Is it, really? I may not speak for all (most definitely not), but allow me to offer my un-biased opinion on the gaming phenomenon, loved by millions and hated by about the same, Call of Duty.
They’re not bad. “What?! Are you mad?” They ask me, “You bloody, sniveling moron!” They call me. I can understand that many of you are offended at the very thought of anything nice to say about the series, but allow me to drop the bomb again, in case you missed it, and don’t wanna go back and double check. They’re not bad. In fact, I would add that some of them are pretty good, even great.
In case you have quite literally been under a rock, or in a Turkish prison for the last 6 years (you’d be better off under the rock); allow me to fill you in about the series: Call of Duty was a 2003 first-person computer game created by Infinity Ward, with a narrative set in World War II, which just happened to spawn a couple of sequels. 2 was a launch title for the Xbox 360, and kept the WWII theme of it’s predecessor. Soon after, 3 was released on many consoles, as well as launch title on the Playstation 3, and also had the WWII theme. From this point, you may or may not have heard of the series, because it was not very intrusive; they were just a trilogy of FPS’, and not exactly pervasively popular. Then, in the Fall of 2007, Infinity Ward released their Magnum Opus, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare.
Now the series was cool! It was set in modern times, opposed to the WWII setting of the originals, with a wholly epic narrative, innovative, massively popular online multiplayer; and it all came in box with a shiny, new M-rating. At this point in time, you couldn’t go anywhere on the internet, or hang out with you gamer friends without hearing about this amazing shooter.
After COD4, another studio, Treyarch, released the fifth game, which would serve as a prologue to their Black Ops series: World at War. It returned to the WWII setting of the originals. It introduced an element which would later become the only reason some people bought the Treyarch games: online/local co-op zombie murdering!
In 2009, Infinity Ward released Modern Warfare 2, which, like 4, won numerous GOTY awards. This is the point when people started getting hit with “Call of Duty Fatigue”. The mulitplayer had some pretty “whack” servers, and was somewhat glitchy. The story was also cited as being lame and uninspired. It also generated controversy when it came to a mission that allowed you to murder innocent people inside of an airport; the controversy may have made it seem amazing, but in reality, it wasn’t a very fun mission; and was actually brutally, unfairly hard, though that fact really has nothing to do with anything.
Many people who left the COD ship after MW2 would end up missing out on Treyarch’s next game in the series: Black Ops. It included much improved multiplayer servers, and an advanced version of zombies; as well as an intricate, epic (mind-screw) of a narrative, set in the Cold War. This is the point where people started to notice the annual releases, as well the alternating between Infinity Ward and Treyarch. Most didn’t sit with this too well, claiming that Activision (the publisher of the series) was just milking “blind” gamers, and kept releasing the same game every year with a palette swap, with a hefty price tag of $60, along with another $40 for all the DLC level packs.
At no point did this piss people off more than with the release of Modern Warfare 3. With a subpar campaign, lame multiplayer, and not very many changes, additions, or redeeming values; a lot of people had completely written off the series as garbage (you wouldn’t know this due to all the hundreds of millions the series makes each year). Those people would miss out on what is perhaps the the greatest installment of the series since 4…
Black Ops 2. Black Ops 2 was the first time in the series since World at War with significant new additions. The campaign was better than ever, with truly epic moments and quality writing. The zombies had been tweaked, and the multiplayer was very much revamped,with lots of new toys and levels. It now featured the ability to offer color commentary during matches, giving the whole affair an e-sport feel.
Now that you’re all caught up, let me tell you just what makes the series great: the controls. The controls are fantastic. Even if you hate the games, you have to admit they control very smoothly, and are fun to play, even though they’re just “mindless shooters”. The campaigns, even if they don’t have great stories, or the best writing, are undeniably epic, with some very memorable set-pieces (such as the “All Ghillied Up” mission from 4) , among the most epic of this generation.
A new entry, Ghosts, is scheduled for release this year, for next-gen consoles, a year after Black Ops 2; and will include a new engine, dogs, and AI-powered tropical fish. Even though the games are released annually, they are worked on by 2 separate developers, who work on the games for about two years before they are released to the general public. The development may sound troubling to some, due to the pace of the games being released, but the games aren’t broken, so it’s not a problem.
Whether or not you enjoy Call of Duty, it is firmly planted in our culture. Small-town video game stores have entire tournaments set around the games, and millions flock to the store each year, with a $60 in their pocket, patiently waiting to dive into some fast-paced, mindless multiplayer fun; and (most of the time) epic narratives.
While Call of Duty may not be as amazing as, say, Bioshock or Half-Life, and certainly will never have the same level of respect, the Call of Duty series contains considerably fun First-Person shooters with smooth, fluent controls. Flame on, internet. Flame on.