The Call of Duty series has been around forever. Developed by a relatively small studio called Infinity Ward in 2003, this series has now gone on to become one of the most, if not the most successful video game franchises in gaming history. But what was once an exciting first person shooter has now become a yearly, predictable shooter that’s developed more for publisher Activision’s pockets than its loyal audience.
This series has never been about innovation. Nearly every developer associated with this brand name over the years has never radically departed from the successful formula in which players are shoehorned through linear levels while all sorts of cinematic events assault their senses. And once they make it from Point A to Point B, they rinse and repeat till the game’s over.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare followed the same structure laid down by its predecessors but disguised its linear nature with a modern setting and epic set pieces that had players begging for more. The innovation lacking in the single player campaign was made up for in the game’s online multiplayer that pretty much redefined online warfare. As expected, the game raked in an obscene amount of money making both the Call of Duty series and developer Infinity Ward a house hold name.
With Modern Warfare 2 you could make out developer Infinity Ward had lost a bit of their steam and not to mention enthusiasm. Set pieces weren’t as nerve wracking and exciting as its predecessor and I actually got bored through a few suburban missions. Still its refined multiplayer managed to save the day and since CoD had already become a force to reckon with, it went on to sell really well.
Through the fire and the flames
And then the inevitable happened. Massive discord between Infinity Ward and Activision led to the dismissal of key Infinity Ward staff. Activision were adamant on bleeding the CoD dry so with massive turmoil going on at IW, they sanctioned developer Treyarch (Call of Duty 3, World at War) to work on 2010’s Black Ops. Expectations were sky high and most were confident that Treyarch would fail miserably but surprisingly the game went on to become the most profitable video game – ever.
Any form of doubt in Activision’s mind had been laid to rest. The Call of Duty series was their golden goose and they were going to milk it till it died. But at what cost? There’s no doubt that Black Ops was a rollercoaster ride but it brought absolutely nothing new to the table. Even the multiplayer was an expanded version of what Infinity Ward had introduced in 2007 with Modern Warfare. Still the game smashed multiple records. Why? Because of the Call of Duty brand name, which is now being run to the ground.
If you log onto forums all over the net you’ll see people lashing out at the game calling it an utterly derivative shooter. The backlash has started and it’s only a matter of time before people are completely saturated with the Call of Duty series. While I personally have enjoyed every CoD game put out till date, I honestly hope whoever works on the next CoD game (which would be developer Sledgehammer games) at least tries to break away from the norm. If not, we could be looking at the next Guitar Hero.