Michael Myers Answers the Call of Duty
Infinity Ward is making my childhood dreams come true this month. They’re letting me wield a sharpened axe, don a menacingly emotionless visage of a mask, and sending me on a psychopathic rampage.
No, no, no, it’s not my dream to pretend to be a serial killer. My dream is to be a pop culture icon that happens to be a mass murderer. Subtle difference.
Yes, in detailing the first downloadable map pack for Call of Duty: Ghosts, among the ranks of urban and industrial battlegrounds (that are indistinguishable from the scores of urban and industrial battlegrounds that make up the DNA of this series), there was one oddball map that stuck out: Fog.
Fog is CoD's DLC as it should be: the designers letting their hair down and coding something ridiculous and fun simply for the hell of it. Siphoning the atmosphere and visual staples of countless horror movies before it, Fog is a darkened, dank slice of macabre geography featuring dead woods, a lonely, dilapidated cabin, and an Eli Roth approved torture chamber.
And that’s not even the cool part. Successfully complete an operation during an online skirmish and you’ll transform into a slasher flick icon — Michael Myers, straight out of John Carpenter’s seminal Halloween (mayhaps “Fog” is a slier reference to the director’s filmograhpy?). When Mikey hits the scene, you’ll know. The music takes a shift — featuring Carpenter’s now classic theme — and the chances of eating axe increase exponentially.
Call of Duty is no stranger to the weird — this is, in fact, a series that saw Danny Trejo and Sarah Michelle Gellar pistol whipping an undead George Romero just a couple of years ago — but it’s typically Treyarch gettin’ up to shenanigans while IW plays the straight man every other year. Ghosts being, in my opinion, the driest, by-the-numbers release in the franchise’s history, it’s nice to have a reason not to instantly forget this title like my mind has been desperately begging me to.
Does Michael Myers’ murderous inclusion make sense? No. There isn’t even an official implementation of the knife-only mode that fans have borrowed his name for. Does his inclusion make me happy? Shit yes; and that overrides logic.
Onslaught, featuring four new maps and a new chapter of Extinction, arrives on Xbox platforms January 28th. PlayStation users are likely to see the pack a month later.
China’s Call of Duty Invaded by Zombie Terminators; Related: I’m Moving to China
So Chinese gamers have cultivated a market where Activision’s annual cash-in, followed up by a year of expensive DLC maps, just isn’t supported.
Instead, Acti tapped its Shanghai studio (along with series familiar Raven Software) to condense the series’ hallmark gameplay and features into a single free-to-play title incidentally named after all that anyone truly gives a shit about — Call of Duty: Online.
The game draws from a smorgasbord of maps, guns, perks, and attachments found in both the Modern Warfare and Black Ops games, making it a kind of Call of Duty Greatest Hits mix. Though lousy with micro-transactions (a lot of which are regionally tailored character customizations), that actually sounds… pretty friggin’ awesome.
But it gets awesomer! Robotic zombies. They were robots that became zombies. Or, wait, are they zombies that were turned machines? Something to puzzle over as you (you being China) mow them down in the new, legally trying “Dead Rising” Mode which sees the original Zombies map, Nacht der Untoten, reconstructed into the modern wasteland re-christened “Natch.”
"Dead Rising" and its unerring fight against the steely dead is coming to CoD: Online sometime later this year. If justice is a tangible thing and if something is smiling at us from above the sky, maybe we’ll be lucky enough to battle the robotic undead.
From Zombies to Aliens - Call of Duty: Ghosts' Extinction Mode Revealed
Our nation has been invaded by extraterrestrial creatures intent on wiping our collective gene pools off the map of existence. Our only defense? Four-player co-op!
Infinity Ward’s run on the Call of Duty series usually serves as the straight-laced dose of military action while Treyarch pumps out their games with whacky shit like B-List celebrities fighting zombies and an after credits performance by a digitally rendered Avenged Sevenfold (I traded in my copy of Black Ops II without regret or feeling).
Now, IW is joining the genre-bending fun with Extinction Mode; a four-player co-op mode that replaces the undead from Zombies with — get this — aliens. I’ll forever lament a game called Ghosts for not featuring a first-person ghostbusting mode, but the ghoulie wheel was spun and chance said it wanted aliens.
This Invasion: Earth flavored horde mode has you fending through waves of unfriendly E.T.’s while you eviscerate the hives that spawn them. The classic Zombies suite of base fortifying and item hunting return in addition to an upgrade system and character specific classes, each with their own abilities (that just may be the saving grace keeping Extinction from being the tired Zombies clone it’s already teetering towards).
Call of Duty Preorders Weakened By Impending Consoles
Something interesting is happening to the once mighty COD and Activision is putting the blame squarely on Sony, Microsoft, and your fickleness.
More specifically, Acti says the soon-to-be next generation — which encompasses the unreleased PlayStation 4 and Xbox One (if nobody looks Wii U in the eye, it won’t try to join the conversation) — is negatively affecting preorders for their annualized money bath, Call of Duty.
Eric Hirshberg, Acti’s CEO of Publishing, revealed that Call of Duty: Ghosts’ preorder numbers are nowhere near “the record-setting pace” Black Ops II cemented before its November release last year. Could it…Could it be that the gaming masses have grown tired of purchasing a rehashed, increasingly formulaic product year-over-year? Are gamers finally at the boiling point where they’re wisely using dollars withheld to send both a message and a plea for inspired, innovative gameplay once mo—
"Our quantitative consumer research indicates that hesitation amongst past COD pre-orderers is primarily due to not knowing which platform they will be playing on, which is natural at this time in the console transition.” Oh. I guess there’s also that. Thanks for clearing that up, Eric. Indecisiveness hath wounded the beast it seems.
It’s an interesting dilemna Sony and MS have presented third-party publishers with. Over this past generation, publishers have taken to relegating one-off’s or shaky IP’s to smaller digital affairs and focused their efforts into building sequel spewing franchises because their business models have morphed into almost totally relying on guaranteed cash-in’s.
Besides a shortlist of annual sports titles, you didn’t really see these yearly blockbusters running towards the PS3 and 360’s launch. Now, we’re witness to companies like Ubisoft and EA packing up their totem titles like Assassin’s Creed and Battlefield, hoisting them over their shoulders, and making the journey to a brave new, next-gen world.
But missed preorders almost definitely won’t mean missed sales when Ghosts launches (like clockwork) this Holiday. The third-party, Activision included, has a contigency against the very same install base they fought and bled to root over the course of this generation. Of the three heavy hitting franchises mentioned in my rambling, all have current-gen counterparts being made available for the unwilling and undecided hesitant to go next-gen.
I think the upward battle ahead pushes the first-party into the frontlines more than the third-party. Any angle you approach it, it’s not a matter if games will sell — because they will. It’s a matter of where games will sell. Why cry over spilt milk, Activision? (If ”crying” in this instance means issuing a sales report and the “spilt milk” refers to low preorders on a multi-billion dollar video game…Listen, I wasn’t formally trained in metaphors. Lay off me.)
"Now consider that these Internet Tough Guy rants and demands are not unique to CoD, but exist everywhere, in many gaming communities. This is why the world often does not take gaming seriously; this is why gamers are assumed to be immature, whiny assholes. Because the immature, whiny assholes are louder.”
Dan Amrich, Activision Community Manager, lambasting the enraged and, in some cases, threatening verbal assault from certain “passionate” fans, doled out to a Treyarch employee in charge of Black Ops II's tweaks and balances.
Excerpt from Amrich’s plainly put editorial Stop Threatening Game Developers.
"The Ghosts Are Real" - New Cast, New Engine, Next-Gen Call of Duty
And now for the announcement that surprised no one today: Activision has officially revealed Call of Duty: Ghosts, this year’s entry into the military shooter franchise, releasing November 5th and headed up series creator Infinity Ward. That much anyone without internet access knew already thanks to some critical leaks.
What we didn’t already know is sure to excite fans, especially those growing tired of the series’ baby step amount of “innovations.” Ghosts is slated for release on both existing consoles as well as Sony’s PS4 and Microsoft’s soon-to-be-unveiled Next-Box. Because of this, Infinity Ward is using an entirely new engine for the game, finally retiring the one powering the last seven hundred Call of Duty’s.
Despite Infinity Ward’s involvement, Ghosts isn’t a follow up to Modern Warfare 3. The game features an all new cast of characters within a brand new setting. “Everyone was expecting us to make Modern Warfare 4, which would have been the safe thing to do,” said IW executive producer Mark Rubin. “But we’re not resting on our laurels.” Rubin explains that the transition to newer hardware was the perfect opportunity to reintroduce the world to Call of Duty through a new branding with new ideas.
Just what those new ideas are is up in the air. The first official trailer for the game is a live action teaser featuring precisely zero gameplay. But Activision promises way more, including actual gameplay, will be shown off right alongside Microsoft’s Next-Gen reveal event taking place on May 21st. Till then, here’s a corporate byline to make you feel all fuzzy on the inside:
"Infinity Ward is going all-in to create the next generation of Call of Duty worthy of the world’s greatest fans.”
Well, then. I guess this is Activision’s version of a confirmation.
Call of Duty: Ghosts Confirmed and, Better Yet, Dated
New promotional art circulating stores the likes of GameStop (I’ve never heard of ‘em; must be small time) has outed the latest installment of Activision’s annualized FPS breadwinner.
Once again under developer Infinity Ward’s reigns, Call of Duty: Ghosts, which is more than likely to have an official May 1st reveal, was also dated by the retailer art for November 5th of this year, falling in line with the release dates of the umpteen titles before it.
Not just an exceptionally badass subtitle, Ghosts is rumored to improve on the aging shooter’s formula through the addition of destructible environments (‘bout time), increased mobility options such as a new slide n’ shoot maneuver, and tweaks to smaller components like loading segments becoming playable.
The promotional art keenly fails to name which consoles this seeming Modern Warfare offshoot is coming to, but initial reports heavily suggest Activision is taking a multi-generational stance and launching Ghosts on both current and forthcoming systems. Personally, I’ll be watching closely how Acti looks to handle the shaky bridge between now and the next-gen, especially considering one of their first ventures will be their biggest franchise. More to come, folks, as this one develops.
Is Call of Duty: Ghosts Taking the Franchise Next-Gen?
Of all the places on the internet you could catch a leak, today’s big, ponderous rumor comes from Youtube by way of user Drift0r, a man that busies himself with uploading everything Call of Duty. Stressing (over and over) his source — supposedly someone close to development at Infinity Ward — was too legitimate not to quote, Drift0r quickly put together a video that may just out this Fall’s expected but unannounced installment of Activision’s yearly breadwinner.
Calling the game Call of Duty: Ghosts, it’s claimed this new sequel relates to the Modern Warfare universe but branches off on its own. Though Ghosts' setting is the future, much like Black Ops II, a major plot device makes it so players have to use archaic — or “modern” — weaponry instead of arsenals augmented with x-ray sights and other attachments twelve-year-old’s use to piss me off online.
Changes to gameplay touched on involve increased mobility including the ability to “slide and shoot” instead of simply diving to prone as well as players being able to peek around corners. Apparently rolling while prone is also being implemented (I can only envision players rolling around on the ground like they’re being wrapped up in invisible carpets — hilarious to watch and shoot at).
Destructible environments are also being toyed with. The feature doesn’t sound locked down yet — single-player might see more breakable geometry than multiplayer — but one example given was a killstreak chopper caving in a building after being shot out of the sky. Loading times, oddly but awesomely enough, are said to be replaced by “mini-games” that have players breaching or repelling onto a map instead of simply watching a countdown before a match. Modern Warfare's Spec Ops mode is also seeing the boot, usurped by a “new mode.”
The video’s uploader posits we may see an official announcement of Ghosts on or around May 1st, going on to report that the title might be a next-gen exclusive, gracing the PC, PS4, and “NeXt-Box” and not the current slew of established consoles what with their installed user base of millions (extremely far-fetched and yet…an insidiously great ploy to get people to buy up the new consoles). That last bit falls in line with rumoring ‘round the net that Infinity Ward was developing an unnamed title on next-gen hardware.
Until we hear otherwise, though, chase the entirety of this rumor down with a helping of salt. Then swallow the shaker. Grab pepper. Repeat.
Black Ops II Scores Half a Million in Its First Day on Sale
To the absolute surprise of no one, Call of Duty: Black Ops II earned just over $500 million bucks worldwide within its first twenty-four hours on sale. Following a sales one-upping trend started by Infinity Ward’s Modern Warfare 2, Black Ops II has toppled last year’s MW3 launch numbers which totaled in $400 million.
Activision immediately patted themselves on the shoulder for doling out another annual blockbuster. Acti’s own CEO, Bobby Kotick, heralded the Call of Duty license as “the biggest entertainment launch of the year for the fourth year in a row,” adding that life-to-date sales far exceed even the number of box office ticket sales amassed for cultural smash hits like Star Wars and Harry Potter. Black Ops II's earnings aren't staggering for lack of industry competition, either. Just last week Microsoft's gaming juggernaut, Halo 4, saw an impressive launch day gross of $220 million.
One has to wonder how different these launch numbers would look if Halo weren’t limited to the Xbox, but as it stands, both titles seem poised to outsell their way to Holiday supremacy this year and, more importantly, allow Activision to remodel its corporate headquarters into a flying fortress above the clouds. (At the time of this writing, Microsoft has not announced any plans for flying cities; we’ll keep you posted as we hear word).