Hanging up on the Call of Duty

I used to really enjoy playing Call of Duty. When Modern Warfare released back in 2007, I fell in love. A wonderfully paced campaign met a gorgeously addictive multiplayer mode. Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare was, relatively speaking, a perfect shooter.

Today? I’m bored. Call of Duty doesn’t interest me. Press previews, trailers, hands-on moments and general hype building stories have become featureless noise in my mind.

I’m hanging up on the Call of Duty.

Never stop shooting at the same stuff, over and over again.

Do you remember the marketing for Fallout 3? Do you remember the trailer that featured a slow, backwards tracking shot that started in the interior of a blown out bus? No? It actually became the intro for the game. Here it is.

“War. War never changes…”

Perhaps the folks from Activision were paying attention. Because, quite honestly, their war never changes.

Call of Duty is a series that enjoys a yearly release schedule. The fall of each gaming season sees a brand new entry in the franchise. Activision makes a bajillion dollars every single time. Why?

I guess that’s because us gamers love buying the same stuff over and over again. Every Call of Duty since the original Modern Warfare has felt like a slightly altered version of the same game. If you won’t admit that fact out loud, you’re lying to yourself.

Are they polished shooters? Oh, absolutely. Infinity Ward, Treyarch and Sledgehammer have created well-oiled machines. That’s just it, though. There’s no soul left in these carbon copies. I know the developers would likely disagree, and I recognize that they’re doing good work; but, without room to breathe, this franchise has become tepid and stale.

How about a slice of headache with your sample of Warfare?

I knew that maybe, just maybe, I’d had enough of the modern iteration of Call of Duty when I played through the campaign within Modern Warfare 3. I was reviewing the game at the time for another site. I’d been sent a review copy and was working through the title on launch day. That put me on a tight schedule.

We’ve all marathoned games before as gamers. Collectively, we can probably share countless stories of staying up all night in order to end the “Tides of Darkness,” close a “Resonance Cascade” or rescue a princess. We’ve all done it. And we’ve done it with games that tally up dozens and dozens of hours of playing time.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, though, takes only a few hours to complete. Compared to other titles, it’s a swift jaunt through a narrow corridor riddled with explosions and gunfire. It’s an insult to call it a full gaming experience; it isn’t, it’s shorter than demos for other games. It’s a sideshow and a brief exploration of fetishistic gun violence.

Here’s the thing: my “marathon” playthrough of Modern Warfare 3 left me with a pounding headache. I game constantly on every platform currently available. I’ve never been left with even an inkling of discomfort from playing a game. But, the constant barriage of profanity, screen jarring explosions, dust, debris, gunfire and crap storytelling left me staggering.

Call of Duty: Modern Gaming Industry.

The unfortunate fact of the matter is that Call of Duty is stupendously successful. Why is that unfortunate? Because the success of one mega popular game dictates the general flow of the industry for years.

The Call of Duty model of gaming has been emulated and replicated time and again. EA now has their own version of yearly shooters between Medal of Honor and Battlefield. Call of Duty introduced the world to $15 map packs. Guess what? That new standard raised the price of game content for good.

How about subscription models for things that used to be one-time purchases? Hello, Call of Duty Elite.

Companies see the success Activision has with Call of Duty, and they emulate it. They try and make their own corridor shooter rife with constant gunplay and bad storytelling.

I’ve seen enough.

Call of Duty isn’t fun anymore. I remember getting the first game during my freshman year of college. I loved it. Storming the beaches of Normandy felt completely unique, enthralling and original. More than ten years later, and I’m completely done with Call of Duty.

I’m hanging up.

Before you start yelling, know that I won’t be reviewing Call of Duty for TechnoBuffalo. Another writer with an unbiased take on the series will snag this year’s edition.

I wish them the best.