Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 Game Poster Image

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3

Bloody military shooter with disturbing cinematic moments.
Parents recommendPopular with kids

What parents need to know

Educational value

While elements of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 focus on war strategies and communicating with others, we don't recommend it for learning because of its graphic violence.

Positive messages

This game glorifies military violence and exploits players’ emotions via scenes depicting acts of terrorism and war crimes committed against civilians. However, it also explores themes of courage, self-sacrifice, and soldierly camaraderie.    

Positive role models

The game’s troops are battle hardened warriors who are clearly thrilled by and take satisfaction from intense combat. That said, they are also noble soldiers who, occasional acts of vengeance aside, fight for a righteous cause and are willing to sacrifice themselves for their comrades, their countries, and the civilians they attempt to protect.

Ease of play

Controls are standard for the genre, and should feel familiar to veteran players. Portions of the campaign can be challenging, but several difficulty levels allow players of all skill levels to enjoy some success. Online play can be frustrating for inexperienced players, given the level of skill possessed by franchise veterans.  


Players engage in realistic, first-person military combat using rifles, handguns, grenades, rockets, bombs, and other modern weapons. Enemies scream and writhe in pain, and blood gushes from wounds and stains the environment. Cinematic sequences show soldiers and civilians being executed with guns. One short scene depicts a little girl and her mother caught in a truck bomb explosion.

Not applicable

Soldiers use strong language throughout the game, including the words “f--k” and “s--t.”

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

One of the main characters smokes a cigar. Players see him lighting up and inhaling from a first-person perspective. Players can shoot packages containing a white, powdery, unnamed narcotic.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 is an extremely violent first-person military shooter. Players spend the vast majority of their time engaged in frenetic firefights, killing hundreds of enemy combatants with a wide variety of realistic weapons ranging from guns to bombs. Movie-like sequences show both soldiers and civilians being killed, their bodies littering streets and building hallways. One particularly disturbing scene depicts a family being killed by a truck bomb, though players are spared the gory graphical details. Soldiers use strong language, and one of them is a frequent cigar smoker. Parents should note that this game’s primary appeal is multiplayer. Millions of players will spend countless hours online in head-to-head matches that support open online voice chat, which may involve inappropriate language and personal subjects.

What's it about?

CALL OF DUTY: MODERN WARFARE 3 picks up where its predecessor left off, with global superpowers engaged in a third world war. Led astray by terrorists with an inscrutable agenda, Russian soldiers are attempting to invade the United States and several European nations. Players take on the roles of several different soldiers -- Americans, Brits, and even a couple of Russians -- in the fight to repel the invasion on several fronts, with battle zones ranging from New York to Berlin.

Outside the campaign, players can engage in solo or cooperative missions in Special Ops mode, which allows teams of players to work together to complete short, story-driven missions or attempt to survive endless waves of enemy attackers. However, the most popular part of the game is sure to be online competitive multiplayer, which allows players to increase in rank and ability via experience points and specific challenges. It offers new modes -- including one called “Confirmed Kill,” which requires players to collect enemy dog tags to score points -- as well as a new online community called Call of Duty Elite, which allows players to track their progress and communicate with one another outside the game.

Is it any good?


There are plenty of reasons why the Call of Duty games are so popular, and they’re all on display in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3. Its cinematic campaign is essentially an interactive Hollywood war film filled with implausible -- but highly entertaining -- action sequences experienced from a soldier’s perspective, including a plane crash, a high speed boat ride through a burning Manhattan harbor, and a firefight inside a blinding African dust storm. It only lasts around six hours, but they’re six of the most thrilling hours adult gamers will spend in front of their televisions all year.

Online multiplayer, meanwhile, is polished, deep, and extraordinarily habit-forming. Its enormous array of modes and rewards is unmatched, and the new Call of Duty Elite community provides players a way to be part of the game even when they’re away from their consoles. There’s no denying that it feels a lot like its recent predecessors, and some players may be beginning to tire of the formula, but incremental improvements to an already great experience should go a long way to appeasing most of the franchise’s tens of millions of fans.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about violence in games. What markers do you look for to determine whether a game is too violent for your kids? Do your kids understand why violent games may be inappropriate for their age?

  • Families can also discuss online safety. What should you watch out for when playing online? What would you do if you encountered someone who was rude or, worse, seemed potentially dangerous?

Game details

Platforms:Nintendo Wii, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Subjects:Social Studies: geography, global awareness, power structures
Skills:Communication: conveying messages effectively, listening, speaking
Thinking & Reasoning: decision-making, problem solving, strategy
Self-Direction: identifying strengths and weaknesses, set objectives, work to achieve goals
Available online?Not available online
Release date:November 8, 2011
Genre:First Person Shooter
ESRB rating:M for Blood and Gore, Drug Reference, Intense Violence, Strong Violence

This review of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 was written by

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Parent of a 5, 14, and 17 year old Written byJeff Nick November 13, 2011

What a parent who knows what he's talking about thinks.

Alright, this is Call of Duty. Obviously this isn't a game for a 9 year old. Now I would like to adress somethings said. First off, the tea bagging idea. This is not an option in the game. There is no "tea bag button" . Players tease each other online, by crouching then standing up repetatively on a body they just killed. This is something done online, and really isn't that obvious unless someone explains what the person is doing. Now as to the online talking to people. People saying things to your 9 year old and making him cry isn't the games fault. That could happen in any game, including an E game. They are random people talking to your kids. You shouldn't be buying this game for your 9 year old anyways! Now onto the blood and swearing. YOU CAN TURN IT OFF. This is an M game people. You are buying it for your 8 year olds and then complaining about swearing. I can garuntee you if the parents had known that you could turn off explicit content, they would. Turning off explicit content turns off all of the swearing (except for online, which can't be controlled) , and blood. This instantly makes the game T and makes it something that is okay. At the beggining of the game, the first time you play it, it will ask you if you want to turn off explicit content. Be there with your kid when he first plays it, and make sure he turns it off.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Parent Written bylovingfather December 10, 2011

The Honest Truth

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 is perfectly acceptable for children ages 12 and up. The reasoning behind this notion is... 1. Without this game, my child was constantly ridiculed. After I got this game for him, he had something to talk about with his friends 2. Players can mute other players when on multiplayer. This eliminates all profanity that may be used during online gameplay. 3. It came to my mind that my boy might not know what kind of horrors the armed forces may be going through every single day. 4. If parents are worried about the violence and foul wordplay, at the beginning of the game players have the option to turn off both af these things. 5. Don't go thinking that the parents who gave the game 17+ are reasonable, look at how many spelling and punctuation errors their reviews had compared to mine.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Parent Written bySLMARTIN November 29, 2011


Oh my god! Are you parents SERIOUS! What the heck! MW3 has no sex, language your middle/high schooler hears more in school, but if you really hate it that much you can turn it off. It is so fun. What people usually do is look at the M and say "NO!!" but it isn't a bad game. People get mad because because a dude smokes a cigar in it. HELLO!!! 50% of people out there smoke, who cares. I know I'd let my kid play it. I'm saying it's not as bad as people think. IT IS FINE!!!!!
What other families should know
Educational value