Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 picks up right after MW2 2022, where Captain Price and his team of Task Force 141 are facing a new enemy, Vladimir Makarov. The new Call of Duty story is a short one, as the new usual of the recent games of the series, featuring a four-hour campaign only. In terms of gameplay, however, the big promise in the build-up to launch was that MW3 would deliver a fresh experience for Call of Duty fans. As it turns out, though, that really isn’t the case in this familiar and ultimately repetitive romp.
Modern Warfare 3 Campaign Review: Another Year, Another Call of Duty
Let’s first clear one big elephant in the room: despite the controversy on MW3 2023 being a $70 DLC, I never thought that to be true. Ultimately, the amount of content here is just par for the course regarding a modern Call of Duty experience; why complain now? We’ve been used to this for some time, and though that doesn’t excuse the issue, I would say it’s no different from years gone by. The same thing had happened with Black Ops Cold War, Vanguard, and MW2. However, the Modern Warfare 3 campaign mode is much more boring than MW2 and MW 2019, making it a detached experience from the series.
Story: Decent Concept, Poor Execution
With Makarov’s return, the MW3 campaign could easily have one of the best narratives of a Call of Duty game in the series. The stage is set with the first mission of the game, where you’re about to free Vladimir Makarov from the Gulag prison. The mission’s action scenes are excellent, and the story unfolds very well to show how loyal the Konni Group is to their commander. However, as you reach the second mission, you feel like playing the free Warzone DMZ mode with some extra stuffing.
The overall story of Modern Warfare 3 is about chasing Makarov while also dealing with Shepherd as he’s trying to get involved in the conflict. It is no problem at all to pursue Makarov; in fact, we did the same in the original MW2 and MW3 campaign modes, and those games have some of the best Call of Duty stories. With MW3 2023, however, this chase is just dull. The game has bland scenes and missions, and they often end right as they feel like they are about to get going without proper closure.
I would have loved to have seen a more concerted effort to properly conclude the narrative and deliver a final crescendo worthy of the big climax it tees up. Without this final piece, though, it leaves a bit of a sour taste in the mouth — all when, again, it could have been amongst the best CoD stories ever.
Take the Deep Cover mission as an example. In this specific operation, you play as Kate Laswell, entering a Kastovian Base. You go down a road and then watch a cutscene, and then you have to escape from a building, which takes only 1 minute to do. This escape could be dramatic, with action-packed scenes and quick time events that help you remember how Laswell survived against the odds. But all you get is an operation that you’ll efficiently finish in 5 minutes and never even remember how you did it to begin with.
Annoyingly, the whole game feels as though it’s too distracted to set up upcoming Seasons and the next game. In fact, the Modern Warfare 3 Campaign feels like an episode of a series rather than a sequel to a movie. Makarov plays with you the whole time, and you won’t even get a proper closure in the ending scenes of the game, leaving everything to be continued through the next MW3 and Warzone Seasons, or probably MW4.
Gameplay: You Control The Operation
Activision made a big song and dance over the introduction of Open Combat missions. These are the types of operations that put you inside a small open world map and then challenges you to tick off objectives to complete the mission. It sounds decent on paper, but the reality is that this mode itself is one of MW3’s worst features.
The Open Combat missions feel like a cut from MW2‘s co-op episodes and a slice of content from Warzone’s DMZ mode. This isn’t what you would expect from a Call of Duty game’s campaign mode, to be honest. You have no teammates in these missions, and all the action scenes and quick-time events vanish from the game. It becomes even more tedious when you realize that all you can do in these missions is to circle a small map to do simple tasks. These never feel particularly rewarding, lacking substance and void of any cinematic scenes at their conclusion.
Other linear Modern Warfare 3 missions are no exception either by instead being simple Spec Ops operations we did in the original MW2 and MW3. For example, we’ve got the Frozen Thundra mission from MW3 2023 and the Cliffhanger mission from the original MW2. In Frozen Thundra, you move beside the other Task Force 141 members to shoot enemies and destroy their rushing vehicles in the snow, while in Cliffhanger, you climb an icy mountain, plant a bomb silently without being detected, and then run away with a snowmobile in full speed while jumping from one side of a mountain to the other.
The only positive point of the Modern Warfare 3 campaign’s gameplay review is that shooting targets and using gadgets like drones are clicky and enjoyable. It’s even better with bringing back slide canceling and the new Tactical Stance option that allows you to walk faster while having a focused hip fire crosshair.
Graphics and Audio: Making Makarov’s Return A Glorious One
The actors behind the voices of the Modern Warfare 3 characters have done a fantastic job. Makarov sounds just as scary as he was in the original MW2, and if the story and gameplay were better, they could have created a masterpiece by MW3 2023. This is what I would call a wasted potential.
From how Captain Price talks to his comrades in the cutscenes to how violent and evil Makarov’s actions match his voice, MW3 has nailed it in the acting department. The sounds of weapons and gunfights are also one of the positive points of the game.
As for graphics, I haven’t sensed any considerable changes in the game’s look from MW2. Playing the game on the 9th gen consoles, Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3 seems just as good as MW2, with a great amount of details and slick graphics.
Conclusion: Good Story, Bad Storytelling
The aim of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3‘s campaign story is good, but the execution of plans is just off-target. Instead of focusing on the details of this story and giving it a sense of closure by the end, the MW3 campaign has become a forgettable, boring game due to its rush to end the narrative and lazy gameplay scenarios.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 campaign struggles to tell a proper original story of its own, featuring lazy gameplay with the least action scenes. The graphics look nice, and the audio brings the sound of war to your ear. Still, overall, the MW3 campaign is a brief, tedious experience that you can skip by watching its cinematic scenes.