A closure of a studio, especially with as rich a history as Neversoft, is never a happy time. At least the Tony Hawk and Guitar Hero developers are going out in style by burning their iconic eyeball. They posted the bold image on their Twitter with the message ‘Tonight we ride!’
Hitman Absolution executes the best launch week for the franchise, outselling the 2006 release of Hitman: Blood Money, by nearly three to one. Unfortunately, it is not enough to break Call of Duty: Black Ops II, which despite an 81% drop in sales over last week, maintains the top position.
It’s that time of the year again. Another Call of Duty and yet another chart-topping hit.
A Tuesday release for Black Ops II gives it the best launch week of any game in 2012 and the fourth best of all time. As expected, the majority of copies sold for Xbox 360, with 60%, and 38% on PlayStation 3.
The big hit of last week, Halo 4 marks down second and FIFA 13 sticks at third with Assassin’s Creed 3 hopping over to fourth. Skylanders Giants climbs one spot to complete the top five.
Need for Speed Most Wanted drops two and Just Dance 4 gains two, as both meet at sixth and seventh respectively. Borderlands 2 holds ground at eighth from new comer The Sims 3: Seasons as it enters the chart at ninth. Football Manager 2013 sustains a five place hit to complete the top ten.
As for other releases this week, Call of Duty: Black Ops Declassified, the handheld counterpart of the chart-topper, lands at sixteenth as the second most successful PlayStation Vita launch of the year. Wonderbook on the PlayStation 3 manages twenty-fifth, F1 Race Stars finishes far from pole position at twenty-sixth and Sonic & All Stars Racing Transformed at twenty-seventh.
This past weekend Murdoch’s Sunday Times ran a story on an ill-fated Nigerian hostage rescue mission, deciding to illustrate the grave ordeal with a picture of Call of Duty’s John “Soap” MacTavish.
The Sunday Times (image via The Media Blog)
The Sunday Times article detailed how two people, a Briton and an Italian, taken hostage in May of last year died during the efforts to rescue them. This sad and very serious story was accompanied with a questionable videogame still of the Soap character, complete with an even more baffling black bar obscuring the fictional characters eyes.
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!
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.
Another year and it’s Treyarch’s turn to tackle the Call Of Duty series once again, and after Infinity Wards dabble last year in the future with ‘Modern Warfare’ the series returns to it’s World War II roots. Thankfully it’s clear from the offset that ‘World At War’ is an undoubtedly superior endeavor than that of Treyarch’s past efforts, taking various favorable elements from ‘Modern Warfare’ and implementing them into the older time period.
The campaign spans a healthy 13 missions which are split up in Japanese and German locations. If your not playing in the Japanese Pacific theater as part of the American Marines, you will find yourself battling in the Eastern front as a Red Army Russian soldier. Both settings offer plenty of historic battles, such as the Battle Of Berlin and the Makin Island raid, to name but a few; all of which took place in the closing years of World War II and offer a strong assortment of first-person shooter action. The action is split up between the two locales in no particular order, so you will go from playing one perspective to another from level to level.
Throughout the game, the conflicts in which the player will find themselves in are full of energy and action, and although these typical scenarios may not come across as at all surprising, they offer a fun and diverse experience overall. The additions of the flamethrower is welcomed, as is superb voice acting from both Gary Oldman of ‘The Dark Knight’ fame and Keifer Sutherland of ’24’. These exciting additions as well as the option to play the campaign cooperatively with three friends over Xbox Live ensure that ‘World At War’ is a game with plenty to offer. The offerings continue with a scoring mode available which sees you and your friends racing to get the kills first for precious points. Unfortunately this option filled campaign mode is hampered only by the fact that after each level (if playing with friends), the game returns you to the lobby, rather than allowing for a solid play through.
If you enjoyed the multiplayer offered in ‘Modern Warfare’ then ‘World At War’ provides an alternative and interesting take on it. The radar is a recon plane, and where you may usually call in a helicopter, instead you call in a vicious pack of dogs to take down your enemies, which admittedly is somewhat worryingly amusing. In addition to these variations, the majority of the multiplayer works in a very similar fashion to the previous game, offering levels of player customisation, player perks, and the chance to earn experience points as you play. The largest new addition to the multiplayer is the inclusion of tanks, and while only available on some of the larger somewhat duller maps, they allow one player to drive, while another mans a machine gun, adding an element of further cooperative play into the mix.
With plenty of variety on offer, an engaging yet familiar campaign, and plenty of options for multiplayer play, including an unlockable ‘zombie’ mode, ‘World at War’ has a great deal to put forward, all of which makes for an impressive and enjoyable package. Yet despite being a surprisingly refreshing take on the tired World War II setting ‘World At War’ is in a clear shadow of last’s years entry in to the series, which is in some ways is unfortunate, as this year’s effort is a wholly accomplished title.