Another year passes, and another Call of Duty game is released. This time round, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III‘s campaign carries on from last year’s Modern Warfare II, and Vladimir Makarov returns from the original Modern Warfare game. Modern Warfare III starts off with the reveal of Makarov, broken out of jail and making efforts to bring about his ideation of a true Russia.
Familiar faces return, including Price, Farah Karim, Alex Keller, as well as General Shepherd and Commander Phillips, all from previous games of the franchise. Facial animations are excellent, as would be expected.
The first campaign sees you entering the Gulag prison, climbing walls and rappelling down inside, picking off guards and avoiding prisoners, while using your night vision. This was a great introduction to the game, tense and chaotic, especially towards the end of the mission where you save Makarov and make your escape.
The first level is scripted and quite linear like previous Call of Duty games, but that doesn’t last long as you soon end up having to complete open combat missions, which for me broke up the pace of the game and excitement of the set-pieces. You have the freedom to approach the task at hand any way you want, which for some may be enjoyable, but as for myself, I missed those linear stages.
The open combat missions provide the player more freedom around how they complete them. With different goals, you now choose how to complete each one, with plenty of different weapons stashed in supply crates littered around the map.
Even though you have a choice on how you wish to complete the goals within these open areas, I always found that no matter how hard I tried to play stealthily, I always ended up in a firefight. I much preferred previous Call of Duty games where some missions required you to be stealthy. Gone is the atmosphere that I enjoyed previously, and cinematics rarely existed.
Modern Warfare II did something similar but managed to balance the levels and choices within the freedom to complete a level how you wanted. It still allowed that cinematic feel and amazing set-pieces, which unfortunately, Modern Warfare III has lost.
Call of Duty campaigns have, in the past, contained missions that hurtle you along in high-speed chases where you’re being shot at and attempting to escape with your life, and then next you need to move stealthy and with care, avoiding guards to complete your objectives. That’s all gone now, and it’s disappointing.
Story and missions are still varied, and Makarov is still the no-nonsense terrorist that he was in the previous game and shows no compassion towards those he murders. There are still some shocks to be had; one standout moment involves a plane being taken over by terrorists. No spoilers, but it really is shocking and very impactful, and it actually offers very little gameplay during the sequence. You also get the option to skip this interactive cutscene, if you want.
Another playable level has you at the Verdansk’s stadium, where terrorists have massacred everyone. Again, this is a shocking level and graphic in every sense. It’s chaotic as you have to make sure you don’t kill any of the civilians; otherwise, it’s game over.
Overall, there are a total of 14 levels within the single-player campaign. The more traditional missions really showcase Modern Warfare III’s graphics, as well as the standout action set-pieces. It’s just a shame that they are interspersed with those free-roaming missions, which really do interrupt the pace of the game.
There will be the usual multiplayer available for those interested in this, but at the time of writing this review, I couldn’t gain access to it. I’m not really a huge multiplayer person, so I was fine with this. You can collect weapons throughout the campaign, which you can access in the multiplayer maps, and they incentivize you to search every collectable box that you come across.
As I mentioned earlier, there are a total of 14 missions. Now, that might sound like a lot, but the overall single-player campaign can be completed in around 5 hours. Yes, that’s correct. If you aren’t big on playing multiplayer, then you will be very disappointed with the length of content on offer in this game’s campaign.
It’s a shame that publishers think it’s okay to charge a high price for a game and provide very little content, especially for those who are only interested in playing a single-player campaign. In this case, it feels like it’s just an add-on to keep those players happy. This game was played on PC through use of a review code from the publisher, but I would have been a little annoyed had I paid £80 for the console version.
Don’t get me wrong, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III isn’t a bad game. It looks stunning on PC, has great acting and voice overs, and at times, the action can be tense. But the direction Activision have gone with the open world missions just doesn’t work. I really hope the next game goes back to its simple roots and gives us an extensive single-player campaign more akin to the better previous entries in the series. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to recommend buying this game, you’re better off skipping it for now.
Developer: Sledgehammer Games
Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4/5, Xbox Series S/X
Release Date: 10th November 2023