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Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 Review - Running On Empty

  • Top-notch gunplay
  • Fluid movement
  • Overall familiar "Call of Duty" experience
  • Uninspired campaign and a general lack of innovation
  • Overreliance on microtransactions
  • Overall familiar "Call of Duty" experience

An Xbox Series X code for "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3" was purchased by the writer for this review. The game is available now on PS4, PS5, Xbox Series X|S, and PC.

The "Call of Duty" franchise, a titan in the gaming world, has stumbled with its latest entry, "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3." It's like attending a much-hyped party only to find stale chips and flat soda, not to mention only enough to satisfy a few of the guests. This isn't the groundbreaking experience we were promised; instead, we're left with a sense of déjà vu and a longing for the series' glory days.


The campaign in "Modern Warfare 3" picks up where "Modern Warfare 2" left off, reintroducing the infamous villain Vladimir Makarov. However, rather than an explosive narrative, we are presented with a disappointingly underwhelming experience. The story, which should have been a rollercoaster ride of intrigue and suspense, feels more like a lazy river of clichés and missed opportunities.

Players look for emotional depth and connection with characters, otherwise, why should we care? Unfortunately, this campaign is about as emotionally engaging as a mannequin. The cast of Task Force 141, despite their potential, is reduced to cardboard cutouts spouting military jargon. It's hard to care about saving the world when everything feels so surface-level. The campaign's duration is another letdown, coming in at about three and a half hours, leaving players unfulfilled and craving more substance. The new open combat missions look good on paper, but still ultimately end up being underwhelming — especially with the way that they squander the series' signature fast-paced chaos and sense of urgency.


Multiplayer: A Familiar Tune with Off-Key Notes

Multiplayer has always been the heart of "Call of Duty," and in "Modern Warfare 3," it's like a greatest hits album with a few new tracks that nobody asked for. The gunplay remains top-notch, and the movement is fluid, but the lack of original maps feels like a creative bankruptcy. Players are served a reheated meal of remastered maps from 2009's "Modern Warfare 2," which, while visually appealing, have been tweaked to fit a more cluttered and claustrophobic design philosophy.


The game's focus on microtransactions also continues to be intrusive, annoying, and a blatant cash grab that treats players as wallets rather than warriors. Do you need to pay to win or have a good time? No, but this shift towards a monetized model — which we all saw coming over the past few releases — makes the game feel more like a storefront than a battlefield.

Ultimately, fans of "Call of Duty" multiplayer will find plenty of things to participate in and enjoy. But it's also nothing that they haven't already played before.

The Annual Release Conundrum: Quality vs. Quantity

"Modern Warfare 3" embodies the ongoing issue that not only plagues the "Call of Duty" series, but also affects other annual franchises like "NBA 2K" and "Madden." The game feels rushed, as if it was hastily pushed out to meet an annual deadline rather than to uphold the highest quality standards. The lack of innovation in each new installment becomes increasingly evident, again raising the constantly asked question of whether we truly need a new "Call of Duty" every year, or even every two or three years. It becomes even more apparent when you realize that, essentially, it's the same game with just a fresh coat of paint.


In contrast, taking a page from the "UFC" gaming franchise could offer a better approach. Instead of releasing titles annually, "UFC" keeps fans engaged for a handful of years with each release through regular roster updates and quality-of-life patches. This approach not only ensures a longer development cycle but also allows for more substantial improvements. Perhaps it's about time the industry as a whole realizes that sometimes less can actually be more, especially when it comes to delivering a truly exceptional gaming experience.

For the Diehards and the Dabblers

For the dedicated "Call of Duty" fanatics, "Modern Warfare 3" will be a familiar playground that's easy enough to swallow down. They'll dive into the multiplayer with the zeal of a kid in a candy store. However, for more casual players or those new to the series, this isn't a party you'll regret missing. It's the same old song and dance, and the tune is getting old and tired.


"Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3" feels like a franchise running on fumes. It's a game that could have been so much more but settles into mediocrity for the sake of staying in the conversation. The multiplayer, while still fun enough, is marred by a lack of originality and an overbearing focus on monetization. The campaign, a critical part of any "Call of Duty" experience, falls flat with its uninspired narrative and forgettable characters.

In a year where gamers' options are vast and varied, "Modern Warfare 3" doesn't do enough to stand out as we head into the holiday season and heightened conversations surrounding Game of the Year. It's a clear example of a series in need of a recharge, a fresh perspective, or perhaps even better, a break. This iteration gets a 4 out of 10, not because it's an outright disaster, but because it's a shadow of what "Call of Duty" can and should be. Let's hope the next invitation to this once-great party brings back the excitement we've been missing. And, even more hopefully, let's hope that release is five years away, when we actually want a new iteration.