E3 2011: Where previously Microsoft eased into its press conference with some of its lower priority titles--saving its big guns for the finale--today was all about high-profile games straight out of the gates. Despite getting our first look at Modern Warfare 3 in action mere weeks ago, Activision was back to showcase more of its billion-dollar-selling first-person shooter franchise.
The demo of mission Hunter Killer opened under the sea with us firmly attached to a personal submersible device. After using a torch to cut through some grating, we snaked through an underwater tunnel laden with tiled walls and trucks with still-running taillights. How long they had been under there remains a mystery. Our mission was to locate and then plant a mine on an enemy submarine.
Teammate Frost called for us to watch the sonar gauge mounted on the front of our undersea ride, and moments later, we were doing the dance of avoidance as we slid and weaved through undersea mines. Earth and debris sank from above, slowly floating through the murky water. A giant red blip hit our sonar and our target; a huge looming ship, hovered above. We went silent, powering down our meager vehicle, holding position as two giant spinning propellers made their way past us. There was no risk of being caught in its wake, and we casually moved forward, using the now familiar X press to attach a huge explosive package to its rear fins. We blew the bomb, fled the scene of the crime, and watched as the sub sank gracefully toward the seabed below before resurfacing.
We left the dark depths of the ocean and slipped into something a little drier. We ditched our mask and fins and made a seamless transition from scuba gear to combat fatigues. Donning a firearm and shooting our way up the incline of the side of the vessel with a fellow squad member, Sandman played out a war classic. Opening a sealed airlock hatch, we cooked and then dropped a live grenade onto the unsuspecting suckers in the cabin below. Once inside, we cleared each room, navigated the narrow hallways with the odd melee strike, and introduced our boot to the bad guy's skull for good measure.
The demo skipped forward for brevity, and it was clear that the crew had been alerted to our presence as red lights flashed and sirens sounded, which echoed through the chambers of the sub. With the jig up and subtlety no longer an option, we loaded a door with an explosive charge. Then we breached the room and used the familiar slow motion found in previous games to sight our targets and gun down a half-dozen sailors in one fell swoop. Looting their corpses, we located the missile command keys we were looking for, turning keys simultaneously and smacking an ominous big red button, as well as receiving a 30-second warning on the impending launch.
Back in the open air, jets flew overhead, the sky was filled with plumes of smoke, and a crumbling city dotted the horizon. A small rubber dinghy waited for us, and not wanting to get caught up in the carnage, we cut a path through the choppy ocean; missile pods opening menacingly on the side of the submarine.
Our objective then was to follow the leader, and we darted and weaved between warships under fire; rockets whizzed overhead, majestic liners went to watery graves, and the deck of a fallen aircraft carrier played a makeshift ramp as the raft banked itself on dry land temporarily to shoot down chasing enemy combatants.
Mission completed and crew intact, we zoomed into the rear of a waiting extraction helicopter and took to the air. Below us, spanning vistas showed a city in despair and giant gaping wounds were visible in skyscrapers; jets and choppers scrambled through the clouds.
This latest look at Modern Warfare 3 follows the same formula we saw in our first look at the game--a mix of stealth and all-out combat. CoD fans after additional details on Call of Duty: Elite, Activision's upcoming subscription service that will tie heavily to the multiplayer component of MW3, will have to wait a little longer, with no new information provided. The game is due out on all major platforms on November 8 this year.