With the release of Call of Duty: Ghosts drawing ever closer I am compelled to critique what has become of the series since it’s transition from a classic World War II game to the modern First Person Shooter gamers everywhere have come to know intimately. With the exception of Call of Duty 5 (World at War), the Call of Duty series has moved from World War II to modern combat. First Person Shooters as a genre began with Halo: Combat Evolved and there has been little development in how the genre plays and feels since.
Call of Duty 4 (Modern Warfare) was the series first attempt at moving from World War II to modern infantry combat and it was a major hit. Since Modern Warfare we have seen Modern Warfare 2, Black Ops, Black Ops 2, Modern Warfare 3, and now Call of Duty Ghosts. With each new installment in the Modern Warfare storyline the situation becomes more and more intense, ultimately resulting in World War 3 between America and Russia in the third game.
The reason Call of Duty is so popular among male teenage gamers especially is not because of it’s storyline or it’s graphics, it is all about multiplayer. The ability to go online and team up with friends to shoot up bad guys on the other team is hard to resist, and you don’t even have to leave your couch. The days of coming back inside only to grab a flashlight and run out again are over, now we just communicate over game chat while moving our thumbs slightly to the sound of assault rifles and minor explosions.
Call of Duty Modern Warfare was the first in the series to have a serious multiplayer aspect and since it’s creation the multiplayer has remained almost exactly the same. With the addition of some new weapons, skins, and customization options the game has changed little since it’s creation. “As soon as the [game] begins it is quite clear how it will end…[one] can guess what is coming and feel flattered when it does come…The result is a constant reproduction of the same thing.”
The culture industry is marked by “homogeneity and predictability” two things that the Call of Duty series has in abundance. The gameplay is little different from any other FPS (Halo 4 even has a controller scheme designed for players who are more used to Call of Duty) and game journalists can tell you exactly what the game will be like months before it’s actual release date.
The gaming industry as a whole has been stagnating for some time and Call of Duty is a good measure of just how bad it has gotten. Yet the public continues to clamor for the next installment, continues to line up outside stores for that precious day one copy. Although the game has changed little in the last few years fans have become comfortable with it. New games are a gamble, they’re expensive and if it turns out you don’t enjoy it you’re left with a useless disk and a couple random achievements on your online account. Call of Duty has changed little but it’s sales have skyrocketed since the transition from World War II to Modern Warfare, and until the public asks and it can’t give, developers are content to sit back and release products that are simply more of the same.
“One day we may learn that in the depths of their hearts, the masses…secretly knew the truth and disbelieved the lie, like catatonic patients who make known only at the end of their trance that nothing had escaped them. Therefore it may not be entirely senseless to continue speaking a language that is not easily understood.”