The Eternal Call of Duty Bitchfest

It always happens, every year, like clockwork…  

Every year that inevitable announcement of another Call of Duty game rolls into our news and Twitter feeds. And, like clockwork, a certain demographic of the game playing public lifts its head with a sneer and looks down some serious nostril at the whole affair.

But why? Is it because the famous Activision cash cow uses a similar (but tried and tested) formula for its flagship series? Or is it a case of something becoming so popular that it’s automatically un-cool to like it? Both of these viewpoints hold some merit (even that merit is considerably minute), but in the end does it really matter?

Call of Duty
Few FPS have the kind of spark that MW1 did.

It’s ironic; most people that rag on Call of Duty don’t actually play the game that often or are simply condemning the a game like Call of Duty: Ghosts six months before it’s even out. Have you already played a copy? Do you have sort of all-seeing eye that can see some impending doom, looming in the ether? If you don’t like a game, then don’t play it. I’m under the impression that playing Call of Duty isn’t conscriptive, so why do some people feel the need to go on, brandishing their banner of good taste in a crusade to protect us all? Go play Journey or BioShock Infinite and BE HAPPY.

I know that’s pretty much anathema for a games journalist (or a self-respecting human) to like Call of Duty, but I do. I don’t love it, but then again, it’s hard to recreate something as fresh and engaging as the first Modern Warfare. Much like how I adore Batman: Arkham City, but there’s something about experiencing Arkham Asylum for the first time that stays with you longer than superior sequels do. It’s a mixture of nostalgia and the desire to be surprised or smitten with a title. With the exception of Halo (my one true love), Call of Duty perfectly suits my tastes when I’m in the mood for some TDM. I don’t have to think a grand terms like I do with Battlefield 3 – I can just adjust my loud-out, drop in and have a laugh.

Call of Duty
A game as good as Black Ops 2 bodes well for the future of CoD.

Looking down on such a franchise is kind of commonplace in these current times, but that argument has been run into the ground. Last year’s Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 may not have had the charisma or charm of Journey, The Walking Dead or Dishonored, but let’s not forget these games were entry-level iterations not established franchises. And while the series may have allowed certain aspects of its DNA to stagnate, a franchise that’s a decade old this year that can maintain and grow a user base THAT large and maintain a profit margin THAT consistent is far from a lame duck.

Yes, lots and lots of people with varying degrees of mic quality are playing Call of Duty right now, but not liking a game as a direct result of that popularity is about as clever as not liking a band because you saw a chav kid wearing their hoodie on the bus. Switch your console or PC on, enjoy whichever game is spinning up and quit yer yappin’.

Dom is the Content Editor for infiniterobots.co.uk. He is legion and your soul is his now, too. Find him being all cheerful like on Twitter @furianreseigh.

Call of Duty: Ghosts gets release date and details

Well, it’s hardly a shock, but Activision have officially announced this years FPS offering will indeed be called Call of Duty: Ghosts and will breach it’s way into home consoles November 5.

Ghosts will also be the first Call of Duty to appear on next generation consoles, as well as Xbox 360, PC and PlayStation 3.

“Infinity Ward set the gold standard for first-person action for a generation, and they’re going to do it again with Call of Duty: Ghosts,” commented Activision Publishing CEO Eric Hirshberg.

Ghosts delivers an all-new story, all-new characters, an all-new Call of Duty world, all powered by a next generation Call of Duty engine, which is a leap forward for the franchise. Infinity Ward is going all-in to create the next generation of Call of Duty worthy of the world’s greatest fans.”

Spooooooooky stuff.
Spooooooooky stuff.

 

Many fans (prior to the retailer leak) were assuming that Infinity Ward would plod back into the world of Captain Price with a fourth Modern Warfare, but Infinity Ward executive producer Mark Rubin was quick to champion a new direction for the studio: “Everyone was expecting us to make Modern Warfare 4, which would have been the safe thing to do. But we’re not resting on our laurels.”

Retailers, such as Game, are also taking pre-orders, with the offer of free posters and Black Ops 2 ‘ghost’ skins for the first lucky few.

Check out the launch trailer for Call of Duty: Ghosts below, which promises further details at the big Xbox reveal by Microsoft on May 21.

Furian Fridays | You Don’t Like Halo…do you?

THIS WEEK’S column is a few days late, but infinite robots has had a busy weekend at the Eurogamer Expo in London so we can bring you all the latest news & previews straight from Earls Court. Now we’re back home Editor Dom has a few bones to pick…

Videogames are an awesome medium to love. Now the industry is as big as it is there’s something for everyone to enjoy, each gamer taking away their own experiences & stories from the millions of digital worlds in existence. But for every gamer that just wants to play a game & enjoy it (shock horror) there’s a ton of people who can only view games through a prism of ridiculous elitism.

I get that ultimately what is cool is relative to the person or ‘scene’, but does a game’s popularity somehow make it social suicide to a true gamer? Does openly admitting you like Halo, Call of Duty or World of Warcraft (to name but a few) make you some sort of sell out? Perhaps it’s a sense of status or cred by boycotting popular games. Who knows?

Halo 4 Multiplayer
Like Halo? *face palm*

Whilst at this year’s event I got to speak to quite a few fellow gamers, from paying ticket holders to fellow press like myself and a few them definitely brought their elitist take on gaming to the show floor. When asked what my favourite titles were up that point I happily gushed about Halo 4 & Tomb Raider only to be met with a face like I’d starting goose-stepping about throwing random Hitler salutes. It made me laugh at the time but it’s hardly the first time I or anyone else has come across this kind of view, and it certainly won’t be the last.

As a games journalist I get to play a lot of games. Whether it’s an indie game on my Windows Phone or something colossal like Assassin’s Creed 3, I’m open to anything. Even games like FIFA or Warmage: Battlegrounds, genres that I don’t normally like can sometimes do something different that makes an instant fan out of me. Warmage, a browser-based online TBS title made a fan that normally found TBS a bit of a drag. I love the drop-in/drop-out nature of mobile gaming, even if the hardcore gaming crowd refuse to accept it as a proper gaming experience.

Warmage: Battlegrounds
Warmage: Battlegrounds may be a smaller game, but it’s still worringly addictive

I doubt the decision to boycott certain games by elitist gamers would have the slightest effect on the subscription figures of something like World of Warcraft but perhaps part of me hopes that every gamer can at least share the same sense of openness to games I have. But in the end it’s kind of a pointless hope. You’re always going to get Call of Duty players who despise the notion of someone playing Battlefield 3 or a gamer who disregards the contribution of Nintendo to an industry they helped build because of the success of the Wii.

Personally, I love games like Halo. I love the campaigns, the multiplayer experience & the canon these franchises hold. I love Call of Duty because I’ve been playing it since Call of Duty 2 & still pour an ungodly number of hours into the multiplayer modes of Black Ops or Modern Warfare 3. Am I ashamed of liking a popular game? Not in the slightest. Yes, these games are million-selling franchises that everyone is playing, but the quality of the product is diminished by the amount of people playing it. Just because a band becomes popular & everyone is wearing their hoodies doesn’t make their music inferior, it just makes them mainstream.

Dishonored
A game as good as Dishonored deserves all the fans it can get, elitist or not…

Games like Dishonored & Natural Selection 2 would kill to get the sales figures & global dominance that these big daddy titles pull in year round. But beware developers, if you become mainstream you’ll stop being ‘cool’. Because cool pays the bills these days doesn’t it?

Dom Reseigh-Lincoln is the Content Editor for infiniterobots.co.uk & can usually found behind a laptop screen or with asleep with a controller in his hands. Don’t wake him though, he’s dreaming of playing Dishonered. Yes, that makes him a subconscious elitist.

Will 007 Legends be the forgotten FPS of 2012?

Will 007 Legends be the forgotten FPS of 2012?

In an FPS-heavy 2012, not every shooter will be able to dominate the limelight in the way their respective developers & publishers would hope. With Halo & Call of Duty both looming on the horizon with new releases, we take a look at Eurocom’s upcoming James Bond shooter 007 Legends and discuss what could be one of this year’s most unique but overshadowed FPS experiences.

This year, the gaming industry is set to unleash a huge roster of upcoming shooters upon the world. Twenty-twelve sees the first chronological sequel in the Halo series for five years in the form of 343 Industries’ Halo 4, as well as the much anticipated ‘role-playing shooter’ sequel Borderlands 2 from developer Gearbox. We’ve got the obligatory annual Call of Duty instalment in the guise of Black Ops 2 and the much hyped new IP Dishonored from Arkane Studios. These four titles alone have fans frothing at the lips with glee, but will their dominant presence overshadow the release of other fellow shooters?

One such title that’s struggling for air against this tide of AAA behemoths is Eurocom’s new instalment to its Daniel Craig-centric James Bond FPS franchise 007 Legends. The sequel to 2010s Goldeneye 007 (and it’s much prettier HD version Goldeneye: Reloaded released on Xbox 360 & PlayStation 3 a year later) will combine six classic adventures from Bond’s fifty years on the silver screen as well as seventh mission based on the new Bond flick Skyfall. Like its predecessor, 007 Legends will drop the original versions of 007 in favour of a modern reimagining with Daniel Craig as the iconic superspy.

A History of Espionage

Since Rare’s fondly remembered Goldeneye 64, James Bond appearance in video games has been something of a downward spiral. After the ultimately broken third-person shooter Tomorrow Never Dies & the mixed versions of The World Is Not Enough on PlayStation One, EA revived the licence back on the PlayStation 2 with Agent Under Fire & Nightfire; both of which kept the FPS format but opted for new, original stories rather than adapting a current or classic film. With 007: Everything & Nothing in 2004 developer EA Redwood Shores managed to surprise everyone with an authentic, well balanced third-person action adventure that not only had a full voice cast but was a fun & engaging original story for the franchise.

Sadly the licence took a turn for the worst when EA decided to cash in on the nostalgic popularity of the Goldeneye name. Dropping everything but the name, Goldeneye: Rogue Agent let you play as a mercenary with a ‘golden eye’ (geddit?) who is drafted into a mini war between the classic 007 villains such as Auric Goldfinger and Dr No. Whilst the actual gameplay was actually pretty sound, the clear bastardisation of the licence and the significant lack of James Bond himself made this an aborted bad taste in the mouth of FPS gamers and Bond fans alike.

“Deciding to bravely (read: somewhat crazily) attempt a remake of the now thirteen year-old Goldeneye 64, publisher Activision hoped to recapture some of the magic surrounding that much-revered name”

On the current gen of consoles things have been a little brighter. Treyarch’s Quantum of Solace may have boasted a broken multiplayer experience but its full voice cast, use of third-person cover mechanics and intense FPS action made the single player campaign a genuinely fun Bond escapade. James Bond Bloodstone 007 may have done the usual third-person switcharooney in 2010, but it gave players a competent mix of melee attacks and shoot-out mechanics. Coming from the late great Bizarre Creations the driving sections were also a break-neck thrill ride but were sadly few and far between in the story. Again based on an original story, Bloodstone was a clear attempt to emulate the success of ultra-violent titles such as Splinter Cell Conviction and Uncharted 2: Among Thieves. Sadly whilst it was a slick looking package, the games cover and shooting mechanics were nothing special and it performed woefully in sales.

The Eurocom Years

With MGM in financial meltdown and the Bond franchise itself now in forced hiatus, Activision decided to still use Daniel Craig’s contractual obligations to the franchise to develop another Bond-based video game adventure. Deciding to bravely (read: somewhat crazily) attempt a remake of the now thirteen year-old Goldeneye 64, publisher Activision hoped to recapture some of the magic surrounding that much-revered name.

“The slick game engine from Goldeneye Reloaded returns with a tune up and in places 007 Legends looks better than Activision’s upcoming cash cow Call of Duty Black Ops 2″

To set themselves apart, Eurocom decided to a) reimagine the storyline in a modern setting and b) release it as a Wii exclusive. Despite releasing on a non-HD console the game was still a fun shooter with a decent enough update of the original narrative to create a nostalgic mix of classic set-pieces and new locales. Even with a ‘gold’ controller to boot the Wii version sold respectfully enough to warrant a HD rez-up onto the Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3. On these FPS-heavy consoles Eurocom’s Goldeneye Reloaded (as it was fashioned) was a great looking shooter with a recognisable franchise. But with the presence of Battlefield 3, Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3 & Halo Reach, Goldeneye Reloaded was a decent shooter lost to a crowded genre of louder and more refined comrades.

History Repeating for 007?

So after over two years of development can Eurocom & Activision do enough to stand out in a genre thick with established franchises and powerful new comers? 007 Legends looks and feels like a real step forward for Eurocom and its vision for a modern James Bond shooter. Splitting the game into separate missions with distinctive feels, tones and environments will help 007 Legends avoid the common mid-campaign slump that affects every shooter from Halo to Mirrors Edge. The slick game engine from Goldeneye Reloaded returns with a tune up and in places this game looks better than Activision’s upcoming cash cow Call of Duty Black Ops 2.

Whilst Eurocom have kept details and access to 007 Legends multiplayer under wraps, it will need to be a solid and more importantly fun experience. The multiplayer modes for Goldeneye Reloaded were competent but the maps had a serious last gen look whilst the character models were stiff and characterless, looking and handling more like Counter Strike Source than Call of Duty 4.

To ensure it doesn’t disappear into the background this winter, Eurocom need to deliver an FPS experience that doesn’t use the James Bond licence like an excuse for uncreative or mediocre gameplay. If 007 Legends can sync its single-player campaigns and its multiplayer component into one cohesive package that entices and rewards gamers in the right way then it might just rise out of the ashes of its predecessors and give its fellow 2012 shooters a run for their money.

Will you be picking up Eurocom’s new Bond shooter or are your preorders for Halo 4 & Medal of Honor: Warfighter already ready & waiting? Let us know in the comments!

Furian Fridays: Our Friend Keith

Ah, Keith Vaz. Defender of our children & crusader against the dark influence of video games. Or at least, that’s how he sees himself. I am, of course, talking about the Labour backbencher and all round curmudgeon Keith Vaz, who is once again calling for the blood of the games industry. And what’s got him all hot and bothered this time? Well, media-savvy as ever, Keith is taking the recent comments by Norwegian mass-murderer Anders Breivik that he “trained” for his despicable act of attrition by playing Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 as God-given proof that games are a negative and potentially harmful influence on us all.

Continue reading Furian Fridays: Our Friend Keith

The infinite robots Autumn & Winter Preview 2012

This autumn (or ‘fall as our American cousins call it) is suiting up to be as crowded and universally awesome as the same period a year ago.  A year bigger than 2011 you say? Bigger than Modern Warfare 3 & Battlefield 3? Bigger than Gears of War 3 & Batman Arkham City?

Continue reading The infinite robots Autumn & Winter Preview 2012

Monday Moan | The Noobification of games

Monday Moan

Excuse me for the hard to read title but you get the idea. Sit down, because I want to talk to you about what I feel is a worrying trend by game developers in trying to make their games appeal to both the hard-core player and the casual gamer in search of the dollar signs. You may say that this isn’t a bad thing in such a difficult economic climate but hear me out.

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Furian Fridays: Down & Dirty in Gotham City

Welcome to Furian Fridays, my weekly column on all things games and gaming. Sorry for the late post (technically its Sunday), but the site is only a week old and we’re still having teething problems!

Sweet Jesus, do I love a good FPS.

Continue reading Furian Fridays: Down & Dirty in Gotham City