Monthly Archives: July 2015

Call of Duty….Just when I thought I was out…

…They pull me back in!

blackI thought that I was done with this COD nonsense. I thought that I was finally free. After the lackluster fiasco that was COD: Ghost, I thought “That’s it for me. I’m out.” Game after game, map after map, failed story after failed story, I was done with it all.¬† I was so disillusioned with COD, I honestly hadn’t planned on ever picking up another COD game, again…….. And then I saw the trailer for Black Ops 3: Zombies…… DAMMIT!

The Legacy of World at War

CODWW MP3 Zombie Factory Attack--article_imageNow, I absolutely loved COD: World at War. It was more then just a game for me, it was an obsession. Night after night, day after day, the World at War disk was constantly in my PS3. Being an avid historian and a huge fan of World War 2, it was an amazing time in my gaming life. Not that I condone war, but WW2 has always been forefront in my mind. Even though I was born a good 38 yeas later, WW2 shaped my life. World at War gave me a way in which I could experience the events that I had only ever read about. It’s hard to imagine, but very true.

A big part of what kept me playing this game time after time, wasn’t the competitive multiplayer or some great love for the FPS genre, it was the Co-OP mode that kept me coming back. Originally called Nazi Zombies, the Zombie mode was a 4 player, cooperative mode that pitted you and three other people, against a never-ending onslaught of zombified Nazi corpses. Wave, after wave of enemies clawed and lashed out at you, while you and your team tried in vain to shoot them and keep them out of your makeshift sanctuary. Survival and teamwork were paramount and I love BOTH of those things. It was so much fun and it single-handedly redefined my entire outlook on gaming and online interactions. After that, for me Co-Op was the only way to go for video games and World at War became my benchmark for all other FPS titles.

As the Zombie mode became more and more popular, we started seeing additional zombie maps being released for the game. This was my first introduction to the idea of downloadable content and my very first purchase of DLC. Each DLC map got more and more complicated, adding additional weapons, perk machines, main characters and even a storyline. World at War changed everything for me and Zombies took on a life of its own. It became the only reason for me to even consider purchasing a COD game.

I should mention here that COD: World at War was released by a company called Treyarch. They are now one of three different development teams currently used for the COD series. The others are Infinity Ward and Sledgehammer Games. Up until recently, Treyarch was the only ones to incorporate this Zombie mode into their titles, but now Sledgehammer Games have also taken a crack at Zombies. Since I have not played their version, I can’t compare it to the Zombies that I know and love, but I will say that Treyarch is my favorite of the three developers. Regarding who is the best overall, I’ll leave it up to individual players to decide amongst themselves. That is a very heated topic and one that I do not wish to get in the middle of.

Zombie Mode Continues…now with less Nazis

black-ops-annihilation-shangri-laAs the years pasted, Treyarch released two additional COD games, Black Ops and Black Ops 2. In both of these games, Zombies were back full force. This time they weren’t just shooting a bunch of Nazis, now we were fighting¬† zombies of various nationalities. I still kind of missed shooting Nazis and the World War 2 environments, but these maps were still extremely fun.

Both Black Ops and Black Ops 2 included a variety of all new zombie maps. We visited a haunted movie theater, an ancient Tibetan (I assume) shrine, the Pentagon, the island prison of Alcatraz, the Moon, a sky rise in China and even the trenches of World War I. There was a huge effort to bring something special and different to each map and all of them stood out as unique amongst the previous maps. Of course, for me I always missed the Classic World at War zombies. There was just something special about shooting zombies with old school guns and 1940s technology. It appealed to me more then the modern maps or even the cold war era time frame. However, the newer zombie maps were pretty cool and had a class of their own.

One of the main problems with all of these newer Zombie maps, other then a lack of guns like the ppsh and MG42, was the overcomplexity of the so called “Easter Eggs.” It seemed like each map had a bigger and more complicated puzzle that you had to solve in order to listen to a new piece of the zombie storyline. These had you doing some pretty complicated and cryptic tasks. It got to the point where I just didn’t want to mess with them. Getting artifacts, killing certain enemies, tossing grenades out of the map, moving statues, making golden objects, it was all pretty convoluted. If it weren’t for my gaming friends, I would have never earned those trophies.

Despite my “Easter Egg” complaints, Zombies grew into a huge part of the COD franchise. What started out as simple, endgame reward, turned into one of the best reasons to buy a Call of Duty game. I know a few gamers that wold agree with me on this one.

What Could Possibly Be Next?

Black_Ops_3_Zombies_Shadows_of_Evil_Jack_Vincent_WM.0Like I said, killing the undead has taken us to a huge variety of varied locations. Ghost towns, movie sets, insane asylums, weapon factories….what on earth could be next? Well, if you have watched any of the recent teaser trailers for the new Zombie mode, it looks like a metropolitan city, sometime in the 1930s. That looks very promising, as it takes place around the same time as the map “Mob of the Dead”, where you were fighting on Alcatraz. “Mob of the Dead” was one of my favorites of the newer maps, and I would love to see some more of that time period. It would also be cool to see some period authentic weapons pop up. A Thompson M1928 with drum mag gets my vote. Maybe a Trench gun? How about a Browning Automatic Rifle?¬† That would work for the era….. Just some ideas here, Treyarch.

With the release of Call of Duty: Black Ops 3, we will be receiving one new Zombie map called “Shadows of Evil,” and depending on which version of the game you purchase, you might also have access to a 2nd map called “The Giant.” Now “The Giant” seems to be just a re-skinned and updated version of the older World at War map called “Der Riese,” but that is OK by me. I loved “Der Riese” and I can’t wait to try my luck on the catwalk or in the Thompson room once again. Also, if I remember correctly, in German, “Der Riese” translates to The Giant, so that is a nice touch for us old school zombie fans. I just really hope that they have the classic guns available once again. I would love to see a ppsh or a FG-42 in beautiful next gen graphics. It is doubtful, but a guy can hope, right?

Final Thoughts

Origins_loading_screenI can honestly say that I am very excited for this new addition to the Zombies lineage. I have such fond memories of playing the original zombies with my friends, that just the thought of having a new area to explore and learn, pulls me back into a simpler and happier time in my life. Trying out new strategies, getting to high rounds, being able to say that my team and I fought and died together, in glorious battle, really recalls a wonderful feeling. I hope that this new Zombies will be worth the wait, because I am really looking forward to it.

The trouble is, COD has become pretty synonymous with the modern cookie-cutter, over hyped FPS genre and it is a series that has come to represent a lot of what I hate about our AAA gaming market, the homogenization of artistic expression. These days, big companies recycle ideas, boil them down, strip away good content for DLC and market these games as a brand new experience. COD and Activision have made an art form out of robbing us of our hard earned cash and it really sucks. They truly offer nothing towards the greater progression of gaming as a legitimate art form. They give us dolled up, boring clones of previously successful games, just with a fresh coat of paint slapped on top.

Many gamers see COD as a lost cause, a series with no hope of significant innovation. Based on previous iterations, they may be right. I mean, this market is way over saturated with FPS games as it is and we have Activision to thank for that. A COD every year for the last 12 years!? Come on guys, that’s just obscene. You can look it up too. We have had a Call of Duty released every year, since 2003 and very little has changed in the overall formula.

But, regardless of COD‘s inability to innovate, people still buy each successive installment. Activision seems to pride themselves at their ability to release a COD game every year. Of course, it takes 3 different studios to accomplish this, but at lest we can count on always having a Call of Duty game to entertain us. If only they were each different and unique…

Of course, why wouldn’t they do this? Activision reported sales figures for Black Ops II as being more than 7.5 million copies sold on launch day. It grossed over $500 million during its initial 24 hours on the market, and that was just in the United Sates. With numbers like that, is it any wonder why they insist on having a COD released every year? Recycle, Recycle, Recycle and make tons of money. That’s all they know. And we gamers keep buying their products. What is wrong with us? If we really don’t like something, we shouldn’t support it with our pocketbooks. Of course, we are all guilty of this, including myself. In this case, we only have ourselves to blame for Activision’s inability to change the FPS paradigm. In their minds, they don’t need to change a thing. They are still making money and that is what counts.

Even though I am VERY excited and hopeful for the Zombie mode, I can almost guarantee that the campaign in Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 will be no different then any other COD game. Chances are, we will have a short, uninteresting storyline with shallow characters and a few “new” innovations, that aren’t really that new. We will have some form of vehicle section, the obligatory stealth mission and possibly a few sniper levels. The big emphasis will be on the competitive multiplayer, which I have always hated. Except for the co-op aspects of this game and the Zombie mode, there isn’t much else in here that makes me want to play Black Ops 3.

But hey, you never know….things might be different. Maybe I’m being too cynical. Maybe this will be the game that changes everything. The game that revolutionizes the genre and flips the FPS world on its head. You never know. Unfortunately, if the previous COD games are any indication, we will probably only get a few superficial improvements and maybe a new type of dog. Wouldn’t that be amazing….