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Video Game / Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3

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As the Grand Finale to the original Modern Warfare continuity, spoilers for all the previous games preceding this one, including Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 will be unmarked. You Have Been Warned!

Your world as you knew it is gone. How far will you go to bring it back?
Captain Price

The one that brought Call of Duty's first multi-game saga to an explosive end.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 is a 2011 First-Person Shooter video game, made by Infinity Ward and Sledgehammer Games and published by Activision. It is the sequel to 2009's Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, the eighth main game in the Call of Duty franchise, and the final game in the Modern Warfare storyline which began with Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare.

After the events of the previous game, the U.S. manages to turn the tables on the invading Russians, who are forced to withdraw from the American East Coast. Two months later, a planned peace treaty between the two countries is interrupted when Russia's president, Boris Vorshevsky is kidnapped by Vladimir Makarov. Now, between his followers in the Inner Circle and having many sympathizers in the Russian military under his command, Makarov initiates a full-scale invasion of Europe. Meanwhile, the remnants of Task Force 141 have been disavowed and labeled rogue assets due to their involvement with the death of General Shepherd. With threat of nuclear annihilation looming large the objective is to rescue President Vorshevsky and finally eliminate Makarov once and for all to put an end to the war.

Not to be confused with the third entry in the reboot series, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 contains examples of:

  • Adjustable Censorship: You can skip the "Davis Family Vacation" mission. Interestingly, the ending of the previous mission "Mind the Gap" changes to account for your choice, instead ending with the truck you stopped exploding right in front of you rather than the mission quickly fading out into "Davis Family Vacation", in which the truck explodes and kills the Davises.
  • African Terrorists: Modern Warfare 3 has the African Militia. They have bases of operation in Sierra Leone and Somalia, and are shown to be a bunch of thugs who kill civilians For the Evulz and help smuggle chemical weapons into Europe for Vladimir Makarov.
  • Artistic License – Geography: During the briefing after the chemical weapon attacks in Europe, the map that is shown labels Bern, the de facto capital of Switzerland, as being south of the Alps instead of north, which would place it in Italy, and Copenhagen, the capital of Denmark, as being in Sweden.
  • Artistic License – Military:
    • The game handwaves how the Russian military is able to overrun most of Europe in a few days at most by saying they used chemical weapons to "soften up" the defences (and presumably kill millions of civilians). In Real Life chemical weapons are extremely ineffective against modern militaries because of the widespread adoption of gas masks, chemical suits and CBRN note  drills.
      • It would also be especially ineffective at softening up Germany and Denmark, as neither of them have their military high commands in their capitalsnote .
    • The Russians somehow get T-80 tanks to Paris within a few small hours of the gas attack. Even if they didn't face any resistance, going from Kaliningrad (the eastern most part of Russia, an enclave surrounded by Poland, Lithuania, and the Baltic Sea) to Paris would take at least 17 hours by car in good traffic without stopping, which the T-80s would have to do as the distance is several times higher than their maximum range even with external fuel tanks fitted.
  • Artistic License – Politics: The briefing after the gas attacks reveals that Switzerland was attacked and is apparently part of NATO.
  • Artistic License – Ships: The Russian navy in New York harbor is presented at much closer range than they would realistically be in an actual amphibious invasion in order to have the cinematic view of the fleet against the New York City skyline and to allow the Delta Force team to get close undetected.
  • Been There, Shaped History: It turns out that Yuri was there when Zakhaev's arm was shot off, watched the nuke go off in the first Modern Warfare, and was supposed to join Makarov in the "No Russian" airport massacre, but Makarov gut-shot him in the underground parking lot after Yuri had a change of heart and attempted to warn the authorities. Yuri even managed to crawl up to the main terminal and was steps behind Makarov, Private Allen et al., trying to stop them before passing out from his injuries (although he couldn't aim for shit in the state he was in anyways, so it's unlikely he could have done anything). Makarov himself gets this treatment for most of that scene as well, showing him as the driver that got Zakhaev safely away after he was shot, and as the one who personally detonated Al-Asad's nuke. Both games' remasters call back to this: the Call of Duty 4 remaster places Makarov and Yuri in the jeep they were in during the MW3 flashback - where you can kill Makarov to get the "Time Paradox" achievement, but get a game over for friendly fire if you shoot Yuri. Modern Warfare 2 Remastered does more-or-less the same thing during No Russian, bringing Yuri's failed attempt at stopping the massacre.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Makarov has finally paid for what he's done and the war's come to an end, but nearly everyone who worked to get that far, now including Soap, Yuri, and three fourths of Team Metal, are dead, and the world still had to fight a war in which millions of people died, essentially, for nothing. London is devastated in the chemical attacks and most of the European capitals suffered a similar fate. And in the end, it is implied that the cigar that Price lit is the last ever cigar for himself, due to the injuries succumbed throughout the final confrontation and the lack of post-story content.
  • Bolivian Army Ending: Sandman and the rest of the Delta team (except Frost, who is absent for some reason)note  stay behind to allow the others to escape, fending off a large amount of soldiers. To make matters worse, the diamond mine collapses on them.
  • Brick Joke: During Bag and Drag, Grinch tells Sabre that he'll make sure Volk gets what's coming to him after the chemical attacks throughout Europe. At the end of Iron Lady, when Grinch, who's been responsible for carrying Volk throughout the mission, takes a different chopper out of Paris than the rest of Team Metal, Sandman makes sure to remind Grinch that they need Volk alive.
    Grinch: Have a nice ride, gentlemen!
  • The Bus Came Back:
    • Wallcroft and Griffen, Soap’s teammates from the Cargo Ship mission in the first game, return as Marcus Burns’ SAS teammates.
    • The Russian Loyalists make a return since the first game as well, having fled after the Ultranationalists won the war.
  • Car Chase Shoot-Out:
    • One mission in Paris has a task force close in on some Russian terrorists and try to stop them from moving chemical bombs. The fight goes from a construction area to on wheels through a subway transit system, with our heroes just barely avoiding crashing into oncoming trains.
    • Another mission in Paris has the protagonists have to track down a client for the main villain. He bolts just as you reach his hideout, forcing the heroes to jump into a van and chase him down. Enemy forces are right on their tail trying to stop them. The fight even crashes through the Louvre of all places.
  • Cheese-Eating Surrender Monkeys: Averted. France is merely one of the many European countries the US comes to the aid to. You fight alongside the GIGN, who prove themselves to be very capable despite losing a large number of men when their HQ was hit with chemical weapons. Also while Delta ultimately take Volk down, the GIGN were the ones who found him. France is also one of the countries NATO manages to hold onto; Germany, meanwhile, is clearly falling. GIGN troops are also a support option in Survival, and are extremely durable and more than able to hold their own against anything short of a Juggernaut.
  • Climactic Elevator Ride: Halfway through the last level, Price and Yuri ride an elevator to the final battle with Makarov and his goons.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • In the intro cutscene to "Black Tuesday", when Overlord requests for Special Mission Units near New York to take out the Russian jammer, a unit of Marines and a unit of Rangers can be seen for a quick moment just before we are introduced to the Delta Force unit Metal. The Marines and the Rangers are respectively, the main U.S. Military Force featured in Modern Warfare 1 and Modern Warfare 2. They even reuse the icons used in Modern Warfare 1 and Modern Warfare 2.
    • Price's conversation with Baseplate in Modern Warfare 3 is a callback all the way to the first mission (chronologically) in the entire Modern Warfare franchise, 'All Ghillied Up/One Shot, One Kill', as it was revealed that Baseplate is Captain MacMillan from Modern Warfare 1:
      Price: It was Makarov. The bastard slipped through my fingers in Sierra Leone. What does MI-6 know?
      Baseplate: (sighs) You're on everyone's shit-list, John. There's no way I could get you clearance.
      Price: Don't give me that! You still owe me for Pripyat. I'm calling it in.
    • Soap's field journal in the Modern Warfare 3 Hardened Edition reveals Price's race horse is called MacGregor.
    • From the same journal as above: "What the hell kind of name is Ghost?", echoing Price's quote from the training mission of Call of Duty 4: "What the hell kind of name is Soap?"
    • The family briefly seen in England is named Davis, the same as Call of Duty 2's British Player Character.
    • In the first SAS mission in Modern Warfare 3, you have two invulnerable NPCs with you: Wallcroft and Griffin. If these two names have an inkling of familiarity to them, they were part of the assault team in the first SAS mission in Call of Duty 4, and they were also generic names for British soldiers in Call of Duty 2.
    • After Makarov orders the nuclear bombing of Al-Asad's capital in a flashback, Yuri comments "This wasn't war, this was madness." which is a virtual callback to Chernov's line "This is not war. This is murder!" in World at War.
    • The end of "Down the Rabbit Hole" in Modern Warfare 3 is one to Find Makarov: Operation Kingfish. In Kingfish, an injured Soap is dragged to the chopper, as Price stays behind to cover them. Price insists the chopper leaves, despite Sandman demanding it wait for him. In "Down the Rabbit Hole" an injured Yuri is dragged into the chopper as Sandman, and the rest of Team Metal, cover them. Price insists they wait for Sandman, but he tells them to leave. Price survived, but Sandman presumably doesn't.
    • Another one that ties in the Four Horseman; Al-Asad and Zakhaev both used Desert Eagles to shoot player characters and teammates. At the end of Modern Warfare 3, Makarov gets a hold of one and immediately points it at Price, who is then the Player character, then kills Yuri with it when he pops back up.
    • When the team first rescues Price, the first thing Soap does is hand him back the pistol he used to kill Zakhaev at the end of the first game. And in Modern Warfare 3, Price places it upon Soap's body in tribute after he dies.
    • The news footage talking about the peace conference near the end of the game shows a shot of the White House, with the western side of the Executive Residence having large amounts of scaffolding on it, calling back to that side being heavily damaged when we saw it during the "Whiskey Hotel" mission of Modern Warfare 2.
  • A Day in the Limelight: We get a mission with an SAS team in England. And who's in charge of the team? None other than Wallcroft and Griffen, the two operatives that appeared very briefly in the first game during "Crew Expendable".
  • Deadly Road Trip: The Davis family's vacation to London, which ends with the family getting killed in Makarov's gas attack of Europe.
  • Death of a Child: We see a little girl on vacation with her family get killed by a truck bomb full of poison gas.
  • Didn't See That Coming: Played straight and averted at the same time in the 3rd game when Yuri got punched down a staircase by Price. Yuri obviously did not expect Price to punch him or else it would not have worked so simply. The player, however, probably saw it coming from a mile away, not just because Soap planted the seeds of doubt about Yuri within Price moments earlier but because betrayal isn't exactly unheard of in a Call of Duty game.
  • 11th-Hour Superpower: The last level puts the player in Juggernaut armor, not seen anywhere else in singleplayer, and then allows you to rampage with it by marching directly into the teeth of multiple waves of enemies, backed up by RPG teams, without any cover to hide behind... and without needing any. Then you're stripped of your armor by an attack helicopter and have to proceed normally for the rest of the level.
  • Endless Game: Survival Mode, new to the series, allows you to play the multiplayer maps against endless onslaught of enemy troops.
  • Exact Words: After (what remains of) Task Force 141 corners Waraabe, Price tosses a canister of toxic gas that he deals with and promises a gas mask in exchange for information on Makarov's bomb-maker. He spills and Price fulfills his end of the bargain...he just forgot to mention the bullet to the face that came with it.
  • Final Battle: "Dust to Dust".
  • Godzilla Threshold: The stakes of Makarov getting the nuclear launch codes are so high that even Overlord is willing to allow the disavowed Task Force 141 to join an official U.S. military operation to rescue the Russian president, even giving them control of some of their assets.
  • Gravity Screw: On the Russian plane in Modern Warfare 3, the pilot loses control for a moment during which everyone inside gets weightless. In the middle of a firefight.
  • Injured Self-Drag: During the third segment of Yuri's flashback to his origin story, he is shot in the stomach by Makarov. Yuri drags himself to a nearby elevator in a futile attempt to stop the airport massacre.
  • Immediate Sequel: The Task Force 141 segment of Modern Warfare 3 starts with Soap still critically injured and being rushed for emergency treatment following the skirmish with Shepherd.
  • Just Plane Wrong: The intro to the second mission has dialogue by F-22 pilots preparing an attack run, only for the cinematic to clearly show F-15 Eagles. Additionally, their drop tanks are mislabeled as bombs, and they are also shown as firing "JDAM Missiles" at the target - even ignoring that such a thing does not exist (as a JDAM is a conversion kit for unguided bombs), what's actually fired is an AIM-120 AMRAAM, a dedicated air-to-air weapon.
  • Punched Across the Room: In Modern Warfare 3, Yuri opens a door to a basement and gets punched down a flight of stairs by Price.
  • Red Herring: In the cutscene preceding the 'Turbulence' level in Modern Warfare 3, Harkov's name is labelled 'inside man', implying that as the Russian President's bodyguard, he's actually working for Makarov. Nothing comes of this, however, as Makarov murders Harkov just like the other bodyguards at the end of that level.
  • Redemption Equals Death: Yuri defected from the Inner Circle when it became apparent just how insane they were. He spends the game trying to kill Makarov, and ultimately dies preventing Makarov from killing Price, giving Price to opportunity to finally kill him.
  • Shot to the Heart: At one point, you need to press X to do this to Soap.
  • String Theory: Price has one to try to track Makarov and down. It later also becomes a Shrine to the Fallen.
  • Storming the Castle: "Stronghold" involves Price and Yuri infiltrating an Inner Circle castle to learn about Makarov's whereabouts while "Dust to Dust" involves attacking the Hotel Oasis to take Makarov down once and for all.
  • Technology Porn: The game showcases some of the U.S. Military's latest toys, including an F-22 dropping JDAM GPS-guided bombs (they only got this ability later in their production life) in a cutscene and V-22 Ospreys, used in a mission to rescue the Vice President.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: The Eiffel Tower collapses as a result of collateral damage during a battle in Paris. Nobody present says or does anything in response to this. The destruction of one of the most iconic landmarks in Europe—if not the entire world—isn't even brought up in news reports.
  • Weaponized Animal: In Survival Mode, on harder maps, attack dogs may have C4 strapped to them.
  • Wham Episode:
    • Davis Family Vacation - this "mission" and the following cutscene show a series of devastating chemical attacks across Europe followed by a Russian invasion.
    • Blood Brothers - Soap dies and Yuri reveals his former allegiance to Makarov.
  • Wham Line:
    • Just after some Five-Second Foreshadowing when Soap points out Yuri is a strangely reliable source for intel about Makarov, the plan to ambush Makarov goes to hell and he radios you directly.
      Makarov: Yuri, my friend. You never should have come here.
      Soap: What the bloody hell's he talking about?
  • Wham Shot:
    • At the end of Turbulence, you (as Harkov) move to open the door to an evac chopper for President Vorshevsky, only for the game to go into slow-mo as none other than Makarov steps out to introduce you to his Desert Eagle.
      Objective Failed.
    • In Blood Brothers, the elevator doors opening to show Kamarov bound to a chair.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Modern Warfare 3


Find the girl

Makarov kidnaps the Russian president to obtain access the Russian nuclear arsenal.

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