Monday, February 15, 2010

Lets try that again - Call of Duty 4 retrospective

So it didn't really go as planned there. Plus I didn't really like that last picture anyway. Time for a redo!

So my plan for this year, when it comes to games at least, was to stick with one game at a time and actually finish them. I was hoping that would at least stop me from spending too much time playing multiple ones. and maybe save me some cash (although considering I finally got around to getting a PS3, that may not necessarily happen anymore).  Furthermore, naturally, this blog being what it is: I may as well do a little picture and write a little about it. So if you're only really here for the pictures and witty (retarded) jokes, feel free to skip this wall of text.

The first game I finished this year was Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. I came very late to this game: the sequel (or sequel's sequel depending on how you want to look at it) had come out a few month before and the entire world had gone nuts for it. I guess its also worth noting that the entire world seemed to go nuts for this one as well, back in the day. I mean really, I doubt I'm pointing out anything new to whoever is still reading this but really, I just like the sound of my own fingers typing.

So CoD4:MW(1) is very much a game in two halves. In fact, MW is kinda like a cake. The first bite of the cake, with its frosting and icing and jam bits, is the single player game. Excuse me if I get a little to the point here, but really, it's too late for gushing reviews or cutting cynicism. Also, assume everything's a spoiler. It's been a couple of years now, I'm the one trailing the pack here. Anyway, the single player game is great, but short. It's got some awesome set pieces, and the action never slows down. The flip side of that is that sometimes you never really feel like you're achieving much. I felt this way mainly during the marine section of the game. Maybe it was that way on purpose? Maybe it was a comment on the futility of war? I just dont konw.

Despite that, for the most part, the american campaign was fun, if not seemingly unnecessary. The real killer was that the Marines were just not as fun as their SAS counter parts. I really couldn't see the point in splitting the story up in that way. I think I really would've preferred it just being a longer story with the SAS team.

Actually, that's wrong.... I do know why they split it up: so we could have the nuclear bomb scene. I dunno... To me it seemed purely controversy baiting. I didn't have any real connection to the Marine team, and my character was the very definition of a mute protaganist, so there was nothing for me to really grab onto. To me, the scene was all about the fact that you're walking around dying for a few minutes after a bomb. You dont do anything, and it's over almost as soon as its begun. I'm sure it was there to provide publicity, but I don't really remember it causing that much when it came out, unlike it's follow-up, which upped the ridiculousness and horror at the same time. I dont know if it sold any copies, but it definitely got people talking (when they weren't talking about how much it sold, or about how good it was).

So yeah, this scene, and the one in MW2, did nothing for me. I'm sure the designers would've wanted them to "make me think" but really, all they made me think about is what controversy baiting concept I could put into a game. Innocent killing? Random, unexplained and incredibly gory beheadings? Baby rollerskates?

In spite of this though, they get it right in the SAS side of the story. Captain Price and Gaz are there with you  from the beginning, introducing you to the game. Then they're helping you out and cracking wise mid-mission. Then you get to go via flashback and see a young Price save his own captain. Then you get the big finale where everyone almost dies were it not for Price's final sacrifice. In a world where videogame characters are either stupidly edgey or bland, Price comes off as a genuinely real and good guy. Having him (apparently) die (but not really) at the end would have made me tear up like a princess, were it not for my hardened, bitter heart.

So thats the good and the bad of single player. The actual gameplay: It's a shooter. I dont really remember anything that I hadn't seen before, although the squadwork was pretty good. It's all about the set pieces though, and they were pretty fun.

Returning to the cake analogy for a moment, but then kinda mixing it up and making changing it to be about a roast, we move on to juicy succulent meat of the game: the multiplayer. This was the game that knocked counterstrike from its pedestal, and its easy to see why. It's counterstrike amped to 11. Also, they took out the unbalancing bits, and replaced them with an RPG leveling type system. And then added some new unbalancing bits, just for fun.

I would have to say that MW is the best luck-based shooter I've played. I say that, because thats what encounters really seem to come down to... who's lucky enough to see the other person first. I consider myself to be a fairly good player generally, and I may have been behind the pack, experience wise, but encounters were generally over in the first few shots. Not many times did I have any fights that led to one of us backing off and another persuing. It's a game that favours camping, but at the same time, it's still a villified tactic.

For those reasons, I couldn't really get into multiplayer. Team Fortress has really spoiled me in that regard. When you have a really good fight that lasts for minutes and takes you over much of the map, the satisfaction you get from getting that kill just can't be matched by a few seconds of action, or holding a camping position, or even getting an airstrike in MW. It just feels kind of hollow, like I got lucky somehow. I haven't deleted it yet, so I may give it another chance sometime down the road, but for me, at the moment, it's back to  TF2 (or Metal Gear Online maybe?)

About the picture: I don't know what I was aiming at with the prior one, but I wasn't really happy with it. Despite that I've really gotta put up what I can at the moment, and that kinda means rushing stuff out sometimes. Today though, I must've glanced at a "Sgt. Rock" or "Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos" comic and though it would be a good idea to rip off, and now we have this. Note to people that way inclined: I know it's Capt. and not Cpt. Shut up.

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