Tuesday, December 8, 2009

A Call Of Duty You'll Die For!

So everybody now, knows the hype that surrounded Infinity Ward's big release this year...Call Of Duty Modern Warfare 2. And almost half of the world has already played, enjoyed, criticized and maybe in rare cases - hated the sequel to the biggest phenomenon of 2008.

Well I wasn't impressed with the Call Of Duty series when it debuted in 2003 as I, then, was a Medal Of Honor fan boy. Though I enjoyed playing it, the D-Day sequences from COD never matched the excitement I had while playing Medal OF Honor Allied Assault. And I even felt that COD was more forgiving and played easy to players who are already veterans with FPS games. Medal OF Honor was tough and released way back in 2002 and Steven Spielberg's involvement just makes it that much more interesting. At the time MOHAA, built on the Quake 3 Engine was a graphical marvel...and played SO NOT-like most WWII shooters. EA set a standard for WWII shooters with MOHAA...though the sequels that followed didn’t push the envelope that much.

Surprisingly Call Of Duty comes from the same developers as MOHAA - now called Inifnity Ward. Built on the same Quake 3 engine (Tech 3 engine as id would call it) I never thought Call Of Duty would look that beautiful. I won't criticise COD more as it had a different gameplay style....it had a solid story and plot and playing from different perspectives (US, Brits and Soviets) just made even more exciting. Thus the COD empire began to grow...the sequels began to gush in even earlier than expected. An expansion later (Call Of Duty United Offensive developed by Gray Matter) Call Of Duty 2 followed with another bang...in 2005...and this time Infinity Ward used a heavily modified Tech 3 engine and it showed. The smoke effects were a wonder to behold...and the gameplay and plot stuck reminiscent to COD.

Activision was milking the franchise and not lettin down COD Console fanatics it migrated to consoles as well and Call Of Duty 3 was released on the PS2 and X-Box 360. Developed by Treyarch and pissing of Inifnity Ward as they used 'Call Of Duty 3' as the game's name (Infinity Ward had other intentions for 'Call Of Duty 3'). PC users were unlucky to experience as no ports came by...but still it wasnt much of a big deal as Treyarch stuck with the formula and gave a decent gaming experience not making much changes to COD gameplay styles. Though I should admit that PC gamers definitly missed a numbered title in the COD series neatly stuffed on their shelves. But the real surprise came in as the 4th instalment of COD...and a huge one at that!

Activision and Infinity Ward released the 4th sequel to Call Of Duty in November 2007 entitled Call Of Duty 4 Modern Warfare. This time around Infinity Ward decided to have a modern battlefield stage instead of the usual WWII setting. Modern Warfare was story driven and played from the perpectives of 6 soldiers including the SAS recruit Sergeant "Soap" MacTavish mentored by Captain Price. Well there....these are 2 action hero equivalents from a ultra high budgeted summer movie. Though Capt Price remains an NPC in much of the game except a level in Pripyat...Soap was a real full fledged character. Players including me felt a real connection to Soap and Sergeant Paul Jackson. Action were beefed up with a out-and-out action movie storyline. The levels were laid out perfect especially I was dumbstruck at that nuclear explosion aftershock level...where the player takes his last breath witnessing a holocaust ridden environment. Graphics is what I'd call SWEEEEET! though I didnt find it to be the top. The set pieces were awesome and topped with lotsa action and felt like, us the players, were indeed in an action movie. The loading screens were beautifully rendered cutscene-esque mission briefing which reduced the boredom of gaping at a conventional loading screen. The game ended with a climax that begged for a sequel and I knew this wasn't the last of Modern Warfare...in fact I was sure Infinity Ward had a huge plan for just another series. There was even a bonus level after the credits rolled out...It was another set-piece moment set in an airplane packed with terrorists and you were assigned a hostage rescue mission.

Game Magazines and websites alike praised Modern Warfare, what future shooters should be like. Modern Warfare went on to become the biggest hit of the year.

Before it got released I had watched the previews and wasnt that much impressed and all...though my friend after seeing it was like "dude...modern warfare rocks"....even before it gets released. I didnt get it either....coz he was a fanboy and I wasnt. Nonetheless I played MW and I loved it...I agree it was a highly polished, ultra-entertaining game which glued me to my seats...I was this close to being an Infinity Ward fanboy. Though I had to wait 2 more years when what was inevitable was gonna happen.

Next came Call Of Duty World At War, once again, from Treyarch. Being the 5th in the COD series in returned back to World War II as players could play as British Private Miller and Russian Private Petrenko. The gameplay returned to basic COD but powered by the IW Engine...It felt fresh. The loading screens used amazing visuals and voiced by Gary Oldman and Kiefer Sutherland it felt good. Well...gameplay wise I like the Petrenko campaign more just because it really portrayed the dark and gritty environment around a war-torn world. Call Of Duty World At War did really good and got positive reviews...which I though that was over-rated.

One thing I really liked and a really nice add-on by Treyarch to the game is the Nazi-Killing minigame at the end of CODWAW. After the credits roll out...you are left in an enclosed building with wooden planks over the doors and windows...and wave upon wave of Nazi zombies attack you from all sides...the more you survive, killing and barricades the more weapon options and perks u get. There was even a DLC which included a new Nazi Zombie Map.

The Big Sequel:

The Year is 2009, Almost 2 years have passed after the legendary Call Of duty Modern Warfare...Modern Warfare 2 was announced on February. As the months passed by the hype surrounding the game was so huge than that of a Hollywood movie sequel. Trailers and teasers were downloaded and viewed like a hot new celebrity sex-tape. I couldn't believe the hype that was this huge for a game...and eventually I was also sucked into this hype vortex. I downloaded and watched those teasers and trailers a 100 times.

The release date was announced...November 11th...and in a desperate attempt to backtrack...I installed and played Modern Warfare and I knew what I was missing, the inevitable truth hit me. Call Of Duty Modern Warfare 2 was gonna rock and nobody could do anything about it. I saw the first trailer and it was kinda empty a black background with sound waves showing noises of bulltetproof vest zipping, ammo filling, a lift door beeps and opens and nightvision goggles going on...It had a mystery to it and now after playing MW2 I realize how important that was - Whole MW2 revolved around it. I saw the second trailer with Soap McTavish guiding the player through frozen mountain enivronment, packed with a lot of action and a snow mobile race...it got hold of me shaked me even more. Even publisher Activision pushed Singularity, a title which was supposed to release this year, to 2010. Such was the hype. Gametrailers.com gave an award for Call Of Duty MW2 even before it was released as the trailer was downloaded whopping huge times.

People were skeptic about how Modern Warfare 2 was gonna surpass its predecessor. As November came upon us I began counting down days to November 11th. I wasn't this much excited about a game release. And at last November 11th came by, MW2 was released breaking all records, sales went to the roof as gamers literally robbed a shop to get hold of MW2.

Before I went to grab my copy I checked the reviews but without much amazement it all were uber-positive. Relieved, I got my copy and played the game and guess what I didn't stop playing for about a week. Although I finished the game in about 8 hours I played my favorite levels from Mission Select menu again and again. Try to stop me if I go on and on about Modern Warfare 2 or STOP READING...but anybody who has played MW2 will say the same. This is one sequel that has surpassed all that its predecessor was famous for. Lets start with the story. Modern Warfare is still based in a fictional modern world 5 years after the original, with Imran Zakhaev dead and hailed as a War-Hero/martyr and taking over his villainous role is Vladimir Makarov...whose mere description in the mission briefing spells DANGER. MW2 is filled so much exotic locales that taking anyone of it outta your head after you play through it is real difficult for me...atleast for me it was. You start playing as US Army Ranger Pvt Joseph Allen in the war-torn landscape of and Afghan city...the tension builds up as you've got your orders not to fire before the enemies start firing and moving in Humvee watching on prying enemies...once the action starts going there's no stopping. At the end of the level you are recruited by General Sheperd in an undercover operation with Makarov. Yes the same level which was so much controversial...well Yes! It is controversial with what the content depicted in it...but inevitable in the game as the whole game revolves around it. The level starts with Makarov, with a group of his Russian henchmen and you as Allen, gets ready in a lift reloading ammo, zipping bulletproof vests and when the lift door opens up Makarov says "NO RUSSIAN". And then the mayhem starts...Makarov and his men starts firing innocent people at the Zakhaev International Airport...without mecy without leaving anyone of them. I, myself was shocked witnessing this and was in a dilemma whether to shoot or not....seeing people crawling on the floor in a bloody mess. Such is the affect the level has on the gamers. When you start a new game in MW2 it asks whether to skip this particular level as well levels with similar sruff...though I recommend everybody play this to have a full grasp on the story.

Fast forward to another level where we are introduced to our Ol' Friend Captain Soap MacTavish now mentoring Sgt Gary 'Roach' Sanderson on an frozen mountains and landscapes of Kazakhstan. As I said before the level is so polished along with the cold wind blowing on your face and the non-visibility in the snow...everything adds up to a great set piece and top it up with and adrenaline pumping Snow Mobile chase...simply marvelous. Another level which got me at the edge of my seat was 'Hornets Nest' where Soap and Roach must escape an enemy-heavy Rio De Janeiro...its so exotic that you'd gape at the wondrous locale instead of running on rooftops...and the rooftop running was so over the top that it reminded me of Mirror's Edge although with 100 times more adrenaline pumping. There are cinematic shots and action sequences scripted here and there that's a real wonder to behold.
Especially the airplane boneyard and the climactic boat chase was nothing short of stunning, so action packed, so awesome that it had to be an action movie!

But what really got my nerve was that that almost all Game Websites ignored praising was the music. Composed by Hans Zimmer, the music was what drived me on without losing the pace in fact I was so into the music that I began listening to the soundtrack all the time. Its shame to all those game reviews who didnt even mention about the music in their reviews (IGN, Gametrailers, Gamespot). The story is kinda twisted and you have to keep track of it while you are paving your way forward shooting the brains off your enemies and its kinda distracting when Makarov & Price has as a 'chat over the phone' in the Airplane Boneyard level. There'll be a bit of questions in the end when you first finish playing the game but after you've gone through MW2 the second time, I amd sure everything will be answered. Singleplayer campaign is short, you can finish it off in about 6 hours. Though there's still more...IW has added 'Spec Ops', a set of single-player like missions which you can play solo or with a friend. And then there's the mulplayer too. Though I loved MW2 for the single-player...the action sequences, the adrenaline filled races and over-the-top cinematic gameplay. And everything is so polished that you end up disappointed that it ended so soon.Well I am making it a bit short as I dont want to spoil 'everything' with my yapping. I am sure those of you who haven't played the game would want to kill me if they have read it till here...well but still thats more unlikely that if there is a COD Gamer....its impossible he hasnt finished the game as of now.

Well I might add more to this article and mark it with and updation...coz I gotta go play 'Hornets Nest' once again.

Oh btw EA's Medal Of Honor Series went onto sleep under a rock since Modern Warfare...ie after Medal Of Honor Airborne....nothing was to be heard from EA until December 2009...when they announced a new MEDAL OF HONOR with a protagonist awfully similar to Captain Price.

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