIV - March 12, 2012 2:41 p.m.

    As much as I would like to say that Treyarch did not help create this monstrosity, I am pretty sure they pitched in because of the amount of people fired from Infinity Ward.

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