It’s been a while since I’ve played the Call of Duty multiplayer. After a particularly drunken night back in 2007, at a Sony launch party, I went online with my credit card and bought a PS3. I had been schmoozed by the Sony reps who had continually pushed cans of Red Stripe in my hands and forced me into overstuffed leather couches to play Sony launch games. I was a salesman’s wet dream. Going online while inebriated and in reach of a credit card is a bad idea, however having just purchased the console and played through Resistance: Fall of Man I was still hungry for a WWII shooter. This was back in the days where FPS games were still the darlings of the console industry, rather than the dominating leviathans we know today.
Not being the discriminating gamer I now am, and with a lot more disposable income than I have now, I went to my local Dixon’s and bought Call of Duty 3, another launch title and the first COD to be available on not just PC. Also, interestingly, this was a Treyarch game. Treyarch naysayers watch out, they started the franchise on console, not pretenders to the throne, Infinity Ward. I loved the single player. Resistance was great, but COD3 had the familiar cinematic experience and set pieces we know so well now. I enjoyed the historical aspect and the instant gratification the game gave me. I was slightly disappointed by the ending, but I guess that’s history. It was the multiplayer that vexed me. Here was an entirely different experience. A world where the new player was not tolerated, easy meat for the super experienced player, an insta-spawn-kill-meat-sack that served just to boost XP. I started to think the game was broken. I just couldn’t last more than a minute before dying. Of course this wasn’t the case. Rather than grinding through and putting the hard graft in to improve my load-out I gave up. These days, multiplayer games are more forgiving of the new player with modes such as bot matches and the use of ranking matches, but back then it was a different world. I’d played PC games before then and was a dead-eye with a mouse and keyboard, but on the PS3 I was still training my muscle memory to get used to the controller, I saw the multiplayer as an insurmountable task.
I soon got over my difficulties and played through and loved the Modern Warfare games, both single and multiplayer aspects. I found Infinity Ward’s games more accessible; I also began to prefer the more modern aspect of the gameplay with the more interesting weapons and locations (I never played World at War). Basically I was suckered into the whole rolling snowball that was the Call of Duty franchise, and began to harbour a distaste for Treyarch. Then I got bored. After Black Ops and the whole Infinity Ward litigation, I became tired of the minor iterative changes of the Multiplayer. Nothing seemed different from one game to the next. I ignored Modern Warfare 3 (although I have now played the single player recently and still enjoyed it) and I moved over to the Battlefield games, which had a more tactical, thoughtful approach to Modern Warfare. I enjoyed the more squad based gameplay and was seduced by the superior graphics.
Track to present day and I am now playing Black Ops 2 Multiplayer. I’m not particularly good at it. Being an older man, with the reflexes of an obese Cambodian donkey on ketamine, I certainly don’t rule online, but that doesn’t matter. First of all I owe Treyarch an apology. This game is a stroke of genius. They have put the fun back into gun. It seems over the years the iterative development of the COD games I was so scathing about has reached almost perfection. Treyarch have made the game much more accessible, with a great range of powerful loadouts from which the new player can instantly choose. The maps are designed for all different style gamers (rather than having sniper-only maps or shotgun-maps), they are interestingly varied and all have unique elements which force certain tactics. The custom class section is vastly improved with more flexibility and variety than before and the party system works very well. There are still things that can be improved; it would be nice to edit your custom class in-game and launch week has suffered from freezing issues on the PS3 (a patch has now fixed this). Like I said, I’m not good, but I don’t care. The game is electronic crack. It has become the most polished version of the franchise. Treyarch have concentrated on gameplay rather than graphics (I suspect they’re holding back their new resources for the next generation of consoles) and that’s not a bad thing. Jump in folks, it’s a blast.
Jedi Junkie will be posting a full review of Blacks Ops 2 very soon…
Jon ‘Darth Nutclench’ Evans
Pictures courtesy of Google Images