I consider myself a Call of Duty fan. I've been playing the franchise for years; since the very first when it was released in 2003. I remember seeing my dad walk in with the EB Games bag, and hunching over his shoulder, eyeing the download bar.
Things have changed though for the franchise, and for me since that fateful download reached its end. No longer am I at the end of Elementary School; and no longer is Call of Duty a game that I tell my friends about at the lunch table, with expressions of blankness greeting my excitement. Both the franchise and I have matured, some for the better, and some for the worse.
I am entering my final year of High School, and my tastes in many things have changed, but my choice of games seems to have remained the same. I still to this day defend that Banjo Kazooie was better than Super Mario 64, and I look on with weariness at the Battlefield games, thinking that the Call of Duty games were superior. But with the release of Modern Warfare 2, my mind frame was jolted, and not for the better.
The original Modern Warfare game was a shock to nearly everyone; including me. The leap that the franchise had taken was a large one, moving away from the
comfortable World War II environment that it had stayed for so long, and moving into the modern era. Its release in the same year as Halo 3, caused my friends and I to engage in long and frivolous debates, some of which we walked away from swearing under our breaths with our fists clenched. I was the lone defender of Call of Duty at the time; as I picked it up the day it came out, and only looked at my friends list to see everyone but myself playing Halo. It seemed like everyone soon found out about the gospel that I had been preaching; but as groups of gamers soon converged on what I thought as ‘my’ game, it morphed into something that was foreign to me.
The first few months were great; as I had my entire friend base willing to play at a whim. But as the months past, and my kill and hour count only went up, my weariness for the game and the community began to wane. It seemed like before Modern Warfare; the community wasn’t filled with the infamous idiots that had plagued other communities. Sure, you would run across the occasional jerk, but that occasional jerk soon made up the entire community, and it reached a point that I had to unplug my microphone entirely just to get passed the bigots and enjoy the game. While this group of players seems to make up the entire Xbox Live Community, I never felt the makeup of the Call of Duty fan base be made up entirely of it.
Two years later; the latest addition in the franchise was added, and with it came the end of my Call of Duty love affair. The bigots were there in full force, but it seems that with the success of the franchise, Infinity Ward lost the love factor that they put into all their previous games. The campaign was just ‘there’; lost in a convoluted story that had so many twists and turns that it left the successful formula back at the third plot twist and didn’t look back. The multiplayer scene though, lost its way for different reasons. The game was ripped apart by the community—and still is—with a new exploit being found what seems like every day; ruining the game. Whether it was the dual shotguns, or the multiple care packages, to what is now god-like grenade and rocket launchers, the bigots and idiots can no longer be avoided by just unplugging the headset, as they’ve infiltrated the gameplay itself.
There are some things that I will not change for me, whether it is the defense of that loveable bear and his bird in a backpack, or the fact that I will continue to wear Red Sox pajama pants: there is another that cannot be taken away. That being the magic that the first games in the Call of Duty franchise created for me. The memories of my father and I playing the game together will always be there, no matter how loud a bigot calls me a racial or sexual epitaph. With Respawn Studios, I hope Vince and Jason can remake that magic once again; even if it’s under a different name. My love affair with Call of Duty has reached its end, but with the end of one, comes the beginning of another.