Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 review

Familiar monuments crumbling under a terrifying hail of modern ordnance. Nuclear submarines surfacing on the coast of major cities. The interior of a plane as it nosedives towards Earth. Capital cities in the aftermath of devastating attacks. Civilian resistance crushed with withering force. To go into too much detail about MW3’s most OTT moments would ruin them for no good reason, so suffice to say they that live up to what’s gone before – and that’s a very high bar indeed.

The campaign lasts around seven hours on regular difficulty, and any number above that on hardened or veteran, depending how many times you can stomach the restarts. If there’s one criticism of COD’s campaign formula it’s that you never quite feel the difficulty scales appropriately: to play on hardened – and especially veteran – requires nothing so much as patience and learning enemy spawn points.

Difficulty is a matter of personal taste, of course, but you can’t help hoping that the enemy’s AI scaling will be more of a factor in future instalments, rather than just their accuracy and damage.

MW3’s multiplayer is familiar territory, but there are key changes that may just make it the best iteration yet. Sprinting has been slightly slowed down – movement speed now takes account of what you’re carrying, and though it’s a subtle change, it makes running around slightly less manic. The best thing about this is that there are fewer hopped-up ninjas dashing around the place and stabbing everyone – although the kids online will doubtless figure out some way to keep on keeping on.

Secondly, killstreaks have been renamed pointstreaks, reflecting the fact that points can now be earned by completing game-mode objectives – capturing an objective in Domination, for example, or planting the bomb in Demolition – as well as for kills. This feeds into the biggest change: players can now choose between Assault, Support and Specialist classes.

Assault is how we’ve been playing in MW up ‘til now: successive kills over a single life earn rewards. Support offers more team-focused awards, but the pointstreak doesn’t reset after death, giving everyone a chance to rack up enough points for a decent reward. Finally, the Specialist class is for pros: this unlocks an additional perk every two kills, meaning you can build a grunt up over one life into a seriously unstoppable super-soldier.

Rewards for the Assault class are all about straight-up killing: strafing runs, assault drones, attack choppers, AC-130s and Juggernaut suits. Support begins with rewards such as Ballistic Vests, which drop a package of armour for the team to don, or a Recon Drone – a player-controlled miniature helicopter that can ‘tag’ enemy players, briefly stunning them and making their exact position known to your teammates.

The usual progression system, however, means that Support players can soon unlock their own offensive options: a fake airdrop that blows up greedy opponents, or a stealth bomber. This change is a big deal, and encourages a greater sense of teamwork: during objective modes, we noticed Support classes on the frontline, running in to set bombs and grab territories while the Assault classes watched and picked off threats.