With each new year I await the release of a new Call Of Duty. I am a self-confessed CoD fanboy, and I’m not afraid to admit it. It engulfs me every year, the same way it does millions of others the world over. And, as with those before it, Ghosts excited me. Not as much as its predecessors had, admittedly, but I was anticipating its release.
At first, I enjoyed it. The multiplayer is your stock-standard Call of Duty experience, but I spent a few hours with the campaign, and, somehow, walked away rather impressed.
“To be totally honest, I'd put it up there as one of the best COD campaigns, at least above MW2 and MW3,” I said in the comments on our review. What the hell was I thinking?
For the past week I’ve had no internet connection at home. The idiots working on the units next door ripped the cables out of the street, thinking they had been “replaced” by the NBN. I mean, it’s as dumb as you can get.
Call Of Duty is dead, but it’s still walking. Its head was cut off long ago, but it’s still running around crazily, flailing its arms around violently. It’s an abhorrent scene once you have the perspective of comparison.
At first, I was frustrated. But now I see the issue has been a godsend: At first I was lost, but now I am found.
Let me explain: Call Of Duty is dead, but it’s still walking. Its head was cut off long ago, but it’s still running around crazily, flailing its arms around violently. It’s an abhorrent scene once you have the perspective of comparison.
Frankly, I’m disgusted in myself for not having returned to Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare earlier. Without the wonders of the internet, I was stuck with Ghosts' campaign, and, after coming close to finishing it, thought I would compare what I’ve already played with COD4. I’d returned to the multiplayer in that recently, but didn’t stick around long because it’s been infested with hackers.
What I found when I started the campaign was a thing of sheer beauty: an undeniable contender for game of the generation, and an experience truly representative of just how much the franchise has been abused by a publisher adhering to the demands of its shareholders.
Simply put, COD4 is a masterpiece, a fantastic FPS with a surprisingly engaging and intriguing narrative -- not to mention one far more coherent than anything else in the series since -- and comparatively next to Ghosts, it’s depressing to see just how bad the series has gotten.
Now, herein lies the magic of Call of Duty: I don’t think Ghosts is a terrible game, but I do think it’s a further deterioration of a franchise that has steadily declined year-on-year. The franchise is certainly now at its lowest ebb, and yet I’ll still end up putting many hours into Ghosts.
And that’s both the problem and solution.
Activision has something special here: it always has. But back at the start of this generation, the Call of Duty name had an aura about it. Everyone knew what it stood for, and everyone knew what they were getting. It’s the same now, but with considerably different set of standards. People look at the name and cringe. They still want to play it, but they cringe. This, eventually, will bite Activision on the same backside it cleans with crisp $100 bills.
We’re already seeing it: yesterday, Activision reported it had “sold” $1 billion worth of stock … to retailers. A day after release. Such an early announcement for such a trivial piece of information means only one thing to me: the publisher anticipates a decline in sales. Yet, it will appease shareholders in some way -- as it did with these figures -- and will use the power of selective counting to work around total hours played, sales figures rates and all that jazz.
It’s just truly astounding that the company is willing to allow the franchise to deteriorate -- now behind Battlefield 4, and, soon, behind Titanfall (from the masterminds behind COD4). I am still craving a CoD session, and I agree that I am part of the problem. But eventually something will come along that perfects the opportunistic satisfaction Call of Duty offers, and the series’ negative assimilation with the general gaming public will see an end to it all together.
While I played through Call of Duty 4’s campaign, I remembered back to when it was first released. It helped define the generation in its early days. What are the chances of a Call of Duty game doing that again? For all the hate the series has attracted in recent years, it’s still provided many of us with some of the best experiences of the generation, but also some of the worst and most frustrating.
Activision, I think I speak on behalf of many people with a soft spot for the Call of Duty name when I say this, but: Please, please put the foot on the pedal, and try to somehow reinvigorate what it is that got the name to where it is today. Because if replaying CoD4 has taught me anything, it’s that you can certainly have too much of a good thing, and I'm call CoD'd out.
What do you think Activision needs to do next generation to reinvigorate the series in the same way it did with COD4?