Monthly Archives: June 2011
I’ve noticed while writing community blogs on Destructoid — as well as other places — that I write about Call of Duty (and its derivatives) a lot. And I mean a lot. Which means I must love Call of Duty, and you’re right. Yeah, I’m that person people hate because according to them I’m liking something that is contributing to the death of video games.
To these people, I’m the reason all shooters look the same. Funny enough, I’ve only played one of these three games and I play Team Fortress 2 more often than I do COD.
But you know what? As much as I’ve enjoyed the games in the series, I think I’m finally suffering from franchise fatigue. That problem where you’ve played the games in the series, but realized that the initial thrill and shock isn’t there anymore. That it lacks that excitement you remember playing Call of Duty 4 through the first time. It’s like taking a drug for the first time and getting that extreme rush and excitement, with each subsequent time making it duller to a point where you’re doing it out of habit more than for that initial high.
See, I was a guy who got into Call of Duty back when the first COD hit. Back when it felt more like a spiritual successor to Medal of Honor: Allied Assault than being Michael Bay: The Video Game. They were fun games, even the ones that weren’t received as well, like Call of Duty 2: Big Red One and Call of Duty 3. (I’m probably one of the few who actually liked COD3.) But it was Call of Duty 4 that brought me back to the franchise almost in full force. It was the first game I ever got for my PS3 back in 2008, and I had loads of fun with its campaign as well as the ridiculously fun multiplayer.
So I became a fan. I read the official sites, occasionally glanced at the communities, watched trailers and gameplay clips. I got World at War for my 360 in early 2009, and I even made this dumb video when I got Modern Warfare 2 later that year.
Pay no attention to the overexcited fan unboxing MW2 and throwing Wolfenstein (a decent but flawed game) aside.
I was a fan of Call of Duty. I loved it. But when I played through MW2, I felt like some of that thrill that I remembered with COD4 was lost. It had become like a crazy balls-out action flick, being more bombastic than even COD4 was. Explosions in space, a ridiculous plot that made less sense than an episode of NCIS, and a multiplayer that emphasized the absurd like tons of helicopters in the air and Tactical Nukes. While I was enjoying it for a while, I realized in retrospect that it wasn’t that good of a game.
Cut to this June. I got a GameFly subscription. I decided to pick up Treyarch’s newest COD installment, Black Ops. I had played through some of the campaign with a friend prior, and while it was an enjoyable experience, it had that same “80s-90s action movie” vibe, complete with homages to The Manchurian Candidate and Apocalypse Now. While the locations felt different than the sandy desert worlds of MW2, I was still shooting dudes as I pushed forward through this mostly linear path with ridiculous weapons like a pump-action grenade launcher and portable miniguns. It was goofy as all hell. Oh well, at least Gary Oldman and Ed Harris made the game more interesting, countering the sub-par performance by Sam Worthington as main character Alex Mason. I still think Worthington’s delivery of “You fucking sunovabitch” is the most hilarious thing I’ve heard in video game voice acting in years.
I’m surprised nobody told him to do another take. The voice acting is so amateur in this scene, making it almost like a B-movie.
Despite Black Ops adds some new stuff — zombies is back from World at War, and refining multiplayer so you buy things rather than kill 100 dudes to unlock a scope, as well as wager matches for those credits — it still had that feeling of shooting dudes with perks, getting killstreaks, and capturing objectives that I’d done years before. It started to feel old. Don’t get me wrong, Black Ops is definitely a good game and worth it if you’re into goofy action shooters that lump 70s and 80s weapons in a 1960s setting; but I’m not feeling it anymore. To me, COD has dulled me. That adrenaline rush and fun factor isn’t there anymore.
Which leads me to Modern Warfare 3. The demo featured at E3 felt like the same stuff from MW2, except with more rail shooting segments. It didn’t look too impressive, and felt similar to previous COD games, even the ones not by Infinity Ward. Whereas EA’s Battlefield 3 actually looked fucking spectacular despite cribbing several things from last year’s Bad Company 2. It just feels more fresh, whereas COD is almost rotten to a point where the smell is getting unbearable.
A lot of people wonder when the COD hype train’s gonna go down. Well, let’s go back a few years. Ten years ago (my god, has it been that long?), Medal of Honor was the top of the top when it came to shooters. People were hyped for that shit. Even MOH: Frontline and Allied Assault are considered classics. But what killed it was the same thing that’s gonna hurt COD: sub-par titles and yearly releases. MOH: Frontline was a fantastic game, but Rising Sun was considerably less so. As years went on, MOH games got to that point of mediocrity where it felt like they had done everything you could possibly do. Even with MOH: Heroes 2 on the Wii, which has some damn fine shooting controls for that system, felt old and tired. EA even gave it one last chance with the modern reboot last year, and it wasn’t doing COD numbers or anything close to a big success. If MW3 turns out to be a less-than-stellar game by the press and gamers at large, it won’t take long for gamers to drop COD like a bad habit and take the new hotness in whatever new game that catches their eye. All it needs is a subpar showing, that’s when it stops breaking sales records and starts being the subject of constant mockery.
It’s entirely possible that this year could be the end of the COD juggernaut. Or it’ll still be a critical and commercial success and COD keeps chugging on for a few more years. But I’m certainly done with it. I’m surprised I stayed with the series this long, I’m sure many of you left the club long before I did, or never got into the COD games period. At least I can stop writing about it, and focus on different things. Like hats in Team Fortress 2.