It was 2007, and everyone around the globe could not stop talking about one game: Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. With a storyline that concluded in 2011, a lot of people thought it was an end for Captain Price and the crew. However, that went to dust when the new Modern Warfare storyline redeemed the roles of Captain Price, Gaz, Ghost, and Soap in 2019 COD: MW.
It is now 2023, and Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3 is here. As a COD fan worth his salt, I decided to grab a copy and see if it matched the level of fervor I felt back then. The review below is my honest opinion of the game. However, do note that Infinityward Studios is not the same as the one that created gems like the original Call of Duty. With the Microsoft and Activision merger deal, we all were expecting a better game than what we got. The experience was interesting, to say the least.
Story: A Disappointing Experience for a COD Level Game
From the very beginning, Call of Duty has given players a decent set of stories. This has been mirrored in games like the original Modern Warfare trilogy or the Black Ops campaign. However, I have noticed that since 2019, the stories have taken a downturn path of being short, generic, and downright dull at some points. Sledgehammer has done plenty to disappoint us with repetitive stories like COD Vanguard, so the wound stays fresh. Yeah, we still haven’t recovered from that nightmare.
Like other games before it, the game begins and plays out like an old American army movie. The story itself is littered with amazing cutscenes that bring that point home. The previous Modern Warfare 2 ends with conflict and bad blood between Shadow Company and 141. But in this sequel, I could not find any proof or reason why 141 should team up with the Shadow Company or vice versa. There are plenty of loopholes in the story that should not be there. This led to moments of utter confusion where I was even doubting if I had played the older games.
Besides the loopholes, another key thing missing in the story is the character relationship between teammates that adds that familial tone of brotherhood to Call of Duty. During my time with the game, I could not find any meaningful connections between Team 141. I say this because, in the previous versions, we always saw all the members trying to crack a joke or being focused on saving their teammates. However, in Modern Warfare 3, we only see this occurring in the last few scenes. As an anime fan, this just reminded me of a filler episode.
Even though I was pretty disappointed with MW3 at this point, I had held out hope for the ending. Sadly, it wasn’t meant to be. the progression, ending, and almost everything felt hasty and poorly wrapped up. At the end of my playthrough, the game felt like a $10 DLC rather than an entire experience. And as I was expecting, the campaign length matched the story.
While I don’t expect Call of Duty campaigns to last days, Modern Warfare 3, in particular, was even shorter than usual. Even though most people have reported the total story lasts five hours, the actual gameplay only runs about 3 hours in total. The rest of the time was either spent in cutscenes or meandering through the game. As a player who finished the entire game in just over 3 hours, I was left feeling disappointed with the overall length. I will not be surprised if downloading the game takes more time than completing it.
Gameplay: Warzone Missions with Boring AI
If there’s one thing I always rely on about COD, it is that gameplay will remain the trusted experience it has always been. However, I was in for a shock. Modern Warfare 3, this time, switches it up from the cinematic experience we rely on to one that feels like a Warzone rip-off. One of my biggest gripes is the AI. No matter which difficulty you play in, the enemies will barely react. The only thing the settings do is increase their headshot chances. This means they can barely hurt you while you go about your missions.
The missions in Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3 are a combination of practiced repetition and bland content. Almost 90 percent of the gameplay seems repetitive, in the same sequence, and based on a Warzone map. The COD-esque battles we have come to know and love feel so far gone they’re invisible.
The level of repetition carries over to other elements as well. So whether there are simple gunfights or full-scale gunships, it’s all the same. You shoot down one tank and two fighter jets in the same location. The only mission I feel is good but very short is the one Kate “Watcher” Laswell attempts on the Arklov base. Yeah, this is the same place where we find the original Modern Warfare 3 hero Yuri in a little cameo. Overall, in most missions, you defend your ground until evac comes. That is pretty much a pattern for this 2023 Call of Duty campaign.
If you’re the type of player who loved a linear playthrough with cinematic combat, MW3 won’t do. However, for those who want a level of control, the new Open Combat Missions are here for that. Players are required to choose their own weapon load-outs before the game begins. However, I found they took away from the campaign essence of the game. It feels like a story mode skin over the Warzone gameplay for most of the time while you are in it. I personally miss the times of slow-mo breaching interactions that COD made, which makes the gameplay of MW3 a dull element for me.
Graphics: Copy Pasted with Bad Textures
Throughout my time with MW3, I had an inkling the maps looked familiar. This is thanks to the lazy work behind map design. Almost every map on the Modern Warfare 3 campaign is a modified or just a copy-paste version of the old Warzone. You will notice that from the first map itself, which is the same as the original Warzone. Even the buildings and containers look familiar to DMZ and Warzone. Well, there is a literal Verdansk map in the campaign, too.
It is also noticeable that these maps have lower-resolution textures, which is just disappointing. After running my game on multiple rendering settings, resolutions, and the highest quality, almost everything remains the same. This showed me that the minute details are just an afterthought in this chaotic, gun-heavy campaign. Also, not to forget the bad lighting in this game, given that it is 2023 with so many graphically polished games like Baldur’s Gate 3 and Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 on the market.
Despite cranking my quality preset to the highest, I barely got any lighting differences. Overall, I felt the graphical pull of MW3 was quite lackluster. With low-resolution textures, the same map design, and almost no difference in quality, it was a forgettable experience.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 Performance
As we all know, how optimized the Call of Duty games are. Jokes apart, this game performs better than all the other Call of Duty I have played on my system. Settings like DLSS and AMD FSR 3.0 can upgrade your performance on paper. However, as I played the game on my GTX card, I did not use any sharpening to check how the game performs without any performance-boosting settings. My testbench was the following:
CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 3600, running at base clock
GPU: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 Super
RAM: 16GB DDR4 @ 3200MHz
SSD: 512GB Adata
When running on the recommended settings, the game performs decently. It goes up to 100-120 FPS at times, but there is a big issue. The recommended settings on Modern Warfare 3 end up getting the CPU temperature above 90 degrees C. Once it touches that temperature, the performance starts decreasing. So, playing this game for intensive hours on a stock cooler is not recommended at all.
However, when I ended up creating custom settings, keeping the resolution at 1080p and rendering scale at 100, it performed amazingly. I was getting a stable 90 FPS with a CPU temperature of 70-80 degrees C. This makes this game optimized for even low-end systems. It is better to keep the sharpening settings off as they feel not optimized and can end up messing with your performance and the quality balance of the game. The motion blur, bullet impacts, and other minor features look flawless around Captain Price and his Crew. This makes the overall feel good if you ignore texture and edge details.
Overall, the game’s performance is balanced as it is the same Warzone that people will play in the multiplayer mode. The visuals, even when cranked up, look out of place, but that is what you get for a franchise that publishes a game every year.
Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3: Worthy of a Sequel?
Since the Call of Duty: Ghost edition, Infinityward has fallen off the cliff. Ever since it has been difficult for the franchise to create the gems they used to produce. On the other hand, the co-creators of the studio, Sledgehammer and Treyarch, never recovered from the Vanguard and WWII campaign. The new Modern Warfare storyline and gameplay were the only hope for the Call of Duty franchise. However, that also falls flat here. The only plus in the game was the ending credits roll.
As someone who has grown up witnessing the great of Call of Duty franchise, I had extremely high hopes. From the greatness of Call of Duty’s original Modern Warfare campaign to the Black Ops days and even good stories like the Cold War, this was the expectation from Activision.
It is a shame that despite creating a charming MW (2019) and MW2 (2022) campaign, Activision went to a multiplayer-focused franchise. We will suggest Activision get these as DLC to their Call of Duty HQ, which is a reskin of the MW2. At least that way, people will know it is not a new game and will pay accordingly.
Whatever good or bad the previous games had, Modern Warfare 3 feels like the last nail in the coffin. The game as a Call of Duty game will garner a lot of money and will consider itself a hit one, too. But as a fan of FPS shooter games, I will forget about it even before my game uninstalls. As Price finishes the job in the end, Activision needs to finish this too, or else there will be another Makarov, a.k .a. a forgettable Call of Duty campaign.