(Editor’s note: In this bi-weekly feature, Pixelitis staffer Matt Brown shares his “down the rabbit hole” look into gaming history. Having admittedly missed what many consider “classics,” join him as he dives in head first. We ask that you just be gentle with him.)
Last time we talked, I was moving in a friend and inaugurating his arrival with replays of Burnout 3. Now my Videogame Virgin exploits, my own personal Pilgrim’s Progress, my Gulliver’s Travels, has led me back again to my college days. Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. And takeout and beer and whiskey and futons and a projector we set up one weekend so our videogames could be as big and obnoxious as our parties.
Those were, in some ways, the best days of my life. I lived with my closest friends. It was college so no one cared about how clean things were. Really ever. We just got to hang out all the time.
Those were, in some ways, the worst days of my life. I lived with my closest friends. It was college so no one cared about how clean…well, you get it.
Many of those days, good or bad, had just a whole mess of Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare in them. We worked our way through the campaign of course, but the real fun was in split screen. Shipment map, nothing but knives and flashbangs. And then of course there are the specific intricacies of these matches.
The first of these was, “marked for death.” You were allowed to tag someone one time with a shot from the pistol before you stabbed them. However, if the one bullet killed them, they got a free kill on you on their respawn. And of course the trash talk that goes along with a successful death mark was brutal…but even more vicious is the trash talk when one manages to take the bullet and then survive the attack. But always the creme de la creme was if one could take the bullet and kill the attacker. Few things are sweeter, my friends.
For those of you playing the home game, did you ever see the movie Troy? You know, the one with Brad Pitt as Achilles and at the beginning he fights that one really big dude. You know how he just runs up and jumps over the guys and stabs him in the neck? That was part two of our games. Shipment has plenty of little lanes and should you come face to face with your opponent in these lanes, you can call a joust. You each retreat to the ends of the lane, fire off a full pistol clip into the sky and tear off towards each other at full speed. It all culminates with a knife off at the center of the lane.
It’s tense, it’s glorious. It’s violent, it’s beautiful. And afterward, I would say about 90% of the time you just really want some buffalo wings. I don’t know why that is or how it worked but you get through jumping into the virtual air and stabbing your friends in the virtual head and all you need in the world is some actual spicy chicken bits.
It was also customary to yell, “Hut-CHA, and into the night!” on a successful stabbing but that’s hard to do with chicken in your mouth so it didn’t always happen.
Playing this game again does make me think a bit about gaming though. I played COD 4: MW back in college and I’m playing it again for this article. Since college I’ve also played MW2 and MW3, and I’ve watched as the public’s opinion of the games and the franchise has shifted. For some it’s now vehement loathing and for others (myself included) it’s sort of a, “it ain’t broke so don’t fix it,” kind of a thing. At the same time though, this series raises some questions about where games are heading as a medium and an art form.
At their core, they must entertain above all else. Entertainment, however, is not simply defined by Michael Bay-isms. I think it is more clearly defined as engagement. A game like Heavy Rain can engage with subtlety and drama while Modern Warfare can engage with heart racing action and over-the-top cinematic set pieces and both could be considered entertaining. So I suppose all this is to say that this game and its franchise sequels should still be considered a success as games if they manage to engage and entertain.
You may not find them entertaining and of course you are entitled to that opinion. I have nothing against that. I am bothered however by any opinion held in such certainty that it drives you to spew vitriol at strangers online for hours on end. It makes our community look childish and more often than not incredibly insensitive. Racism and homophobia and xenophobia and all the rest come out in such volume over whether or not Modern Warfare 3 is worth our money and we then wonder why people don’t take us seriously.
Of course these are all things for us to work on. All things for us to consider and improve upon. In the meantime, I suggest you have some of the spicy chicken bits. They are quite good.