Friday, 18 May 2012

Rant: Regarding the Call of Duty Series.

If you spend any amount of time searching up Call of Duty (often abbreviated to 'CoD' -- not to be confused with the fish) on YouTube and various forums, I'm certain you know that Call of Duty and the future of the CoD franchise is a very hot topic. There must be hundreds of videos-- and millions more comments-- of people expressing their love, hate, and everything in between for the series. In case you haven't heard enough opinions on the subject already, here's my opinion on the matter.

(Note that I will be focusing on the more recent CoD games, particularily Call of Duty 4 and up. I have played the older games, but those are generally left out of all the discussions in terms of this topic.)

Let me start off by saying that everyone has their own definition of a good video game. I try to see everyone's side when listening to thoughts and opinions, and-- providing they are reasonable-- I do my best to respect everyone's opinion. But what truly defines a good video game for me is a fascinating storyline, and replay value. As long as at least one of those two things is in the game, I can almost always categorize it as a genuinely good game. Let's judge Call of Duty from this standpoint. Call of Duty's storyline has always been the rather generic "save the world from from bad guys" kind of thing. This does not make it a bad story, heck, Modern Warfare one and two had some pretty surprising plot twists; the good kind of plot twists (unlike the very disappointing Mass Effect 3 ending, but I digress). The problem I have with the storyline is that it never ends. I haven't bought Modern Warfare 3, nor do I intend to, but I think I am accurate in my prediction that there will be a Modern Warfare 4: the fourth game in the series, and the tenth game in the franchise. You may be thinking, "So what? The Final Fantasy Series has 14 games in the series, and it's still a decent franchise." And you're right. I've never played any FF game extensively, but I have a few friends who are fans of the series, and they tell me that Final Fantasy games generally have an interesting storyline. In contrast, the developers of Modern Warfare and dragging its generic plot on and on and on. I mean, when will it end? Do they even intend for it to end? Will the Modern Warfare universe always be under the threat of some insane terrorist hellbent on unleashing nuclear destruction? In short: the story has become flat, bland. Activision and/or the developers of the games intend on milking all the money they can out of the series, until it has been milked dry.

Until the release of the Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 trailer, I did not think the Modern Warfare/Black Ops cash cow would ever begin to run out of cash to be milked. There was an abnormally large amount of negative reactions to the new trailer: something never before heard of when referring to any game in the CoD series, and I'm glad there was a negative response. It means people are finally starting to see that they are being suckered into buying the same damn game over and over again. And that ties in with replay value. The main attraction to Call of Duty or almost any FPS game is the multiplayer. CoD offers some exciting multiplayer action. But what are they changing with multiplayer with each new game? They add a some new guns, keep a few of the old ones, and release new maps. Is that worth the 50 to 60 dollars you pay to get the game, especially if you're among the majority of CoD fans who couldn't care less about the story mode? The ideal concept of replay value to me is the ability to play the same thing over and over again and never get bored of it. I use the term 'same thing' in this context loosely. In a good game, the 'same thing' is not actually the 'same thing' over and over again, because there are seemingly infinite ways to change things up. This could be said about CoD's multiplayer, but in truth, when it all comes down to it, you're still just running around (or camping around) shooting, stabbing, or exploding people. The only thing that changes are the weapons you use. Even then, the weapon selection grows noticeably limited as you inevitably become tired of using and re-using each weapon.

I'll try to sum things up; this is getting pretty long. It's easy to criticize developers for their faults, but what could they do to make future games better? I have both and optimistic and pessimistic theory about this:

On the optimistic side, the devs could go out of their way to make significant improvements to the multiplayer and storyline rather than just add new guns and make new maps. I would even go so far as to say that it might be wise for them to make a new series entirely; step out of their comfort zone a bit (I obviously do not mean they should go sompletely out of their element and start making sports games. They could still be games in the FPS genre!). This could keep the FPS genre alive and well, while at the same time not disappointing fans by essentialy releasing 60 dollar updates to the same game.

On the pessimistic side, I doubt any of what I mentioned in the above paragraph will happen. If it does, that's great. But I doubt it will. Creativity is a rare thing to see in games these days, and the scheme of milking as much money as possible out of a series has become a popular one. The sad truth of the matter is that the series will either live on forever by preying on the younger, more deceivable age groups, or it will eventually die out, having lost all its fan support.

Well folks, there you have it: my full opinion on the future of the Call of Duty series. If you read the entire thing, I salute you. Before I go, feel free to tell me your thoughts on this topic. I would be interested in what you have to say :)
Oh, and I included the Black Ops 2 trailer below if you haven't seen it yet. It's got all of the explosions and chaos that the previous trailers have, except this time they threw in some robots and horses. Let me know what you think of it!

- Jake (TheArbiter10)

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