Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III Review

Richard Walker

We all know the score by now. There's a terrorist on the loose, and it's your job to stop him. So it goes with Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III's campaign, the villainous Vladimir Makarov returning (having wrought havoc in 2009's MW2) with a typically nefarious plot to inflict chemical weapons upon the world, and he doesn't mind breaking more than a few million eggs to make his dastardly omelette. Task Force 141 is called back into action, then, in what is quite possibly the most disappointingly brief and half-baked Call of Duty campaign of all time. That's the least of MW3s problems, though – the way in which the package is presented is enough to give you a headache.


After scrolling through no less than three user agreements, you're then treated to an unskippable promo video hawking the game's latest skins and such, before having to endure a Battle Pass animation, showing you all the delightful things you can unlock. Mercifully, this happens only the first time you start up the game. That's just to get to the main menu, mind, which itself is a fairly messy affair. Now that Modern Warfare III resides within the 'Call of Duty HQ' along with MW2 and several other 'legacy' titles, there's an awful lot of clutter to navigate. Then there's the campaign itself, which mixes linear missions with new 'Open Combat Missions' – the latter of which can prove more than a little frustrating.

Essentially Call of Duty's attempt at 'doing a Battlefield', Open Combat Missions present you with a series of objectives to complete in any order you see fit, using whatever tools you can lay your hands on. These are all well and good, providing you can methodically meander your way through the map, picking off enemies without coming unstuck before you complete an objective and earn a checkpoint. Checkpoints can be quite far apart, and so retrying Open Combat Missions probably accounts for the majority of the campaign's rather brief runtime.

And the story portion of MW3 is short, remixing some greatest hits from the original three Modern Warfare games, whether it's courting 'No Russian'-style controversy with a mission aboard a commercial flight and at a football stadium filled with screaming civilians fleeing the baddies, or visiting London for a siege in the Channel Tunnel. Oh, and there's the obligatory overwatch mission, in which you circle in a plane, raining death from above through monochrome thermal vision. Classic.

Furthermore, the campaign's coda doesn't succeed in quite being the tragic gut punch the swelling strings on the soundtrack make it out to be. It's hard to care about much of anything in Modern Warfare 3's narrative, and the breadcrumbs leading to another chapter hardly induces excitement.


It also seems quite apt for a game that features sixteen old multiplayer maps from 2009's original Modern Warfare 2 that the campaign is somewhat reheated fare. Multiplayer doesn't exactly reinvent the wheel either, but then, what did you expect? The thing is, Call of Duty's multiplayer simply works, and it works well. MW3's multiplayer offering is no different in that regard, and choosing to modernise a slew of fan-favourite maps, alongside a few new ones, isn't exactly the worst idea in the world. The new War Mode doesn't always hit the mark either, with a large map featuring a procession of 'Operation Spearhead' tasks to complete with your squad, like seizing missile sites, escorting a tank, then initiating a missile strike, or vice-versa – preventing the taking of missile sites, destroying the tank, and stopping the missile strike.

For my money, I much prefer a more conventional Call of Duty multiplayer experience on a relatively compact map, without vehicles and all that. Leave that stuff to Battlefield. Slightly more effective is the new 3v3v3 Cutthroat mode, offering short sharp shots of action wherein you either fight over a flag or attempt to wipe out the other teams before they seize said flag. It's simple, straightforward, and the perfect thing to dip into between the staple Team Deathmatch, Kill Confirmed, Domination, Search and Destroy, Control, Hardpoint, or whatever your particular poison may be.

While Modern Warfare 3's Multiplayer offering is predictably robust, Zombies, developed by the Treyarch, the original creator of the mode, is something of a disappointment. Dubbed 'Operation Deadbolt', MW3's Zombies offering takes place within a rather bland and expansive map, in which you can scavenge for loot, tackle objectives called 'contracts' as they emerge, and perhaps make your way as close to the centre of the map as you dare. The further into the map's red zone you push, the more the threat level rises, and the more dangerous it becomes – if you can be bothered, that is.


The primary issue with MW3's Zombies mode is that it's often profoundly dull. Much of your time will be spent stranded in the middle of an expansive stretch of nothing, maybe with a squadmate or two in two, who are just as bewildered as you are. Without clear goals or any sense of immediacy, this iteration of Zombies is severely lacking. Historically, firing up Zombies mode guaranteed intense, seat-of-your-pants action; in Modern Warfare 3, it's remarkably boring, and seldom (if at all) does it ever reach the heights of the series' finest Zombies moments. With so much of MW3 adhering to a mantra of 'if it ain't broke don't fix it', it's disconcerting to see Zombies mode take such a huge leap backwards.

Indeed, as an overall package, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 might seem like a typically generous slab of content, but once you've dispensed with the short-lived campaign and exhausted what little joy there is to be had in Zombies mode, you're left with a fairly standard multiplayer suite, which, of course, is what the majority of players sign up for. And, I suppose, at the end of the day this is all that will really matter for most. For anyone who relishes a good Call of Duty campaign, and the raw, intense fun of Zombies mode, however, you're likely to find yourself feeling shortchanged. Still, if it's competitive online gratification you seek, then there are few shooters out there that do it as well as Call of Duty does it.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III

A disappointing campaign and a Zombies mode lacking in focus makes this a hackneyed Call of Duty entry that those thirsting for more multiplayer action will still enjoy. For anyone who plays for the campaign or loves to blast hordes of undead, however, Modern Warfare 3 is hard to recommend.

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Nothing unusual here. The same brand of orchestral pomp, loud gun sounds, explosions and all that. Everyone is gruff and gravelly, too.


Call of Duty always goes big when it comes to visual presentation and high production values, and Modern Warfare 3 is no different.


You've played a Call of Duty game, right? This offers the same kind of tight, intuitive gunplay for which the series is renowned.


All of the usual modes you'd expect, only, it's all starting to wear very thin indeed. Campaign falls short, and Zombies is dull. Multiplayer remains robust.


If you can get past the game being added as DLC for MW2, there's a perfectly serviceable 1,000G list here. Nothing particularly inventive, mind you.

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