This shooter Is engaging, underwhelming, and different but still good…just not at the same time.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III
Developer: Sledgehammer Games
Release Date: 11/10/2023
Review Score: 7
While the campaign is lacking in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III, multiplayer is its usual fun self, while co-op is horrific in a good way.
Reviewer played on PlayStation 5. A code was provided by the publisher.
Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare III is available now on PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, PC, Xbox Series X/S, and Xbox One.
For years, Call of Duty has essentially been three interconnected games in one: a story-driven single-player game, a co-op game that often features zombies, and a competitive multiplayer game, all sharing common locations and timeframe.
But Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare III marks the first time when the disparity between these modes is so great that we cannot recommend it if you only play one of them. One specific one.
For those who play well with others…
For most people, Call of Duty starts and ends with multiplayer. And in this regard, Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare III feels like it has for years (which, depending on your perspective, is either good or a sign this needs to be rebooted). There are the increasingly rewarding kill streaks, the satisfying leveling-up rewards, and, of course, such fan-favorite modes as "Team Deathmatch," "Kill Confirmed," and "Ground War."
It also, of course, has the usual upgrades and changes every new installment gets. This, in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III, includes bringing back the helpful red dot minimap that was glaringly absent in 2019's Modern Warfare and 2022's Modern Warfare II, and which allows players to see if someone nearby has used a weapon without a suppressor, making for even more energetic battles.
But the biggest addition to multiplayer is "Cutthroat," in which three teams of three players each try to eliminate the competition three times.
It's like "Team Deathmatch" if you were always outnumbered.
It's also faster and less forgiving. There's no mid-round respawning (though teammates can revive you); while said rounds are short, and end when two teams are eliminated or, if time runs out, someone grabs the overtime flag.
All of which makes it frantic and fun, though it's decidedly better if you're paired with people who value teamwork (good luck with that).
As fun as "Cutthroat" and the rest of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III's multiplayer is, though, the map situation leaves a lot to be desired. Specifically: new maps.
Of the 20 included at launch, 16 are from 2011's Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3. Granted, they’ve been remastered, but they're still the same maps we memorized 12 years ago.
For those who don't play well with others…
Next, there's single-player. Which, as Call of Duty campaigns go, is pretty typical, but decidedly thin compared to others.
While Call of Duty's campaigns are always short — especially next to such fellow first-person shooters as Halo and Doom — they usually compensate by being nicely varied in clever ways, and full of over-the-top cinematic moments, which makes them so effortlessly fun that you want to play them multiple times.
However, while the one in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III has variety, it's the same variety we've gotten before...and better in other games. This becomes glaringly obvious when you swim up to a dock to quietly shoot some guards, only to realize it's a shallower version of something you did in Modern Warfare II.
There's also nothing as exhilarating, or as cinematic, as Modern Warfare II's Matrix-meets-Dead Space-meets-Battlefield car chase. In MWIII, you never go from manning a turret in a helicopter gunship to hanging upside down from the chopper to jumping from one truck to another.
That said, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III's campaign does add one (relatively) new idea: large, multi-objective battlefields (think Sniper Elite 5 or Wolfenstein Youngblood). These not only give you multiple ways to reach your objectives, but they also give your enemies multiple ways to come at you.
As a result, these parts have the kind of frantic, seat-of-your-pants firefights that are a hallmark of this series. They also add some engaging games of cat & mouse, especially when it's dark or the area is intricate.
It's during these moments that Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III's single-player mode redeems itself somewhat. Though the operative word is "somewhat." While the campaign may not be terrible — this isn't as dull as 2005's Call of Duty 2: Big Red One — it's also not as good as any that have come in the intervening 18 years.
For those who brains brains brains…
Finally, Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare III has a rather different version of "Zombies."
Taking a cue from the campaign (or, more accurately, the "DMZ" mode in Call of Duty: Warzone), this co-op mode also sets its action in large, open areas, though these are considerably larger. They also have multiple objectives, including somewhere you fight interlopers who are very much alive.
By setting "Zombies" in such huge open areas, it gives you a real sense of loneliness and dread. This is amplified by how there are not always a lot of zombies in any one spot, though there might be some lurking around the corner. Though you also never know whether they're the fast or slow kind or some kind of super zombie.
That said, when the horde does come, it comes hard.
Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare III's "Zombies" is also more of a free-for-all than the progression we normally face in this mode. Though it does still have many of the usual mechanics, such as the incongruous Doom-like power-ups and an announcer on loan from Mortal Kombat 1.
As engaging as "Zombies" can be, though, it is a bit complicated and not explained well, even if you've played this mode in previous games.
It's also a bummer that, unlike those previous games, you can't play "Zombies" in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III on your own. Though that's probably for the best since — like "Cutthroat" mode in multiplayer — this works best when you have a competent and observant team by your side.
Still, if you're prejudiced against the living impaired, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III's "Zombies" is an interesting spin on this familiar co-op mode.
Time To End This...
In the end, as you've probably surmised, Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare III is worth getting if you're going to play multiplayer, "Zombies," some combination of the two, or one or both, and the campaign.
Just don't buy it only for the campaign; it's not worth it. At least not at full price. This may be three games in one, but it really feels like two and a half.
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