With a new Call of Duty game comes many shots fired in anger and the obligatory new multiplayer mode, and Modern Warfare 3 is no different. For the third instalment in the Modern Warfare mammoth, Infinity Ward and co. are taking a page out of the thoroughly thumbed Horde Mode book with their new Spec Ops Survival Mode.
My demo of this mode took place on the streets of a war torn Paris map, complete with a central plaza, winding streets and alley ways, high ground, low ground, bombed out buildings to camp in and more cover than you can shake a boom stick at. In Call of Duty terms, this could be described as a medium-to-large sized map that has many intricacies to try and get to grips with.
Like many wave-based survival modes before it, including Treyarch’s popular Call of Duty Zombie Mode, the Survival Mode in MW3 unleashes increasingly harder waves of enemy forces against you and your teammate, whether that’s through sheer numbers or the increased amount of damage your foes can inflict in later rounds.
The different types of enemies that had the misfortune of being on the business end of my bullets included un-armoured soldiers with shotguns in the initial rounds, barking attack dogs, armoured troops with assault rifles, attack dogs with C4 explosives strapped to them, soldiers with C4 strapped to them, attack helicopters and the fear inducing, heavily armoured, juggernauts. To be honest, it wouldn’t surprise me if they started strapping C4 on the juggernauts in later rounds.
In order to deal with all of the previously mentioned unfriendly fire being aimed in your direction you’re gonna need some equally deadly armaments, and that’s just what the Supply Boxes offer. In order to make use of the Tardis-like box you have to earn money by killing enemies, assisting kills, getting kill streaks and taking out as many goons as you can without taking any damage. Once you’ve saved up enough money you can splurge your cash on all sorts of guns, including sub machine guns, light machine guns, assault rifles, pistols and shotguns. The guns you buy can also be upgraded from the weapon stations to have different attachments put on them, such as a red dot sight and a grenade launcher add-on, and if you’re running low on ammo you can also refill your bullet count from the Supply Box. Should you be even more flush with cash there’s also a supply box out in the wild that offers aerial support, like air strikes and Delta Force troops, and an explosive box that adds grenades, armour and portable turrets into the mix.
It’s certainly an enticing risk versus reward set up, where you might keep hold of weak guns for a round or two in order to save up for something juicy, that encourages experimentation, forward thinking, strategy forming with your online/AI/offline co-op buddy and many, many repeated run-throughs. Also included at the end of every successfully completed round are a handy bunch of statistics, such as weapon accuracy and number of kills, that show up to make you strive to improve just that little bit more.
Of course, if it wasn’t for the solid and addictive groundwork laid down by past CoD games it wouldn’t be half as much fun to keep returning again and again to shoot the breeze. The tight and oh so natural controls from previous games are back, with the guns all seeming appropriately weighty and the general realistic feeling of blasting away feeling better than ever. The accompanying sound is also a definite highlight, where the thrill of reaping explosive havoc is matched by the fear of hearing a loud bark from an attack dog, or the telltale thumping music that signals the arrival of a lumbering juggernaut.
The giant that is, and will be, Modern Warfare 3, may not be reinventing the wheel, but when the ride is still so smooth, reliable, and necessary there’s really no need to. Essentially, even though the Spec Ops survival mode isn’t exactly original, the successful implementation of Call of Duty’s gripping co-op action and persistent unlock system makes it a very worthy addition to the fully featured FPS’s multiplayer offering. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 will be rolling onto store shelves on November 8th.