Call of Duty: Trip Down Memory Lane
When I first rediscovered gaming after purchasing an Xbox 360, I never experienced online multiplayer shooters. Up until this point, I never gave much thought to playing other people online competitively in shooters. I was more than happy with playing my RPG's and platforming games and the occasional shooter in my room by myself or with friends that ventured over to pull all nighters. In 2007, Infinity Ward developed a game that would change the way I felt about online multiplayer shooters. In that year, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare was released. I know that there are other games that, to some people, do FPS games better, I was awe struck with Call of Duty 4. First off, the story to me was comparable to a really good action flick that you would watch on a Friday night with your friends. Being grounded in a somewhat believable setting as well as the set pieces moving the game along at just the right speed made all the difference. It was love at first shot for me.
I was instantly hooked on the multiplayer for Call of Duty 4. It was like a whole new world of gaming opened up to me. Interacting with new people from as far away as the UK was amazing to me. I met all sorts of new people that today are still friends of mine just from playing online with them. Of course, this is when I also learned what a minefield of racial slurs, expletives, and down right hateful things Xbox Live was when playing online. I have heard some things that even being a Navy brat made me ashamed of hearing, most of them said by what sounded like 12 year old kids!
Putting the piercing words of prepubescent boys to the back of my mind, I would go on to have the best experience of this generation of gaming with Call of Duty 4. When the new map packs came out, I hastily put in my vacation time from my job at the time to just play all weekend with the new maps. So much coffee was made that it should have just been served in an IV drip to my system. By this time, I had a core group of people that I played with all the time. The group consisted of around ten to eighteen people that would rotate from time to time. I, being the modest type, never thought I was all that great. My friends on the other hand hated me when I was on the opposite team. Of course that was a good ego booster but I never let it get to my head cause let's face it, there is always someone better than you as well as there are days where you are just not playing at your best.
Near the end of the life for Call of Duty 4, right before Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 was released, things started to get a little out of control with the online community. Things like god mode hacks as well as "lag switches" were popping up in vast numbers. This made my dark side come out. I ended up succumbing to the rage like all the other hateful people online that I despised and spewed forth some creative yet hateful words. Days before the release of Modern Warfare 2, the group decided to have one last hurrah in Call of Duty 4. We even recorded audio from the event that to this day will remain unpublished since it means a lot to me.
Getting hyped up for Modern Warfare 2, I dreamed of the care free days of people playing fairly with all the nonsense of glitching, modding, and lag switch usage to be nullified considering that Activision and Infinity Ward heard peoples complaints from their previous game. Unfortunately, pandora's box was opened and could not be shut. The mischievous not only were up to their old tricks again in Modern Warfare 2, they were an alarming number of people doing it. Wanting to blame the developers for this debacle was my first inclination but after thinking more clearly about it, realized that Infinity Ward was doing all that they could to keep up with the cheaters by putting out patches as well as Microsoft banning people for a short period of time to try to dissuade people from continuing on their wrongful path.
One of the glitches that was well known in Modern Warfare 2 was the Javelin glitch. The glitch consisted of having the javelin as your secondary weapon as well as having semtex grenade as your equipment. While holding down the trigger to arm the semtex, you would quickly switch to the javelin. Now when someone would shoot you, you would explode, comically, while taking out anyone in the immediate area around you. It got to the point where if you saw someone running at you with a javelin, you would run away in horror only to be killed by their teammates. Being curious, I tried the glitch and fell into the crowd of people I hated on Xbox Live. I tried to rationalize using this glitch by telling myself that if the other players are going to do it to me, I might as well fight fire with fire. Thankfully, I have friends that convinced me otherwise and I stopped using the glitch after two days.
Enduring the never ending glitchers and cheaters on MW2, I was waiting for the day that a new Call of Duty game was announced. To my dismay, a "falling out" between Infinity Ward's top men and Activision had a disagreement to the point of these men from Infinity Ward, Jason West and Vince Zampella, leaving and forming their own company Respawn Entertainment. Now that the one development team that I loved for making Call of Duty 4 and Modern Warfare 2 is no more, there was sadness in the fact that I would never see a great Call of Duty game again.
I mostly avoided the news about Treyarch making the new Call of Duty: Black Ops due to not liking what they develop as well as not wanting to support Activision for sabotaging Infinity Ward. As the release day got closer, I finally watched some trailers for the game. None of it look as good as what Call of Duty 4 and Modern Warfare 2 brought to the table. On release night, I got caught up in the heat of the moment and went to Best Buy for the midnight release with my friend Josh. I tried justifying the purchase as wanting to play the zombie mode with my friends online and that's it. 48 hours later, I am overwhelmingly having a blast with multiplayer in Black Ops.
Most of the nuances that Modern Warfare 2 had was removed. No more camping in the corner and letting your killstreak rewards get all your kills so you can get the next killstreak reward. No more fearing to step outside and get shot by a helicopter or bombed by a harrier. Treyarch surprised the hell out of me by making the game play more about run and gun instead of run and hide. Although, the spawn points and spawning in general helps with the no camping issue that plagued the previous incarnations of Call of Duty. Once killed, the player will respawn in close proximity to the person that killed them last. It makes it so that camping is almost non-existent now. This also makes it frustrating at times but it is something players will have to live with to prevent camping.
All the hate I spewed like an open fire hydrant was quickly turned into elation and satisfaction for Call of Duty: Black Ops. I am still mourning the loss of what Infinity Ward use to be although I am excited for what Respawn is going to put forth in the coming years. Until then, I can at least give credit to Treyarch for putting together, at last, a really good and playable Call of Duty game.