Video games have a lot to offer as a medium of entertainment. Much like any other creative form, they are limitless in their potential to create new and interesting experiences. The only thing holding us back, aside from budgets and technology, is our imagination. It is because of this, that we live in a world where you can walk into a video game store and see both Call of Duty and Saints Row IV sitting on the same shelf (barring any alphabetical organization or lack thereof.)
We look at Call of Duty and we see a gritty modern shooter with a lot of explosions, set pieces, and a overall military gung ho vibe. I wouldn’t call it realistic in the sense that it all makes complete sense, but it’s close enough for the sake of argument. Now, let’s turn to Saints Row, specifically the newest release which is Saint’s Row IV. Here you have a game about a gangster leader that becomes President of the United states and is forced into a virtual world by an invading alien force and must seek a way to escape. Throughout the game you’ll hack the simulation, giving yourself awesome super powers. I really wish I was making this up, but this brilliant set up is in fact, real.
Just recently, Call of Duty announced yet another entry in the ongoing series. Entitled "Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare". Not only does this new version of the game feature Kevin Spacey apparently, but it also has a decidedly futuristic feel, more so than the recent Call of Duty: Black Ops II. Okay, I think everyone saw this little "twist" coming, so why don't we dream bigger. In a world where Titanfall exists, you're "Advanced Warfare" isn't going to last long.
Say Bradley, why are you so insistent on comparing these two completely different games. Well hypothetical reader who always seems to make a cameo/segue for me, I would like to sufficiently blow your mind into tiny muddled pixels by telling you that these two games aren’t so different. In fact, I’m going to tell you why Call of Duty needs to take some hints from Saints Row. Yeah, let that echo through the shattered halls of your mind for a bit while I prepare the next segment.
My Brother from Another Mother
It’s an article about Call of Duty and Saints Row, so you’re going to have to forgive me for the litany of “Bro” and “Gangsta” references throughout this article. I have to, these games have left me no choice. So broskies, let’s get down with this shizzle. Okay I’m going to stop talking like that now before I have a hit out on me. So Call of Duty has been around for some time now. I would say the series had its heyday with the release of Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, at least as far as the single player story is concerned. Since then, each game has slowly focused more and more on the multiplayer.
And hey, who could blame them, it’s successful after all. But then Call of Duty: World at War came out and suddenly there were Nazi Zombies? Alright, whatever, I’ll take it. The Modern Warfare series continued to decline into a more and more convoluted storyline that ensured enough explosions to make Michael Bay blush, and the Black Ops series tried to inject some decent storytelling along with their randomly tacked on Zombie modes that had become so popular.
Now that Battlefield has a few big releases under its belt, the stage suddenly has another player. Battlefield offers bigger maps, vehicles, and destructible environments. So basically everything that Call of Duty is lacking in terms of realism. With Battlefield 4 and Call of Duty: Ghosts, it became utterly apparent who was winning this war, and it wasn’t the game with the dog that takes down a helicopter single handedly (spoiler alert). Battlefield has asserted its place, and with Titanfall now on the board, the genre is getting a little crowded and while others are changing, Call of Duty is defiant on staying the same.
So, how does this connect to Saint’s Row you ask? Well, Saint’s Row has a similar origin story, only the way this one ends is far more interesting. You see, the first Saint’s Row was meant to rival Grand Theft Auto, which is like saying that Crackers are going to outperform an atomic bomb. It’s just not going to happen. So, what did Saint’s Row do? It broke off from the line of “me too’s!” and carved itself a new place amongst the gaming industry. It started in Saint’s Row 2, it continued in Saints Row 3, and then it became entirely awesome in Saint’s Row IV. The series kept the open world, and the gunplay, but it added incredibly deep levels of customization, completely over the top stories and scenarios, and with the release of Saint’s Row IV, it added aliens and super powers.
The game was whacky and it knew it. It was hilarious and over the top, and in making this bold step, it became something entirely different. You can tell they did good when the latest release of Grand Theft Auto featured a mission where Michael takes mysterious drugs and has to fight off aliens with a gatling gun. Yeah, if that’s not an homage to Saint’s Row, I don’t know what is. These games may sound completely different, but they really aren’t. I mean, did you see the part where I mentioned that Call of Duty has zombies? Oh, and the newest release added a mode where you fight aliens! Still not convinced? No problem, let’s talk about some of the features, cameos, and customization packs featured over the course of the series.
First off, Michael Myers is in the game. Yeah, a serial killer/axe murderer is in your supposedly serious war game. But hey, you know what, it’s all good because you can buy a skin pack that let’s you slap a punch of Marijuana leaves on your gun. Oh, and remember those beloved characters that were killed during the course of Call of Duty’s story? Well it don’t matter, because you can buy them and play as them in multiplayer! Now, do you see where I’m coming from?
Either Embrace It or See a Doctor, Because I'm Tired of Trying to Figure It out
Call of Duty has a problem. It doesn’t know what it wants to be anymore. It’s suffering from some kind of identity crisis or something. It’s trying to appeal to the military and explosion enthusiasts while also trying to be hip and whacky. Other shooters like Battlefield and Titanfall are moving in on the multiplayer space doing new and exciting things. Call of Duty is an old dog, and as they saying goes, “An old Dog can’t learn new tricks.” Maybe not, but what say we dress this dog up in some ridiculous costume, and put it in a crazy scenario that defies all logic. That’s right, I think Call of Duty needs to abandon this parade of over the top military shooters paired with impossibly random modes and add ons. If you want to be crazy, then be crazy! Don’t straddle the fence because then you're just trying to be a jack of all trades and a master of none.
Let’s see a Call of Duty that strives for a single theme instead of two vastly different ones. War is real, and it’s ugly, but when you put in pot leaves and dead characters you sacrifice any and all respect for the subject matter. Let’s see a Call of Duty game that does exactly what it’s been doing for the last few years. Put us in a world where war is indeed a game. Let us dress up in ridiculous costumes and defy all sense of logic. Bring in laser guns, super powers, whatever you can think of. Add in funny one liners and chase the impossible because that’s different and that’s funny.
Call of Duty is getting stale, and you can only do the same thing so many times before people start to catch on. Saint’s Row took a chance, and it paid off. Call of Duty, Activision, Infinity Ward, Treyarch, and Sledgehammer, hear me when I say this. You’ve run the course of serious military shooters. You’ve turned war into a game, so take the next step before people start to realize you’re doing the same thing each year. Change it up, add in something ridiculous. There is nothing on the market since Bulletstorm and Duke Nukem Forever (which we all know how that turned out) that has tried to make an over the top and ridiculous shooter. People play games to escape, so take them somewhere fun.
You’ve clearly started to stray from the realistic side of things, and that’s fine. Don’t straddle this line though, you need to dive in. Break away from the shark pack before they realize you’re the small fish in the water and eat you up with their innovative ideas and massive sales. I guess what I’m saying is that the Saint’s Row IV mod on PC where you could play it in a first person perspective needs to be made into a full game, and it needs to be the next Call of Duty, or maybe the one after that. These things take time.
Where do you think the Call of Duty series should go? Is the same old military shooter vibe getting old? Tell us in the comments!
Article by - Bradley Ramsey
Insert Date: 05/01/2014