Something magical happened in 2007 when Infinity Ward changed the rulebook with the original Modern Warfare. With its unique perk system, balanced maps and epic scale; the next generation had found its poster boy. But that was five years ago.
Many have become disillusioned at the lack of creativity in nearly every online shooter since. Yes Modern Warfare revolutionised the genre but did it really leave a positive impact?
From Halo Reach to Resistance to the upcoming Syndicate, every current FPS has Call of Duty 4’s footprints scattered all over. It is now a convention for every FPS to have its own inferior versions of the perk system and weapon customisation options that made COD4 so great.
Modern Warfare – doomed by success?
I have been a fan of Infinity Ward since the beginning and it has pained me to see their franchise (not Activision’s – they just milk it), descend into the annual process of re-wiring a five year old engine. The series has become an annual fixture much like a FIFA or Pro Evo; released with the same engine and two or three minor improvements.
I would even argue that with growth (MW3 made $1 billion in 16 days); Call of Duty has dumbed down the core elements of its gameplay to make it more accessible to players. MW3 contains guns with no recoil, an enormous hit detection and SMGs with the same range as sniper rifles – is this really where the gameplay of shooters should be heading?
Sadly as long as the billions keep rolling in, Activision won’t change their ‘winning formula’ and this will continue to influence other studios to make money in the same uncreative way.
Who am I blaming? Well, I think this generation of consoles has more than outrun its life cycle. Top rate PCs now outperform their console counterparts by massive margins and developers using old kit will cling to old habits. As a result developers are in no rush to build new engines for the 360 and PS3, and with constant rumours of incoming new Microsoft and Sony consoles, can you really blame them?
Yes Gearbox tried with Battlefield 3, but the console version is buggy and graphically inferior to its PC cousin. And with Valve keeping Half Life 3 a closer guarded secret than Area 51 and Respawn’s much anticipated shooter still a mystery, the short-term future doesn’t look too promising for consoles expected to continue for at least another two years.
There have been some brave attempts to innovate -we’re thinking Codemaster’s Bodycount, more than Duke Nukem. Sadly it’s hard to capture the imagination of gamers when innovation comes at the cost of a game broken in several places. So far, the likes of BulletStorm have introduced more comedy into the genre, but that’s about it.
As bleak as this sounds, I don’t expect to see another FPS come close to the quality or impact of COD4 on this generation of consoles. And when one does eventually turn up on our Xbox 720’s and Playstation 4′s, probably emblazoned with a Respawn Entertainment logo, will it really be good news for the FPS genre in the long run?
Over the last few days, one topic seems to have cropped up on several sites I check every now and then. They definitely caught my attention. The subject you might be wondering? Half-Life.
Back in November 2004, Half-Life 2 appeared on the PC gaming scene and blew first person shooters into a new and exciting realm. Gordon Freeman was back. This time in a more compelling story and wrapped in beautiful visuals using Valve’s Source engine, which first appeared several weeks earlier in the appropriately titled Counter Strike Source.
Then Microsoft’s Xbox 360 and Sony’s Playstation 3 popped up for the next console bashing round. Sorry Nintendo.
At first, Valve continued to focus development on the PC end, not really paying much attention to the importance of this current generation of consoles. You all remember Gabe voicing his concerns with PS3 development right?!
Valve then release a statement regarding future Half-Life games, in that to shorten waiting periods for more Freeman action, we would see episodic additions to the story. The number of episodes weren’t mentioned, nor was there a timescale for the first instalment.
In 2006 Episode One arrived. 2007 was the year of Episode Two. We all got comfy with this and assumed 2008 would bring Episode Three. It followed the trend right? Four years later and we still await Episode Three.
Okay, we can’t really have a go a Valve can we? I mean, they gave us Left 4 Dead 1 and 2 and Portal 2 to name a few titles released since Episode Two. They developed these titles for both the 360 and PS3 due to ever increasing popularity. We have also seen Counter Strike Global Offensive make an appearance. Valve sure have been busy.
But one huge cloud lingers over the office… And that’s the voice of the gaming community in love with Freeman. They want answers. They want better communication on the franchise they love so much. Yet, they haven’t heard a thing.
We can safely assume there will most definitely be another Half-Life, as we won’t be waiting 14 years for it to finally hit store shelves like the Duke managed last year. However, we knew what was happening with Duke Nukem Forever. It was scrapped… Then brought back to life. But we’ve not heard a peep out from Gabe regarding Half-Life.
The silence doesn’t imply the death of Half-Life does it? They surely can’t leave it on the cliff hanger it’s currently on can they? Ultimately, could this “delay” drive die hard fans to find something else to occupy their time with?
Many believe Episode Three has been scrapped and Half-Life 3 replaces it.
What do you guys think is brewing at Valve? Does the lack of Half-Life 2 Episode Three/Half-Life 3 annoy you? Voice your opinions below.