Friday, 30 November 2012

At Long Last... What do I Think of the Call of Duty Franchise?

I don't hate Call of Duty. I think the best way to start this post, one I've been pondering whether I should actually work on over the past year or so, is with that opening sentence. Why should I hate Call of Duty? I think it's an over-hyped disgrace to a good chunk of mankind, but when it comes to the games themselves I think they're rather fun. As a gamer who specializes in Nintendo's systems and developments, I'm inclined by stereotypical means to hate the series that has been  overshadowing greater developers and changing the course of gaming history over the past half-decade or so, but I don't. Review what's in front of you, those are words I live by when writing up detailed synopses of video games, films and what have you. Sadly, I won't be reviewing any Call of Duty games today. As a matter of fact, I'll probably never do so, which is the sole reason I'm writing up my thoughts on the series in this particular article. I've never owned a single installment in the world's biggest first-person shooter franchise, and I don't plan on doing so either. However, I have played each subsequent release since and including the fourth main iteration, Modern Warfare (coincidentally the release that launched the series into the mainstream), so I think I'm allowed to form an at least slightly vague opinion on the series. Naturally, this excludes the recently released Black Ops 2. So, let's get to it.

I think the best place to start would be at the beginning, but sadly, I haven't played any of the Call of Duty games precedent to the first Modern Warfare. Heck, I didn't even know about the series until the follow-up to that game, World at War, was released. For me, that's when the buckets of hype began to flood my brain from the metaphorical floodgates of the local populous (in other words my school year), therefore not grabbing my attention in the slightest. At the time I was more than content with my DS and Wii experience, one that I thankfully didn't hinder with bland, gritty war shooters. The days rolled on and I continued to hear more and more about the ever-popular franchise, and it's not until Modern Warfare 2, the best in the series judging from what I've played of it, that I touched anything to do with Call of Duty. Did I enjoy it? Yes, to a certain extent, but it didn't exactly blow my mind. I'm inclined to ponder over the popularity of the series, as I did all those years ago, but the answer is now clear. Like charts music, Call of Duty games are essentially easy pickings. In basic terms, they're a widespread, common form of entering the world of gaming but not exploring it. To make this an even more basic explanation in the form of an analogy, Call of Duty is essentially the Nicki Minaj to, say, Metroid's Aphex Twin. It's mainstream, basically. Yeah, I probably should've just stuck with that explanation.

Anyway, it's probably worth noting that the first Call of Duty game I played has remained my personal favourite up to this point. Modern Warfare 2 has a genuinely stellar campaign (something that can't be said about more recent offerings I've played, which simply rely on one action set-piece after another as opposed to actually involving the player and telling an engaging story) paired with some fun multiplayer. A solid release. I'd give it around 80% in a quick-fire situation. Sadly, the same can't be said about the next two releases following that of Modern Warfare 2, as Black Ops (better known as Blops... maybe) and Modern Warfare 3 are pretty atrocious, in my opinion. The latter was just an empty shell of a Call of Duty game, there wasn't really anything special about it, and while it seemed visually stunning from my experience, that's to be expected from such a big budget blockbuster title. And graphics, while pretty, most certainly aren't everything. As for Blops... Well, it's the worst offender of the entire series for me personally. Why? It's painfully boring. I know this sounds unsophisticated, but hear me out; The gunplay, a key part of an FPS game, is just plain dull, as was the campaign as a whole. Zombie mode made me think, 'I'd rather be playing TimeSplitters Zombies' for the entire duration I played it, and multiplayer... Again, an empty shell. Oh, and that Team America-esque Pentagon sketch was nowhere near as funny as it was hyped up to be. If Modern Warfare 3 was an empty Call of Duty game, Black Ops was below that, like comparing Doctor Who's Martha Jones to Rose Tyler (Sorry, I figured it'd be fine to make that reference seeing as I've been mainly writing Doctor Who reviews lately).

So, the last two Call of Duty games have been the only real atrocities in my opinion, which really begs the question: what do I think of the series' latest? You might just be pleasantly surprised... Granted, I haven't played Black Ops 2, but I must admit I do quite like the look of it, and if critical responses are anything to go by it's certainly something of a return to form after the downright bland Modern Warfare 3. I don't plan on buying it, but with the game coming to Wii U in fully-fledged form, I might well change my mind. Although, by the time I've got my mitts around my own Wii U, Call of Duty would probably be around its tenth main series release (we're on 7, in case you've lost count). Speaking of the future, I think it would be fitting to close off this dinky article with my predictions of the coming years in regards to the franchise. Honestly, I'm not sure whether the series will continue as it has done these past few years or if it'll finally die down. The success certainly can't go on forever, that's for sure. Only time will tell what will happen to what is, regretably speaking, the largest third-party franchise in gaming at this point. Until next time, this is myself, signing off...

1 comment:

Tom Badguy said...

I liked MW2, but that's about it. CoD seems to be turning into it's on "Madden" series; meaning, a new one every year. FPS games are just so unoriginal nowadays.