Sunday, November 21, 2010

Why I Never Bought Call of Duty: Black Ops

Call of Duty. A household name and one of the most recognized series in the history of the videogame medium. A series that has sparked so much controversy and a following of biblical proportions. With over 25 million people playing the franchise online, this is the juggernaut of todays gaming. So the $33+ billion dollar question is: why don't I care anymore?

Let me start by saying that I have been a big fan of Call of Duty since the very beginning. I remember purchasing the original PC game the day it came out and spent many hours both on and offline. This may sound strange at first, but the original Call of Duty game resulted in my family emigrating from 'sunny ol' England' to the United States. Basically, my father and I frequently played on a server and got friendly with an American gaming clan which we ended up joining. Several years later, my mother, father and I decided to visit America for the first time and also meet the faces behind the microphones resulting in a new found love for the country and five years later - end up moving to. All because of this videogame. I also made approximately a dozen or so custom multiplayer maps for the game (and it's sequels) which were -and still are- played on many servers even today. The only game I didn't buy on launch day, was Call of Duty 3; and that's just because I had no console to play it on. In short - I love the Call of Duty series and I still praise the series as a whole. So why was I fast asleep and in bed the night that Black Ops was released? Short answer: because I don't give two shits anymore.

Ohh, controversial! I can already feel the accusing eyes from those who will probably wish to castrate me for making that statement. Don't get me wrong, I am sure this latest installment is heaps of fun. I'm sure it controls nicely and the gameplay is as refined as ever. But, I played the same game three years ago. "How dare you say that!" I hear you cry. Well, tough. I'm simply not going to pay $60 for a game that could be considered an expansion for all it's worth.

Call of Duty has this formula in both it's single player and multiplayer components that throws me back to the days of Resident Evil and reminds me of a popular phrase: If it ain't broke, don't fix it. While I may agree to an extent, the line between small improvements and flat out not changing anything is becoming real blurry. Call of Duty games since Modern Warfare (and some may argue even Call of Duty 2) have followed the same set pieces in it's single player that always left me thinking 'have I played this before?' As cinematic as these campaigns are, they can be completed in under 6 hours mostly, which is simply unacceptable for me.

I was speaking to a friend of mine, and the topic of Black Ops came up and he said, and I quote: "The campaign isn't the reason I got it" So in reality - he's only buying half of the game, and until the game is half price, I won't touch it. But by that point it will be pointless as everyone would have moved on to the next game. Anyway, the conversation continued and he concluded that even though he knows nothing has changed since Modern Warfare, he will continue to purchase the recently announced Modern Warfare 3. This is also a view I've heard from various other people too. They are fully aware that it's essentially the same game, yet they continue to support it and pay full price when the next title is released. I just fail to understand the logic.

Call of Duty has become nothing more than a stale series with nothing new to offer. Like with the older Resident Evil games, people will eventually get pissed off and finally realize what Activison are doing. People are already starting to notice it seems, judging by the user review rating on for all versions of the game (proof, proof, and proof). Complaints being that the single player is short, the game is buggy, nothing new to offer, the list goes on. It may be acceptable for one or two sequels, but keep doing it and gamers will eventually notice. It's also interesting to see the stark contrast in opinion from the 'professional' reviewers.

So go ahead Activison, make the new Call of Duty game. Be sure to include a piss poor campaign with an obvious story, same set pieces and game mechanics from the last four games and put all your focus on multiplayer and set the TV trailer to a completely irrelevant Eminem song. Speaking of multiplayer, I understand that the acclaimed Zombie mode has only two maps, and one has to be unlocked by completing the campaign -- that's pathetic. Let's face it, the series might just as well strip away the single player. They obviously don't give a shit, so why should we. So go and put down your $60 pre-order on Modern Warfare 3, I'll be in bed when you're waiting outside GameStop at midnight itching to get your hands on what would then be a 5 year old game.

It just kills me to see such a series go down the drain like this. I should also add that I'm still bitter about them shafting PC users for the last two games too. Performance issues up the ass, no proper map editor, compatibility problems, the list goes on. The game is bugged to the dick. It's become nothing more than a console focused, multiplayer franchise now, and for that, I'm sure Black Ops is the shit. But that is of course until next year when Modern Warfare 3 comes out, then that will be the shit, and so the cycle goes on.

Let me stress that I do not expect Activison to change their ways. At the end of the day, they're a business who need to make money. From that standpoint they're a success. They don't make the games, they just tell whoever is making it how to make it, when to release it by and then market it. I also do not expect this article to change anyone's opinion on the series. This is just my opinion on a series I've been playing since the very beginning. I am also fully aware that this article will generate probably more hate than praise but that's something you have to accept when you say something remotely negative about this series, nowadays.


ComancheKnight said...

That "half game" argument really doesn't hold water. Sure, I bought Black Ops mainly for the multiplayer... and I got Bioshock 2 for the campaign. There are some games I buy for hours of mindless killing. I don't buy EVERY game for a compelling, beautiful, and engaging storyline. This argument is like telling someone off for liking grape-flavored candy by telling them it tastes nothing like grapes. Duh, I like the artificial flavor.

If this CoD franchise argument only applied to PC gaming then I'd have no problem with this at all... but people who own an XBox (and your linked proof poles are very telling) really don't have the luxury of the type of selection PC gamers have. I had never played ANY shooter online until CoD4 because, well, I never had a PC to play on.

...yes, Modern Warfare DOES suck. Those two games were essentially carbon copies of each other. But WaW and Black Ops have actually been making improvements in online play. And even though the campaigns are painfully short... they're more engaging than MW's. Perhaps that says more about Infinity Ward than CoD in general.

I'm not sure if consoles will EVER catch up to PC in terms of unique experiences, (they seem to be looking at PC games for pointers, which is a start) but I don't think the CoD series is too far gone just yet.

Taylor Dean said...

Well said Jack. My issue with COD's carbon copy-ness, aside from the obvious you and fans have stated, is it's just a shooter. It's Halo that's not in space with regenerating health instead of shields. I say the Halo and COD series are mainly responsible for the piss poor mediocre slop that is nearly all shooters today; look at the Blood Stone review I did; same regenerating health, same need for a cover system (that was exploitable by a very easy to find glitch, and look at a lot of others that have come out recently. It's not hard to find them, stupid ass cash cows.

I would have loved if Resident Evil crapped carbon copy after carbon copy because its a unique way to play a game; that, and as long as each one was a good game of course,as in story expansion, items, characters, etc.

Bolshok said...

Black Ops doesnt suffer nearly as badly from the sameness that MW and MW2 did.

Its fun to use older tech (Vietnam era weapons etc) and some of the multiplayer changes substantially added to a more balanced experiance (you buy your perks instead of unlocking them from levels, you buy upgrades for your weapons instead of completing annoying kill requirements, etc)

Not to mention adding more ways to customize your own character (diffrent face camos, tweaking your guns lenses, having your tag etched into the side of your gun etc).

Also the campaign HAS fun moments, and when you get down to it you dont play CoD for a deep, engaging experiance that tugs at your morals, questions your beliefs as a person, etc. You play CoD to blow shit up, but unfortunatly Acitivision seems to try and make it SEEM like CoD is offering these experiances.

I also really disagree with buying half a game for the multiplayer, the campaign unfortunatly hasnt been the series focus since CoD2, so buying a game for a fairly deep multiplayer experiance (and they HAVE made it fairly deep in my personal opinion) isnt really buying half a game.

JackC said...

"I also really disagree with buying half a game for the multiplayer, the campaign unfortunatly hasnt been the series focus since CoD2, so buying a game for a fairly deep multiplayer experiance (and they HAVE made it fairly deep in my personal opinion) isnt really buying half a game. "

True, the focus hasn't been on Single Player since CoD2 but because it's been like this for so long just further makes it stand out that this is now a MP series and that's something I simply do not like. Modern Warfare 2 was a nice change of pace from WW2. WaW was also a great game, as is MW2 and I'm sure Black Ops is....but the bottom line is: everything that MW2, WaW, MW2 and Black Ops have, could be included in MW1 in the form of mods. Making each game like an expansion. Shit, the Doom 3 expansion single player lasted longer than that of CoD MW2's.

Ian said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ian said...

i agree with jack for the most part >_> . seriously i played MW2's multiplayer and i noticed that almost nothing has changed AT ALL. I also returned my copie(s)((if you include my brothers)) of the game for being a piss poor excuse for a sequel. granted i would like to play black ops (and i may get it too) but i will not keep my hopes high for "a great gaming experience", no i will just expect some shitty campaing and SEMI-FUN multiplayer. and on the matter of MW3 activision should stop trying before the fuck themselves over. I mean come on
how many "sequels" do you expect to see before fans of COD get pissed off and stop playing?

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