Activision's blockbuster shooter headlined Microsoft's E3 2011 press conference, kicking off this year's show with an explosive first-person battle in the New York City harbor.

Infinity Ward creative strategist Robert Bowling cut a fine figure on Microsoft's stage as he guided Navy SEAL "Frost" through planting an underwater mine and then shooting his way through a Russian submarine.

Gliding through the NYC harbor with a personal transport device, Frost dodges enemy mines by keeping an eye on his sonar display on his way to forcing the sub to surface by strapping a powerful explosive to its hull.

Frost follows the sub up to the surface and confronts a dramatic view of the naval battle raging around him as his head bursts into the air. The SEALs waste no time breaking into the sub itself, and Frost mostly watches his comrades sweeping the feeble resistance from their path on the way to the sub's control room.

Bowling skips the demo ahead to the presumed end of the level, and Frost joins one of his fellow SEALs in turning the commander's keys in a launch console. Is the U.S. nuking the Russians with their own missiles?

Having hijacked the deadly payload, Frost and his team exfiltrate via inflatable raft. This final sequence plays out much like the snowmobile chase from Modern Warfare 2, as Bowling appeared to be driving his boat through a largely predetermined path on his way to the evac chopper. The best moments shown come during this bit, as Frost shoots the mines on the aft of a Russian pursuit boat and blow the craft fully in half. The waves of the tumultuous bay wash over the SEALs' small crafts as dozens of huge ships launch missiles and trade large-bore gunfire.

Sledgehammer Games head Glen Schofield closes the demo by coming onstage and reiterating his excitement to be working on the Modern Warfare franchise along with Infinity Ward.

The preview delivered the Modern Warfare vibe with its dramatic spectacles and outstanding audiovisual fidelity, but I have to express some concern at the fact that the franchise's single-player appears mired in the same tired design cliches Call of Duty has been rocking for years. As much as I like riding these rollercoasters, I'm ready to do more than follow my AI companions along from checkpoint to checkpoint.

We should be learning a lot more about Modern Warfare 3 as we near its November 8 release date.

For more on E3 2011, head to our hub page that will direct you to all of our extensive E3 coverage. If you're looking for more on Microsoft's press conference as it happens, join Jeff Cork and Phil Kollar at our ongoing liveblog.