The Average Gamer

Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 – Preview

COD-MW3_LogoSmallLast week Activision invited us along to watch a live demo of two levels from the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 single-player campaign. Sledgehammer Games, working with Infinity Ward, have turned many of the world’s major cities into battlegrounds for MW3. The game follows on from the end of MW2 with Russia continuing its invasion of the United States of America. You join a Delta team in New York’s war-torn Manhattan to try and wrestle control of the city back from the Russians.

The New York Mission

Once you’ve climbed out of your crashed helicopter, it’s straight into the heat of battle. Huge missiles and helicopters thunder past as they fly around partially destroyed streets of Manhattan. We’re talking proper wrecked here too. Many of the buildings lie in tatters with piles of rubble blocking up whole streets. This is a major battle zone.


A soldier in the New York warzone

Luckily for you the enemy is everywhere, just waiting for you to KILL THEM ALL! Your mission is to get to the NYC Stock Exchange and destroy the enemy’s communications array.

This being a Call of Duty game, almost everything either blows up or tries to shoot at you along the way. Once you’ve watched 5 minutes of people shooting at each other and stuff blowing up it all gets rather samey. The explosions are worth a special mention as they are very impressive, both in terms of realism and visual effect. Good job really, as you see them often enough. An alarming amount of helicopters meet their maker during this mission. They must be safer form of transportation, surely? The bits of fiery paper drifting down from the sky were a nice touch. It made New York look like there was like a fiery ticker tape parade in full flow.

Towards the end of the level you get to see a rather nice weapon called “The Reaper” in action. Once activated, this weapon gives you a birds-eye view of your little bit of the battlefield, allowing you to destroy anything that moves. At the click of a button, the tops of buildings previously teeming with enemy soldiers are suddenly engulfed in flames. As Leeloo Dallas would say – Big Bada-Boom!

Having never visited New York, apart from driving around it in GTA IV, I really couldn’t tell you how realistic the MW3 version of the city is. However, the enemy AI was shockingly bad. There were so many instances of Russian soldiers just standing or sitting around the level just waiting to be shot. Only the sheer force of numbers indicate the apparent level of difficulty. This is one area that really needs some improvement.

The level did feel like one long corridor, albeit a very pretty and action packed one. I didn’t see many places to explore or branch off from the main path. It was all very linear. Heck, even part of the level was an on-rails shooter during which you blasted other helicopters to bits with your mini-gun without having once to worry about where you were going.

The London (Docklands) Mission

This level starts off as a covert mission to collect intelligence on a convoy of trucks carrying some sort of dodgy cargo. The GPS coordinates that flash-up on the screen are: N 51° 30′ 10” W 0° 0′ 44′. Now this puts the team to the east of Canary Wharf according to Google maps. I took a photo at these coordinates earlier on in the week.


London Docklands mission start according to Google Maps


Modern Warfare 3 screenshot from the London mission. The building on the far right is supposedly HSBC tower

This real life location is certainly not where they started from in-game, as shown in the single mission screenshot from Activision. Here’s the actual real-life location at those coordinates.

Chainlink fence around a concrete yard with towers in the background

Docklands mission start location in real life, looking towards the tower

The only place nearby that resembles the start of the mission is around the West India Quay area just to the north of Canary Wharf. I’ve tried to recreate the screenshot in real life but you can’t actually get a loading crane, Canary Wharf tower and the warehouse in the same picture. What you get is either the crane and Canary Wharf by looking south, or the crane and warehouses if you look north:


A crane and Canary Wharf tower (HBSC tower out of shot to the left next to Canary Wharf Tower) but no warehouse


Crane and warehouse but no Canary Wharf tower

The only building that is recognisable in the entire mission is the Canary Wharf tower. Every other building bears little resemblance to its real-life counterpart. They aren’t even the right size and shape. On top of this, following a short firefight that heralds the end of the covert action section, you find yourself chasing a tube train in a pick-up truck down a tube line that just runs just north of Canary Wharf. Trouble is, there is no Tube line that runs north of Canary Wharf. It could be a CrossRail tunnel, but that’s not due to open till 2017.

I was a little surprised to see the amount of artistic licence that had been taken with the look and feel of the Docklands mission. It does seem at odds with the other components of the game namely a hyper-realistic recreation of people and equipment that feature in armed conflicts. I was expecting to be wowed with Gran Turismo 5 (PS3) or The Getaway (PS2) levels of authenticity for the London missions but from what I saw, Sledgehammer Games still have quite a bit of work to do.

The level itself does feature some top-notch action sequences with the fast-paced and destructive tube train chase being one the highlights. Trying to keep up the chase whist avoiding oncoming trains looks like quite a good challenge. Watching all the carnage unfold on a giant screen with a kicking sound system was also really cool. Kudos to Activision for organising such a great set-up to show off the game.


Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 looks like a Michael Bay film. It’s loud, brash, packed with explosions, has a dodgy plot and is very enjoyable once you switch your brain off.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 is released on the 8th Nov 2011 on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC.