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Call Of Duty: forsaking military reality for sci-fi fantasy?



Call Of Duty: Advanced Warfare. THE ACTION PIXEL @theactionpixel

Call Of Duty: Advanced Warfare. THE ACTION PIXEL @theactionpixel

© Activision / Sledgehammer Games

Lines were typically long at the midnight early sales of Call Of Duty: Advanced Warfare‘s global release. Today, PS4s and Xbox Ones are most definitely still purring with warm auras, mainlining the FPS-frenzy into your household.

Since Call Of Duty: Black Ops 2, Activision, Infinity Ward and Sledgehammer Games have delved deeper and deeper into moulding COD games that are more sci-fi than modern military. The introduction of the the sci-fi element has reached a frenzied extreme with Elysium-styled bio-enhancing exoskeletons that allows soldiers to punch through heavy doors and jump feet into the air like the Hulk and use some space gadgety weapons that can help you see your enemies through walls. But it begs the question, has the high-tech titles of Call Of Duty franchise become a bit too much?

Call Of Duty: Big Red One

Call Of Duty: Big Red One

It must have been on the Playstation 2 where I got my first adrenaline-fix of FPS haven via Call Of Duty 2: Big Red One. The title had me running through trenches, basking in the irony of ditching the American guns for the prestige and reliance of German-engineered rifles and submachine guns, while picking off grunting Germans spewing non-English exclamations. Or the moment of halfway storming the beaches of Normandy under a hail of bullets and mortar fire, coming across a fellow soldier curled up in a fetal position suffering from shellshock. post traumatic stress disorder. battle fatigue.

The authenticity of Big Red One I found to be real striking, and with the titles that followed I was under the spell of reality based FPS’s that mixed a little bit of real elements of war and the politics involved with constructed narratives and central characters. So when the likes of Black Ops 2 came around (but honestly I saw the trend snaking its way to us with Modern Warfare 3 and Zombie side games), the idea of hi-tech, sci-fi inspired warfare was a bit of a welcomed respite from the more reality based game titles typically made under the Call Of Duty banner. At least they were trying something new. And (disturbing for me to say this) maybe some of those ‘sci-fi’ weapons are already in development. Maybe they even have a working prototype the game creators are privy to. The game’s developers at the very least would have a military consultant used to help create authentic war scenarios for the franchise to base its game off of. Let that sink in recruit.

The issue is what once seemed like a concept, one-off sci-fi excursion via Black Ops 2, is steady becoming the game genre’s direction; theCOD Franchise now brandishes Halo-ey, Sci-Fi military warfare with space-age, fantastical weaponry. A part of me hoped the franchise would have anchored itself a bit more to reality, having released a mini-doc done in conjunction with Vice about the privatisation of war and the use of mercs in carrying out high-risk missions once reserved for militaries. Mercs who don’t have any allegiance to state or country, but to the almighty dollar:


I believe the current direction of making the franchise be about cyber, sci-fi warfare may unhinge old fans of COD out of the engrossing reality that got us hooked in the first place. And until the type of sci-fi gadgets and weapons actually come into existence (or come part of public knowledge), Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare and ensuing titles will be more fantasy than reality-based.

A reason for this? Well it could be the more modern and the more real a Call Of Duty title is, the more political blowback and unwanted press there could be. It was recently that Noriega and his heirs brought up a lawsuit against Activision for the portrayal of a Nicaraguan terrorist named Raul Menendez. Noriega felt this was a god-awful portrayal of his image in Call Of Duty: Black Ops (because druglord tyrants have feelings too). That suit was recently thrown out of court by the way, but I am sure Activision would maybe rather avoid such issues by going all fantasy.

'Noriega' in Call Of Duty: Black Ops ©Activision THE ACTION PIXEL @theactionpixel

‘Noriega’ in Call Of Duty: Black Ops

The reality of the older COD titles helped to add a realer, more intense sense of dread and player engagement. It is why COD became such a household name. But what Call Of Duty‘s move to ‘sci-fi’ will do to upcoming titles in the franchise is beyond us, but I feel we’re slowly losing a part of what made COD the phenomenon it is in the first place. But, alas, all we can do now is keep our consoles purring until Advanced Warfare‘s shelf-life deteriorates and the premise of another title is announced.

Blogger, comic book and anime fan. FPS addict. All very convenient. Known to do storyboards and motion graphics when he's really busy.

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