Though a lot of the focus of Modern Warfare 3 will be placed on the single player (which we got a live demo of) and the competitive multiplayer (which was unfortunately M.I.A.), Infinity Ward and Sledgehammer Games were also providing an E3 2011 hands-on demo of a new Spec Ops mode for Modern Warfare 3 titled Survival.

Essentially a Modern Warfare version of Treyarch’s Zombie Mode, Survival pits two players against an escalating wave of enemy types. Though it isn’t an entirely new mode, Survival does put some new spins on the variant in order to make it feel fresh.

Obviously the biggest difference between Survival and Zombie Mode is the game’s use of more realistic enemies — a.k.a. no zombies. The mode does, however, feature an escalating intensity of enemies — from better-equipped general infantry to boss battle-esque sequences against things like helicopters — to make sure the team feels challenged.

A few of the interesting enemies that were on display for the Spec Ops mode were some (infantry and dogs) that were outfitted with C4 that detonates soon after their death, and a larger, better armored enemy called the juggernaut. Enemies like these break up the gameplay by upping the ante wave to wave in variety and difficulty.

With increasing difficulty in enemies also comes the ability to better equip yourself for battle via a currency-based armory system. Situated in three distinct points on the level, which was titled ‘Dome,’ are a weapon armory, equipment armory, and perks armory that allow the player to spend their earned cash on upgrades for weapons – and some really interesting advantages.

Particularly exciting with the perks was the ability to call in various NPC squads to assist you in battle. Unlike the power-ups in Zombies these are purchasable, and are available for use 9much like a kill streak in the multiplayer0. The demo only highlighted two squads (regular teammates and ones outfitted with riot shields), but the developer promised there would be more in the future.

Also like multiplayer, the Spec Ops modes feature a rank progression that promises to deliver more goodies the higher up the player goes. The developer wasn’t willing to comment on what those are at this point, but they promise some cool stuff in the future.

Modern Warfare 3 Spec Ops Hands On - Squads

Even though Spec Ops Survival was the marquee demo for Modern Warfare 3, there was a brief tease of a Spec Ops’ campaign, which allows two players, much like Modern Warfare 2, to play through unique scenarios based on the single player. The title supports both split-screen and online play, which is nice, but limiting matches to only two players is a bit disappointing.

As a new addition to the Modern Warfare brand, Survival takes some of the appeal of the other half of the Call of Duty franchise, and bridges the gap. It features enough to make the progression and moment-to-moment experience keep from becoming stale, but retains the core gameplay experience gamers love.

Like previous iterations, Modern Warfare 3 doesn’t want to players with only two sectors of gameplay, but wants to give them options. Spec Ops’ Survival mode is just one of them, but more are promised in the future.

What do you think of Spec Ops Survival mode? Is it enough of a spin on the Zombie Mode to warrant some dedication of time?

Modern Warfare 3 releases November 8, 2011 for PS3, PC, and Xbox 360.

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