Monday, November 26, 2012

Stop Call of Duty

Back from a few days off and we have another Monday. A digital shopping day, no less. Though Amazon.com and a few others are trying to spread it out over the course a week, aka less deep discounts and more of the normal discounts you’d expect.

If you’re looking for a “holiday game list,” you’re in the wrong place. If you know what you want you’re going to get it. I’d hope you have done enough research that you don’t need my help in finding the best price.

Today we’re going to explore a subject most of you might be offended by. Why we no longer need Call of Duty

Yes. I’m biased. I dislike the game. Before you all go psycho on me, I actually like the first game. You know the original? The one made by Activision and Infinity Ward? It was only 2003. Barely 10 years ago. I’m not that old yet, guys.

At the time, it was pretty nifty. The few “war games” that were on the market were from one perspective, the American side. You had Civilization that allowed you to play another country/culture/group/etc. but it wasn’t a first person shooter. Call of Duty allowed you to experience World War II from the view point of British and Soviet soldiers. That was unique at the time. We take it for granted now, but it was a new thing not that long ago. It also brought in computer controlled allies; people and vehicles that assisted you on missions while you make your way through the game. You had to keep them alive, or kill them off as you wish. You developed bonds with your computer AI’s. Again, unique for the time.

You have the “shell shock” feature, where if an explosion went off nearby, the action on the screen would move as if your character were disoriented. Sounds would become muffled, the images on the screen blur, and your character would be unable to run or sprint. Even the idea of covering behind walls, using group tactics to direct your NPC squad was unimaginable.

We have come to expect it all of these features with most first person shooters and action-adventure games. Think about Gears of War; that was 2006. 3 years later and Call of Duty really did change the way we approached the genre. You could look at the FPS genre as a BCOD and ACOD: Before Call of Duty and After Call of Duty. BCOD we had Doom. ACOD we had Gears of War. Look at the two and you can easily see how much CoD changed the landscape.

It was a good time for gaming.

And then we were bestowed with the sequels. I’ll admit that COD 2 and 3 have a place in the world. They improved upon the original formula and refined it into quality FPS gaming while adding some new features here and there. After that they stuttered. The rush of Modern Warfare, Black Ops and World at War turned the uniqueness that once was into a money machine.

What makes Modern Warfare worth playing? It’s the same game as the original, but in a modern setting. The things that made COD stand out are no longer important. That innovation that thrived at Activision and Infinity Ward is gone (literally and figuratively). Modern Warfare and beyond no longer coexist with their predecessor. These are games about what’s cool and hip right now, not about creating a new legacy for future FPS to follow.

Not even the FPS tournament groups of the world will recognize COD in their ranks. Professional gamers dislike COD for multiple reasons. Excluding the fact that one is pushed out every year thus voiding the previous version and giving the pros little time to understand the game on a competitive level, the games are no longer the unique symbols that they once were.

I saw COD as a vessel for change. It helped to create a new path for FPS that we hadn’t seen in decades. And now it’s sitting there. Like a lump of coal catering to the masses for more money. I guess it’s a symbol of everything that is good and bad about capitalism. Creativity will get your foot in the door but after that you need to focus on the coin.

I’m sure a few of you will argue that Modern Warfare, Black Ops, and the rest brought COD to the here and now. It’s the type of game that gamers want and go after. That’s fine but think about what they have lost out in the process. Is there anything “new” in the series other than a change of the date and scenery? What new gaming elements have been added that aren’t a copy/paste from another series or an older COD? And please don’t tell me that they have new weapons and Nazi Zombies. Those are not innovations.

It’s time for us to stop caving in to the COD warlords. We’ll continue to see the same game year after year until people refuse to buy the products. I want the old COD and what it stood for. I want a game changer. I want COD to stop being produced until they can provide me with a completely new and radically different experience.

Innovation is the word of the day. Use it. Explore. Be open to ideas.

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