Dear Call of Duty Modern Warfare – Please Come Back We Miss You

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I know some gamers out there would blow up every Call of Duty (COD) game in the world if they could. Personally, I can only think of a few I genuinely couldn’t stand (COD 3, World at War, Black Ops and Ghosts). I have enjoyed most of the other titles quite a bit. My favorites have always been the collection of the Modern Warfare Trilogy.

These titles were not only great campaigns (albeit a bit predictable) but they had hands down, the best multiplayer experiences I ever had in a COD game. The maps were usually well designed with the occasional spawn camping nightmares that would see me rage quit pretty fast. Even with the spawning issues these titles held up well. My favorite part about the move into Modern Warfare (COD4) was that it introduced kill streaks. I loved the simple 3, 5, 7 system that made every map feel like there was potential to get a UAV, Air Strike and Helicopter. They were basic and didn’t typically overshadow the battling on the map between the players.

Eventually, we got to dive into MW2 and experience the best maps, the best weapons and some of the best kill streaks ever. The only aspect that seems negative in retrospect is the introduction of the tactical nuke on top of the growing trend if overpowered killstreaks. Don’t get me wrong… I loved the AC-130 and the Pavelow, but these were game-changers for the future of overpowered killstreaks.

Even with these gains I looked forward to MW3 and it didn’t disappoint, but it also didn’t impress me much on the map end of things. They seemed uninspired at best and the kill streaks felt stale.  This is something that seems to have become a habit and legacy issue of late… not to mention the weak campaigns over the last four games after MW3… and that doesn’t seem like a trend that will end any time soon.

I truly miss the smooth handling and true battles I felt like were possible on Modern Warfare before they started adding jump boosting and wall running. Now they are adding overpowered killstreaks to a game that doesn’t need any sort of additional reason to make Call of Duty into a caricature of itself. Be it the mini-tank or the robot soldier or the HATR that shows the location and movement of every opponent in real time… these are all overpowered and take away from what Call of Duty used to be back in Modern Warfare.

Maybe I am the curmudgeon of gaming and dream of yesteryear a bit too much. I don’t think that is the case. I truly believe it’s time for Call of Duty to go back to its roots. Make it a battle between players with weapons moving around maps. Take the AI out of it and bring back Modern Warfare.

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Titanfall – Will It Swing The Console Battle?

Now that we are only hours from the release of 360/XB1/PC exclusive Titanfall there are many in the gaming community that may be seeing this as the first launch of a next-Gen console missile strike of sorts.  Titanfall is developed by the former founders of Call of Duty’s Infinity Ward.  While this might already drive many to consider this game as some sort of ‘sci-fi/mech COD’ doesn’t  seem to veer from that as it is only for online multi-player action.

Titanfall is the first major post-launch console exclusive for next-gen systems.
Titanfall is the first major post-launch console exclusive for next-gen systems.

Titanfall is also coming out on XBox 360 as well as the newer XBox One.  This might be one of the more frustrating aspects for gamers that noticed a drastic drop in quality of development of games like Battlefield 4 when comparing console performance.  Titanfall has amazed many eager gamers with videos and other announcements that make this game something new in the shooter market.  It isn’t as if there has been a shortage of shooter games over the last eight years of 360/PS3.  Some have been stellar (COD, Halo, Battlefield and Gears of War).  Others have fallen flat (MAG, Frontlines, Unreal Tournament and the list goes on).

Now, on the eve of the first real battle of the next-gen console war we are getting ready to see if Titanfall will be a dramatic success or a colossal failure.

How Call of Duty and Battlefield Have Turned Off FPS Gamers

Over the last generation of console gaming we have seen a dramatic increase in online gaming.  The primary gain in this user-base has been in first person shooter (FPS) games like Call of Duty, Halo and Battlefield.  Call of Duty 4 seemed to fill a void for gamers that weren’t fans of Halo.  They wanted a shooter that was military based with more customization and depth in the online arena.  What COD4 brought to the table was a game that still ranks among my personal favorites in the series, surpassed only by Modern Warfare 2.

The biggest issue that started the downfall of Call of Duty was the annual release to the lemmings that can’t seem to get rid of their money fast enough.  Call of Duty has become the Madden of shooter games.  The one thing you are guaranteed with the annual online experience is the large population of gamers screaming obscenities in your ears.  While that isn’t the primary downside, it is one of the more common complaints when it comes to online gaming.  (This is even with the ability to mute players… it shouldn’t have to be an issue but it is often on the edge of infuriating to have to deal with such nonsense.)

After the relative annoying of gamers you are going to start seeing where Call of Duty is really starting to fall off.  It is actually in the repetitive nature of the game and how predictable every round will unfold.  Team Deathmatch is what it has always been – a hunt for the perfect camping spot or some sort of search for a bottleneck.  Domination is still the wonderful spawn-camping disaster it has always been.  Now there are numerous clans that seem to stalk the public lobbies and destroy players that are trying to enjoy some casual gaming.  It has become a self-destructive game in how it is constantly building itself to be dominated by people that dedicate obscene amounts of time to leveling up and figuring out every nuance to making the casual gamers rage quit and sell their games on eBay or even trade it for pennies at GameStop.

This isn’t to say that there aren’t talented gamers out there in every genre.  However, it seems that FPS games are starting to try and copy many aspects of Call of Duty because of the monetary success the game has seen every year since COD4 was released.  This isn’t a good thing for gamers that would like to have something that feels and plays different from COD titles.  Battlefield was once that bastion of hope that FPS fans could look to when thinking about the shortcomings of Call of Duty.  The problem is that with maps like Operation Metro (BF3) and Operation Locker (BF4) it seems as if EA/DICE is trying to emulate Call of Duty in death-fests that are less tactical and more deathmatch-like.  While these are relatively small segments of the map population it is discouraging to feel like you can’t escape this apparent necessity of slaughterhouse maps in a game that many purchase as an escape from that.

We have been fortunate to see many gains made in graphics and even physics (at times).  However, the common devolution of
almost every game ends up turning the shooter game into some sort of Call of Duty-esque bloodbath of reflex/twitch-based shooting.  It starting to become wash, rinse, repeat with shooter games – especially online shooter games.

Where do you stand?  Are you ready to move on from FPS online gaming… or maybe from FPS gaming altogether?

Are Shooter Games Starting To Lose Their Appeal?

You can only re-hash the same thing so many times before it is no longer desired.  This goes for movies (see – Saw, Rocky, Rambo, Star Wars (the new crappy ones) as much as it goes for music and video games.  In gaming we are starting to experience something that isn’t too dissimilar.  Every November we expect a new Call of Duty game.  While COD is the most common direction people look when it comes to games being the same every year, it is also a trend that is getting (or has gotten) old very fast.

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I am almost to my second prestige in Black Ops 2.  While this isn’t shocking to the many people that have already reached the 5th or 10th prestige it is something relatively new to me.  I didn’t prestige in Modern Warfare 3 and I thought I would give it a chance in Black Ops 2.  The problem with this is the fact that I am playing games and leveling up in their second and third iterations.  There have been some changes along the way, but the one thing that remains a constant is the move towards an almost exclusively multiplayer focused game that revolves around leveling, leaderboards and people trying to make it big on YouTube.

While there are other games that are being milked as a franchise (Assassin’s Creed, Metal Gear, Angry Birds and let’s not forget sports games and their wonderful annual roster updates) – it seems that shooters are still the cash-cow that get most of the development attention.  There have been some reports/rumors that Call of Duty is starting to see a slight decline in sales.  Does this really surprise you?  Madden and NCAA have also both started to see a decline in sales over the last few years.  While there have been some fluctuations to these numbers in some cases, it should tell the gaming industry from production company to developer that gamers want new games with new ideas.

If you want to look for hope in gaming, take a look at what some of the indie game developers are putting out.  Support their cause, but please… demand creativity instead of sequels.  That is so… Michael Bay.

Is Black Ops 2 Suffering From Disinterest?

Call of Duty was one of the most impressive franchises for this console generation.  When it started to become a yearly online shooter version of Madden it lost a lot of luster.  If you were among the people that purchased an Xbox 360 early on and made Call of Duty 2 your first 360 game.  Something drastically changed when Infinity Ward (thankfully) changed the time period from World War 2 to modern times with Call of Duty 4 – Modern Warfare.

Something even more drastic happened after Call of Duty took a more modern approach – the creation of prestige, leaderboards and record keeping of Kill/Death ratios.  One of our first articles talked largely about leaderboards and their negative impact on online gaming and the catalyst for the current state of online shooters was Call of Duty 4.

We have since made it through four iterations of Call of Duty and the process has seen the online community grow to new heights and sales of the game to go through the roof.  Call of Duty is one of the most action-packed and entertaining games to play online or offline – but why does it feel so bland now?

It seems like Black Ops 2 is one of the most underwhelming and least hyped CoD titles to be released.  The last time I remember not looking forward to a Call of Duty game was when CoD 3 was announced to once again focus on World War 2.  Black Ops has shifted from the Cold War era to the ‘near future’ in Black Ops 2.  Outside of the time-shift, there have been a few tweaks and changes to gameplay as well as a new set of weapons (which we will be covering in the coming months).  The question that must be asked again and again is whether or not the Call of Duty series will command the same attention that it has in the past.

Where do you stand with Black Ops 2?  If your opinions are anywhere close to those for Madden 13 it could be an interesting reaction.

Call of Duty Still Going Strong – Are You Surprised? Should You Wish Otherwise?

Call of Duty will never die if people keep playing it. The bottom line of any business is whether or not their product is selling or being used enough to keep them in business. In the case of the Call of Duty series, there is no doubt that the game is among the favorites of Xbox 360 gamers.

In Major Nelson’s recent update about the most played games on Xbox Live you will see four Call of Duty titles on the list of the Top 20. Modern Warfare 3, Black Ops (as people prep to play Black Ops 2), Modern Warfare 2 and Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare are among the titles listed (which also includes the likes of Battlefield 3, FIFA 12, Minecraft, Madden NFL 12 and Magic The Gathering: Duels of the Planeswalkers 2012. This list shouldn’t tell you that games are necessarily ‘good‘ but that they are among the most popular to be played online.

The Call of Duty series is one that is being driven into the ground by its current publisher, Activision. Activision is notorious for taking titles to the point where people are just sick of them (see Guitar Hero). It isn’t that their games are bad or even that they aren’t fun. It is the fact that people get burnt out on spending $60+ on new games and add-ons every year. Guitar Hero (GH) even had a point where the guitars weren’t even compatible with every other game under the GH label. It was really a pathetic turn for the worst from a company that is becoming more and more synonymous with being more money hungry and brash rather than being a good developer of gaming goodness.

We don’t know what would happen if Call of Duty were to take a hiatus or even get to the point where it had simply played itself out; yet, we still look forward to the day when the series isn’t on the release list for November. There are some games that could use a break and Call of Duty is one of them.

 

 

Breaking The Trends – What’s Next For Shooter Games?

It seems that the entertainment industry has fallen into a rut over the past decade or so.

Whether it is gaming or movies – when something finds success the typical response isn’t “What will they do next?”… it is “When is the sequel coming out?!”

A recent article that features an interview with DICE suggests that the next movement is going away from Modern Conflicts and towards ‘Near Future’.  This brings a few things to mind and really presses for an honest answer that will only be given in sales numbers.

Are you getting tired of fighting the same war with different names?

What Is So Different Between Current Day and Near Future?

If you have paid any attention to the ‘new’ direction for Call of Duty Black Ops 2 you will see that it is now based in the Near Future.  The worst part about this concept is that it involves very little true innovation other than simply stating that it is based in a time period that has more flying robots and drones, etc. Modern Warfare 3 already saw places like New York City in ruins, now we get to go into new ‘future’ places and see them destroyed by war?… Yeah, really refreshing.

So… in the near future there will be guys dressed like Master Chief with Flying Drones like we already have in almost every game?…
So much for innovation.

Does Time Period Need To Be Stated?

Outside of historical reference, does it really matter ‘when’ a game is taking place?  If you have read any sort of fiction you will notice what happens in books that directly refer to technology or entertainment of the time.  It ages the story and often makes it difficult for future generations to relate to the ‘power’ of whatever is being referenced.  Try reading Jurassic Park or American Psycho without laughing about their references to CD-ROMs and Walkmans, or better yet – Huey Lewis and the News.

It isn’t as if time period should be cut out completely, but it should be merely hinted at in the presentation.  Bioshock did a great job of this when you see the character flying in an airplane that allowed smoking (even if it did make direct reference to the year “1960 – Mid-Atlantic”).  There is even the amazing presentation of NBA 2K12 that allows you to play with retro teams with a TV presentation style of the time period.

Where Is The F**CKING ORIGINAL STORY?!

There is something to be said for what Activision is doing with Call of Duty and that something is called ‘milking a concept until the game dies’.  Look at what they did with Guitar Hero and you will see what will eventually happen to Call of Duty.

If you take a look at the direction of Microsoft, they aren’t too dissimilar when it comes to milking games and game series such as Gears of War and Halo.  Speaking of which, new rumours have started creeping up about Halo 2 Anniversary Edition.  Not that anyone should be surprised… it is just upsetting for gamers that want to play something new… something fresh.

What type of time period or setting do you want to have a shooter game based in?  Leave comments below!