Games Inbox: Is Call Of Duty on the decline?

The Tuesday Inbox hopes the rumours of a Quake revamp are true, as one reader is unimpressed by Red Dead Redemption 2.

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Diminishing returns
Writing this after the article about Call Of Duty: Vanguard’s rumoured official reveal.

When Call Of Duty 2 launched with the Xbox 360 and a friend got them both I was blown away with the visual upgrade and the bombastic experience of a Call Of Duty campaign. Before then I hadn’t played any games that place you firmly in WW2, so the setting was pretty novel for me.

The next year I played Call Of Duty 3, which I felt was a competent but pretty workmanlike sequel (by a different developer) and then next, of course, came Modern Warfare. Like most I was utterly enthralled by the excellent over the top Bond-esque campaign. I skipped World At War and thought that while Modern Warfare 2’s campaign was fun, with some stand out moments, the game felt disjointed and quite short.

I played Black Ops (before Modern Warfare 3) but honestly can’t remember much of that and I think that’s the title where gameplay repetition really started to set in. I later rented Modern Warfare 3 just to finish the story and it was fun in a lightgun shooting gallery fashion, but it did nothing to ward off feelings of repetition or re-invigorate any love for the series and that was me done.

I played Black Ops 3 and WW2 on PlayStation 4 when they were released on PS Plus but for no more than half an hour each before I couldn’t take the sense of going through all the same motions anymore and deleted them from the hard drive.

I don’t mean to look down on anyone’s tastes here but are there any readers out there who since, let’s say the original Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, have diligently played all the campaigns and still enjoy them? Did I give up on Black Ops 3 and WW2 too soon?
Meestah Bull

Don’t mention the war
The problem I have with another return to WW2 in Call Of Duty is that, much like any other big budget title using it, they have absolutely nothing to say about the actual war itself. From the Holocaust to the treatment of East Prussian women by the Red Army and the dubious firebombing of Dresden and Hamburg, there’s never a standpoint on any of it which, you could argue, they don’t make due to offending any of the participants (conveniently maximising sales).

But if that’s the case then why bother at all using it as a historical setting? From Hitler to Stalin, Mussolini, Hirohito, etc. you have got countries living under some of the worst ideological systems known to humanity and yet all we get is ‘shoot non-entity Nazi x200 and complete objective one through to five’.

Only using battles like Stalingrad or the Ardennes offensive neatly side steps having anything genuinely poignant to say. It also, though, points to one of gaming’s biggest problems. The fact that you have to constantly rid the screen of enemies. Who wants to play a level where you’re a civilian on the ground running for your life as the RAF are overhead and incinerating Dresden? Sounds horrific and offensive to use as a setting, but then why does gunning down endless enemies, in a real world battle where thousands lost their lives, not?

Redemptive measures
I finally got around to giving Red Dead Redemption 2 a try and it seems to me that Rockstar have created an amazingly detailed world but forgotten to actually give me anything fun to do in it!

The opening two to three hours seemed to consist of holding down the ‘X‘ button 90% of the time to follow someone through the snow, all the while listening to stories of events that sound a lot more interesting than what I was doing. Even when you do get to do some shooting, the mechanics aren’t even particularly fun anyway.

I’m happy to give a game a bit of time, but I could have watched two movies in that time, and in all honesty I think I’ll move on to something else.

E-mail your comments to: [email protected]

Twice bitten, twice shy
As we all know, survival horror is having a renaissance lately and I played the Tormented Souls demo on PlayStation 5 the other night and wondered what yours and readers thoughts were? I thought it was very much an old skool Resident Evil rip-off and felt quite PlayStation 2/3, but there’s a certain charm about it.

The combat was awful (back to the days of not being able to move while shooting!) but the puzzles, atmosphere, exploration, etc. is what survival horror is all about and I did actually enjoy it. On a related note, did you guys ever review Song Of Horror? That intrigues me too and the permadeath feature is interesting. Was hoping you would review as you very rarely steer me wrong! Keep up the good work.

GC: We’re not sure we got the memo about any renaissance. We haven’t played those two, but we did not enjoy Dawn Of Fear or Daymare 1998 – which took what sounds like a similarly old school approach.

Alternative Islands
Rainbow Islands better on other formats! Nope, the Amiga version is/was the finest home version of one of my fave games. What version could he mean?!

Other belters are SWIV (again best version I played), Fire & Ice, Ruff ‘N’ Tumble, Apidya… Thinking back most of the games were ported to other systems but in my opion that was better than exclusive to a system, as at least whatever system you had you could get the game! And in every case the Amiga version was better than the ST!

Anyway roll on the Amiga mini … Only disappointment is the joypad and not a Competition Pro joystick.

GC: We imagine they were referring to the original co-op, or perhaps the PC Engine CD version.

Not rubbish
I was going to make a Reader’s Feature on my love of the Amiga, then I remembered I am incredibly lazy, so I didn’t. But here’s why I love the Amiga and am looking forward to the classic mini.

Did the Amiga have any killer aps? Yes, it did: F/A-18 Interceptor. My dad saw this at a computer show, probably Earl’s Court around ’88/’89 and immediately splurged many hundreds of pounds on an Amiga 500 to play it. Then another few hundred for a hard drive for it.

But for me it wasn’t about killer apps. It was all we had; my dad sold the C64 to fund the Amiga. So I have such nostalgia for the games on the machine. Prince Of Persia, Flashback, Wing Commander, The Settlers, Frontier: Elite 2, Worms, Dungeon Master, Street Fighter 2, Mortal Kombat, and many more. Most of these games were not even the best versions of said games. Some were among the worst.

But the thing I hold on to is the music. The Amiga had, for me, some of the best music available up until computers became capable of playing actual proper recorded music.

Another thing is that while the A500 and A1200 were kind of slow machines I was lucky enough to be given an Amiga 3000 my friend’s dad found in a skip at an art college he worked at. Now games on this were up there in performance with contemporary PCs, but they would be, as they cost a lot more than the already pricey A1200.
Chris Hard

Early tremors
A Quake re-release feels inevitable, and in fact MachineGames made an add on pack for its 20th anniversary. It was called Dimensions Of The Past and will presumably be bundled with it.

I hope so anyway, as I had Quake on my N64 and loved it. While they’re at it, Microsoft should make Quake 2 and 4 backwards compatible. I never got the chance to play them.

GC: We mentioned the 20th anniversary pack in our story on the rumours.

Catching up
It’s often said the mainline Pokémon games have barely evolved since their beginnings, with a slightly nicer lick of paint and minor upgrades when they release on a new console.

While arguably true, the games were pretty well made to begin with, so, obviously, they don’t want to tinker with a winning formula.

Pokémon Go is a worse culprit in my opinion, as the battling is dumbed down so much, resulting in mashing/swiping the screen as the only tactic.

I recently got back into Jurassic World Alive, which pretty much started life as a Pokémon Go clone, but with dinosaurs and other prehistoric creatures roaming the real world map. But crucially, the battling is more akin to a proper turn-based role-playing game, with proper strategy involved in how to take down the opposing team.

However, after five years(!), I seriously (and sadly) doubt Niantic are ever going to incorporate the battling mechanics from the mainline games into Pokémon Go. Not when they’ve already made billions of revenue with what little they’ve put out. It’s just a lot easier and cheaper to design a new hat for Pikachu.
ttfp saylow (gamertag)

GC: Pokémon Go didn’t even have battles at the beginning but it they are (very) slowly incorporating elements from the mainline game, so it could happen eventually.

Inbox also-rans
Great review of Warhammer 40,000: Kill Team, for anyone who prefers the fantasy setting Warcry is a very similar take on the Warhammer world. Got onto it at Christmas and love the fast paced nature of the games.

The best games for me on the Amiga 500 have got to be Allura (role-playing game), Breath Of Fire 3, Dogs Of War, Venus: The Flytrap, Dragon Ninja, The Chaos Engine, IK+, and Moonstone: A Hard Days Knight.

GC: We’re pretty sure there were no Breath Of Fire games on the Amiga and we’re not sure what Allura is but we can’t find any mention of it.

I have another PlayStation 5 code to add to the list to be used by 17th.

GC: That’s very generous of you. We’ll be sending out this one, and a couple of others we’ve been sent, this morning, so please check your emails as we’re not sure when exactly they run out today.

This week’s Hot Topic
The subject for this weekend’s Inbox was suggested by reader Paulie, who asks what are your favourite video game enemies?

From big bosses to simple cannon fodder, which bad guys do you enjoy fighting the most and why? Is it because of the gameplay, their back story, or maybe their design? Or is it perhaps because their artificial intelligence offers a good challenge?

Where you do you draw the line between an enemy that’s challenging and one that’s just frustrating and can ones that are easy to defeat still be fun?

E-mail your comments to: [email protected]

The small print
New Inbox updates appear every weekday morning, with special Hot Topic Inboxes at the weekend. Readers’ letters are used on merit and may be edited for length and content.

You can also submit your own 500 to 600-word Reader’s Feature at any time, which if used will be shown in the next available weekend slot.

You can also leave your comments below and don’t forget to follow us on Twitter.

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