I’ve been feeling nostalgic of late. Maybe it’s the cold, wet weather of contemplation or perhaps it’s the long lonely, music filled bus rides of late or perhaps it’s my impending 21st birthday but for some reason I find myself being all wistful about my past. Suddenly everything reminds me of something else. The cold misty rain and my near constant listening to music have given things a vaguely ethereal quality.
Some people might say I’m too young to be nostalgic. Go out, get drunk, mack a girl, fight a douche, live a little. To those people I say this:
People were never so rude back in my day.
My weirdness aside, this recent plunge into the nostalgic got me thinking about the times I used to share a room with my younger brother. Close as we are, we discussed every possible topic imaginable – well beyond our given bed time, beyond our needed bedtime and once beyond possible bed time.
Naturally gaming was a dominant topic of this chubby-cheeked, red-faced, enthusiastic, prepubescent, escapade of psychological gold. I remember early 2008 most clearly.
Riding on the back of a ridiculous 2007, we seemed to discuss Modern Warfare most frequently. Thinking back now I still believe it was the herald of the singleplayer, linear, explosion-filled jizzfest that ultimately moulded the styles and expectations of most modern greats.
It was the first time, for me anyway, that I truly felt at the center of a massive adventure; non-stop, larger than life, beyond gargantuan action. What’s more it introduced us to near perfect pacing. Just enough quiet and calm to make the climax that much more poignant. For every epic battle, every explosion, there was a moment of calm awe, a chance for us to marvel – something later games have lost. Even watching the electrical tower fall into the ravine after blowing it up – it was actually a calm moment. There was no chase, no screaming, just the falling of a tower. Or even the harrowing but action-free opening. It gave me chills.
Then of course we have the ghillie suit mission that basically became the yard stick by which all stealth sections in action games are measured. Then finally the infamous nuclear blast, a moment I will never forget. An experience once again made frighteningly epic by our struggle to stop its launch, by our calm moment of defeat watching the missile climb slowly into the sky and then our eventual horror at being inside the head of a dying man.
I have made no secret of my status as a singeplayer gamer – I know that the COD series is mostly multiplayer based but what I’m speaking of here is what makes people love the game. Balance is an issue, sure, but more than balance is the feel of the game – one of the biggest factors in Modern Warfare’s monstrous success – its right there in the name. Modern Warfare was the first Call of Duty to leave the past behind and bring us to the present. There was something exciting about it, something magical about using modern weaponry, using the very best technology. It made it real and dangerous.
For a very long time, Infinity Ward, the makers of the Modern Warfare series, were the premium developers. Treyarch and their games were the filler between Infinity Ward games. Then Modern Warfare 2 came out and what we got was, to quote a magnificent writer, the conspiracy ravings of a homeless man wearing a tinfoil hat who blinks his eyes independently. It was bad. Plain and simple.
So we turned our gaze to Treyarch, albeit a skeptical, reluctant and disapproving gaze. We got Black Ops, my favourite Call of Duty since the original Modern Warfare. Not perfect by any means but still one hell of a good time. Sure it was still a little too focused on wars no one cares about anymore (especially outside of the US) and yes it did stick uncomfortably close to an almost stereotypical “twist ending” type of story but it sucked me in and I had a good time.
Then there was Modern Warfare 3, set to take back the throne of COD. The almighty, beer soaked, 11-year-old boy populated land of almighty “noobs”, “fags” and people who exclusively sleep with each other’s mothers….
…..aaaaannnnnndddddd no. It didn’t. Modern Warfare 3 was better than its predecessor but actually worse than Black Ops.
This brings me to today, and Black Ops 2 – the stage is set and the audience primed. Infinity Ward have all but disbanded, the head honchos moving off into the sunset amidst legal battles with parent publisher Activision Hitler (creative license may have been employed with publisher names, maybe) leaving Treyarch with one shot, one opportunity, they better not blow it, they need to own it, the moment, this opportunity comes once in a lifetime…
What made Modern Warfare so compelling was its freshness, in a franchise as stale as COD, freshness was like, well, a breath of fresh air. Ba Dum Tss.
That was 5 years ago, 5 games ago, 5 horse beatings ago – they now have the chance to do something COD needs: something new.
If Treyarch play their cards right, they could make me and a whole host of bored, jaded COD players care again. The ball is in your court, call has been made, will you answer?