House of Duty: Frank Underwood Gives You A Call

Ladies and gentlemen….take a gander:

This little gem greeted me this morning as I logged into check how things have been going.

Everyone knows my feelings about Call of Duty. I think the series is excessive, repetitive and just a money-milking cash cow for Activision.

But…

Not everyone knows my feelings…

About Kevin…freakin’…Spacey.

Man-crush.

Spacey is one of my favourite actors and I am pretty excited that they’ve gotten him into a game, even if it is Call of Duty. I suppose only Activision would have the kind of muscle and charm needed to snag someone of his caliber. The fact that he seems to be an exact copy of his character from House of Cards even heightens the appeal.

Despite the explosion exhaustion I tend to feel with CoD, I have to say that their last two or three games have seemed to focus on the notion that the citizenry of any nation doesn’t want the lofty promises that the concept of democracy offers. The grandiose voice-over Spacey gives as the trailer plays follows a similar line to previous titles, that well, here the USA is trying to police the world and maybe the world doesn’t need policing. This is a debate that raged in the majority of my classes at university, particularly because I started my degree courses a month before the 9-11 attacks. So much of humanity’s horrific periods can be attributed to people/nations wanting to “fix” other people/nations. The slave trade, the spread of Christianity, ethnic cleansing in Serbia, Middle East wars based on bringing “democracy” to the world at large…unfortunately, some of these things aren’t broken…so how much longer are certain nations going to continue to try and “fix” them, thus making a pile of enemies along the way?

I’m not saying that Activision’s gone all Bioware on us, with “The More You Know” messages littered throughout their game. But wouldn’t that be nice?

Still though guys! KEVIN SPACEY! Will you be getting CoD: Advanced Warfare?

Creativity: Attack of the Sequels

The Examiner earlier this month posted up an article where David Cage, head honcho of Quantic Dream, the makers of Heavy Rain and Beyond (aka the only reason I am buying a PS3 this year), suggested that the plethora of sequels circulating today and planned for the future only serve to kill off creativity in the gaming industry. His comments are supported by additional statements made last year by Capcom’s former Head of R&D, Keiji Inafune, who spoke critically about the lack of originality in the games that were highlighted at the 2012 Tokyo Game Show. The author of the article then states that it seems as though the industry has too many developers who hold onto new titles until the next console generation, sort of like a freeze to free-thinking until something to make it even prettier comes along. To some extent, I agree with the idea that the time between current consoles and the next cycle has been heavily populated with I, II, III, and IV, as well as varying titles in between, talking about Brotherhood and Black Ops or whatever.

 

Guess which one this is!

Guess which one this is!

 

The Examiner itself highlights the not-as-yet confirmed Assassin’s Creed 4 and Modern Warfare 4 as pieces of proof that this trend of withholding new IP until the new console is a thing. The decline in sales related to Call of Duty: Black Ops II (along with the success of The Walking Dead from TellTale) is also an indicator that maybe the gamers themselves are exhausted with the constant flood of Michael Bay-esque sequels that Activision in particular is guilty of perpetuating. I personally have not purchased a Call of Duty title since MW3, because: why bother? My sister wrote a paper on how interchangeable FPS titles in particular have become. But I take issue with Assassin’s Creed being tossed into the mix. And this goes back to a previous post I made about storytelling versus the status quo…because there’s a difference between the ‘story’ of Call of Duty games and the story behind Assassin’s Creed. I think the Modern Warfare storyline was told very well, but in between we had World at War and Black Ops, which in my opinion detracted attention from what could have been an awesome tale of betrayal in the MW world. The rushed sensation behind MW3’s campaign is testament to how attention wavered with WaW and BLOPs. Disappointed does not begin to cover it and it’s fine, because Activision is about its bottom line, as most profitable companies should be. This, unfortunately, doesn’t make them very good storytellers but it doesn’t mean they’re any less important to the industry than any other developer.

See, I believe you need the glut of mediocre games and their sequels in order to give brilliant developers a chance to focus on and produce titles that do what I love every art form to do: make us think and tell us a story all at the same time. I don’t mind wading through the numerous calls to duty on the battlefield if it means I get a title like Dishonored every now and then. They serve to remind us just how great this industry can be, something we all tend to forget when stuff starts exploding two minutes into a new game with little to no explanation of why you’re the good guy and then HOLY CRAP all of a sudden you’re turning someone into a glass eater.

 

This guy does it by choice!

This guy does it by choice!

 

When you look at the time Quantic Dream is taking with Beyond: Two Souls (which I about fell off my chair for at E3 2012), you can appreciate this contrast view of the gaming industry.  It’s much the same with every art form, this fractured fan base that keeps Activision afloat by consuming Call of Duty titles like Apple fanboys consume ‘new and improved’ iPhones. For every Michael Bay, there is a Steven Spielberg, and so forth. Why should we expect anything more or less from the gaming industry? It does seem that our opportunities to consume truly great titles are far and in between (for every 5 Call of Duty games, there’s one Dishonored), but given the amount of time necessary to put together amazing IP, I think it’s an acceptable ratio. As additional avenues of distribution continue to grow (XBox Live Arcade for one), I think the rise of storytelling developers is just going to garner more steam. That’s a great thing, for all of us.