“We’ve never seen anything like this. All systems citywide – Military and civilian – are in total meltdown. We’ve got cars crashing, planes falling out of the sky- electrical gas fires spreading throughout the city.” So why is it all so dull?
This is the question I asked myself when a fellow soldier thought it necessary to point out the rather obvious chaos that surrounded me during the final mission of the latest Call of Duty. I like many others have had a love/hate relationship with the massively popular twitch shooter ever since the original Modern Warfare over eight years ago.
I spent countless hours grinding out levels with friends and obsessing over my kill/death ratio and win/loss streaks. Years later I still have many of the map layouts engraved into my memory and whenever I do dip back into the multiplayer component I find myself having fun until some pubescent rage monster sends me into the corner of my room crying. What I’m trying to say is that I have fond memories of the multiplayer in the CODs of yore.
However, unlike my friends I was one of the weird kids that actually enjoyed the campaign. I awaited every new release with bated breath largely for the campaign and to an extent I still do in the hope that maybe the latest iteration will grab me in the same way that Cod 4, Modern Warfare 2 or even the original Black Ops did. Sadly none have and every year without fail I’ll get a copy of the latest instalment – apply titled Advanced Modern Black Ops Ghost Warfare 4 (or something along those lines) and be sorely disappointed with just how underwhelmed I am every time.
I know it’s my fault. People I mention this to say that I’m a masochist and that I set myself up for disappointment. But I’m honestly very frustrated with that mentality, we’ve all just given up on the FPS single-player campaign and I’m surely not alone in seeing this as a bad thing.
Now I’m not talking about FPS games that are focused solely on their single-player. Games like Wolfenstein: The New Order proved that there is still a place for games like that. No, I’m talking about multiplayer focused games with a single-player component. Games like COD, Battlefield and Halo which at one point had some of the best single-player action around. Now I struggle to force my way through the 4 to 6 hour snooze fests these games offer. Whatever happened to tension-filled missions like “All Ghillied Up” or the smart world building and memorable level design of the early Halo entries? Recent attempts have somehow made things smaller without making them feel like tighter more focused experiences.
Halos sprawling levels are now largely a thing of the past with the focus being placed on the now dull as dishwater four player co-op which many games use as an excuse for uninspired and monotonous level design. I hear the excuse “well it’s more fun with friends” a lot and that is no excuse at all. Kicking a boulder repeatedly would also be more fun with friends but you’re not going to tell me that doing so would make for a well spent evening. But hey at least those games still to some extent try which is more than can be said for Star Wars Battlefront with its slapdash wave based mode in place of an actual single-player.
And I don’t think the issue is with me becoming a stuck up film student who demands high art from everything. I’m still perfectly capable of enjoying good, dumb fun and if I wasn’t I certainly wouldn’t be as excited for Just Cause 3 as I am. Just give me something that doesn’t feel like a complete afterthought. Ultimately I just wish that we weren’t so accepting of the low quality of FPS campaigns with many dismissing valid criticism of them by saying that nobody buys such games for the single-player any more. There are others that tell me to vote with my wallet which is generally great advice but in this specific case I can’t imagine that a publisher would look at poor sales and blame the low effort campaign, they’d be more likely to focus on the multiplayer which would be the most popular aspect of the game and put all of their resources into improving said multiplayer next time around potentially making the single-player even worse in the process.
And that is the dilemma I have found myself in. Do I buy the next entry in this popular FPS franchise or don’t I? Am I screwing things up even more by giving them my money or would I be better off cutting my losses and ditching the idea of a triumphant return to form for the single-player FPS? I just don’t know, but one thing is for certain, if Kevin Spacey and murderous robots can’t even bring your games to life then you know you’re doing something wrong.
Oh well, maybe next time…