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Call of Duty 3

PS3 signs up for online war: Headquarters and the ominous-sounding War modes lead the charge

Rain, gunfire, blood, sweat and the overpowering stench of fear and desperation: it sounds like your average Friday night out in Barnsley, but the truth is it's Call of Duty 3 we're talking about and, brilliantly, it's all the better for it.

Call of Duty 3 is a riot of bad weather, extreme violence and, best of all, radioactive amounts of historically accurate fun. And it all looks frighteningly realistic. Rain sheets down onto mud-churned battlefields as American teenagers in tin hats breathe their last on blood-soaked killing fields miles away from home. Still, never mind, eh?

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A few minutes spent racking up the kills on Call of Duty 3's supremely fat-bellied multiplayer mode and war will seem a positively pleasant way to spend an afternoon. Of course, this being the age of Sony's online PlayStation Network (or it will be, once PS3 finally arrives), multiplayer is high on the Call of Duty 3 agenda. And by high, we mean stratosphere raping. Just the thought of a brain-searingly intense, online 24- player shootout has connotations lofty enough to give even Mount Everest a complex.

The emphasis in Call of Duty 3's multiplayer game is on teamwork (so that's 12 against 12, then). While those of a more psychotic mind frame can still run around, spraying hot lead death at anything that moves in standard Deathmatch mode, where you'll really want to spend your time is sampling CoD3's squad-based games. Familiar modes such as Team Battle and Team Capture the Flag are good for quick, focused match-ups, while new to PlayStation modes such as Headquarters (in which teams have to capture, then hold neutral bases) and the ominous-sounding War add welcome depth, ensuring a game the punters are likely to still be playing online for some considerable time post launch.

Character classes are another aspect that Call of Duty 3's multiplayer game goes for in a big way. Just as online PS2 shooter Battlefield 2: Modern Combat has a selection of different killing professions, each with their own strengths and weaknesses (sniper, medic, etc), so CoD3 offers the same, forcing you to not only pick a character type that fits your style of play, but also turns team-building into a challenging task in its own right. Are we likely to need a medic? Do we take three heavy gunners into battle, or two?

But the most entertaining element of the multiplayer game that we can see is the ability for members to pile into several of the game's vehicles at once. Whether that's ten men in the back of a tank, or two sharing the controls of a motorbike and sidecar, it should prove vastly amusing. A nice thought given how shitty war usually turns out to be.

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