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Call of Duty XP11: Impressions of Modern Warfare 3's multiplayer modes

by: Sean -
More On: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3
Activision CEO Eric Hirshberg promised an enthusiastic COD: XP crowd the most "epic, cinematic" COD experience yet; Infinity Ward community manager Robert Bowling calls MW3's multiplayer "deepest experience ever." Big promises, GNers, but Modern Warfare 3 looks like it just might deliver after a serious re-tooling of the game's multiplayer.

The name of the game is "balance." All of the major complaints have been addressed: no more Commando, One Man Army, or Last Stand Perks, no more shotguns as secondary weapons, and kill-streaks are seeing a number of revisions. Those of us who don't enjoy getting tele-shanked no doubt appreciate the changes, which focus on a return to close-quarters gun-on-gun combat.

Kill-streaks are seeing a number of significant changes: no longer based solely on kills but instead on points, which can be earned through kills or by completing mission objectives like capturing a point in Domination. Killstreaks have also been organized into three different strike packages: Assault, Support, and Specialist.

The Assault package focuses on, essentially, offense: attack choppers, airstrikes, that kind of thing. Support packages are more defensive in nature, utilizing reconnaissance drones and new features like ballistic vests and air defense turrets. The Specialist package is described as "the greatest test of individual skill in a Modern Warfare game" by Sledgehammer Games' Michael Condrey, and allows you to unlock perks in game instead of killstreaks: after an 8 kill streak, the player has access to every perk in the game. The drawback is that conventional killstreaks aren't available: no UAVs, no airdrops, just perks.

It's definitely a game changer, and is intended to make the player think more strategically about the way they play. For the teeming masses who do a lot of run 'n' gun in TDM it may not make much of a difference, but for experienced players looking for a deeper COD experience, strike packages bring a whole new level of gameplay to MW3.

MW3's weapons are also getting a significant change with the addition of "proficiencies," essentially perks for guns. The "kick" proficiency, for example, reduces the weapons recoil, nearly essential for players using light machine guns. Some perks have also been broken down into individual components. Sleight of Hand used to speed up both reloading and aim-down-sight (ADS): in MW3, faster ADS is provided by the Gunslinger perk in the second slot, forcing players to thoroughly consider what attributes they want to make the most use of.

Finally, a new gametype is coming to MW3: Kill Confirmed, a TDM-style mode where dead bodies drop colored dog tags, gold for enemy and red for friendly, that have to be collected. No long-range individual sniping in Kill Confirmed, as points can only be earned by picking up the fallen tags, and points denied to enemies by picking up your fallen teammates' tags.

The game played very well, was so much fun in fact that before I knew what had happened, two hours had gone by. There are a lot of subtle changes to the gameplay as well: speed changes based on what kind of weapons your character is actively carrying, for example. Changing between classes and perks felt more noticeable and, therefore, more consequential.

Gameplay was fast, kinetic, the same thing you've been getting from COD for almost a decade. But when "more of a good thing" is this good, is that a problem? Developers have given just enough of a change here to make the game fresh, but it's still fast, frenzied, and lethal. Map designs were great, very detailed and well-planned, with plenty of little hidey-holes and fields of fire.

COD: MW3 is the latest installment in an indisputably historic franchise, unquestionably the best yet, with a new focus on strategic gameplay. This is Call of Duty on a whole other level.

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