Among the throngs of teenagers and young college students I stand out as a 30 year old anachronism; an elderly relic of an 8 bit era whose time spent playing systems older than many of the gamers around nowadays is considered as nostalgic or lackluster and outdated depending on the generation you ask. Either way the days of Tetris and Pong have long since been left in the proverbial dust of high-speed processors, servers and high-definition graphics. My early days may have been spent honing my eye-hand coordination on games like Super Mario Bros. and Metroid, but by today’s standards playing those games made you no more of a gamer than playing Tony Hawk makes you a skateboarder. As trite and predictable as it is Call of Duty: Modern Warfare is what made me into a gamer.
My enthusiasm for this game came based on several factors, all of which were the result of tedious planning by professionals not only interested in generating a best-selling title but in creating a unique gaming experience. That was achieved by creating a first-person military-based shooter complete with multiple playing style variations, simultaneous multi-player action, load-out customization and a rich single-player experience. If you want to create a great game you would do well to follow the mold.
The first-person shooter began in the early 1990’s with Wolfenstein 3D and later revolutionized by Doom. This perspective puts the player inside the character and therefore immerses them into the game (as opposed to games which leave the player to control a character from a distant, external point of view). This format is ideal for shooters as it allows gamers to utilize their own view for precise, skill-based targeting of weapons and it engrosses the viewer by placing them in the immediate action. With this first person perspective you don’t play a game; you are in the game.
As anyone who has ever played one of the first or second generation first-person shooters can attest even this intense experience can get old. A good game will provide not only a unique environment with which to interact, but variations on gameplay to keep things fresh. Modern Warfare does exactly that. Though players spend most of their time dashing through the maps various weapons require the player to take control of weapons mounted on helicopters or high-altitude bombers. Through the use of laptops players are asked to maneuver missiles, remote-controlled recon drones and mounted machine guns as well as land-roving mini-tanks and laser guided rockets in order to gain strategic advantages over their opponents. Each weapon presents a unique firing and sighting experience as well as exclusive advantages and disadvantages. The abilities of certain weapons are heightened or worsened based on the other weapons, abilities and proficiencies you possess. Another distinctive exception to the experience is the severe difference in the way you are asked to play the game based on the various weather and atmospheric conditions of a given level. A player who is adept at using long-distance sniper rifles will find it difficult to use the weapon at night, in the rain or during a dust-storm while players with lighter, faster arms will find a tactical advantage when player in close-quarter situations.
The big draw for the Modern Warfare franchise is of course the multiplayer portion of the game. When logged in to the network of gamers online you gamers are pitted against each other in one of many different warfare options that range from kill everyone you see to secretly planting bombs on enemy bases. For options like Domination and Headquarters players are placed on teams (or form their own) and are required to work together in order to accomplish the capturing of enemy bases. With a simple headset you can communicate with other players and plan your attack. This experience is of course enhanced by your ability to customize your weapons (from grenade launchers to heartbeat sensors to various scopes for your weapons) and therefore customize each player’s role when planning your attack on the enemy.
With such vigorous, overwhelming multiplayer experience it comes as no surprise that the single-player storyline often flies under the radar when people speak of the game. That is a sad fact because the storyline takes the player around the world and requires the use of various skills in order to complete assignments. Wrought with cinematic displays and intriguing plot twists the games keep all viewers on the edge of their seats as they are constantly being asked to lead their platoons (or venture out on their own behind enemy lines) against growing hordes of intelligent enemies. The best part of the storyline however is the developer’s willingness to push the envelope. The Call of Duty series has become well known for containing a scene in each game that requires gamers to accept a warning (or skip that particular portion of the game) regarding the graphic nature of the content they are about to witness. It is this level of drama that has made the Modern Warfare series a record setter in all-time entertainment sales.
It is amazing to see where the gaming industry has come in the last 20 years. No longer are gaming systems a meager form of entertainment for 10 year olds to pass those cold winter afternoons. They have become a lifestyle and a form of leisure that has surpassed even the standards of being considered a hobby. Adults revolve their lives around their ability to play games, and it is games like the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare franchise that have set the bar for how games are to be developed.