Today, resident gamester81 gamer, NightOfTheLiving8Bit (Eric Durant) takes a look at the popular craze over the Call Of Duty games and what it means to the rest of us, and the industry as a whole.
We’ve all heard it before, the constant out crys from every forum and gaming media website on the internet, everyone hates Call Of Duty but secretly, everyone plays it.
The sales don’t lie folks and when you compare console sales to Call Of Duty games, you’ll find out that a large majority of gamers are closet Call Of Duty fans.
But the question is, who really cares what other people think about what games you play?
Was this always like this throughout the NES era and beyond? Or has this just become a recent fad that has become more and more controversial through out time.
Lastly, what happens to those rare FPS games that are actually good that get lost in the mix because they are simply (and not always blatantly) compared to the modern day DOOM of first person shooters, Call Of Duty.
Growing up, FPS (first person shooter) games were something you played on PC’s and that was the way it simply was.
I can recall my Grandfather going to Montgomery Ward or Sears and picking up my first copy of Wolfenstien 3D which came in the form of a floppy disk and was inside an odd see through plastic case.
Back then there were no other games to compare it with and frankly, back then you played games to play games, not compare them with other titles to see how they stacked up.
Of course there were the occasional instances were comparison fanfare would take hold but it seemed to be more common with other various titles and not FPS’s.
From that day on I was interested in this fun, frantic and fast paced form of gaming.
It was fresh, new and ultra violent and what kid didn’t want a game with guns, body count and bad guys to mow down?
The brilliant minds at Id Software had created a masterpiece and would shortly there after create an even bigger, badder and much more violent masterpiece that was simply entitled, DOOM.
PC gaming was where it was at, if you didn’t play DOOM, you were crazy and it seemed that the whole FPS trend had begun to grow, and soon after many games followed.
Between Quake, Duke Nukem 3D, Shadow Warrior, Unreal and more, FPS games captured their own place in the market share for what seemed to be a long time to come.
Fast forward to the Nintendo 64 and as with anyone else, we can all recall the countless days and nights playing Goldeneye 64 with friends; it was fresh…it was unique and it played exactly like it should have with a console.
It seemed Rare had created the definitive shooter experience for a console with effortless precision and had successfully proved that for the first time since the NES that “just because it’s a movie, doesn’t mean it doesn’t need to suck as a game”.
We all played it, we unlocked everything and we all chose Oddjob and pissed off all of our friends as the second that character selection screen came up everyone quickly dashed to the tiny tank in what seemed to be an old western test of “quick draw” who was going to get who first. Best of all, it was console only title and this sparked (or what seemed to be) the first person shooter console craze and helped sky rocket the competitive market through the roof… or so it seemed.
Goldeneye came and saw great success, and for a long time to come the FPS market eventually reverted back to their core roots, the PC.
A slew of innovative and fun new FPS’s that exploded onto the PC market and gave gamers for once, many different choices on which types of games they wanted to play.
Half Life, Unreal Tournament, Hexen, Battlefield, Medal Of Honor, Blood, Call Of Duty, Tribes, Deus Ex and so many more.
It seemed that there was a type of shooting game for every type of fan, some tried to take the realistic approach to shooters and some took the more arcade feel.
Back then it was a battle over who had more skill, the guy who takes longer to kill in Unreal or the one shot kill in Call Of Duty? Was it luck or skill? It was NEVER a question of comparison back then, it was a comparison of preference.
For myself, I enjoyed each of the titles listed above and while I was more of an online Unreal Tournament player, I always enjoyed the other aspects of other shooters.
But it was a very, very rare thing to hear a reviewer or player to ever say that “this is sub-par in comparison to (insert title here)”.
Sure there might have been games that may have seemed the same but for the most part, they have all stood out and captured their own audience.
It helped drive innovation from company to company as they were always competing for the others market share and in turn, the market started to become more and more “gray” and less and less black and white.
The difference between shooters was beginning to blur into one game that everyone would play.
People started to loose grasp that they were being suckered by the companies into buying a general appeal product instead of a unique product and shortly after the merge of what was once a great but separate entity, became a bias, unoriginal mess as critics begun comparing greater games to lesser games and how the lesser games failed to stack up to the greater games.
The biggest explosion in what I call “critic cloning” happened during the age of Halo.
More and more developers tried to catch up with the success of a rapidly growing franchise and would always find themselves thrown into a unnamed category called a “Halo clone or not as good as Galo” or “controls are loose and night tight, lacks this and that”. In secret all of their comparisons were made against the Halo games and how those games simply weren’t better than it, and did not play like any of the Halo game. Therefore making it a brutal market to get into, even if your game was good.
It would be guaranteed that you would not get the praise or fanfare that the mega giant, Halo, received simply because….you weren’t another Halo game.
In return this had begun to plant the seed that sprouted the tree of shadow that we know and have come to terms with. The over lingering shadow of gaming critics and players alike known as the “Call of Duty paradox”.
Just in the past year alone, there have been a total of 30 different first person shooters to hit the market on various consoles and the PC. Some of them have received good praise while the rest have received harsh and overcritical reviews.
I started to become sick and tired of this bias and dark area that had become the gaming market, and I started to do my research. Out of 30 different FPS games, certainly there has to be SOME good ones besides Call Of Duty, right? How could one company hold so much of the market while leaving competitors in the dust? Something smelled of fraud but as I dug deeper it became apparent that while some companies can be paid for positive reviews, most places allow their reviewer to take hold of the entire review, and in their reviews they will give their personal opinions, not what the public should be hearing. The good, the bad and the ugly and why this group of people may or may not like the game, and why you should or shouldn’t buy this game.
The worst part about it is that critics and gamers alike have become so cleaver in masking their secret obsession with the monopoly type franchise that the majority of readers tend to eat up the information they have been provided with, without even doing any further research to see if “just maybe that game may be for them after all”.
The even worse part of this entire plagued media mess is the private gaming community part, you can’t watch a Battlefield 3 or Modern Warfare 3 video without some gem bellied troll spreading his tiresome stench about how he is right and everyone else is wrong. Even more shocking is that the large majority of these people have been playing games since the start of the Xbox 360; if that. So with no prior knowledge of the industry as a whole, no prior experience beyond a hand full of ultra popular FPS games, they still consider themselves experts. It boggles my mind and it should boggle yours too, as gamester81 fans I would expect each and every one of you to have a much more refined taste in gaming, a much more mature taste if anything, and that people like you and I, aren’t afraid of really trying something new.
With that statement it brings me to a game I recently picked up for a whopping $5, brand new.
That is the re-boot of Medal Of Honor for the Xbox 360.
Being a Call Of Duty fan (only the single player) and a fan of tons of other shooters, I had very low hopes for this game, but a brand new sealed game for $5? Who could pass that, right?
I had figured that the game would sit on my shelve and gather dust, only to be “part” of my collection, and that maybe one day I would grind through it just to get the achievements. However on the same day that I picked this up, I picked up a few more games as well, and while I was more than entertained with what I was playing, I had this odd urge in me to just shoot things.
I didn’t want a big engaging story, I didn’t want some massive dramatic over the top cinematics, I just wanted to have a decent challenge and have fun.
Recently I had started playing the Saints Row games and while surely they aren’t amazing games, there was something about them that struck a deep resonance within me. They were being exactly what a game was supposed to be, fun.
They didn’t try to fool or sell you with what people love more than anything in this day in age; excessiveness.
With Medal Of Honor, it took me a level or two to get into it, but once I did I found myself enjoying this over looked game, it seemed that Medal Of Honor was only marketed to old school MOH fans or Call Of Duty fruit bats who think it’s going to be “FUCKING AWESOME BRO”.
After they spent their $60 hard earned bucks of their parents money, they’d soon realize that it was nothing like Call Of Duty, it didn’t try to be like Call Of Duty, and it didn’t give a shit about Call Of Duty or what the Call of Duty franchise is doing now.
So with a flash of a muzzle, sales for MOH stopped to a flatline, and players had begun to sprinkle on the hate all over the internet, and through word of mouth.
Medal Of Honor ended up being a bargain bin game that no one cared to play because why should they? It’s not better than Call Of Duty.
But I ask you, need I explain my point more? Medal Of Honor certainly has some tense moments but it also understands what a shooter gallery is supposed to be. It never takes itself for granted but always provides you with a smooth and modest adventure while never making you feel like what you are doing is simply impossible in real life.
It turned out having a fun multiplayer experience that had a decent learning curve with just enough achievements to keep you playing to the point where you no longer care to continue with it, and it’s with these achievements it dawned on me what the development team of MOH was trying to do. They understood they weren’t going to be the next Call Of Duty game, and focused on providing the player with an easy and fun experience.
It’s a game where you can unlock every achievement in the single player game in one run through, and in the mutliplayer game in just about 10 hours. A rare thing in this day in age, and none of the achievements were over the top. They all ensured that they were accessible by a blend of progress, and developed skill but not brute strength ninja mastermind skill.
In the end, it was a fantastic game and left me with a sweet taste in my mouth that I could easily accept the next title in the franchise.
Another game that comes to mind that was from the 2011 era is a game that was co-developed by the minds of another great game, Gears Of War. In a brief departure from developing the fantastic Gears Of War series, Epic games started work on a title that turned out being a finical loss instead of a finical gain, which was entitled “Bulletstorm”.
An intriguing but fitting title for this ultra violent, visually appealing and fun title for this game that is like a play on B-Movie esq gore fest violence. Bulletstorm was a personal favorite of mine, and if you were a fan of the Unreal games from any point in time, I will personally recommend this title to you.
Bulletstorm not only features fantastic and fun gameplay but also provides some amazing environments for it’s type of game, and the keywords are “for it’s type of game”. While there are plenty of games that are way more visually appealing, Bulletstorm combines the visceral brutality that brings along with the deep, soothing a lush environments that it displays. It becomes almost a work of twisted art at times.
That and if you throw in an actual decent story that never really slows down at any point in time of the game, and always sticks on track (compared to games like Call Of Duty), you’ll begin to see why this game was over looked very easily. With a host of features, competitive scoring and massive amounts of different ways to destroy your enemies, Bulletstorm provided a fresh new aspect on what has become a way too serious genre of games.
It never took itself for granted and always maintained a solid connection between fiction and fun, while never letting the player down the path of typical narrow corridors and re-hashed encounters that developers try to spice up by adding useless cut scenes or pointless dialog.
Its skillshot system plays heavily into two main aspects of the game that no other companies tried; the environment and gun play…at the same time together.
It will always provide you new ways to dismantle and decapitate your foes while ensuring that the leveling up pace is matched with your encounters, a fine balance between action and re-action. It’s the thinking mans twitch gun play game with a story that fits the mix without over doing it; which is what too many games are trying to do these days.
Lastly is Operation Flashpoint: Red River, a game that isn’t for everyone but fans of the Ghost Recon series may find this tactical FPS a worthy buy, and the sheer fact that it now holds a small price tag, OF: Red River will easily provide powerful gameplay with the skill of a good game of chess. Another game that was over looked in the sea of countless AAA mega titles, Red River proved to it’s established fanbase that it doesn’t take a backpack full of bullets to take out a room of 20.
In a nod to previous games like the older Rainbox Six games, Red River provides gamers with tense situations, not because they reach the levels of blockbuster movie effects, and story telling that games like Call Of Duty does, but because it sticks you in the middle of a war with real consequences, and each step you take needs to be methodical and with caution. A bullet could be your last and if it doesn’t drop you like a sack of gibs, it could provide you with an even more difficult task of seeking proper wound care as you weave through enemies who want nothing more than to stop you in your tracks.
Operation Flashpoint: Red River is another game that players of Call Of Duty who are seeking a real challenge, will find welcoming, but only after you’ve dug a few hours into the game, and it’s somewhat steep learning curve.
But yet once again, while OF:Red River tries nothing to be like Call Of Duty, the simple fact that it is a military shooter, automatically dismisses it’s good features and only provides a hi-lighted mess of it’s faults. An unfair advantage in an unfair market.
We’ve touched on 3 games that you should no doubt at least give an honest and open approach to, and while there is no doubt that the Call Of Duty games are decent at that, it still is no reason for the “little” guys to be stacked up against the major players in the industry Would you do a comparison with a SUV to a compact car? Of course not, they are for different types of consumers and people, and while the people with the small car might enjoy driving SUV’s every so often, it isn’t necessarily for everyone.
The same can be said the other way around too, but the end fact is that whether it’s a SUV or a compact car, they are both still automobiles and that’s the bottom line. When it comes down to taste, you should be able to choose your own without being worried, ridicule, or concerned with what big money critics think.
So make sure you do your research, eat your Wheaties, and don’t eat chocolate before bed time kids.
Lastly, make sure the next time someone brings up how a game compares to Call Of Duty, or brings fanboyism to the forefront of conversation, tell them to get out of their comfort zone and experience life, stop living it from the end of a P90 on Xbox live for 10 hours a day.
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