Entering hostile territory… expect sniper fire, so keep down low… Copy that.
Increasingly it feels that as a gamer, I’m not allowed to like Call of Duty. It’s not fashionable to do so. When writing about CoD I’m supposed to complain that each game is the same as the last one (sometimes exactly the same), and this lack of originality makes it a bad game.
But I’m not going to do that. I’m going to lift my head above the parapet (always dangerous in first person shooters) and say that no, I like Call of Duty. I mean… have you played Ghosts?
One thing the CoD series does masterfully is ramp up the stakes and the scale relentlessly. In the first Modern Warfare there was a shootout in an irradiated Chernobyl… by the time the sequel came around (after the awesome, but relatively overlooked WWII shooter, World at War) the campaign had a sequence in which you shoot your way across the White House lawn and into the Oval Office!
As Charlie Brooker said on TV at the time – it’s like being part of a Bond movie.
The latest game, Ghosts follows this tradition. The first mission is a shoot-out on a space station for heavens’ sake!
Yes – there’s no freedom of movement like you get in sandbox games, and yes, the games are a sequence of predetermined set-pieces interspersed with shooting segments… but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t exhilarating.
And sure, the plots are never terribly well thought through – but then did you watch Expendables because of it’s nuanced take on the nature of masculinity in a post-feminist world? No, you watched it because at one point the man hurts the other man in a visually interesting and amusing way.
There’s no game quite as intense as CoD – the assault on the eyes and ears of the explosions, gunshots and bullets whistling past your head. There’s a genuine sense of relief when you manage to shoot your way out of a building whilst being pursued by hundreds of enemies.
And so what if it’s the same every year? The single player campaign is also maligned for being so short – maybe seven hours play tops. If it takes the developers a year to make an exciting and polished seven hours… then what’s wrong with wanting seven more hours of it the next year?
Nobody seems to complain that every new FIFA game is just the same old game. Why don’t they make matches last 100 minutes to shake things up? What about letting players use their hands, or changing the ball to an egg shape?
And of course – on a functional level, it is not a bad game. It’s very rare for a AAA title to actually be bad? Like how a $100m blockbuster, regardless of plot, will always be a visual spectacle, Call of Duty always plays well, with fluid controls – and with no weird bugs, or half-walking-through-walls and the like. It’s always a completely solid game world.
So who’s with me? Who’s going to join me in unironically liking Call of Duty again? If the anti-CoD zealots take me down, then I want you to seek revenge – ideally in the most ludicrous, and comically violent way possible… using a space station.
Expect a full review of CoD: Ghosts and Battlefield 4 to be posted soon.
By James O'Malley | November 11th, 2013