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Against all odds, in light of what has happened at Infinity Ward since Modern Warfare 2, the third game in the series is remarkable. Modern Warfare 3 is an ending, and one that resists the easy temptation to leave threads dangling. More importantly than that, it’s a hell of a package: MW3 not only maintains the high standards of the series’ previous singleplayer campaigns, but offers what feels like the best iteration of COD’s world-conquering multiplayer thus far, as well as a thrilling update of the second game’s Spec Ops missions and a new Survival mode.
The worst thing you can say about MW3’s campaign is that its first half can lapse into COD formula, despite several excellent set-pieces, before everything is forgotten in an absolutely bombastic concluding half. Infinity Ward’s singleplayer design specialises in giving the firstperson perspective a physical presence – through a peerless use of blur and focus, and the simple expedient of jarring the camera around – and MW3 once again offers sequences that are exceptional.
An early mission, Turbulence, is set on a plane carrying the Russian president. You’re a member of the Russian special forces tasked with his protection, and soon after the mission begins the aircraft is hijacked. During the next few minutes the plane goes increasingly out of control, with everyone inside battered off the ceilings, sides and seats – and then it heads into a nosedive. Have you ever shot terrorists in zero-G before? It’s not only a piece of visual and aural magic, with suitcases and enemies crashing about like lottery balls before floating in a queerly peaceful manner as you try to get a bead, but it’s one you’re always fully a part of. Brief as it is, Turbulence is a brilliantly conceived and executed moment.