A lot of people would pay unimaginable sums of money for a time machine but for some of us, you'll be able to travel back to the good ol' days for the sum of around £69/$69. That's because Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III is pure nostalgia in the best possible way.
First of all, yes, the rumours are true, the campaign is around 4 hours long and entirely forgettable. The new open-ended style missions (that use Warzone style mechanics) where you drop in unarmed behind enemy lines are fun enough but hardly revolutionary. At the same time, the rest is pretty much a point-and-click adventure. You point your gun and click on enemies, and their heads explode.
Thankfully the rest of the game is much, much better.
The two other main offerings are where you'll spend most of your time with this title. There's the traditional multiplayer mode (more on that later) and a brand new spin on the classic Zombies mode, MWZ. This is a re-imagining of the DMZ Warzone mode (which was a so-called 'Extraction' mode). Now instead of exploring a huge open map and fighting both enemy soldiers and other players, it is a cooperative experience with multiple squads of three fighting zombies across the warzone map.
In my opinion, MWZ should be viewed as the game's real story mode. There is progression between rounds (you keep any loot you make it out with) with persistent challenges needed to reach the next level, and even an overarching story with three different acts to explore.
I am a big fan of the more traditional curated zombie maps (sadly absent here) but I have to admit riding in the back of a pickup truck with a sniper rifle, popping zombies heads as we sped past, was some of the most fun I've had in a while. Provided it's regularly updated with new content I can see MWZ being something worth coming back to often.
Now, it's time to go back to 2009. I've just got home from school, booted up my PS3 and logged onto the now confusingly named Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. It's time to spend an evening on the most iconic FPS maps of the 21st century. Rust, Terminal Favela, Afghan, High-rise and more are like old friends to me and playing 2023's MWIII you'll find all 16 maps from that game in the multiplayer mode.
Recent instalments in the series have had variable quality in maps, so it's refreshing to see that for the series' 20th anniversary, Sledgehammer has instead opted to use the pinnacle of that 20-year history. Of course, they've had a few visual tweaks (Favela is particularly bright now) but It feels like a celebration of some of the best craftsmanship in the FPS genre.
Just as important as the battlefields on offer is the arsenal and this is another strong point of the series. Instead of going for an all-new armoury or just bringing back old favourites, Sledgehammer has gone for a mix of the two. There is a total of 114 different weapons in MWIII, with 37 brand-new ones and 77 returning from Modern Warfare II (complete with any attachments you have unlocked for them).
They span the usual gamut of Assault rifles, Battle rifles (slightly heavier duty than ARs), SMGs, Shotguns, LMGs, Sniper rifles, Marksman rifles, secondary weapons and the infamous riot shield. As a run-and-gun style player, I prefer to use the SMGs (or a marksman rifle for a more mobile sniping style) but they all handle and feel sufficiently satisfying, especially with the haptic feedback of the PS5 controller.
Aside from the throwaway campaign, my biggest gripe with MWIII is something that could be levelled at the series for a long time, it's very much more of the same. There are a couple of new ideas, like a new tactical stance when aiming down the sights of your gun that turns it sideways (making you more mobile but less accurate), and a new vest system that essentially acts as a fourth perk slot, but not much else.
If you've still got the COD bug then that's not a bad thing at all, and if you previously had it, this is the title to win you back, but it's not going to bring new converts to the series. However, that's okay, this game is a middle-aged rockstar playing nothing but the hits, and all the better for it.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III is out now on PS5, Xbox Series X/S, PC, PS4 and Xbox One.