There are trends in the gaming industry that have come about in the last generation, trends that didn’t seem to have a beginning, but before you knew it you were expecting to happen once a year. Zombies took center stage for a while, and still tend to shamble into games here and there, but beyond all of that there was a massive surge in military shooters. Specifically, modern ones. The PS2 and original Xbox (had to stop myself from saying Xbox One) were saturated with shooters set in the World War 2 era. Anytime one came along that was sci-fi or even slightly past the twentieth century, it was a miracle. It was in this time that Call of Duty, Battlefield, and Medal of Honor all lived in harmony. Battlefield was still on the PC at this point, but I still fondly remember my Battlefield: 1942 days.
Fast forward to now, and it has become a blood bath. Medal of Honor, after several failed attempts, has dipped out of the race. Call of Duty has released every year, thanks to it’s two separate studios working on separate versions of the game at any one time. Battlefield has kept pace the last two years and the ongoing war outside the war in the game rages ever onward. Modern combat, or even slightly futuristic combat is the name of the game. This year our contenders released not only on the current consoles, but the newly minted Next Generation consoles as well. So, how do these titans of warfare compete this year?
These two titans of the industry have always been rivals, but it's time to place them both in the same room and force them to look each other in the eye. It's going to get rough folks, and yes, there will be blood. Let us begin.
Call of Duty: Ghosts: The opening Statement
The Call of Duty series runs on two separate studios. One is Infinity Ward and the other is Treyarch. It’s not uncommon to see other studios under the publisher, Activision to have their logo in the game as they are pulled to assist in the development. This year I saw Raven studios, Neversoft, and Infinity Ward on the opening screens. That’s beside the point though, because the game is mainly developed by the creators of the Modern Warfare series. This year, Call of Duty: Ghosts is set in a new storyline after the last Modern Warfare game wrapped it’s story arc up.
Campaign: Familiar, or fresh?
Call of Duty has never truly wowed me with it’s storyline. It tends to be a fast paced, all out adrenaline fueled rush to the finish line that tends to last four to six hours. I still play the campaign as I enjoy the occasional mess of explosions and plot twists. My problem with Call of Duty: Ghost’s storyline is that it feels like a repainted rehash of Modern Warefare’s story, with some slight changes. This time, Activision had a Hollywood writer, Stephen Gaghan come in to write the story. While he is known for his work on “Traffic”, I really think that Mr. Gaghan hasn’t played many shooters. The story that he wrote, while well written, is a typical action movie plot line with the same predictable moments and turns.
The setting is somewhat unique for Call of Duty. It takes place after a new world superpower called The Federation hijacks a orbital weapon station called Odin and uses it to decimate the United States and invade us. From that point on the game follows a squad of soldiers, working to rebuild and retake the United States. They call themselves Ghosts. It’s a decent setup, but that’s all it is. The game has some cool set pieces, although fighting in space and underwater felt somewhat whacky, the pacing was entertaining. I just wanted the story to go somewhere new and it never did. If you finished Modern Warfare 3 and still wanted more, you may enjoy this, but don’t expect to find anything new. I think the biggest problem here is that Call of Duty has strayed entirely from the realistic aspects of warfare. These characters are nothing more than a means to an end, not someone you care about.
A lot of war games are guilty of this, valuing pomp and circumstance over real and emotional aspects of warfare. I know war is ugly, but maybe it would do the industry some good to accept that and embrace it. Soldiers these days are heroes, but not because they took down an entire space station single handedly, they’re heroes because they risk everything for something they believe in. Sure, it’s not as exciting as a collapsing building, but it still matters and I think it’s something worth exploring. You’re welcome Activision.
Personally, I still believe that Black Ops 2 had the most original story, but the day that a Call of Duty campaign makes me tear up, or leaves me desperately putting together the pieces, is a day that all of gaming will rejoice.
So the campaign turned out like we all expected it. They may have it down to a science, but baking soda and vinegar can only be exciting so many times before it gets old. I personally liked the campaign, but it left me feeling unsatisfied.
Multiplayer: Meat and Potatoes
Keeping in the tradition of sticking with the things that work, Call of Duty: Ghosts manages to keep the tried and true feel of the multiplayer intact, while adding a fair amount of customization options to broaden the experience and give it a more personalized feel. To start, there’s now a Create a Soldier system that gives players the ability to fully customize ten unique characters, each with six different load outs. This system also employs something similar to Black Ops 2’s Pick Ten setup, where you can leave out smaller equipment in exchange for an additional primary weapon.
All of this customization is great, but the Multiplayer sphere of Call of Duty has never truly rewarded strategy. The game rewards fast reflexes and relies on a strong sense of the map and the surrounding area. That being said, this newly upgraded version of the multiplayer does keep the playing field level and offers the ability for all types of players to stand a chance.
In addition to these changes, there are also five new modes, bringing the total to thirteen. These are simple modifiers, but they do a good job of changing up the pacing of the game. For example, one of the new modes, Cranked, forces you to score a kill within thirty seconds of your last kill, or you explode. Does it make sense? No, but it does make for some intense matches. On top of this, the maps also sport a new dynamic element where various events can change the layout or setup of the map. These things are mostly cosmetic and don’t do much to truly change the level, but they are a step in the right direction compared to the usual, static maps on offer.
The new Squads mode adds a cooperative element, similar to Spec Ops from the older games, which allows for Bot matches against A.I opponents using your customized loadouts. The A.I on display here is good, it’s aggressive and moves quickly through the map, making this mode a great way to test out loadouts.
Finally, Infinity Ward has also introduced a version of the infamous Zombies mode that Treyarch has made so popular. Now we have something called Extinction, and it’s not zombies, it’s aliens. The aliens are fast compared to the zombies, and the mode is a fresh change for the Call of Duty games that Infinity Ward puts out. I wonder though, what the fans prefer between this and the Zombie mode in Black Ops?
Graphics: Next Gen all the way!
Call of Duty manages to get away with using the same engine every year. This time around, the graphics are vastly different between the PS3 and the PS4. The PS3 version looks dated to say the least, with muddy textures, frame rate drops, and lots of pop-in. On the flip side, the PS4 version is crisp, smooth, and looks significantly better overall. Even with the improvements on the next-gen version, this game is still not a powerhouse amongst its contemporaries, which leads me to believe they are in dire need of a fully revamped engine. Something that is ground up for the new consoles. Hopefully next year we will see that.
Now that the first party has shown us what they have to offer, let's break this battle down real quick before we move on to the other contenders offerings.
- Exciting set piece moments in the campaign
- Additional Multiplayer customization and modes
- Extinction mode for Multiplayer
- Dynamic maps
- Space battles
- Campaign story feels rehashed
- Graphics are showing their age
- Underwater battles?
- Wait, space battles?
Next up, we have our second contender. Give it up for Battlefield 4!
Battlefield 4: Opening Statements
Battlefield 4 has always been a special game for me. When I was a kid, I used to play Battlefield: 1942 on the PC and it was great. Massive maps, lots of vehicles, everything you could want. Did I ever do anything of note? Of course not, I could barely grasp the keyboard’s layout when I was that young. But still, nothing beat driving a tank through a city, firing at anything that moved, or didn’t move.
So now, Battlefield has brought their latest entry to the table, and it is a beautiful package. All of the trailers looked great, and the series already gained massive popularity with its recent release, so now it’s time to see what they’ve improved since the last entry.
Campaign: Better than three please
Battlefield 3’s campaign wasn’t good. I hate to say it, but I couldn’t last an hour in that story. It was extremely linear, to the point where you couldn’t even breathe without it telling you to, and within an hour I had managed to kill more rats with quicktime events than people. That’s bad, so Battlefield 4 really needed to deliver on this end. Here’s the thing, Battlefield doesn’t get a pass because it’s super pretty, I hold it to the same standards I did in the Call of Duty review above. While Battlefield doesn’t quite succeed in it’s story, it does a far better job than most military shooters as of late.
The campaign is a modern setting with an original story regarding a squad of soldiers, and others, stuck behind enemy lines. It’s a desperate tale of soldiers trying to fight against insurmountable odds. The game shoots for emotion and while it doesn’t quite hit the target, the fact that it tries earns points in my book. The squad members seem real to me. In the down time they talk about what’s happening, about what they’re going to do when they get home, real things I would expect soldiers to talk about. Sure they’re not flawed characters with rich backstories, but the effort on display here is commendable.
The set pieces in the campaign are big and grand without being over the top. I can believe, in a situation like this, that these things could happen. The game also lets you pilot several vehicles which mixes up the action as well. People will cry foul at the story, saying that it tries to do too much and fails, but I would argue that it seeks redemption for the genre and makes a valiant effort to do so.
Multiplayer: Wide Open Spaces
The big draw to Battlefield has always been big maps, and vehicles. Now, with the Frostbite engine, you can add realistic destruction to that equation. Wall crumble, buildings collapse and entire structures come falling to the ground in cinematic and gorgeous displays of both physics and graphical power. When you can squeeze out some enemy players by destroying the building they’re in, you’re on the right track to some epic multiplayer matches.
Taking this alone is not enough however, what really makes Battlefield shine is the exquisite level design. These levels are created around Battlefield’s signature Conquest mode which involves capturing and defending points on the map. With Battlefield 4, the levels are designed to allow for vehicles, epic destructible set pieces and plenty of room for strategy. The maps are so large in size and scale that the possibilities are endless. Each match, even on the same map, feels new and exciting. With so many variations to the way things can be destroyed or modified, strategies constantly change and morph along with the level.
The Commander mode is another excellent addition where one player from each team can leave the battlefield to issue orders to their teammates. They can also provide assistance to players and through this coordination, a new level of strategy is revealed. This commander mode can be played remotely on a smartphone or tablet which makes it both portable and fun, even if you’re not in the game. You can also customize and modify your guns either in game or on your portable device. The level of customization is deep, with plenty of options to get the loadout you want.
In addition other modes allow you to use the same maps and scale them down for intense firefights or different variants. This flexibility to the multiplayer makes for a fantastic way of keeping the same old maps fresh each time you play.
Graphics: Crumble with Style!
Battlefield 4 is an absolutely stunning game on the PS4. The trailers and gameplay that is shown is running on a high end PC so those playing on PS3 may notice it doesn’t look quite as good. It plays fine, but again, the true power of the Frostbite engine is noted on the next generation hardware. The full sized multiplayer maps with 64 players is also only available on the PS4.
These graphics are absolutely stunning though, with great lighting, textures, and effects. The framerate stays rock solid and collapsing structures are positively awe inspiring to look at.
- Fantastic Graphics
- Destructible environments
- Massive maps for multiplayer
- Exciting campaign
- Them graphics
- campaign still plays it safe.
- more customization for multiplayer characters
- more multiplayer modes would be nice.
The Final Battle
The stage is set my friends. These two titans clash on the battlefield of this article, placing their entire selves on the line for you to decide. These are both well regarded, well made games.
I want to speak objectively to you, the players. Call of Duty and Battlefield are similar but they are also vastly different in what they bring to the table. Call of Duty is fast, frantic, and perfect for those who want quick matches that reward quick reflexes and twitch shooter mechanics. Call of Duty is for the adrenaline junkie who wants to kill something every ten seconds. The graphics are beginning to show their age and the multiplayer is taking baby steps forward when it should try something new.
Battlefield has the edge in graphics by a long shot. The frostbite engine is hands down one of the most powerful engines in gaming. The addition of vehicles, and realistic destructible environments means that the matches are longer, more intense and more varied that Call of Duty. The options are simply larger here for those who want to take it. Pick Battlefield if you want something vast, expansive, and looking to rewards those who work well with others and like a strategic based game.
I can't decide for you, nor can I place the golden medal around the winner's neck. You've seen the stakes and you've seen what they offer. Now, you must decide the winner. Let's do this people, I want to see the comments explode beneath this article. Pick your game and fight for it like this is deathmatch and your the last man standing. Get the winning kill! Let's see some team spirit in the comments! Oh, and leave each others mothers out of it.
What do you think of these games? Which one do you prefer? Tell us in the comments!
Article by - Bradley Ramsey
Insert Date: 12/07/2013