This past week marks the 10th anniversary of the release of the original Call of Duty. Since Ghosts comes out in less than a week I guess I should talk about Call of Duty and where my interest in it lies.
Actually first of all, I’m kind of surprised that, to my knowledge, Activision and Infinity Ward don’t seem to have acknowledged the anniversary. A few news sites have noted it but that’s it. I think there’s one pretty informative Infinity Ward interview up about the original COD, but nothing special has gone on. When the Battlefield franchise turned 10 EA put every game in the series on sale for $10 each on Origin. COD? Nothin’ so far.
I haven’t even seen many people acknowledge the fact that Ghosts is actually the 10th main COD game in 10 years. I thought that since this was the first COD game to make another console generation jump on the 10th anniversary, Infinity Ward would do something really major. Maybe rebooting the setting in Ghosts in itself is major enough, but in that game I just don’t see the quantum leap forward that would be required to get me back into the franchise.
To say I dislike COD would be a gross overstatement, but it has become harder for me to buy each new game knowing that it’s largely the same as last year’s. I’m still waiting for a leap like what happened between Infinity Ward’s Call of Duty 2 and Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. I guess I should actually talk about my own first experiences with this franchise as well.
I still haven’t played the original COD. My first experience with the franchises was actually my first experience with an Xbox 360. I remember walking around at the mall in late 2005 and spotting a bright rectangle in the back of a GameStop probably 100 feet away. It turned out to be COD2 on a 360 kiosk — the first game I ever saw running in HD. A while later I downloaded the PC demo onto my then-new laptop and ran it so much I fried the motherboard.
The main thing I remember about COD2 is that it was one of the most intense things I’d played at the time. The environment where you’ll get your head blown off a second after leaving cover was uncommon for first person shooters at the time, and in my opinion Infinity Ward is still one of a handful of developers that properly pulls off linear set piece-driven game design.
Later that year because I’d decided not to get a 360 I checked out Call of Duty 2 Big Red One from Treyarch. I appreciated that game’s increased focus on characters but never thought the level design quite lived up to Infinity Ward’s real COD2. That pretty much sums up how I see the two COD developers today.
I see a lot of people who prefer the campaigns in the Treyarch games because they try a bit harder to have character-driven stories, especially since Black Ops. In my experience though, better level design and pacing is ultimately more important if I have to choose, and I still think Infinity Ward is better in that department.
If you ask me, Treyarch might be the more earnest studio these days with its own sensible additions like zombies, combat training, and a branching storyline, but I still feel like Infinity Ward has the leg up in terms of pure polish and craftsmanship. I couldn’t play through the campaign in Black Ops more than once, but I’ve already finished Modern Warfare 3 multiple times, as I found its campaign to be truly solid for no reason other than good controls and good level design. This was ultimately why I passed up Black Ops II. I have no idea if I’m ever going to play Ghosts.
I liked Modern Warfare 3 a lot — I even ended up playing more Spec Ops Survival than multiplayer, but my main problem with the whole franchise is that none of the games has definitively replaced COD4 on my shelf yet. COD4’s thematic take on modern infantry combat was refreshing at the time, it still has one of my favorite FPS campaigns, and the multiplayer is still alive and kicking. Every time I think about playing COD I just think about re-installing COD4 and maybe checking out promod (a PC mod that further balances the game).
Everything since has just been iteration, and the original Modern Warfare I feel is still good enough for me to keep playing for years. Combined with Team Fortress 2, I haven’t really felt the need for another multiplayer shooter since 2007, which is why I’m not that interested in Titanfall unless that does turn out to be something seriously new.
That’s basically what a new COD would have to be in order to draw me back in. I’m a little bit interested in Extinction mode for Ghosts but it’s clearly not enough to get me to fork over the whole $60. It would have to be a fundamental shift that really feels like the next-gen evolution of COD. Since COD4 basically every shooter has tried to copy COD. I wanna see the next COD that creates a new framework that everybody tries to rip off.
- It kinda sucks there isn’t a PC version of the first Darkness game. Really good, underrated game.
- UniWar on iOS just got a level editor.