Over the years, I’ve built up a mental list of stuff that I struggle to understand why any sane human being would enjoy: Those awful spoof movies, the music of Razorlight, the comedy of Lee Evans, and, lately, Call of Duty.
In the interests of full disclosure I should point out that I’ve not played any of the games in the series in any great depth – a few deathmatches here and there, and the odd round of Nazi zombies (which I do get). But anyone with an interest in gaming – hell, anyone sentient – will have picked up on just how much this series has consumed the entertainment industry and the free time of at least one generation.
The question is – why?
From what I’ve picked up online, in magazines and (gasp) real life, the people who play MW2 have put me off ever exploring it fully:
I’m a teacher by trade, and I’m hard pushed to find a boy at my school who doesn’t play MW2, despite the fact that not a single one of them is entitled to play this game, intended as it is for adults. Aside from the legal and moral implications – why are parents buying it for their kids? Don’t they look at the cover? It has ‘war’ in the freakin’ title! – this means that gamers have to face a gang of unruly brats in the online arena. Great if you’re taking them down, less fun when you’re getting teabagged by an 8-year old. Not that that’s ever happened to me.
There are scores of YouTube videos available for players who want to exploit the game, either to gain ranks or to simply grief other players. Sure, there are patches, and Microsoft and Sony can ban cheats, but this only slows the process rather than dealing with it. The thrill of doing something they shouldn’t and the threat of getting caught just keep them coming back. They’re probably getting more play out of the game through trying to break it than legit players are from any amount of DLC.
Gaming’s latest archvillains hiked up the price for MW2 just because they could, and now there’s rumblings of a subscription model. While people who shop around rarely pay the recommended retail price (at least in the UK), such bare-faced greed was pretty repulsive. Add to that the insistence on releasing yearly iterations of the franchise (though Black Ops might be a step forward for Treyarch) and the sacking of key staff for daring to investigate other publishers, and some people are left questioning whether they should even support the series.
4. Bad Company 2
I’m not a military man, so BC2’s not high on my wishlist either – but even so, it just looks more fun. Destruction! Vehicles! Character Classes! Opponents who aren’t still wearing Spongebob pyjamas! Plus, it’s still got all the leveling goodness we’ve come to expect from a good multiplayer.
I’ve not said anything here about the single player and co-op games, simply because there’s nothing to say. They look excellent. And the original MW has done a lot to create the modern multi-player climate. But everything seems to point to a flawed and frustrating online experience, and I’m wondering why people persevere? I’d love to hear your thoughts on the matter.