Do the makers of Call of Duty deserve our money?
When you hear Call of Duty what is the first thing that comes to your mind?
Is it powerful laser guns? Or maybe cannon fire shelling the gameplay map from up in the skies? Perhaps you may even imagine incessant microphone throating – an activity practiced by prepubescent children who have apparently had an affair with your mother.
Regardless, Call of Duty is possibly one of the most historic franchises in the history of gaming; the name itself is well known for shattering record entertainment sales title and after title. For this, we can refer to it as the father of contemporary video gaming. No other title ever seems to scratch the surface by the impression made by this video game in the virtual universe.
But does it really deserve the praise it receives? Or do we simply feed these companies our money to produce a game with a title on it? It does not matter the contents of the disc, as long as it has the critically acclaimed words ‘Call of Duty’ embellished on the face of it.
Perhaps I am being too critical. The game is well known for its fast paced and hectic gameplay – gameplay ranging from weapons that take a fraction of a second to kill to bombarding the unbreakable ground with 10mm cannon fire through an AC-130. In fact, killstreaks have become a staple component of the more recent titles evolving over time from preset killstreaks to different killstreak roles if you may (Assault, Support, and Specialist). While some may argue that the vast variation and selection makes the customization overtly complex, we have to keep in mind that in an ever-changing world and growing gaming audience, there is a call for change that must be fulfilled to sate the hunger of your average consumer.
Amidst all these modern sequels to your standard shooter however, it should be noted that too much change has both gone overlooked and too far at the same time. Now, you might be asking yourself, “Azure, what in the world is that supposed to mean?”
Call of Duty does in fact change with every sequel, but not in the most blunt and favorable ways. Innovations such as the perk selection as well as map design often have players at arms at the poor choices the developers have made. In fact, despite crying out for changes every second of the day through different media such as gaming forums and Twitter, veteran players praise previous titles for ingenious map design and often demand that these maps make a return. That’s pretty hypocritical if you’d ask me.
Now before I get back to dissecting the flaws of the franchise, I’d like to take a look at the different developers on the series and impart my own personal opinions, if I may. Infinity Ward, the designer of the latest title in collaboration with Sledgehammer Games, kicked off the real fame of the series with Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. This title is often regarded by many as the true king of modern FPS shooters (though I am positive that many Halo and Battlefield fans may dispute this).
Regardless, Treyarch took up the next title, giving homage to the classic theme of WWII. Unfortunately the gameplay just had a different feel to it and many people criticized it for reasons such as the very powerful weapons like the MP40 as well as vehicles in the map (most notoriously, the tank).
Infinity Ward rescued the series again by introducing Modern Warfare 2, a title which blew out all others in terms of fast paced gameplay. The introduction of powerful killstreaks and zero-recoil weaponry made the rewards for punishing the enemy team fierce and without mercy.
This trend repeated between the two developers, who have worked tirelessly to improve their titles over the years. Unfortunately for them, I have no way of hinting at the sarcasm that was actually present in that last sentence.
As I said before, change has gone both overlooked and too far simultaneously. They have spoon-fed us carbon copies of the same game time and time again, yet we still forked over $60 every year to be trapped into countless hours of online gameplay – many of which are filled with pure frustration.
These games capitalize on their multiplayer and it seems as if with each passing Call of Duty, it becomes the raw emphasis. This is understandable to an extent when observing the number of people who skip the single player campaign and other features, only to jump right into gun-on-gun action with the world in their monitors.
To add insult to injury, the games seem to get more bland and frustrating every time. Now, don’t get me wrong – I have my fair amount of experience in the game sporting a win-to-loss ratio greater than one-hundred and kill-to-death ratio greater than two. I am far from the best, but I have devoted enough hours to the game to the point of being able to detail every map layout straight from my head. Map designs are getting smaller and weaponry is getting more destructive. As a result, spawning is hectic and you find yourself shot from every direction frequently. Maybe you just killed someone and the game just so happened to re-spawn them in a rut in a corner right behind you. Community manager Robert Bowling even had admitted their incorporation of revenge spawning in a recent Tweet.
Now, at this point into the article, you might be wondering where I’m going with all of this bantering. To be frank, I am going to say that Call of Duty does not deserve the recognition it has today. It has fallen behind in terms of improving its game engine and giving the community the utmost support that it deserves. Glitches and hacking are more prevalent in the Call of Duty series than any other, and the corporation responsible for the well-being of the game often takes a very long time to remedy these problems. Certain exploits often ruin the game for others whether it is a glitch that improves weapon damage far above the norm or a certain kit that allows you to easily achieve high killstreaks without ever directly engaging the enemy (I am talking about you two: One Man Army and Danger Close).
On the other hand, titles such as Battlefield and Gears of War receive a fraction of the attention while jumping ahead leagues when it comes to improving their own previous title. I will tell you this now – I am guilty of playing more Call of Duty than these games on the premise that Call of Duty is the game that most people play nowadays. Granted, I’m rather certain I have more hours logged in the Gears of War titles than any other game I’ve ever played, combined.
Yet, despite how superior these games may actually be compared to Call of Duty – why do they do so poorly in comparison?
There is the main point that I had described earlier – the name is enough to attract millions of gamers to purchase it. Were it cleverly disguised as another title with another developer, I am positive it wouldn’t come close to how well it does in the markets now. It would receive a lot of hype from a comparatively smaller community, but when the game is released it tends to fall in the shadows of bigger names (see: Homefront, Crysis 2).
Then we have to observe gaming social network. People will play what their friends are playing. It is natural – you simply want to be mindlessly ogling the screen with the latest trend. Everyone else is playing it and it is what’s hot – you mind as well join them, and unless you are strongly against it, you probably will.
Lastly, Call of Duty introduces what no other major shooter has provided to its community. Unlike Halo, Gears of War, and Battlefield, Call of Duty has a relatively shallow learning curve. I’m talking about comparing a puddle after a light rain shower on your street to a gorge filled with thousands of gallons of water. In the three titles I mentioned before Call of Duty, both have an extremely clear line that separates the good players from the bad. Halo in fact does it the best with a trueskill ranking system that will give you a rank depending on how well you do in your matches – this rank is tentative and could in fact go down due to poor gameplay on your part. Gears of War almost did the same thing in their second title but switched to a standard one-hundred level system that merely ranks you based on experience. Battlefield’s ranking system is similar to Call of Duty’s.
Through and all, Call of Duty is the kind of game that you can evolve from a player who goes one-for-one in kills and deaths to a player who consistently goes two-plus in one. This can happen in the course of a week once you’ve gotten the hang of things. Though at the same time, some players simply never progress in general ability.
In the terms of our friendly occupiers, how come 1% of the gamers hold 99% of the skill?
Other gaming franchises employ more tactics and strategies over bigger maps, slower paced gameplay, and a larger amount of gunskill needed to defeat multiple enemies in multiple engagements.
But I don’t want to be too harsh. There are players that stand above the rest and legitimately have ‘skill’ in a game many would argue takes none. And this statement is very true – they do in fact exist. They are the players whom headline twice the kills over deaths in Team Deathmatch, or the players that capture the B flag in Domination by themselves, or even the ones that manage to clutch it in Search & Destroy against overwhelming odds.
Alas, they are generally braggarts.
That concludes my article on Call of Duty’s fame. In the too long; didn’t read version, I think that the corporate heads of Call of Duty have the entertainment market in their clutches. Fanboyism is no stranger when it comes to the different shooters in the market, yet overzealous bigots such as me will try to persuade you all-in-all, that one game reigns supreme over the rest.
That game, of course, is Pokémon, and those people are rightfully justified in their claims.