Tag Archives: Call of Duty

Best of 2010 #7: Call of Duty: Black Ops

Call of Duty: Black OpsIt may be fashionable to hate this series and, frankly, quite sensible to hurl some well-deserved opprobrium at Activision, but there’s still nothing better when it comes to the Michael Bay style of action. While Halo is, I maintain, better at actually engaging the brain, Call of Duty is still the place to go for a shot of adrenaline.

And with Black Ops, Treyarch is the closest yet to creating a game that stands up to Infinity Ward’s offerings. The series’ high points, Call of Duty 2 and 4, still stand head and shoulders above the rest, and yes, the plot is spectacularly stupid, but I had a lot of fun with it. Even though I mourn the apparent death of the series’ realistic bent, the campaign is well put together and I’ve probably had more fun with the multiplayer than I have since those heady days when the scope of COD4’s popularity was becoming evident.

It even improves on Modern Warfare 2’s extensive package in areas where fans complained, showing that in Treyarch we might have a competent developer that mercifully lacks the hubris of its related companies. Dedicated servers? No prescriptive ‘we know better’ comments from the studio – Treyarch just did it. It’s almost endearing.

Even if I’ll never be happy with Activision’s insistence on “exploiting” the franchise on a yearly basis – maybe more in 2011 – if standards are maintained and the games can continue to move forward, I’ll be content to drop my £40 each year. Just please don’t make it more than that.

Black Ops: Dumbest Plot Ever

Seriously, for a game that’s following Modern Warfare 2, that’s saying something.

When this was announced, and given its historical setting, I expected Treyarch to have a bit of fun with the story, but to generally keep it within the bounds of plausibility. Maybe use the Vietnam levels for all-out action, and then be a bit clever with the other ones, having you sneaking into Soviet territory for low-key deniable ops of the kind that the series has done so well before.

What I didn’t expect was full-on invasions of Russia involving deadly chemical weapons, JFK conspiracy theories, a gulag escape involving a minigun – with those in prison camp cupboards, it’s no wonder the Soviet Union fell – and what is essentially the plot of The Manchurian Candidate. And that’s without mentioning the dream characters.

For all the outrageous stupidity of Modern Warfare 2’s plot, that at least had the defence of a near-future setting, but a Call of Duty in a historical scenario has come a long way – backwards, in my opinion – from the days of COD and COD2, when the emphasis was on being a grunt in a unit of grunts, rather than a special forces superhero. That was what the series was supposed to be a move away from, because it’s what everyone else was doing.

Still, good game, isn’t it?

Best of 2009 #3: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2

Brash? Oh yes. Subtle? Absolutely not. Like Michael Bay made a video game? Are you telling me he didn’t?

The launch and sheer dominance of the world’s friends lists of Modern Warfare 2 may have humbled 2007’s mental Halo 3 launch, and the run-up may have been mired in controversy after controversy as Infinity Ward showed signs of taking after its parent, but if I put that aside, what must surely be the gaming event of this generation delivered.

Even with such a malign influence standing over it, Infinity Ward took what we already knew Call of Duty to be capable of – massive, action-packed, scripted war scenarios – and blended it with a ridiculous action movie to make something that was amazing fun. It wasn’t nearly as clever as it thought it was, to be honest, and I still maintain that that scene could have been handled better, and there’s maybe an argument that after the generally realistic World War II setting makes it look even more ridiculous, but it’s fun, and ultimately that’s all that matters.

Multiplayer, too, although it seems to be marred by annoying glitch after annoying glitch, is phenomenally good and will be a staple of my 360’s drive for months to come. I’ve already played that mode more than most full games, and that’s discounting my one and a half (currently) playthroughs of the campaign and mere dabbling with Spec-Ops mode. For all the criticism of its price hike – and I’m sure someone will disagree with me here – it’s the game that, through amount of content and time that will be spent on it, came closest to justifying it.

Modern Warfare 2

I deliberately refrained from weighing in on the debate surround ‘that’ scene in Modern Warfare 2 until I’d actually played it – a shocking perspective, I know – and having just finished the game, I’m glad I did.

A lot of gamers will naturally jump to the defence of their hobby; how it’s an important step towards them becoming a respected and accepted narrative art form and blah blah blah. I actually disagree here. While Infinity Ward should have every right to put such scenes in its games and I applaud Tom Watson’s level-headed approach to treating adults like… well, adults, in playing it I felt that it was controversial for controvery’s sake. It could have been handled so much better – but I guess that wouldn’t have generated the column inches, which is the real crux.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2

It’s totally unnecessary, and an extremely heavy-handed attempt to shock, and as far as being avant garde with this stuff goes, the revolution in the first Modern Warfare’s opening stages was far more effective, catching glimpses of dissidents being executed and such. There’s nothing clever or subtle about four men with machine guns opening up on people and shooting someone as he tries to drag his wounded friend to safety.

It feels tacky already, but coupled with the fact that the rest of the game feels like a Michael Bay film – the scene comes immediately after this ridiculous chase, for instance – it’s hard to see it as anything but exploitative. Sad, really, because it does stand out more than it should.

That aside, though, I loved the game. Putting aside the online mode, it’s a five-hour rollercoaster. Like the airport scene it’s not subtle, but this time I mean it in a good way, like The Rock and Con Air, which find themselves imitated repeatedly. I played through most of the game in a single sitting and it constantly kept me enthralled and keen to do it again at a higher difficulty.

Is that too short? As I’ve said before, I’d much rather have a top quality five hours of gameplay than the same content stretched out over ten, and it’s not like the campaign is all that Call of Duty games have to offer. I think that this game is good enough to warrant playing through more than once, and I’m still yet to touch the online/offline co-op Special Ops missions, which are apparently a highlight. So even if one scene is rather tasteless, and even if Activision is intensely disagreeable and it seems to be rubbing off on Infinity Ward, I can’t deny that this is a great game. I love this series, and this is right up there with the best of them, and will be a fixture of my Xbox 360’s disc drive for months.

When Worlds (at War) Collide

It wouldn’t be the first time that it’s been suggested that some people at Infinity Ward may not be too keen on other developers messing up working with their colossally successful Call of Duty franchise in the name of annual updates, Activision becoming the new EA and all that, but this is hilarious.

The Infinity Ward community manager, Robert Bowling, made a post on his blog criticising the tendency of one of the Activision producers on World at War for making unflattering comparisons between the new game and the IW games. Here are the choice quotes:

First of all, you didn’t work on “previous Call of Dutys”, so don’t talk as if you’re down with how / why things were designed the way they were. Second, you’re completely fucking wrong.


A rule of thumb I like to use is…. when promoting your game. Promote YOUR game. Don’t compare it to another game, or reference what OTHER games did in the past, pitch YOUR game. I mean, you have lots of cool things you could talk about… like Nazi Zombies….

Can you guys please stop interviewing this guy, talk to someone who actually works on the Dev Team at Treyarch and knows what the fuck they’re talking about. Not Senior Super Douche Noah Heller from Activision – who apparently has never played the game and doesn’t even work at the developer.

That is awesome.

You have to love the dig at the Nazi zombies – for those who don’t know, there is literally a mode where you must defend your position against waves of undead German soldiers (video) – because I couldn’t believe that when I saw it. In a game that’s already treading a fine line with its depiction, however accurate, of Japanese soldiers in WWII, I can’t help but feel like that mode was pushing a boundaries of taste just a bit.

This is hardly Wolfenstein with its BJ Blazkowicz and Mecha-Hitler; the Call of Duty series was originally about being a more realistic gaming depiction of World War II by having the player not be the lone, Rambo-like hero but be one of many. So much for that idea, then…

Call of Duty: World at War Beta Impressions

Call of Duty, Call of Duty 2, Call of Duty 4. For some reason, Infinity Ward must have decided to be all postmodern and skip a number in its Call of Duty series. I like to pretend that it’s because COD4 was so awesome that it warranted two increments on the sequel scale, but we of course know that it’s because the third was farmed out by Activision to Treyarch in a pretty average attempt to match IW’s faultless FPS credentials.

Call of Duty: World at War

So it was with trepidation that I once again braved another Eurogamer 403 error beta giveaway to see whether it was third time lucky for Treyarch (the first time being Call of Duty: Big Red One), freed from the pressure of being Call of Duty 5.

So far, probably not. Continue reading Call of Duty: World at War Beta Impressions