Call of Duty, the game that takes us on an almost yearly battle against the odds, brings us the next chapter in the Modern Warfare series in MWIII.
Developed by Sledgehammer Games (with Treyarch on Zombies) the game brings with it all the moving parts expected of a CoD title in a battle against the odds campaign, layers and layers of multiplayer, and the next iteration of the franchise’s Zombies experience. Now, I’m a zombie’s player from way back in the World at War days so this thought piece will touch on Zombies and the campaign.
This year’s campaign brings all of our favourite MW operators, and enemies, back in a battle against all odds. Every Call of Duty campaign has its key components as it brings the player stealth sections, a battle against the odds, the last-minute escape, an all-out gun emptier, a “too late” scenario and more, and this game doesn’t break that mould. Hey, it’s what makes CoD CoD, and the battle against adversity keeps the story interesting.
The campaign comes in at around 6 to 8 hours, depending on the difficulty, but it does offer a decent story with a little ‘damn’ factor for those invested in the campaign across previous Call of Duty games. As a gaming parent with limited spare time, I do appreciate the shorter campaign and as long as the campaign keeps the player interested, which this one did, then I don’t have an issue with it.
The next part to this is Zombies, and I am a traditional Call of Duty Zombies player from way back in the two-floor close-quarters chaos that is Nacht der Untoten. Treyarch is my go-to for Zombies and their latest iteration takes gamers further from the old and into the more expansive open-world survival that sees Zombies crossed with the DMZ game mode in Operation Deadbolt. The player either survives with their gear intact for another playthrough or dies and leaves it out in the field. It’s as simple or as difficult as the player wants to make it, which is a good thing for some players.
In very simple terms the player is dropped into a hot zone with other players and squads, in a PvE environment that contains the zombie outbreak. The island known as Urzikstan is currently broken up into 3 tiers of outbreak with the outskirts of the map beginning at 1 and the inner sanctum bringing the most difficult threat as tier 3. As with any game, the more difficult the threat the better the rewards and tier 3 is what the player will want to work towards to reap the full benefits of the world, and tier 3 definitely has those benefits and challenges. While tier 1 offers operators a generally safe experience, the experience escalates through to tier 3 where fully geared operators in a coordinated squad must fully pack-a-punch weapons and gear up for attacks on much larger enemies including the massive Aether Worm known as Orcus.
The mode itself offers all the well-known zombie mode benefits in wall buys, mystery boxes, pack-a-punch and perks, while bringing added ways to source these including random loot chests, mission rewards, massive bosses and more. So, setting up an operator for the more difficult challenges is no longer as straight forward as earn money and spend money, that is a part of it though. It’s now also about scavenging, completing missions, taking down larger enemies and more in the allotted time available to spec out the operator and then successfully leaving the island via designated extraction point. A successful extraction will see the operator keep key components of the gear (weapons, backpack, vest, perks and mods) that the player has extracted with which can be used on the next adventure. Failure to extract will bring certain death, and loss of everything.
One frustration of zombies, like any multiplayer game mode in Call of Duty, is that each game requires a minimum number of players to start the game. So, for now, there’s not too much of an issue to get a game but as the population drops, so will the chance of getting a game.
Overall, this open-world zombies mode is a long way from the zombies of old, but I actually do enjoy this zombies experience. I do miss the linear round-based aspects of Nacht der Untoten, the fear of getting through the cornfield in Tranzit and the chaos of old though. Maybe one day we can return to a new old. For now though, I will continue to spec out my operator to take on the challenges of Tier 3 though.
Those previously mentioned co-op and multiplayer frustrations won’t carry into the campaign though as there is no co-op aspect to the campaign at all. The player can play with friends right across the rest of what Modern Warfare III has to offer, but the majority of this has to be via online multiplayer as split screen co-op is only supported across a small number of multiplayer modes. Family friendly wise, this is Call of Duty and there’s probably not much more to say about who the audience for this game is as it comes with a MA15+ rating.
Xbox Gamer Dad
* A digital code for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III was kindly provided to Xbox Gamer Dad for the purpose of this review. *
This year’s Call of Duty has seen a full range of reactions from across the gaming space, and I don’t really agree with the backlash. This may be due to the more casual nature of my game play in my older years as my spare time is minimal, and competitive multiplayer is something I play less of. The campaign, while short, still packs a punch and delivers an enjoyable action-packed story while not breaking away from what makes a Call of Duty campaign. The Zombies continues to venture further into the open-world and away from the round-based, zombie training, crawler forming of old, but what they have created works. Overall, is the game worth playing, yes. Is it worth a purchase at this price point, well that depends on how much the player will be replaying the co-op and competitive modes on offer.