In 2007 Infinity literally revolutionised the first person shooter by releasing Modern Warfare and the already popular franchise launched into the stratosphere. After the somewhat lacklustre reception of Call of Duty 3 people’s faith in the franchise was restored and the standards for a game, particularly its multiplayer element, were changed for good. It is here that I feel misconceptions begin.
Infinity Ward began the series and used it as an attempt to replace Medal of Honour, they succeeded but after Treyarch’s debut was received less favourable some were left wondering if the series was soon to suffer the same fate as Medal of Honour, especially with the Battlefield series on the rise. After this Infinity Ward had a new crown to steal. They needed to take Battlefield’s crown as king of modern warfare and, with Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, they succeeded and the franchise was split into two.
Infinity Ward had effectively created a whole new series and it is a well documented fact that they considered dropping the Call of Duty moniker altogether, only they didn’t because research showed that this would cripple sales. It’s important to bear this in mind, Modern Warfare, and its sequels, are not Call of Duty games, they are a separate first person shooter trilogy that should be judged by themselves, and not within the franchise as a whole.
If you approach the games with this perspective then you can see that actually Infinity Ward are doing an incredible job of producing a mainstream first person shooter, whilst still making enough changes between releases (such as the addition of spec ops for Modern Warfare 2) to keep things fresh and enjoyable. It is Treyarch (who should now really be considered the owners of the Call of Duty brand) who are turning out uninspired shooters. With Call of Duty 3 they set themselves a low standard but, with World at War and Black Ops they tried to improve. Personally the single player campaigns of World at War and Black Ops are my favourite within the Call of Duty series but the multiplayer can never hope to compete with the multiplayer of the Modern Warfare series because it merely tries to copy it, not improve upon it. There is a lack of innovation elsewhere within Treyarch’s series, whilst the single player stories are fantastic, as are the numerous set pieces, the graphics, game play and general styling of the campaigns are far too influenced my Infinity’s Ward series for them to really hold much merit.
So when the next fanboy argument about the Call of Duty series kicks off, try and consider what games actually belong to the series and what the companies behind those games are trying to achieve. Infinity Ward revolutionised the world of first person shooters and since then they have walked the fine line between commercial success and creative endeavour and have never missed a step whereas Treyarch, right form their debut into the series up until the present day, have been lagging hopelessly behind in terms of innovation and, after Modern Warfare, can’t even hope to begin competing with the multiplayer element of the game.