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Review: 'Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3' stays the course

Gameplay shot of "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare

Gameplay shot of "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3." Credit: Activision

Activision announced that more than 6.5 million copies of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 were sold in 24 hours – making it one of the largest entertainment title launches in history. A commercial success by any measure, but here’s the skinny on Modern Warfare 3 for gamers still on the fence.

Modern Warfare 3 doesn’t sport much originality. For fans of the franchise, that’s probably a good thing. The core gameplay stays intact, and the multiplayer modes remain largely the same with the exception of some tweaks. The graphics, sound and cinematic sequences have been ramped-up.

But if you’ve tried your hand at Modern Warfare games before and couldn’t get into the linear campaign mode and the limited online multiplayer modes, continue to stay away.

The campaign mode starts with a sweeping cinematic sequence in the New York City harbor. Russia is retaliating for a terrorist attack at the Moscow airport that was blamed on an American, who was actually framed. The mastermind behind the attack is Vladimir Makarov, the game’s main villain, who wants to destroy the West and return Mother Russia to its former glory.

So World War 3 starts, and the player is taken through the Earth in turmoil – Wall Street gets destroyed, the Eiffel Tower is taken down, and downtown London is in the midst of a chemical attack. The movielike sequences are all at 60 frames per second, producing intense, graphic and detailed action. The game will push your TV and sound system to its limits.

The campaign mode gameplay is an exact duplicate of previous Call of Duty games: linear action where players will jump into predetermined areas until all the enemies are killed off. But there are some breaks. At certain points throughout the game you pilot underwater crafts, float around in weightless free-fall and drive ground vehicles.

Despite the upgrades in campaign mode, people buy Modern Warfare for the online gaming. The core mechanics stay the same, and there are 16 maps based around real-world places.

The online game modes include tweaked but familiar versions of death match and capture-the-flag. But this time around gamers can level-up and customize weapons based on the amount of game time and kills racked up. Special Ops mode – a collection of brief solo or two-player missions that fill in some of the main campaign's background – is also back.

Activision is also offering Call of Duty Elite, a $50-a-year premium service for online play experience through stat tracking, organized tournaments, additional game content and more.

Check out our interview with Sledghammer co-founder Glen Schofield.

RATING M for Mature

PLOT First-person action shooter

DETAILS PC, Xbox 360, PS3

BOTTOM LINE More of the same, but fans won't mind

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