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Justifying Call of Duty and its Relevance in the Industry

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 Screenshot - 867032

Is it just me or has the Call of Duty franchise been getting a lot of hate lately? Whether it’s due to the fact that the series is published by the overwhelmingly despised industry giant Activision, or because it’s the best selling franchise on the market, one truth remains, the series is home to some of the best first-person shooters of this generation. Let’s not forget that before the original Modern Warfare, Halo dominated the Xbox Live charts, serving as the console’s de facto first-person shooter. Call of Duty has since changed that, with Modern Warfare 2 and Black Ops currently topping the charts as the two most popular games on Xbox Live. There’s a reason why they’re so popular, and no, it’s not because they’re military-based “bro” shooters. It’s because they’re actually good, giving little reason to doubt that Infinity Ward’s upcoming Modern Warfare 3 will be any different.

The very climactic Modern Warfare 3 reveal trailer

Many would argue that Call of Duty games are simply the same thing, year after year, with minimal changes. To that, I would have to strongly disagree. Sure, the core gameplay stays the same, as that’s the foundation off which the franchise has grown; however, each subsequent title has improved in so many ways. Over the past couple of years, new modes—like Spec Ops—have been added, as well as new online game types like “One in the Chamber”, providing fresh and unique twists on an already solid online experience. Let’s also not forget the fact that the Call of Duty franchise essentially pioneered the implementation of perks and kill streaks, making competitive online multiplayer all the more addictive. I’m afraid that because of the annual launches, gamers place a negative stigma on the franchise, seeing each sequel as a cash-grabbing endeavor by Activision. The reality is, with two very talented studios alternating every year, there’s plenty of manpower and time being poured into each installment. Plus, Infinity Ward is getting additional help form both Sledgehammer Games and Raven Software to make Modern Warfare 3 the holiday blockbuster its positioned to be.

Then we’ve got Battlefield 3, EA’s big-budget military shooter, set to go head-to-head with Modern Warfare 3 this fall. An overwhelming majority of gamers have spoken out on their undying support for Battlefield 3 and their desire for it to succeed over Activision’s shooter. I’m not sure if gamers are still just in awe of the game’s jaw-dropping graphics, powered by DICE’s Frostbite 2 Engine, or the fact that it’s something different. I don’t expect to see this level of support continue on at this magnitude several months after its release. It’s likely that everyone is excited to check out the new kid on the block, but once they realize that the Battlefield franchise caters to a much more hardcore PC-based audience, everyone will flock back to Modern Warfare 3.

The newly announced Spec-Ops Survival mode in MW3

I’ve noticed that a lot of individuals are unhappy with Modern Warfare 3’s visuals, stating that it’s running on an engine that’s age is beginning to show. To that I say: did you see the single player footage at E3? Running down the streets of New York City looked pretty awesome to me, and at a solid 60 frames-per-second the game runs incredibly smooth. While MW3 may not boast the earth-shattering graphics of Battlefield 3, let’s not forget that all of the early footage was shown on a super-powered PC. Since then, we’ve seen the game running on consoles. While it certainly does look impressive, it doesn’t outshine Modern Warfare 3 on the same level that the PC footage did. With BF3 locked in at 30 frames-per-second on consoles, you can be sure it won’t run as smoothly as Modern Warfare 3, which may pose a problem for hardcore competitors.

Think you're hardcore enough to be among the Elite

The fast, twitchy gameplay of Call of Duty is one of the series’ hallmarks and the main reason why the franchise is not only here to stay, but also set to continue to break sales records year after year. Infinity Ward created a gameplay formula that is insanely addictive and works on a level no other shooter can. I must admit, I’m a Halo fanboy, so it pains me to say this, but Call of Duty beat Halo at its own game, taking the first solid console FPS and pumping it full of adrenaline. People not only want tight and responsive controls, they also want fast-paced action that delivers an immediate sense of satisfaction and accomplishment. Call of Duty managed to strike the perfect balance with the original Modern Warfare. Since then, it’s been the king of online shooters.

While Battlefield 3 will prove to be worthy competition, there’s no doubt in my mind that Modern Warfare 3 will be this year’s number one shooter. Its annual innovations and addictive gameplay will keep the franchise head and shoulders above over first-person shooters for years to come.

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Alex Osborn
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