Tag: Call of Duty

As I was preparing for the first episode of the Game On, Oblivious Noobs gamecast, Joey asked what my favorite series was. I found the question difficult to answer. What exactly makes a series? How many installments are necessary to call a franchise a series?

Borderlands and Borderlands 2 are two of my favorite games, but do two games constitute a series? What about a franchise like Final Fantasy, where I loved the early installments, but the more recent ones left me with a bad taste in my mouth? Even though the games feature different protagonists and different worlds, they are linked by a naming convention. Should it rank among my favorite series when the franchise eventually made me sick of JRPGs?

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Yesterday was the launch of the most recent installment of the Call of Duty franchise, Call of Duty: Ghosts.   And you know what, I could give two shits about it.

I am certain that millions of ardent fans got in line outside of Gamestops and Best Buys everywhere at  around 10:00 Monday night to be among the first to pick up their copies of the game at midnight for their Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3 consoles. Millions more will purchase it the day they pick up their next generation console of choice later this month, either the Xbox One or PlayStation 4.

Well, count me out. CoD is not for me anymore.

This hasn’t always been the case. A few installments ago, I was amongst the eager crowd at the midnight launch, waiting with excitement at the opportunity to pick up Modern Warfare 2 so that I could get my fix.

So what has changed? Well, it certainly hasn’t been the Call of Duty franchise.

One main issue I have with the series is that as time has gone on, for the most part, it hasn’t advanced. The past few iterations I have played (Modern Warfare 2 and Black Ops 1 2) have made very minor changes over the years. 

The high point in the series in my opinion is still the first Call of Duty: Black Ops. The single-player campaign was one of the more entertaining entries in the series, even with some of the story being impossible to comprehend.

More importantly, this game featured developer Treyarch’s best iteration of the online cooperative multiplayer mode, Zombies. My friends and I invested hundreds of hours into perfecting strategy on all of the maps that came with the game as well as the downloadable additions.

Since then, the series has stagnated. Granted, they have changed the leveling dynamic of the multiplayer modes to try to give the series new legs and keep it fresh. Unfortunately for the two development teams, Infinity Ward (the Modern Warfare series and Ghosts) and Treyarch, the main reason I dislike the game is out of their control.

The biggest problem is that the multiplayer mode isn’t fun anymore. At all. And no matter how many changes the developers make, it cannot be fixed.

The limitations are in two places. That first limitation is me.

Living in The Real World (TRW as Mr. Beisel, our Civics and Economics teacher in high school, would say) makes it nearly impossible for me to succeed in the game.

This realization came to me while playing my favorite entry in the series, Black Ops. When I first bought the game at launch and jumped into multiplayer match-ups, I was able to compete because everyone else was at square one too. I could actually kill people in Team Deathmatch and was able to run circles around people in Capture the Flag.

But, as always happens, life got in the way and I couldn’t play much for about a month. And when I came back, it was a completely different game.

While I was still learning or remembering the maps, others had found the perfect strategies and were exploiting them with precision. And I could not do anything without dying in quick succession when facing people that have prestiged (maxed out their experience level progress) multiple times only a month after launch.

At that point, no matter how much I would try, a good rage quit would get in the way of me learning enough to be competitive. And it just wasn’t fun anymore. No matter what I would try, I could not break out of that. And I am sure I am not the only one that feels that way, am I right?

The second limitation is everyone else playing the game.

They are just too damn good. And unless they are in your clan, they don’t care about you. Even in team games, they don’t do anything but try to score as much as they can individually. Granted, this can help the team win, but working out strategies with the rest of the team makes the game more enjoyable for everyone and helps people improve.

But that would require you being able to talk to the other players. And unfortunately (at least on PS3), only three types of people talk over the game on microphones: Douchebags that scream at everyone else for sucking so bad, twelve year-olds regurgitating the filthiest trash talk they can remember, and people listening to music at a level that makes it impossible to understand. Sometimes it is a combination of all three!

And these are just the people on your team. The people on the other team will at least consist of one person (usually more) that will exploit every single thing they can to their advantage to get a win, which usually means sniping your spawn points to get easy kills. Granted, they are just using what the developers have given them to win the game. But it creates an annoying experience for the uninitiated or those struggling to learn.

I became so frustrated and bored with Black Ops, which was my favorite of all of them, that I didn’t even buy the next installment, Modern Warfare 3.

I gave the developers a second chance when Black Ops 2 came around. I was hoping that Treyarch would build off of the enjoyable single player campaign of the first, breathe new life into zombie mode, and level out the frustration of the multiplayer mode.

Unfortunately, that game was a step back in all respects. I never even finished the single player mode because it was just plain boring. The “Pick 10” system did make multiplayer a bit more interesting, but I still suffered to be competitive when I purchased the game a couple of months after launch.

The biggest travesty and last straw was Zombie mode. While “Tranzit” was an interesting idea and made for some fun games, the rest of the zombie maps that came on the disk were plain and uninspired. Kill waves of zombies on a farm. You can’t interact with anything on the farm and there aren’t any new areas you can open up (unlike previous iterations), just find a spot, sit there, and try to survive.

Don’t like that? Do the same thing in a town square. Or a street. Don’t like that? Pay $15 to buy something you might like more. As if surviving waves of zombies wasn’t tough enough, surviving the boredom added to the difficulty.

At that point, I decided I was done with Call of Duty. Maybe not permanently, but for a long time. I would rather spend the $60 on a game that will have a much more developed story and more diverse gaming experiences. Or split that amount to buy a couple PlayStation Network games to get more bang for my buck.

From what I have read in reviews, Ghosts is one of the better Call of Duty games and is starting to take the series in a better direction, so maybe it isn’t fair to take it all out on this new version.

But, if Activision (or any other publisher) is going to annualize a series, they risk not evolving enough to keep the casual fan interested in the series. Sports games and Assassin’s Creed have struggled with this as well and more games will in the future too. For me, I’ll spend my money on games that take the development time to make improvements and changes to their games. Like Grand Theft Auto V.

What are your thoughts? Do you agree with me? Or am I just a stupid noob? Let us know in the comments below. I’ll just be waiting patiently for my PS4.