Shoot. Run. A bit of story. Shoot. Duck. Shoot. Shoot. Emotional Ending. That’s the Call of Duty Formula. They’ve been doing it realistically since 2004 and now have it down to an absolute science. If Call of Duty was mapped out on a graph, I could almost exactly tell you where the peaks and troughs are. And I love them for it. It’s an easy “shoot ‘em up” game with an emotional investment only if you let it whisk you away.
I would argue that Call of Duty peaked from about World at War (2008) to Black Ops II (2012). It had absolute gems like Black Ops, Modern Warfare 2, MW3, and a quickly forgotten, but kickass, mobile game. Characters like Reznov, Captain Price, Soap, Woods, Mason, Roebuck, Polonsky, Ghost, General Shepherd, and so many more that if I named them the list would go on for about another half a page.
Of course, with all great things, there was a need to diversify with the genre and it came to an end. Ghosts (the game. Not to be confused with the emotional character of Ghost) blew the trumpet of the end. It focused on a weird Red Dawn style invasion of America with strange dog gameplay that made you control a German Sheperd. Santa Monica was a bit ugly and the voice acting was less than good. The story didn’t make sense and there was a strange feeling of nationalism that even Call of Duty, the ultimate nationalistic game, didn’t seem to understand. The current Call of Duty website even describes the game as “players are on the side of a crippled nation, fighting not for freedom, or liberty, but simply to survive. Special Operations forces, a mysterious group known only as “Ghosts”, lead the battle against a newly-emerged, technologically-superior, global power.”
Strange indeed. It might be hearsay, but I can tell you that this game got stomped on school playgrounds and all of my fellow classmates hated it. There’s no way Ghosts matches up to anything earlier.
That being said, COD come back around with installments such as Modern Warfare, Cold War, and Warzone. They will be this generation’s next golden age of Call of Duty. I guarantee that kids today will fondly remember the time they spent in these games in the same way I still think fondly of World at War or Black Ops. However, dear reader, let’s not forget Ghosts and all of the subpar games that it ushered in. Call of Duty took it’s own advice and it could serve as an example to all of us: Mission Failed. We’ll get ‘em next time.
Daniel Wartham is a current grad student and spends his free time watching movies and taking walks to Waffle House at 2am. He can be found on Twitter at @DanielWartham.