PC Gamer
Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 No Russian

Modern Warfare 2's No Russian mission asked players to choose to take an passive or active role in an airport civilian massacre. It caused quite an uproar back when it was released, but a lot of time has passed. A legal battle has been fought, a new studio has been formed, and many of the designers who worked on Modern Warfare 2 at Infinity Ward are now working for Respawn Entertainment.

Mohammad Alavi is one of them. The designer responsible for one of Call of Duty 4's most memorable levels, All Ghillied Up, also had a hand in creating Call of Duty's most controversial moment. With the legal NDAs surrounding his attachment to Infinity Ward expired, he's spoken to Matthew S. Burns on Magical Wasteland about the intent behind No Russian.

"We were trying to do three things" he explains, "sell why Russia would attack the US, make the player have an emotional connection to the bad guy Makarov, and do that in a memorable and engaging way.

"In a first person shooter where you never leave the eyes of the hero, it's really hard to build up the villain and get the player invested in why he's 'bad'."

Alavi describes early versions of the level in which the massacre takes place at the beginning of the level and quickly turns into a shoot out. He mentions that that version "felt cheap and gimmicky. It felt like we were touching on something raw and emotional and then shying away from it just as soon as it became uncomfortable.

“I’ve read a few reviews that said we should have just shown the massacre in a movie or cast you in the role of a civilian running for his life. Although I completely respect anyone’s opinion that it didn’t sit well with them, I think either one of those other options would have been a cop out," he says. "atching the airport massacre wouldn’t have had the same impact as participating (or not participating) in it. Being a civilian doesn’t offer you a choice or make you feel anything other than the fear of dying in a video game, which is so normal it’s not even a feeling gamers feel anymore.”

No Russian served a pragmatic storytelling purpose. The player's outrage would be the emotional leverage needed to make Makarov a more weighty villain. As heavy handed as that might seem, Alavi suggests that, from his perspective, getting a strong reaction of any kind from players is a victory. “It isn’t really relevant whether that makes you enjoy the entertainment experience even more because you’re being naughty (à la Grand Theft Auto) or it engrosses you further into the story and makes you resent your actions. What’s relevant is that the level managed to make the player feel anything at all,” he says.

“In the sea of endless bullets you fire off at countless enemies without a moment’s hesitation or afterthought, the fact that I got the player to hesitate even for a split second and actually consider his actions before he pulled that trigger– that makes me feel very accomplished.”
PC Gamer
Call of Duty Black Ops 2 Overwatch
Court documents obtained by Game Informer suggest that the near-future setting of Treyarch's upcoming Black Ops 2 could violate the agreement between Activision and Modern Warfare developer Infinity Ward.

Infinity Ward's Memorandum of Understanding includes a cause that grants the developer authority over 'any Call of Duty title set in modern day (post Vietnam), the near future or distant future.'

Game Informer's report suggests that if ex-Infinity Ward bosses Vince Zampella and Jason West win the lawsuit against Activision, the publisher could find itself in a difficult situation, with damages payments the likely outcome.

Check out Evan's Black Ops 2 preview for more on Treyarch's new direction for the series, and this picture of a mocap horse because it's a picture of a mocap horse.
PC Gamer
Black Ops 2 thumb
Black Ops 2 will utilise the power of DX 11 on PC. As reported on One of Swords, Treyarch’s director of online highlighted the graphical upgrades during the recent Black Ops 2 reveal presentation. Despite the technical upgrades, getting the upcoming FPS to run at a 60 frames per second on all platforms is still high on Treyarch's priority list.

Dan showed off the developer's mixture of "tech and technique" during a walkthrough of a level set on Yemen's Socotra Island. HDR lighting, bounce lighting, self shadowing and reveal mapping will all feature. They sound pretty. Treyarch showed off the new features next to footage of the first Black Ops, making it look a bit crummy by comparison.

Expect more identifiable landmarks within multiplayer maps too. Treyarch want to make it as easy as possible for your squad mates to identify your location, promoting more co-ordinated teamplay.

We'll have more on Black Ops 2 soon. Until then, check out the Black Ops 2 Reveal trailer and our Black Ops 2 preview. Evan also got a chance to grill Treyarch with hard questions after the presentation.
PC Gamer
Call of Duty Black Ops Thumbnail
In a report that will have security officials breathing a sigh of relief across the land, daily British rag, The Sun, reports that terrorists have started using war games to train for attacks. MCV spotted the front page story, which suggests that “there has even been evidence would-be jihadists treat war games as training tools, a bit like a pilot might use a flight simulator”.

Traditional terrorist methods involve infiltration and subterfuge. It's thought that new techniques learned from video games like Call of Duty could make attackers easier to apprehend. We've contacted a nearby human being for their assessment. "I don't know," said the 5ft 7inch tall bloke from across the room, "maybe running behind a box and popping your head up every now and then so special ops forces can shoot you in the head for points may not translate especially well to a real life situation."

But war games feature MEN shooting GUNS. What about the THREAT to our CHILDREN? Is average man worried by the threat these revelations may pose to national security? "Ummm, I have a feeling in my stomach that might be worry," said the bloke. "But I think I might just be hungry. Can I go?"

Further claims published in The Sun suggest that terrorists may be using Call of Duty as a way to exchange secure, unmonitored messages. Angry players delivering messages like "U R a Nooboid," previously simply thought to be idiots, may in fact be a sleeper agents attempting to make contact with their handlers.

"They are logging into group games over the internet and discussing terror plots. Security people know about it. For millions who love these games this will be a huge shock,” a source told the Sun.

So there it is. The next time you log into Call of Duty multiplayer and shoot a man in the head, they may not be a man at all, but a REAL TERRORIST. Probably not, though.
PC Gamer
COD Elite thumbnail
Call of Duty Elite is still coming to PC, Eurogamer report. Activision Producer, Noah Heller has been talking to the website about the stat tracking service, which currently supports Modern Warfare 3 on consoles, but not PC: "We're still working on it. We can't date it yet. It's a challenging piece of development."

Noah pointed out that he holds some loyalty towards our platform of choice. ""Back in the day I was a PC gamer myself. I cut my teeth on shooters on good, old fashioned Team Fortress 1. So I'm excited to do right by the PC players soon."

Call of Duty Elite lets players track their Modern Warfare 3 stats, and access all DLC and specialist playlists. There are also in-depth tuition videos to help players improve their skills. Console gamers are required to pay a subscription for the more advanced aspects of the service, including tournaments and clan capabilities.

A tweet back in November implied that we will be getting Elite on PC, and that it would be free. Whether our version will feature-identical to the console versions is yet to be announced. Heller was reluctant to confirm a release date.

"Unfortunately I can't give you a date at this time - look, it bums me out to say it," he concluded.
PC Gamer
Call of Duty Black Ops
The rumour mill is awash with whispers of a sequel to Treyarch's Call of Duty: Black Ops. Last month it was noted that Activision had bought up a series of Black Ops 2 domain names, a hint compounded by the recent appearance of an Amazon listing for Black Ops 2. The ad has since been pulled, but not before a screenshot appeared on Gameblog, spotted on Joystiq. That's not the only place that Black Ops 2 has appeared recently.

On LinkedIn, the profile of an artist at Nerve Software listed Black Ops 2 as a recent project. Nerve's last project is listed as Call of Duty: Black Ops. The LinkedIn profile has since been taken down.

Treyarch and Infinity Ward have taken it in turns to churn out annual editions of Call of Duty over the last few years, so it's likely that Treyarch are working on the next one right now. Given how well the first Black Ops sold, a sequel would make complete sense. Would you be interested in a Black Ops 2?
PC Gamer
Modern Warfare 3 - night ops
It must be so hard to make a million-dollar budget game these days. Activision’s Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 has had years of testing and investment, and yet, when it’s released on the PC it’s still not quite configured how we like it.

Fortunately, there’s a whole bunch of options to get it looking better or running more smoothly. The Infinity Ward engine that propels the game may have been heavily modified, but Activision helpfully includes a number of effects that can be turned on or off in-game.

If that’s not enough, you can also edit the config file and add command line integers to make it run just how you want it to. We’ve stuck to mere graphic tweaks and fixes, so they shouldn’t actually interfere with the game itself.

The in-game options menu is the first port of call if you're looking to gain a few frames. It's full of familiar options like anti-aliasing. Look out for the Image Quality setting, though. According to PC Games Hardware ‘Native’ runs the game with crisp default textures, but ‘Extra’ upscales the textures, making them look all blurry and horrible. Run in Native - if you can.

Conversely, the Extra mode for Texture Resolution doesn't upscale anything, it'll just make MW3's surfaces look better.

If you don’t mind your smoke looking a little harder (and who doesn’t?) you can turn Soften Smoke Edges off for a mild FPS boost.

Under the hood, buried in the config files, there are a few more values you might want to tweak to get Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 just the way you like it. You'll find the relevant files in C:\Program Files\Steam\steamapps\common\call of duty modern warfare 3\players2. config.cfg alters settings for singleplayer, and config_mp.cfg adjusts multiplayer. Open 'em up in notepad, and run a find (Ctrl+F) to go straight to the relevant entries.

Once you've tweaked it, save the file in its original location. If you screw things up you can just delete the config files and Steam will automatically regenerate them.

Weapon casings
seta cg_brass “1″
If you find the constant stream of ejected bullet casings flying out of your weapon distracting, change the '1' in this entry to '0'.

Depth of field
seta r_depthPrepass “0″
To use this setting, you’ll have to turn off depth of field in the main settings. This entry will let you tweak it more precisely that the in-game options menu. 0 is the default, ‘1’ sets it to ‘world’ meaning only objects in the background are blurred. ‘2’ will enable depth of field in the foreground and background.

Ragdoll settings
seta ragdoll_max_simulating “16″
Ragdoll physics mean that dead ‘uns fly around the screen and impact with buildings. Lower this to reduce the number of floppy limb simulations on screen at once.

Dead bodies (Multiplayer only)
seta ai_corpseCount “X”
Sets the number of corpses visible on screen at once. Unless you’re some kind of necrophile, you don’t really need your maps to be littered with bodies.

seta r_preloadShaders "0"
Setting this to ‘1’ preloads the shaders (surprisingly), resulting in smoother performance, but it may overload your memory a bit.

seta r_rendererPreference "Default"
Changing this to “Shader model 2.0” may benefit older cards.

seta sm_maxLights "4"
This sets the number of light flashes on screen at once. Reduce it if you’re prone to migraines, or to improve performance.

seta r_texFilterAnisoMax "4"/seta r_texFilterAnisoMin "1"
Maximum and minimum anisotropic settings - set the former to ‘8’ for maximum performance, but bear in mind that this may impact your frame rates.

seta snd_cinematicVolumeScale "0.5"
Reduce or increase this to set the volume level of the cinematic music.

seta sensitivity "4.0"
Sets your mouse’s sensitivity - great for twitchy gamers.

seta snd_enableEq "1"
Set this to zero to stop the game processing sound equalisation.

Other tips and tricks

Steam commands
To force DirectX 9 compatibility mode right-click on the game in Steam and choose ‘Properties’, ‘General’, ‘Set Launch Options’ and enter ‘-dx9’. Works a treat if you’re having problems with older graphics cards.

General problems
MapModNews has a whole load of more specific problems complete with fixes. It also highlights that there’s an issue with Modern Warfare 3 for certain Orange Broadband customers in the UK. Apparently it’s being looked into.

MW3 Configuration Utility
This handy little program lets you adjust config settings and more before running the game. It will even let you change the colour of your ping bar - if that floats your boat.

Widescreen Fixer
There are still issues with Modern Warfare 3 on certain monitors, but this widescreen fixer can adjust the game’s field of view. You’ll need to work out your monitor’s aspect ratio - find your resolution on this Wikipedia page, and match it up to the aspect ratio (for example, 1366 by 768 is 16:9). Then set the correct aspect ratio in the launcher. It’s a handy little tool, and it’ll also work with all other CoD games and some others, such as BioShock.

We think that’s covered pretty much everything there is to know about Modern Warfare 3. If you’ve got specific problems (other than annoying noobs) post ‘em in the comments. Likewise, if you’ve found a hack that makes the game run like a dream let us know.
PC Gamer


Given the sheer number of people who have died in warfare in the course of human history, it’s fairly probable that soldiers have passed on in wildly random ways. Take this clip from Modern Warfare 3, pointed out to us by CVG. A knife is lobbed across a level, lands on a helicopter and then drops onto some unfortunate grunt below, like a particularly violent game of MouseTrap. Thing is, that’s probably happened at least once during an actual war (minus the part where the knife phases through the steel wing of the chopper), which turns this clip from hilariously jammy to faintly disturbing.
PC Gamer
Modern Warfare 3 destruction thumbnail
Modern Warfare 3 publishers Activision have been banging on about how their latest face-shooter has made more money than the GDP of a small country - but it seems it’s shifted fewer units than its predecessor, Call of Duty: Black Ops.

According to Eurogamer, Modern Warfare 3 has sold “just under” two million copies in the UK - 1.6 per cent less than Black Ops sold last year. Despite selling fewer units, Modern Warfare 3 has somehow made more money for Activision, bringing in £83.1 million for the uber publisher - 15 per cent more than Black Ops.

It also seems that these figures only account for PS3 and Xbox 360 copies of the game, so it’s unknown how much Activision have made from PC copies of the game - the majority of which are presumably downloads via Steam. We’re guessing many, many millions more though.
PC Gamer
Modern Warfare 3 disturbed thumbnail
Who'd have thought it? Just like Modern Warfare 2, Modern Warfare 3 wants to know how easily offended you are. Very considerate.

This message pops up as you begin the single player campaign. We assume it refers to the controversial scene that we mentioned last week but, seeing as Graham has only just begun the single player campaign, there's potential for all kinds of upsetting things to be hidden within. Very exciting and, potentially, very disturbing.

Our review of Modern Warfare 3 has been delayed but will be published asap. Until then, why not read Graham's first impressions of Modern Warfare 3's multiplayer?

Are you easily disturbed? What was the game to disturb you? Let us know in the comments.

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