I've been playing Modern Warfare 3's multiplayer a little bit this morning. First impression? If you sat me down in front of it and told me it was Modern Warfare 2, I wouldn't know you were lying.
There are differences. The maps are new, and tighter. From my experiences so far, there are fewer courtyards lined with sniper-filled windows. I also know that there are Perk changes, because I've read about them.
But the first time I connected to a server, I was instantly killed by a helicopter I had no hope of destroying or avoiding. The game looks visually dated. The sounds and menus are all taken directly from previous games. The similarity isn't necessarily a criticism. Modern Warfare's multiplayer has always been a hair short of brilliant. I've been having a ton of fun with it so far.
In an hour of play, I reached Level 5, unlocked two new classes, and the ability to create custom classes. I've also unlocked a Perk, a new weapon, and a laser sight. At these early stages at least, every round provides you with new goodies.
The matches themselves are ridiculously quick. You play each round like a shark, always moving forward, unable to stop. There's little point in slowing down, trying to ambush people, or camping. The maps flow beautifully, and if you stand still, you're likely to be shot from behind.
I've been playing guys who are level 36 and above, with many more unlocks and customisation options than I have, but I'm still scoring kills in the double digits in every game. The occasional frustrating sky-missile aside, it doesn't feel unfair.
Instead of getting frustrated, when I die, I just respawn and start swimming again. In the multiplayer modes you start with - more are unlocked as you level - respawning is always instant. There's no animation, effect or even sound: you just appear again, and go.
This is a good thing. Although I'm getting plenty of kills at this stage, I'm dying constantly, too. Everyone is. There's a kind of domino effect to the game: you see someone running, you stop, aim, fire, and kill them. Almost instantly, someone behind you is shooting at you. You rarely have time to get to cover or to turn and shoot back, and so you die, too. By that point, there's someone behind your killer, shooting at them. A few steps later, you've respawned, and killed someone, and are right back in the same position.
This is an obvious side effect of people not knowing the maps, and people will become cannier as they learn typical routes and sight lines.
For now, due to its speed, its sturdiness, and small particulars like its screenbob, it's weird how much it reminds me of playing Quake 3 ten years ago. Infinity Ward have clearly modified the hell out of it over the years, but in how it feels, you can still sense Id Tech 3 under there. With its real-world setting and weapons, I even get strong memories of playing Soldier of Fortune 2.
There are dedicated servers again, though you'll have to turn them on under Options before you'll have the choice of browsing them.
It's a shame that Call of Duty Elite is going to be delayed for PC players. I like the fast levelling and unlocks, but all those stats feel a little lost within the game.
But in other ways, by building on an existing base and a familiar template, the game ends up polished and content rich. There's a Colour Blind Assistance mode under Options, which we appreciate. And just as in Call of Duty: Black Ops, if the server has it enabled, your matches are automatically saved in your Theatre. From there, you can load replays, fly around them in free camera, record and edit chunks of them, and then upload them for people on your Steam friends list to watch. I played around with it, and it's immediately easier to use than Team Fortress 2's replay editor. I wish you didn't have to control its small control panel purely with the keyboard, though.
I'm going to dig in to the singleplayer now, and return for more multiplayer tomorrow. We'll have our review online as soon as we can. In the meantime, tell us what you think in the comments. Are you having fun with the game?