Monday, November 14, 2011

Video Game: Midnight Modern Warfare Ushers out the Black Ops Era

CALL OF DUTY: MODERN WARFARE 3 Alien Bee Exclusive Sneak Preview video featuring ClutchNK

There are few occasions more exciting then the launch of new things. Movies, books, music and in this particular case video games! So, it is no wonder there is a cult culture surrounding the midnight release party's held often nationwide to celebrate products worth of a mass crowd of fans. So unless you've been taken hostage by a nomad band of Arabian surfs only to find yourself treking across miles of 100 degree sand dunes strapped helplessly to the underside of a camel while you hallucinate images of bikini clad oasis babes with trays full of ice cold beer? You already know in this instance I am referring to last Tuesday's release of highly anticipated eighth addition to the CoD Franchise, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3!!

The official trailer:

(Were you as excited as I was?)

With a trailer like that it was no surprise to find me standing outside of Best Buy at 11:30 pm clad in fatigues and dog tags last Tuesday waiting impatiently for the next chapter in "I'll shoot you in the face" action. As a pre-order participant we were in the first in the doors to hurry into the second line we'd be standing in for an additional 20 mins. (Kudos to those Best Buy kids who hadn't enough organization to tie their shoes... but at least they let us in out of the cold). $59.99 and a victory poster later we were well on our way to a 1am "MERCing" free of those pesky early to bed 12 year olds who seem to believe "team killing" is acceptable "team play"... because it too includes the word "team"...


Chomping at the the heels of it's Infinity Ward built predecessor Modern Warfare 2 and seeking t0 rival Treyarch's latest addition, Black Ops, Modern Warfare 3 at first glace appears to be on par with the forward progression in first shooter game play. The gun selections and character animations are an incredible step up from that of Black Ops and Modern Warfare 2.


Map detail is at an all time high, the team at Infinity Ward pulled out all of the stops to ensure an incredible amount of realism was realized in each new map.

Unlike MW2, the layouts contained in MW3 are closer quarters and are more friendly to the run and gun crowd which in my opinion requires this generation of players to exercise a practice in tactical skill vs. the lack luster drone of campin' sniper fire that reaches all corners of the map from one sad location. However, to appease the masses I do expect the first round of map packs to include an open field with one lone clock tower that they can play king of the castle for. The creativity however is lacking. To some degree, these maps could very well have been a continued story from Mw2, they are drab and lack the bright color and location ingenuity of Black Ops. Several of the maps are very much alike, the only truly unique choice being a shopping mall (much like the Airport of Mw2). Many of the maps repeat similar terrain, (ie. crumbling subway tunnels) and almost all take place in some semblance of a city scape they only variance is which country they emulate. See a list and layouts of the current maps here.


An incredible perk in MW3 is the advent of gun customization and class development. This version allows you to create elaborate combinations of guns, classes, and perks to best serve how YOU play the game. The kill streaks of the past are now split into three categories, Assault, Support, and Specialist, which allow for you to chose the resulting benefits of you hard work. The guns now have multiple levels of of achievable proficiency so as you play you improve how your gun handles vs. having to apply advantages as a perk. This is a VAST improvement and I can only hope future editions follow suit.

And a side note? Dear Treyarch, this is how you design a gun for online play. Creating scopes that are so obtrusive that iron sites are really the only way to play? Isn't winning you fans. However, you did help me develop some wicked long distance aiming skills so how can I hate?


Now, if you are like me and get lonely with that big ol' screen and really need someone there screaming death threats at that guy who is still standing in one spot because he left his controller to switch his rap CD while the team suffers from his weak kill to death ratio? MW3 carried over one incredible thing from Black Ops, split screen multi-player!! That combined with the new game, "Kill Confirmed" has me wiping my tears from the loss of Black Ops' "Hardcore Capture the Flag". (Side note... we don't play "regular" anything. I like my FPS's Hardcore and realistic, and if has to take more then two bullets to lay you out so you feel better about sucking? Then it's time we put on skirts and share each others cotton candy cause war games are not really for us.)

The controls handle almost point for point like MW2. That said, MW3 is miles ahead of Black Ops in realism, you'll find you catch impact dust and lingering map damage that the previous editions lacked. There is increased difficulty in kill streaks as sound plays a lesser role in knowing your opponent is approaching... MW3 makes Black Ops feel like war with training wheels.


There is a slight uproar amongst the fan base detailing how the online multi-player system contains little to no surprise for the player. It IS MW2 with a technical upgrade so frankly I don't disagree, there is only so much you can do and add without beginning to alienate your fans with too many changes. This has created an interest in other MMOFPS series like Battlefield 3, but what they've forgotten is the other half of Call of Duty that requires the franchise come out with a new edition every year or so, and that is the player campaign.

Beginning in an enemy occupied New York, the player begins the story as an American Merc for team Delta on a mission to contain a Russian invasion and rescue New York from complete destruction. In only the first campaign alone the player will advance on hundreds of enemies, take out a satellite tower, man a gunner station on a Black Hawk, scuba dive through heavy destruction and Russian mines to place C4 on a submarine, infiltrate said Sub, and then escape on a motorize raft as ships collide around you and your teammates.... and that all takes place in the first 20 minutes. ..oh and don't even get me started on the level with the crashing presidential air plane where you must kill attacking terrorists while you float and crash through the plane as it drops altitude at rapid speeds...

Often overlooked, the Campaign mode is like becoming a part of a war movie that you can control to some degree, it's absolutely unbelievable!! The situations you are placed in exhibit SCARY levels of detail and realism. In my opinion, Infinity ward needs to be recognized for far more the the Multiplayer platform so if you've yet to stumble in to that long past world of "offline play by yourself and see a story unfold game" play? I suggest you take a Sunday when the Vikings are playing (I mean seriously... you already know the other team will win) and commit a few hours to the world the Infinity team has created for you. I don't think you'll be even slightly disappointed.


And finally, I bring you first hand what the thoughts are on the continued success of this incredible franchise from a patron of the series. Having been a dedicated CoD fan since day one, film director and avid gamer Mitchel A. Jones took a moment out of his busy schedule to answer a few of my more overall series based questions:

1. As an avid CoD player, what progression in positives and negatives have you observed from the first official release to MW3?

With a franchise that is nearly ten years old and running strong it's hard to list the positives and negatives spanning each game. A very obvious positive has been functionality and game play. Each title and company involved is very good at leap frogging over its predecessor in terms of graphics and game play. As well as tweaking the existing the experience just enough to feel like a fresh new game.

As for negatives my biggest complaint is generally weapon selection and stopping power. This is the make or break for me after all it is a first person shooter. This seemed the worst in CoD World at War. Each weapon responds like a bb gun and seems to take as many bullets to get a kill. I think most of the guns in that World at War would be more effective if I threw them at the enemy.

2. Do you feel the advances in graphic technology has increased your interest in the series? How?

Absolutely. I remember seeing Call of Duty II for the first time on Xbox 360. Wow! Honestly it was one of the motivating factors to buy a 360. But with that being said, graphics aren't everything. I've turned off plenty of boring games that looked amazing. Call of Duty excels at providing cutting edge graphics with incredible game play. The controls are very responsive and easy to learn and master. It's not like a Tom Clancy game where you have to memorize several different button combo's just to do the simplest of tasks. Or Splinter Cell... don't get me started with those controls.

3. Has there always been online multi-player? If so, how would you describe the culture you've grown with? How has it changed as the series continues to grow?

I have always been drawn to online play. There is just no substitute for hunting down another person. The fun of anticipating their attacks and out playing them. That is true satisfaction and of course getting back to the lobby after the match to hear the string of obscenities they are spewing at you.

The culture that gravitates to online game play is EXTREMELY competitive and because of that you feel a great sense of accomplishment when you can come out on top with the highest score. The only real downside that has emerged since the roots of CoD online playing is the ages of kids gaming online. I remember when the 360 was fresh on the shelves and super expensive so when you hopped in the lobby you had what appeared to be a larger demo graph older and more mature players. There was plenty of trash talking but it was just for fun. Now virtually every time I am in a lobby I mute nearly all the players because it gets old hearing twelve year old kids spew the most ridiculous garbage you could imagine with no respect. Maybe it's always been this way and I'm just getting old? lol

4.Have you played the campaign settings? Are they worth experiencing as a new player... or should the be re-discovered as a continuing player?

I actually rarely play the campaign mode. Like I mentioned earlier there is no substitute for hunting down another person. I will say if you aren't familiar with the franchise the campaign modes are pretty incredible and are totally worth a try. I'm just addicted to online game play, haha.

5. What is your opinion of MW3 and Infinity ward compared to Black Ops and Treyarch? What are the advantages they have over each other if any?

Oh the million dollar question... first off each game and company is good in it's own right. I personally enjoy Infinity Wards game play and weapons of Treyarch but prefer Treyarch's map designs. In a perfect world you could have both but sadly that is not the case. For me personally the IW games (MW2, MW3) have more accurate game play and controls and by that I mean they "feel" more responsive. Treyarch (World at War, Black Ops) always feels a bit sloppy. Black Ops took some getting used too as far as weapon response and accuracy of guns. And World at War... let's not even go there. One thing Treyarch did get right though was CoD 3. When it came out it blew Cod II out of the water but after that I haven't been overly impressed with their releases. Now if only we could combine the best of both companies...


Buy it. And hurry!! You need to experience the game before the die hards find their special sniping corners and the nOObs destroy your in game average with stupidity and itchy trigger fingers... You'll only really be disappointed if you like to spend the game in a window picking fish out of a barrel because skill eluded you 5 games ago. But if by chance you run into me mid "Kill Confirm" game? I heed you warning... steal my tags, watch what happens. Peace out!

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