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Modern Warfare is Activision's greatest Call of Duty Title

Rocky Jul 13, 2014

  1. Ro

    Rocky Guest

    Call of Duty's cyclical and increasingly gauche releases have been giving me a headache every November for nearly six years now. To my annoyance, most of my acquaintances have gone and bought them all anyway. What is it that keeps luring them in? The promise of new dolphin blubber weapon skins? The routinely gimmick-ridden multiplayer disguised as innovation ('Hey, we're louder than the ones that were before!')? Is it the campaign? It can't be the campaign.

    Most people would agree with me that Call of Duty is all about the online play; some won't even touch single player, and haven't the foggiest who Captain Price or Soap are. If multiplayer is valued above all else, though, I'm confused as to why people continue plugging away at the likes of Black Ops II, Modern Warfare 3 and Ghosts - games I personally consider to be shoddy and unnecessary.

    Having risen from an overlong slumber in the world of RPGs like an irradiated phoenix from the nuclear ash, I've been attempting to get back into online shooting - and for my money, Call of Duty 4 has yet to be bettered. Fine, you don't get to pretend you're some kind of jingoistic pseudo-Spartan accompanied by a C4-rigged canine (a c4nine?), or a side character from Elysium, but is that really what Call of Duty's about? Surely, Call of Duty is just about shooting people in an enjoyable environment.

    Modern Warfare came as near to perfecting the PvP shooter as any console game ever has, allowing skilful players to assert themselves - but never dominate - and average players to have fun and contribute to the team, maybe earning some helicopter backup for their efforts now and then. It was alsmot as fun to play locally as online, as anyone that has ever played a four-way split-screen free-for-all on Shipment in Hardcore + Min. Health mode can attest.

    Modern Warfare 2 diluted this, allowing slightly more skilled players to run amok and carpet bomb the living daylights out of every pixel on the screen. It wasn't all bad. At first, I was convinced it was better. When commandeering an AC-130, for example, I will admit to mumbling a mocking soliloquy or two as I dumped a downpour of lead upon my foes, but I was aware that some of the joy of Modern Warfare had been lost.

    However spectacular MW2 could sometimes be, I still found myself yearning for the simple beauty of Hardcore team Deathmatch on Crash or Vacant, a desire which only intensified as XP-hungry trash-mongrels slavered over their garish 'Full Throttle' call signs and vetoed for their lives in the mid-game loading lobby. When I put MW2 away and returned to its predecessor, I was relieved to discover a healthy community of like minds.

    Since MW2, which to me was already something an overstuffed fratboy-bus of perks and prizes, the series has only grown more extravagant. Shoot someone in the face and have an excitable textbot tell you, 'Kill Confirmed'! Fly UAV drones from Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter! All this presumably appeals to somebody, but all I see is a spent, hollow shell of a franchise. Repeated re-releases, or 'Resurgences', of Modern Warfare's versatile maps are a bit of a giveaway there.

    Another thing which strikes me about the recent CoDs is how lightweight they are. I'm not even a good CoD player, yet I found myself getting streaks in MW3 that not only felt undeserved but genuinely inexplicable. If someone as unskilled as I can lay waste with the arsenal of helping-hand call-ins from MW3 or Black Ops II, then it follows that good players can positively own the opposition - with an automatic plane animation doing 60% of the work for them, that is.

    In CoD 4, unless you come across a predatory party of elite players with the same tags, the teams are usually pretty balanced. There are no weapons or streak rewards so overpowered as to be insurmountable. Rarely in a Modern Warfare match are you able to run around shooting enemies from the hip without immediately dying. I've found that Modern Warfare players tend to be more sportsmanlike, too, the obligatory noob-toobers aside.

    Call of Duty isn't the only game series that has struggled to rediscover its former glory. Halo 3, which brought the world Forge and the peerless glory of BTB on Valhalla, is still inhabited by a large number of those Bungie fans who consider Reach and Halo 4 to be over-saturated experiments, while Battlefield meisters DICE have themselves admitted that Bad Company 2's online multiplayer hasn't quite been topped.

    To me, these examples show that, irrespective of how many discs it might shift, the 'more is better' mentality doesn't always lead to an improved experience. CoD: Black Ops had one of the most successful console launches of all time and its sequel, released a mere 369 days later, somehow sold over 24 million copies despite being, in my eyes, even more comprehensively defunct as a CoD title than the last. (Some people liked it, though). How could it be so popular? Largely, it seems to be because they used Eminem in the trailers.

    With the upcoming Advanced Warfare, Activision claim to be at last returning to the smooth gameplay and gritty simplicity that made Call of Duty 4 so great. Granted, there will be Exo-Suits, so it's going to be a bit more than just a Modern Warfare MKII, but the intensive research that Sledgehammer went into to ensure factual credibility should lend the game a sense of believably and consequence that's been missing from recent CoD titles. What's more, AW marks the return to a three year dev cycle for the Call of Duty franchise, so there's hopefully been time enough to perfect multiplayer mechanics that have seemed confused and unwieldy in recent iterations.

    Sledgehammer has stated its intention to effectively reboot the franchise, giving it the "same feeling" of newness as Modern Warfare. I hope that's a genuine promise. I don't want to be treated like a smelly Pavlovian dog, bombarded with themed banners and shiny toys every time I don't die twice without a kill. But even if Advanced Warfare doesn't cut the mustard, we still have Modern Warfare to go back to. If you think November can't come soon enough, I encourage you to join me for a game of Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. You might just find that it's no bad thing to live in the past.





    Source - OXM
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