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Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3: Defiance

Score: 70%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: Activision
Developer: n-Space
Media: Cartridge/1
Players: 1 - 6
Genre: First Person Shooter/ Action/ Online

Graphics & Sound:

Releasing a Call of Duty game on DS at this point is a bit like releasing it for the PSOne; you laugh, but these graphics aren't that far away from some of the PSOne Classics you can now buy as digital downloads for the PSP. What does feel different is the sheer volume of action happening on the screen, and this is the part that makes the DS entry in the franchise, Modern Warfare 3: Defiance, at all playable. The game moves quickly, and the variety of mission types prevents you from feeling stale during any given level. You'll be traipsing through woods one moment, then be transported away to some facility, or urban setting. Yes, the world you're exploring is quasi-Minecraft in appearance, but it contains plenty of hazards that never fail to pop out and surprise you.

The sounds in Defiance are as authentic and credible as the graphics are blocky, making this an ideal game to play with headphones. Chattering machine guns, the crump of heavy artillery, jets screaming overhead, and excited enemy combatants create a sonic backdrop that amplifies the action. The responsive nature of the soundtrack - swelling when you enter battle, and dropping away again once a wave of enemies is subdued - also helps to pull you in, and it motivates you to move forward. There's good storytelling and gameplay contained here, which you can enjoy if you resist the urge to judge this book by its cover.


Gameplay:

Modern Warfare 3: Defiance lets you play in the company of US or British forces, massed against Soviet soldiers in a power-grab that takes them as far as US soil. From this you will have guessed that we're not doing WWII any more, which pleases us greatly. There were only so many battles in WWII that can be simulated, only so many side-stories to relay before the steam runs out.

To its credit, Modern Warfare 3: Defiance brings to the small screen all the same gameplay elements that have console gamers so excited. The campaign feels expansive, and bounces around between each side of the battle, domestically and overseas. When we say all the gameplay, we really mean it. You can run-and-gun as a unit on the ground, and then switch to a God's-eye view as you guide units along using waypoints and simple commands. During the heat of battle, you'll occasionally get the opportunity to use a remote-control vehicle to detonate enemy armor, and even leverage some armor yourself.

The wireless multiplayer allows up to six players connected locally or through online play. This isn't novel for those of us on the Sony side, going all the way back to games like SOCOM or the later Metal Gear Solid titles, but it matters for the DS. This hardware has consistently been late to the party when it comes to network-ready gaming, preferring local wireless play between two players, or simplistic friend-code connections that never felt interactive. Modern Warfare 3: Defiance brings true online multiplayer to DS, assuming you can tolerate the rough graphics and find six friends who each purchased a copy of the game. The pros of getting into multiplayer are that you'll have even more options to choose from in terms of characters and weapons, and of course the areas you can choose as battle settings. Level design is smart, and has all kinds of good areas for taking cover and surprising enemies, whether you like to snipe and throw grenades, or get up close with heavy weaponry.

The solo campaign can be over quickly, depending on how you play, but there's decent replay value on the basis of the multiplayer.


Difficulty:

There's nothing cheap about Modern Warfare 3: Defiance. You don't have to worry about enemies sniping you and taking headshots unless you are playing against human opponents or taking a very. long. time. to line up bad guys in your sights. The main campaign is very forgiving, so even players new to a first-person shooter have a decent chance of seeing the credits roll. The areas where you'll end up dead quickly are where you are facing off against enemies on all sides, where enemies are using lots of grenades or rockets, and when large artillery (such as a tank) is involved. You can also blow yourself up nicely while trying to breach a facility, as we found once standing too close to a door that was rigged to blow.

Explosives aside, the so-called Challenge Mode lets more experienced players step up the difficulty in anticipation for those human matches. You can complete challenges that confer some status during online play, and it's always fun to imagine striking some fear into players as they line you up in their sights.

Some of the most challenging aspects of the game for us were getting used to the control scheme. Camera movements on the face buttons aren't intuitive, but neither is trying to do things with the stylus until you get used to the system. If you're excited about playing Modern Warfare 3: Defiance, trust us when we say you'll get accustomed to the controls. Everything else is largely skill-based, and can change dramatically depending on who's facing off against you.


Game Mechanics:

Some good thinking went into designing the interface to be responsive no matter what type of control a player chooses. Left-handed? No problem, we've got a setting for that. Prefer to not use the stylus? No problem, we've mostly got you covered. The mode that claims to not require the stylus still will force you to break the thing out during mini-games. Some of these segments require precise tapping that just doesn't work as well with the finger. Unless you've got a hard, pointy little finger... The default controls will lock in on enemies and position the reticule automatically when you snap into a view over the sights, by pressing the Left Shoulder Button. You can modify this and a few other settings to make Modern Warfare 3: Defiance a more challenging game. You can collect items and reload by tapping on the touchscreen, and when there are special challenges that require a different type of interaction, the game does a nice job informing you.

Other smart ideas include a section where you can customize the loadouts for your character, with up to 10 choices that can quickly be applied before you launch into the lobby to join a game-in-progress or new match. The overall package is sound; you're getting the Call of Duty experience on your DS, albeit a "junior" version. If you're jazzed about the franchise and where it's going, and only have a DS, this makes sense. If you've played and loved the console variations, this one is going to let you down. It has all the elements of the "big" version, but it looks and controls so differently that you're going to have a hard time making the transition. We can understand why Activision would want to have Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 on every console; we just wish Defiance had been brought to this platform in a way that actually leveraged the DS' strengths. Take advantage of the camera and mic, build the game less around graphical sophistication and more around stylized visuals. Think Fire Emblem meets Call of Duty! The game that we have achieves a great deal for its platform niche, but we're just not sure how many core gamers are still occupying that niche and waiting for new titles.


-Fridtjof, GameVortex Communications
AKA Matt Paddock

Related Links:



Microsoft Xbox 360 WWE '12 Windows Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3

 
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