In part one we’ll take a quite satirical look at the ‘Next Gen’ reveal and CoD: Ghosts, your premium Military Dog Simulator.
The ‘Next Gen’ Reveal.
Coming into 2013, console fatigue was starting to show quite a lot. Not just with the fact that we hadn’t had any new hardware for eight years, but also the fact that PC seemed to be so far ahead in terms of graphics and performance that console games seemed to pale in comparison.
Fast forward to February 19th, Sony unveiled the Playstation 4 and the gaming community got it’s first look at the new...controller.
Yes, the main talking point was not the games, nor the amount of translators needed for western audiences, but the lack of any physical box. You know, that black box shaped box you’re going to put under your television next to your other black, box-shaped boxes? Yeah, that box.
Three months later we finally got what we were waiting for, a look at a new black box. Yes, Microsoft did what everyone asked and showed us a rectangular black box. Never ones to be outdone, they managed to alienate people on nuclear submarines all over the world by announcing that your Xbox One would require access to the internet once every 24 hours or your machine would not work. Everybody who had access to the internet 24 hours a day goes crazy using their constant internet connection to complain about having to have access to the internet once every 24
In unrelated news, the word ‘irony’ was removed from all dictionaries.
Also, there was an hour and a half talk about sports games and how you can plug your TV box into your Xbox One and watch that TV on your TV...in your main TV room...or something like that. For several days everyone forgot Sony existed and everyone on social networks who had ever bought a Call of Duty title was suddenly a game pundit.
With almost no clarification on anything prior to E3, the hype around both consoles was at fever pitch. Microsoft are up first and do yet more sports talk, but this time with some actual games! Also, TITANFALL!
After realising all they had to do was give people the PlayStation 3 again with better graphics, Sony cured world hunger and stopped all war by announcing the PlayStation 4 would allow used games and not have to connect to the internet. Amazing and refreshing. A new world record is set for the amount of people cheering, crying and blogging all at the same time. You’d think Half-Life 3 had been announced or something.
Oh and they showed us their black box too.
What followed E3 was a consumer base who believed their twitter campaign really did something! “Sony listened!” was the cry of the gamer for weeks and all of a sudden MS became M$ again on all public forums. Never before had a company got it so wrong it seemed.
Then came the now infamous turn around. Microsoft reversed all it’s policies and consumers everywhere rejoiced at the death of forward thinking and innovation, instead dancing in the light of stagnation of ideas and the PS4s cheaper price point. The dream HAD been realised. Until of course everyone realised that Microsoft must have reversed its policies in the pursuit of evil and most certainly not to please the many submariners they alienated previously.
Now as everyone awaits the coming of our new black-coloured, box-shaped overlords, the playing field is somewhat levelled and we can once again get back to the really important things such as watching videos of side by side footage of the same game with miniscule differences and proclaiming that our pre-ordered console has the better frame rate stability, based on games developed in a rush to get them out in the launch window.
But after all that, what’s MY prediction for the best-selling console this holiday season, I hear you ask? Well, I would think it quite obvious. After all the marketing, clearly large amounts of time spent on the design aspects, a clear target audience who’s loyal, a company who’s given the consumer what it wants time and time again, a company who has clearly pulled away from it’s competitors this time round and has a launch line up to satisfy all types of gamer.
The Nintendo 2DS.
Military Dog Simulator. (Riley)
Believe it or not, there was once a time when First Person Shooters weren’t something that happened every year. I feel old when remembering unwrapping CoD:United Offensive, expansion to the original CoD, on Christmas Day 2004 and running up to my room to install and shoot Nazis in the face.
“WHAT HAS ANY OF THIS GOT TO DO WITH ‘RILEY!?’” I hear you scream.
“Your nostalgia doesn't keep ME reading! Tell me something interesting or poke fun at Call Of Duty already!” I also hear you exclaim. However, a fun bit of trivia: the first American soldier you play as in said original expansion is called Corporal Scott Riley.
Am I trying to link the name of a character, in an expansion for a game that is 10 years old, to the name of a dog in a game released this year?! No, I just thought it was interesting, and wanted to explain to anyone under the age of 18 that CoD was around before Modern Warfare.
So, May 21st we got our first official look at Call of Duty: Ghosts. A huge surprise to everyone, it was men with guns, shooting other men with guns (and one woman). The people masquerading as Infinity Ward, even after the loss of over half their staff to Respawn Entertainment, showed us true next gen gaming in a short video at the end of the Xbox One announcement.
Huge buzz words like ‘shaders’, ‘pixels’ and all that other tech talk, that eight tenths of the Call of Duty audience appear to think means ‘better’, were thrown around like no one’s business. We even got a look at what they described as ‘truly next gen systems’. These were added fluid physics (Hydrophobia), interactive smoke and fish that move out of your way (Super Mario 64)! All things their old engine was never capable of before!
On top of this, was the pièce de résistance, Riley.
A dog that would be modeled so closely to a real dog, you would almost even smell its breath.
“A DOG?! HELL YEAH!!”
Well if that excited you then wait till you learnt that the dog would be like a squad mate! But wait, there was more. You’d even get to control him. I know, I felt the excitement too.
Finally, the breakthrough in FPS game design. It was so simple. Dogs. Now, a lot of people laughed this off, but I put it to you. How many people bought Farm Simulator 2013/14? A lot more than you’d think. Simulation games are the next big thing, so Infinity Ward were just thinking ahead.
Military Dog Simulator.
Tell me, had they called it that, you wouldn't have been even a little interested to see what it was? Instead, they generously gave you that game bundled in with your normal Call of Duty experience.
Now that the game is out and has been panned for its dated look, gameplay and clichéd single player, everyone seems to have forgotten about poor Riley. I for one will never forget, for I have never laughed so hard at an attempt to innovate so much and yet fail so miserably.
Vince Zampella, one of the leads on the original Modern Warfare and one of the founders of Infinity Ward and more recently Respawn Entertainment, is most likely laughing to himself watching Titanfall rake in the pre-orders with months to go ‘till release, and wondering what the hell happened. I imagine him sitting staring out the window of his open plan, million dollar mansion whispering the words: "Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds."
While maybe not quite Oppenheimer levels of regret, I would like to think, after all he has wrought upon the industry and pop culture in general, he feels a little guilt. Not too much though because Medal Of Honor: Allied Assault was brilliant; good job there Vincey.
In the end, the real travesty is that when Infinity Ward made Call of Duty it used to be good. And now, well, it’s your premium Military Dog Simulator.