| Played on a PS5 with 120hz Enabled. |
Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3’s campaign is a joke. I mean that with the most respect to the developers behind the game, and the most disrespect to those that allowed this to be pushed out the door. The campaign is a fraction of its former glory of just a couple years back — to see such a drastic dip is concerning. It’s a dull experience that loses its focus rather quickly with half the missions seemingly cobbled together as a tutorial for Warzone. It’s poorly paced with borderline incoherence slathered everywhere; the campaign does have some good moments, but it’s quickly dissipated with rather pointless results, making the high-stakes plot feel rather hallowed and utterly incomplete.
There’s No Eiffel Tower Here
The game opens up playing as Alpha Team infiltrating a Russian gulag; it was a gameplay ruse, as it’s revealed that we were playing as Konni troops all along to break out Vladimir Makarov. It’s a strong intro that ultimately collapsed as the story unfolded. Laswell informs Ghost Team 141 team of Makarov’s escape, and the team quickly turns their focus to preventative measures. We experience globetrotting events with Price, Soap, Ghost and Gaz teaming up with Farah and her ULF insurgence. Farah has maintained peace for some time in Urzikstan and while hauling nuclear missiles for deterrence, they’re quickly ambushed by the Konni group, having their missiles stolen in the process. This cascades to cat and mouse chase missions where 141 tries to get one step ahead of Makarov to prevent terrorist attacks from happening in key parts of the world and having them frame ULF for all of it. It’s a grounded approach to the geopolitical espionage we’ve come to familiarize with, and nothing like the 2011’s MW3 action packed war sequences; we will be hitting locations like Siberia, London and the fictional Verdansk, but we will not be experiencing moments like the Eiffel Tower collapse or New York City getting overrun by Russian troops like the original. 2022’s Modern Warfare 2 encapsulated the height of their storytelling with its ending revealing a modern take to the famous No Russians mission. We get that here, albeit far less impactful.
It’s not because I expected it, or even nostalgia clouding my judgement — it’s how it was executed. In the original, we experience this atrocious act of evil against humanity through the eyes of the terrorist themselves; it evoked an emotional response that resonates with players to this day — and left an everlasting effect within the plot itself. While the events that happens in MW3, which I will not spoil, is impactful to a degree and arguably the only impactful element of the story, it ultimately falls flat with corresponding missions that removes any consequence of it. I get it, the terrorist acts that’s happening in real life hits far too close to home, and it could appear to be insensitive if Sledgehammer went the extra mile — but Call of Duty has put themselves in that position since 2007’s Modern Warfare, showcasing uncomfortable moments of war — that energy is meant to keep its pace, no one will assume you’re being insensitive if the lesson for having us play these acts of evil is to show that war is dangerous and dirty. Additionally, we often experience the plots highest point as a backseat driver rather than playing through it like the previous games — although MW 2019 introduced heavy pre-rendered cutscenes, MW3 takes it to the next level that disconnects me as a player; Sledgehammer nearly removed all sense of immersion. I love COD for their amazing plot twist, cohesive plot regarding geopolitical tension and stupendous set-pieces — all of which are absent here. There are moments, but nowhere near the quality we deserve.
The Echoes of the Past
I commend Sledgehammer for attempting to do something fresh with their mission approach. We all know Warzone is popular, so I expected some form of mission structure sprinkled about the campaign — what I was not prepared for is their “open combat missions” to take over 50% of their 3hr campaign — yes, 3-frickin-hours, an all-time low for their already borderline playtime averaging around 6hrs on Veteran difficulty. These missions are multi-objective that encourages players to approach with their playstyle. A good idea, if done much better. See, the pseudo freedom of their wide-open map is rehashed with Verdansk assets, showing minimal effort in creating unique experiences. Mission objectives feel the same: go here and defuse, head there to blow up, then exfil the hell out. Sneaking is pretty much a bust as getting caught would result to the entire base immediately alerting to your position. You can flee and hide to remove it, but what happens to the immersive factor? Your enemies would pretend like nothing happened while walking over heaps of dead soldiers you mowed down — it’s ridiculous. There are no layered elements like disabling alert systems, manipulate something to prevent another thing from happening, no consequences, no missed opportunities, ect. It’s still linear by design because no matter how you approach the objective, you’ll still end up fighting a hoard of enemies before you exit.
There is this one mission I absolutely loved though called Highrise. It takes you to Saint Petersburg, Russia on a dilapidated building, that has you ascending upwards while fighting your way through Konni troops, similar to The Raid movie. There are multiple rooms to explore, exteriors to maneuver that’s all designed rather well. It’s the games only original attempt in this new mission structure and I hate that. There are moments where you play focused sequences, but it feels too spread out, and with all of my complaints above, I can’t help but feel betrayed. It also doesn’t help that the ending is abrupt; it’s rare that cliffhangers are done right, and in this case — it’s not.
The Gunplay is rather amazing, however. It’s smooth and responsive as expected, coupled with amazing AI reaction. I played on Veteran difficulty and although it was painful, it felt similar to any other COD game. Open combat missions take everything we know about Warzone, with a near-identical UI layout as well. There are armor plates to gather, vest to upgrade and orange crate to find that has a unique weapon to unlocks for your next loadout — same with gadgets and streaks. But because Warzone is so overly played out, this will feel utterly cheap by comparison. There are moments where you can drive to your next objective and such, but yeah — not much else to add. Checkpoint system is pretty bad as well — even when you complete 2/3 objectives, if you die (and you die a lot on Vet) you have to start fresh. I didn’t know I was playing a roguelike game. The entire structure of these missions just feels like an open crate simulator, if I wanted to do that, I could just boot up Warzone.
Oh, and this is treated as a DLC, priced as a full game because…. multiplayer and zombies. For PlayStation players, there’s no Platinum trophy to earn. Terrible. Additionally, you can’t boot up MW3 without having MW2 installed, further eliminating your storage capacity; MW2 is like a bajillion gigs, while MW3 is like another bajillion alongside the English language pack that’s like–a bajillion gigs. What the fuck Activision.
REVIEW SCORE: 5/10
I’m gravely disappointed in Activision. Everything Sledgehammer did that could be great is overshadowed by an incoherent and incomplete plot, soulless mission design and seemingly greedy practice. It becomes clear that Activision is trying to fool players into taking their cash and honestly, I’m 100% against this. All I can do is wait for the multiplayer to activate and hope that would help improve the overall package. I honestly doubt it though.
You can read my Modern Warfare Multiplayer Review HERE