Valve have apologised to roughly 12,000 gamers who recently got wrongly banned from playing Modern Warfare 2 online. This mistake has only affected those who bought the game via Steam on the PC and was caused by Valve’s built-in anti-cheat software.
Call of Duty is the perfect example of a modern day success story, rising from relative obscurity to become the most popular game series of all time. From its roots in the World War II era to its contemporary ultra-modern, bleeding edge design, the franchise has thrilled and excited millions of gamers for the best part of a decade.
In celebration of the recent release of Modern Warfare 2’s Stimulus map pack, we here at Gamebrit thought it was time we charted the meteoric rise of the franchise. Shall we begin?
Call of Duty
While not the first shooter setting itself in the harsh battlefields of the Second World War, the original Call of Duty, developed by Infinity Ward and released in 2003 did do a number of things differently from its contemporaries. Unlike Medal of Honor and Wolfenstein before, the first instalment of the series saw the player fighting alongside different numbers of allies over the course of its missions, from small squadrons of British soldiers to entire regiments of Soviet tanks. The end result instantly felt more realistic than the usual one American soldier singlehandedly ending the war, making the action more grounded and the player feeling more connected to the action as a result. The fact that its gameplay was tight and responsive as well meant it garnered high review scores, something the franchise still does today.
The title also pioneered the use of the ‘shellshock’ system, where if the player is in close proximity to an explosion, they’ll become disoriented due to a combination of simulated tinnitus, muffling of audio, blurred vision, slower movement and drainage of colour. It was an effective way of telling players when they needed to get to cover and has stuck with the series ever since. It was also the first title to feature Captain Price, a name that anyone who has played one of the Infinity Ward titles will recognise.
Call of Duty 2
Released in October of 2005, Call of Duty 2 returned to the battlegrounds of the Second World War, making the player fight behind enemy lines as a Soviet, an American and two Brits. The satisfying shooting action was retained, only this time placed in campaigns that may have been unfamiliar to many gamers, such far flung El Alamein in the scorching African desert, the freezing cold Russian capital of Stalingrad, and the harrowing D-Day landings of Normandy. Captain Price also popped up, making evident the battle-hardened character’s experience of war.
Once again receiving rave reviews, the second instalment set the trend for the series to be highly received both critically and commercially. It was also the first title to be released on consoles, opening the franchise up to a whole new demographic, with the multiplayer facility being hugely popular on both Xbox 360 and PC. It was the release of this title that foreshadowed the success and popularity the series would eventually experience.
Call of Duty 3
The first of the series to be developed by Treyarch as opposed to Infinity Ward, Call of Duty 3 was once again focused on the deadliest conflict in human history, following the campaigns of American, British, Canadian and Polish forces. The majority of the story was told from the usual first-person perspective, but the Polish offensive broke convention by giving you third-person control of a tank capable of serious amounts of devastation. While different, these section were little ropey and by far the worst elements of the game.
While the fundamental gameplay still held up, Call of Duty 3 arrived amidst a glut of WWII-based shooters in what had become a tired and stale genre. While it looked nice and played well, its story was lacklustre and the multiplayer was something to be desired, marking the first time that Treyarch’s efforts have been eclipsed by Infinity Ward. Either way, they needed to pull something seriously special out of their hat to rejuvenate the flagging series…
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare
…Which is exactly what Infinity Ward delivered with their next creation. Smartly updating the series to the modern day, everything that made the series brilliant (the gameplay, the story and, of course, the weapons) was revamped and revitalised and all the better for it. In the previous games, everyone knew that, no matter who died and who survived, the Allies would always reign triumphant. The new timeline and modern setting meant that Infinity Ward were no longer restricted in their storytelling, allowing them to come up with any scenario they wanted, with the eventual victor never being clear.
Putting the player in the shoes of ‘Soap’ MacTavish from the S.A.S. (alongside a seemingly immortal Captain Price) and Sergeant Paul Jackson of the United States Marine Corps, Infinity Ward weaved a story filled with intrique, suspense and some genuinely shocking moments. Alongside the new story came brand new weaponry, a slew of new equipment and a completely revamped multiplayer. Gamers were no longer constrained to restrictive ‘class’ specifications: they could use whatever selection of weapons they wanted to (assuming they’d unlocked them, that is). Add to this an experience system that made unlocks tantalisingly near, but never frustratingly far away, along with perks that radically changed each unique loadout, and it’s not surprising that COD 4’s multiplayer elements has appeared perennially in most played 360 titles lists the world over since its release.
Call of Duty: World at War
In what seemed like a bizarre move considering the success of its predecessor, Treyarch decided to return to the setting of World War II for its next title, World at War. This time, the action followed a group of gruff American G.I.s and two Soviets bent on avenging their butchered comrades, taking place in the Pacific theatre of war and once again in Stalingrad.
Despite the new locales and voice acting from Keifer ‘Jack Bauer’ Sutherland and a heavily-disguised Gary Oldman, not a lot here was new. In fact, World at War felt like what 4 would have been if it had remained in its 20th century roots, with even the multiplayer borrowing its structure from its forerunner (although it did add some unbalanced maps of its own). While not necessarily a bad thing, the ineffective storytelling and long slog involved in ranking up online didn’t work in its favour. Not even deadly new weapons (including the all-devouring flamethrower), an unfamiliar foe and gratuitous deaths could justify keeping the game in its original time period for another instalment.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
For some, the wait for Modern Warfare 2, the most eagerly anticipated videogame of all time, was practically unbearable and possibly even agonising, but the game generated a massive storm of controversy before it was even released. The announcement that there would be no party chat function in online games or no online servers for PC gamers, as well as that airport mission, lead to a huge fracas over whether it should even be released or not.
But released it was, becoming the fastest- and biggest-selling videogame of all time. The wait was worth it, with everything from the first game returning but much bigger and much better. The single player offering is a thrilling, hi-octane fuel ride from start to finish, punctuated by some truly memorable plot twists-and-turns (although the inclusion and worthiness of the ‘No Russian’ mission can still be debated), while the multiplayer stuck to the same template adding more weapons, bigger levels and better killstreak awards. Add to that the co-operative Special Operations and you’ve got a title with one hell of a lot of longevity. Infinity Ward and Activision’s recent treatment of their loyal fans has been questionable, but you can’t deny them the fact they know how to make a damn good game.
In fact, we’re off for a game or two now. See you online!
We’re here, we’ve counted down from 50-31 and 30-11 and now we’ve reached the best 10 games of the last decade. Whatever your opinion on the final standings there is no doubting these titles are some of the best to grace consoles, ever.
Here’s to the next ten years.
Little Big Planet
10 – LittleBigPlanet
LittleBigPlanet can safely put itself up there with the elite titles – those that not only stand out amongst the crowd, but also change the games that follow it. LittleBigPlanet changes things not via its satisfying platforming, but by also using its heavy emphasis on customisation – not just in the small scale of character looks but also in the capacity to create levels from scratch to build the game how you see fit. Placing the creativity in gamer’s hands was massively innovative and although it may not has been the first to offer the ability to create custom gaming experiences, it certainly made it far more accessible than ever before.
Platform: PlayStation 3 Developer: Media Molecule Year: 2008
9 – Guitar Hero
Almost single handedly reinventing the rhythm game genre and the first in line in the series, Guitar Hero was a sleeper hit. With over 1.5 million sales on release the arguably small genre hit big in the living room. Pioneering with an actual guitar controller, it paved the way to 13 other titles in the franchise to date, and inspired many others to follow suit. It also made everyone feel like they could play guitar. Almost.
Platform: PlayStation 2 Developer: Harmonix Music System Year: 2006
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare
8 – Call Of Duty 4: Modern Warfare
The top selling game of 2007, Call Of Duty 4: Modern Warfare was a shooter that included a well written and intense storyline with realistic graphics and an incredible online experience. This game saw Infinity Ward turn the series from World War 2 based to a more modern, gritty gaming experience which gave us a realistic look at the brutality of modern war. Add to that a well crafted multiplayer and you
have one of the best first person shooters ever.
Platform: Multi Developer: Infinity Ward Year: 2007
7 – Halo 3
Finish the Fight. In what may have been the most hyped game – and some might say over hyped – to ever grace a console, in the final instalment of the Master Chief’s fight against the Covenant and the flood, you finally get to the end of an emotional roller-coaster ride to the climax. Along with its single player campaign, Halo 3 also greatly expanded upon the popular – and still played today – Halo 2 multiplayer. With brand new maps, weapons and tweaks in the dynamics Halo 3 definitely improved upon its predecessor, and has been the most played game on Xbox Live of 2007, 2008 and even 2009. So, Call of Duty? Eat your heart out.
Platform: Xbox 360 Developer: Bungie Year: 2007
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare 2
6 – Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
Modern Warfare 2 could be the most anticipated game of all time. It has certainly lived up to the hype. Infinity Ward took everything that made the first Modern Warfare so great and stepped it up a notch. It provides the player with an over the top, explosion heavy, gun blazing single player. Surpassing that though is it’s fast pace, challenging and more importantly rewarding multiplayer, which is almost perfect.
Platform: Multi Developer: Infinity Ward Year: 2009
Half Life 2
5 – Half-Life 2
Half Life 2 saw the return of Gordon Freeman, a scientist from City 17 fighting for his life to survive. Building upon its predecessor, this game gave the fans everything they wanted, from cutting edge graphics to an incredibly engaging single player campaign. The detail and perfection found in every aspect of this game ensures that it will become a timeless title.
Platform: Multi Developer: Valve Year: 2004
Gears of War
4 – Gears Of War
While Gears Of War certianly didn’t bring anything new to the table it did refine already existing aspects to create one of the perfecylt crafted titles of the last decade. It’s cover system was without fault, it’s shooting system had the realistic feel that is often lacked and it’s story provide the hook that brought it all together. If you could forgive the clunky-ness it’s multiplayer also provided hours of gory fun. A special mention should also go to the chainsaw. Best weapon ever.
Platform: Xbox 360 and PC Developer: Epic Games Year: 2006
3 – Portal
“Welcome to the Aperture Science Computer-Aided Enrichment Center.” Are the first words you’ll hear when you first play this game – bar some cheesy yet catchy music out of a radio. Portal is a First Person Puzzle game in which you have a gun called the Aperture Science Handheld Portal Device, or “Portal Gun.” This gun has the ability to shoot two portals – an entrance and an exit Portal – that you need to use in order to traverse the various levels of the game. And did I mention you have a slightly psychotic AI guiding you called GLaDOS? Portal is an immensely fun game and most definitely worth a play for all game lovers out there. Oh and by the way… the cake is NOT a lie.
Platform: Multi Developer: Valve Year: 2007
2 – Bioshock
One of the most beautiful games created last decade, Bioshock, spiritual successor to 1994’s System Shock, mixed lush Art Deco-inspired surroundings with a strong sense of unease and discomfort to devastating effect. The sub-aquatic dystopia of Rapture is both absorbing and agitating, since any one of the city’s monstrous inhabitants could jump out at you at any time. Hugely post-modern, Bioshock contains some of the most memorable characters in videogame history, alongside perhaps the most shockingly brilliant plot twist ever to be found in any form of media. The thinking person’s shooter, Bioshock thoroughly deserves its place near the top of the list.
Platform: Multi Developer: Irrational Games Year: 2007
Uncharted 2: Among Thieves
1 – Uncharted 2: Among Thieves
Uncharted 2: Among Thieves has been the winner of numerous Game of the Year Awards in 2009, including our very own, and has become widely regarded as having the best graphics to come out of a console so far. In the main protagonist’s second outing, you follow Nathan drake on his quest to find the ancient city of Shambhala in his quest for the Cintamani stone. Going from a war-torn Nepal to the heights of the Himalayas you jump, climb and fight your way to find out the dark secrets contained within the ancient city. If that wasn’t enough, Uncharted 2 offers 5v5 multiplayer action and a 3 player co-op objective style game play. All in all, Uncharted 2 is a masterpiece and technical marvel of what the PS3 can do. With a story worthy of those multi-million dollar Hollywood films – along with the cheesy jokes to go with it – this game definitely deserved every single bit of praise it received.
Platform: PlayStation 3 Developer: Naughty Dog Year: 2009
Now this game will most likely be on everyone’s Christmas list this year – whether they’ve been good or bad. Let’s face it, there hasn’t been a game with this much hype surrounding it since the dark ages before Halo 3 came out and we all ‘Finished the Fight’. With what looks to be stunning graphics and a pretty awesome storyline – Who doesn’t want to fight in the Whitehouse? – to a Multiplayer that’s been revamped from the successful first game. This title looks to be a strong contender for the Game of the Year award, and will definitely make the Elves sweat to make sure they have enough copies.
5. Forza Motorsport 3
Forza Motorsport 3 is the racing game for everyone. From the smallest interest in motors to the petrol head, this game caters for you fully. The level of input is as shallow or as deep as you, the user, make it. The amount of guidance and options creates the driving experience that you want, without any of the thrill taken away in the process. The game does not lack in content either; with 400 cars and 100 race tracks Forza Motorsport 3 has enough to keep you going for hours on end.
4. Batman Arkham Asylum
The latest British-developed game comes in the form of Batman Arkham Asylum, but if you are not a huge comic book fan don’t let it put you off. The game combines alot of different aspects that you might find in the Batman universe, from stealth to pure explosive action. The dark, gritty island in which the game is set provides as a great platform to sprout a story, with all the plot twists and turns that you could want. This game is one of Britain’s greatest video game creations to date.
3. Fallout 3 GOTY
Following from the successful release of Fallout 3 last year the developer has gone on to add some great pieces of downloadable content to the already massive story experience. Costing £34 to download the extra content from Xbox Live Marketplace separately, the Game Of The Year edition adds all 5 extensions to a disk, which you could find in-store for £25 (or less), and it includes the original game too! If you are strapped for cash this Christmas, Fallout 3 GOTY is the biggest bargain you can find, with 60 or so hours needed to explore everything in a vast, yet detailed world.
2. GTA Episodes from Liberty City
As with many of the developers, Rockstar have found success in extending the life of their existing games, namely Grand Theft Auto IV, with episodic content. Episodes from Liberty City takes The Lost and the Damned, released for download previously this year, and The Ballad of Gay Tony to create a disc with two standalone stories. Taking place in Liberty City, the setting for GTAIV, the plot lines follow two new characters through their interactions with the world and other characters. There is no loss in not having the original Niko Bellic story on the disc as there is more than enough here to keep you fully entertained.
1. Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2
With the successes of its predecessor, Modern Warfare 2 is branded to be the most successful game of all time, with hundreds waiting outside retailers across the UK at the midnight launch. However, there is no loss if you are waiting to pick this up as it is waiting to peak over the Christmas period, and to top the ‘most played’ for the following months. Providing challenging, fast paced action, with plenty of surprises, this game will keep you glued to the seat at every moment. If you are looking for great competitive, cooperative, and lone gameplay in one package, then you needn’t look much further than Modern Warfare 2.
A patch (1.02) was released today for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 to fix some trophy issues that some gamers were having with the PlayStation 3. Sadly while it may have fixed those issues it has in the process disabled the online multiplayer for a number of people. So if you connect and see a message box saying ‘Fetching Playlists, Updating Ranks and Unlocks. Connecting to Matchmaking Server Complete’ then it’s likely you won’t be playing online tonight.
Hopefully if they were able to fix the trophy issue so quickly then they should be able to fix this soon as well. Either that or have even more angry gamers flooding their forums.
Update: It turns out that it was merely server issues causing the lack of PSN connection rather than the patch. According to a tweet from Infinity Ward it’s all sorted now though apart from party issues which are to be fixed by a patch on Friday. Hurray!
For all those PC gamers out there looking forward to some dedicated server action with Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, it looks like it’s not going to happen. Despite an online petition of over 100,000 signatures, online games will instead be run through Infinity Ward’s own servers. That means a lot less chance to mod games and create custom maps. Sorry people.
Also on this topic is the fact that the game has been teamed up with Valve to allow the game to be automatically updated by connecting to Steam servers, have use of the Steam Cloud for accessing their profile from any PC and also players will be able to unlock 50 Steam Achievements.