Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Is the Call of Duty Going Straight to Voicemail?

As gamers, likely numbered in the millions, gather online to shred each other in a stream of gunfire in Call of Duty: Ghosts, the reviews fall a few rounds short of a full mag. We all know reviews are opinions of fellow gamers, so they're expected to fall within a range. The annualized Call of Duty franchise maintains a unique place in the industry because of its perception. If you visit the comments on any Call of Duty article on IGN, you know what I mean. That sentiment can be found on other sites as well including GameTrailers and GameSpot.

IGN reviews tend to stand out because they're radically different from other reviews in terms of scoring. It's become a humorous among their followers. This is especially true for the Call of Duty series. The site's readers often expect them to rate each entry with a score in the mid-9 to 10 range. IGN gave Ghosts an "8" and called it "great." They added the comment "old dog, new tricks" to go along with the introduction of sidekick German Shepherd, Riley. Over at Destructoid, the reviewer called it mediocre, scored it a "5" and labeled it "old dog, old tricks."

Here are scores from some other sites:
Game Informer: 8/10
Giant Bomb: 3/5
GameSpot: 8/10
GameTrailers: 7/10
OXM: 8/10
Polygon: 6.5/10

By themselves, the scores aren't all bad. Some of them are decent in fact. What's important to note is the decrease across the board from previous entries. While many players use the scores as a guide, I find the review content to be the most informative. A common theme running through these reviews details how Ghosts doesn't bring anything new to the genre. This isn't (just) about highlighting the flaws in the yearly series such as "dynamic events" which are actually just scripted sequences, lackluster narratives or the technical deficiencies. No, this is more about the perception from the gaming community. I enjoy the campaigns for their fast-paced, intense shoot-outs and playing with a group of friends online is always a fun experience, so I'll play it to find out for myself.

There seem to be two big camps: those who play and love it and the people who don't and see it as a yearly re-hash. A portion of the latter is comprised of people who gave up on the series for the lack of innovation. It seems some of the gaming sites are just now acknowledging this and it's reflected in the reviews. Is it as simple as Ghosts just being inferior to previous games? Or has fatigue spread to the gaming media? I'm looking forward to early December when it's been in rotation for a couple weeks and Xbox One owners have it to see how people feel about it then.

Could this be the point where it changes? Until the numbers come in, it's too early to tell. Knowing how much of an entertainment monster Call of Duty has become, it's going to SELL. There certainly isn't anything wrong with high sells. The issue comes from the lack of pressure to make any changes to the formula.

What do you think about the reviews? Did you pick it up or plan to? What are your thoughts on the series overall? Let me know below.