Published on May 3rd, 2012 | by Chris Grigorovsky0
Has the creative spark gone from first person shooters?
The first person shooter genre is over flowing to the point of destruction. If there isn’t a game where you play as a soldier in some war time epic battle, there is one where you play as a ruthless mercenary (in an epic battle). But when you strip down the game to its most basic form, it is simply a go into that room and clear it to proceed affair. The main and most popular franchise of this over stocked genre is the Call Of Duty (COD) series.
COD at this moment in time is one of the biggest selling gaming franchises in the world; it is the leader of the pack of all shooters with millions and millions of dollars being made every year from its likeness. It’s bigger than Subway, the increase on student loans and Simon Cowell’s wage packet rolled into one. With a brand new rendition coming out every year and it always being labelled as “The most anticipated game of the year”, it sees no sign of stopping. But does this kind of success come at a price to the gaming industry on the whole?
Well in a sense yes. The fact that Call of Duty has surpassed every expectation of what a game can do to be entertaining to the average gamer, there is really nowhere else to go with this genre. Only until technological advancements have improved that little more anyway. Game companies now have immense pressure on them to be as good as Call of Duty if not be better and become the new reigning champion and swipe it from the pedestal it has been on for so many years. But unfortunately games have come into this fierce and highly competitive real life battlefield with high hopes and then have been left waving the white flag of defeat.
Whenever I hear of a release of a new first person shooter, my first reaction is mainly “Wooh yeah, it’s time to crank out the Red Bulls and ignore any human being for the weekend!” But the other thought is that immediately it won’t be well received because of the template that COD has set on the world. Even if they add in something a tad unique within the gameplay or modes for online play, it’s still going to have that fear factor of oh will it be good enough. Medal of Honor back in 2010 for example is one of those games that released at the wrong time; it was released with only one month until Call Of Duty Black Ops. Though this game had DICE, the makers of the highly popular PC online game Battlefield behind its multiplayer, it had that realness to the atmosphere of fighting an actual war, sound affects and weapon likenesses almost accurate to their real life counterparts, it still didn’t cut the mustard. The overall Metacritic rating was 74 out of 100 even though the games premise was near identical to Call Of Duty’s. Mainly reviewers used their review for Medal Of Honor as a “Look how much COD does this thing better”. Gamespot’s Chris Watters review of this game was a shining example of this, where one of the lines says “Though it may be tempting to dismiss Medal Of Honor as inferior to its competitors”. “Its competitors” appears frequently in many reviews, but to the gaming world the only competitor is COD. He also goes on to say it “doesn’t set any new standards for the genre, but it delivers a lot of entertainment and excitement if you’re looking to add a splash of realism to your-first person shooting”. So even though Medal Of Honor has exactly the same concept and gameplay style as Call Of Duty and all of the other first person shooters, COD will always be seen as a groundbreaking game in which everyone must live up to, thus putting the genre at risk of becoming stale.
That was over a year ago, now we are in the next instalment of the franchise Call Of Duty: Modern warfare 3 and things have barely changed. All that changed was another franchise went head to head with it for that coveted top spot, which this time was EA’s highly respected Battlefield series and their follow up to the most popular online based games for the PC. With an end of October release date (a mere week until the release of Modern Warfare 3) Battlefield 3 was highly anticipated as the best multiplayer game of the year. Then when it was finally released it was received with a good reception, but once again Call Of Duty was still the most talked about game. Back when they released their first instalments of Battlefield on the PC, online first person shooters were still innovative and exciting, everyone wanted a piece of the action but only people with a top end computer could get involved. Then as soon as consoles introduced an online service which was highly accessible to everyone, shooters were appearing everywhere.
Which now brings us so neatly into 2012, where we will see the release of Call Of Duty: Black Ops 2, which once again will be in line for biggest selling game of the year. As well as once again another wartime FPS having an attempt to conquer the beast in the form of Medal Of Honor Warfighter which is due out in October. It seems to be a vicious cycle which sees no sign of stopping anytime soon.
We need something original to come our way and give the genre a kick up the arse it so rightly needs. When Bioshock 1 first came out back in 2007, everyone was in amazement at this little gem of wonder. It had what many FPS do not have anymore and that is a game entirely dedicated to the single player aspect and creating a world with characters and a plot which make you care about what is happening. This of course was before COD actually became this phenomenon, so there was no need to actually care about multiplayer. But then as Call Of Duty was now a huge franchise, the second Bioshock became victim to the online world as a multiplayer feature was added replicating in many ways its other competitors. This resulted in an OK story and mediocre online multiplayer, therefore tarnishing its reputation and going to lengths that it didn’t have to go to.
But is there light at the end of this narrow and shallow tunnel? Maybe, as one of the Xbox’s biggest successful flagship franchises will be making its return after a two year absence. Halo 4 hits the shelves in November, and with its deep and cared for story and a hugely respected online universe, it will certainly be a helpful boost to the genre which over the past few years has seen no change.