Modern Warfare 3 in London: Capitals get clobbered
26th May 2011 | 12:00
Say what you like about Activision, Infinity Ward or the Call of Duty series, but nobody does an over the top action game quite as spectacularly as Bobby Kotick's FPS conscripts.
After five iterations of slow-mo door breaches, controversial plotlines and speaker-shaking action set-pieces, it almost feels like the developers behind the Call of Duty series (whoever and wherever they may be these days) don't have to put in even a third of their potential effort to come up with a shootout worthy of a Michael Bay movie.
Case in point: Modern Warfare 3. Stepping out at a London press event as if they were rock stars at Glastonbury, Infinity Ward's creative strategist Robert Bowling and Sledgehammer's studio head (Mr. Dead Space) Glenn Schofield introduced an impressive, explosion-filled sequel that makes up for its lack of feature revolution with some pretty incredible scenes.
Controller in hand and start button pressed, the cockpit of a downed helicopter blurrily fades into view. We're in central Manhattan - and it's a war zone.
WORLD WAR 3
After the ridiculous, huge scale plotline of the last Infinity Ward instalment, Modern Warfare 3 has nowhere else to go than all out war. As you'll already know if you've seen the debut gameplay trailer (and you have, haven't you?) those pesky Russians have taken to invading the world's cities and it's up to you to poke your ironsight around famous locales in some of the most epic battles Call of Duty has ever seen to right a few wrongs.
The battle in New York is thrilling and spectacular; aircraft scream overhead launching their payload on the crumbling Manhattan skyline. Screeching vehicles tyres and booming gunfire rule the streets as US Special Forces struggle to suppress the invading Russian troops.
Our man darts through the carnage, pot-shotting enemy soldiers with his weapon as a familiar red dot sight fills the screen.
Pausing for breath behind a friendly APC, the player lowers his weapon and we see the red dot sight swapped as a long-ranged scope is put into position with the character's left hand, allowing him to pick off targets far down the dusty New York street.
The shootout takes Infinity Ward up Wall Street and into the monitor-filled New York Stock Exchange (a cert for multiplayer, surely), where the fire-team's main target lies.
Shooting their way to the rooftop the squad locates a communications array and promptly destroys it to achieve their objective - but the fight's not over yet. Reaching down for an unknown, beefy-looking machine gun, Infinity Ward aims at a group of incoming soldiers and takes them all out in a single, violent and smoky 'pop'. It's been a while, but the new high-powered the '9-bang' grenade launcher looks to be a game-changing weapon in Modern Warfare 3's arsenal. There's also the inclusion of the Reaper Drone; similar to Black Ops' Valkyrie Rockets but controlled by a computer.
Proving that the action's just as relentless and over the tops as before (Arnold Schwarzenegger stomping round the corner with dual machine guns wouldn't look out of place) the squad look to the skies as a Black Hawk sweeps down and carries them off above the city.
Manning the on-board gatling-gun, Infinity Ward hammers everything in sight amidst a cinematic missile attack that doesn't seem to do as much damage as it should. It's an impressive sequence nontheless.
So far the assembled press in the room seem satisfied that Infinity Ward's trademark brand of over the top action and cinematic flair has survived the West/Zampella cull. But this just wouldn't be Call of Duty without a bit of controversy...
The on-stage developers are almost caught boasting a grin as they load up the already Daily Mail-bating London mission, and the assembled press in the room set their notepad pens to maximum power.
The screen shows a top-down aerial view of the capital city, snapping and darting between various highlighted heat signatures patrolling a pair of dockside warehouses within view of Canary Wharf. They're SAS soldiers, and they're stealthily investigating the buildings to locate sensitive material said to be held up in a selection of trucks.
The camera shifts to reveal a group of unidentified hostiles overseeing the loading of a mysterious cargo, which we've got a hunch isn't their Ocado groceries.
Back down on the ground, the devs take control of SAS soldier Michael Burns accompanied by Wallcroft, who's voiced by Craig 'Ghost' Fairbrass, and previously seen in Call of Duty 4.
The SAS soldiers make their way through the buildings, using every manoeuvre and protocol in the Sam Fisher handbook, including a new door breach move involving a swift backward kick from the adjacent wall followed by a lobbed flash bang.
Van located, our boys perform the most violent breach yet, with a platter of gunfire splattering what turns out to be a mostly empty vehicle hold. As if half way through a 24 season, the SAS team has had its search annoyingly stretched out. The chase continues towards an underground garage further up the bank of the Thames, where it quickly becomes clear your enemies have an escape route; they're about to hijack a rusty, decommissioned tube train and take their dangerous cargo to Westminster.
Behind the wheel of a banged out jeep, ultimately (and you've seen this bit coming) the pursuit leads to the London Underground, through the tube system where the offending package has been transferred onto a speeding rail train.
Darting across the lines, dodging Jubilee Line trains and unloading weapons on the their armed passengers (Boris would be furious), the chase is as thrilling as any set-piece Infinity Ward's fired out of your television in the last two instalments.
With a split-second opportunity in reach, the SAS stunt drivers manage to clip the rear carriage of the train and send it violently spinning and crashing down the murky tube tunnels, before colliding with concrete columns in a hard-hitting animation that has every journalist in the room scribbling away.
There are certainly Hollywood action films that go closer to the bone than this, but going by the recent Newspaper coverage Activision's definitely ticked another box on the Call of Duty shopping list.
Modern Warfare 3, while admittedly not showing us anything revolutionary in this brief gameplay demonstration, is thrilling, impressive and by the looks of it, thoroughly entertaining to experience. And when you make shooters as spectacular as these guys, isn't more of the same an exciting proposition?