New Lap Record, or, More Like Bloodboring Am I Right? (The Blog Post)

bloodboring logo

It only took me a twelfth of the time I spent beating Dark Souls to beat its spiritual sequel Bloodborne. Which is to say rather than roughly four years it took me roughly four months. And even then the ending I got this weekend, while “truer” than some, was not the absolute “truest” of them all. But I’ll be damned if I’m gonna waste time hunting down the final third of an umbilical cord (don’t worry about it) while the Batmobile is just waiting to be driven in Arkham Knight.

But, should you play Bloodborne?

Well, on the one hand I hold a deep intellectual and literary reverence for director Hidetaka Miyazaki’s games. Their particular brand of storytelling, one deprived of exposition to the point of being malnourished, vying for scraps of half-truths in item descriptions to concoct some semblance of a narrative meal, is captivating. Depending on the amount of digging and extrapolating you’re willing to do Bloodborne can be a kiddie pool or the Marianas Trench and whether you want to splash around a bit or explore the abyss Bloodborne insists you take an active effort in divulging the secrets of its mythology, flat out refusing to draw a line from any one point to another.

It’s a fascinating way to tell a story, one that keeps me intellectually engaged and curious even now, as I look back on the world of Bloodborne from the rearview mirror of the Batmobile. But, that curiosity starts to fade around the tenth time you drop into a bottomless crystal moon lake to get clobbered by a slug with a million legs and a rock head who is supposed to be a spider and its pack of relentless goons who actually are spiders.

Spiders have EIGHT LEGS! GO TO HELL!!!!

Spiders have EIGHT LEGS! GO TO HELL!!!!

Much like its Souls predecessors, Bloodborne prides itself in punishing anyone arrogant enough to take it on. While the challenge is often just engaging enough to bait you onward at some point you’ll hit a wall. It might not be the wall your friend hit or the wall(s) I hit, but it’ll be a big old brick wall and you’ll hit it and hit it and hit it. On several occasions I found myself wishing I’d never bought Bloodborne. I contemplated the blissful ignorance of never delving into Yarnham, the games werewolf-infested, Victorian hellscape. I’d fall asleep at night with a smile on my face, drifting off into a dream world in which Bloodborne didn’t exist. But always, always Bloodborne would gnaw and nag at me, unfinished, whatever wall I hit standing defiantly in the forefront of my mind like a Kubrickian monolith.

Bloodborne holds the distinction of being the only game to illicit a physiological response from me. When health bars of certain bosses would dwindle below that final quarter my arms would tingle and my hands would start to go numb. It was weird.  And the dopamine rush when that health bar emptied? An iron corset taken off of my soul.

But the joy I got from Bloodborne was more often than not purely out of spite for Bloodborne. And boy oh boy does Bloodborne spite me back, various threads and unexplored nooks and crannies still tugging at my cape while I patrol Gotham’s rainy streets, reminding me of prey slaughtered valiantly with my hunter’s axe.

I’ve seriously contemplated shattering the game disc with a hammer and framing the splintered shards like a trophy so that I can’t return to Bloodborne.

Bloodborne is the kind of game you’ll only truly love after you learn to truly hate it.

So should you play it?

Nope. You shouldn’t.

And if my word is enough to discourage you, you absolutely shouldn’t.

 

For in depth, in character coverage of my entire Bloodborne playthrough check out the audio diary of my character, Butt von Fart, on Pony Tricks Podcasts, available on PodBean and iTunes.

 

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Je Ne Sais Quoi, or, Assassin’s Creed Unity

I hope you like looking at stuff, bub.

I hope you like looking at stuff, bub.

Assassin’s Creed Unity, the latest entry in the video game franchise that lets you take control of a hooded murderer murdering history people during history, has been catching a lot of flak for populating a game set in Paris during the French Revolution with a cast of British accents. Not just a few here and there, mind you. The entirety of Unity’s gorgeously rendered Paris is populated seemingly exclusively by Brits. Going in to Unity I was prepared to call this incongruity a clause in the ever unspoken entertainer/entertained agreement. Something akin to being willing to brush aside the fact that every creature in most science fiction movies speaks English because every creature in the galaxy speaking English makes things easier on the audience. But after listening to British Parisians sprint through sporadic French words peppered into their monologues for a few hours it became pretty clear that there was really no good reason for the decision. I mean it’s not like I’m being asked to brush aside a bunch of French people speaking English in a French accent. These characters speak full on English. They speak better, more proper English than you.

Whatever the reasoning behind the bonkers decision, the nonsensical accents in Assassin’s Creed are indicative of a larger problem throughout the game.

Assassin’s Creed Unity is like a big shiny globe of a Christmas tree ornament (topical!). It’s bright and shiny but ultimately hollow, and it shatters under even the most delicate scrutiny.

The game’s open world is lavish and expansive. Time after time I’d find myself pausing on rooftops to look around at the stunning Parisian cityscape or the dense throngs of the angry citizenry conglomerating on the streets below me. Bright. Shiny. Paris is fantastic. I don’t even feel like I need to go there in real life anymore.

But Paris is all you get.

LOOK AT IT!

LOOK AT IT!

Call me jaded but the last entry in the Assassin’s Creed franchise, Black Flag, let you island hop and deep sea dive and spearfish. You could explore caves and jungles and sack fortresses and pillage the high seas. Despite my righteous liberal outrage toward the game, Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag was probably my personal favorite in the series. In Unity, you get to explore one thing. Paris. It’s vast and gorgeous and densely populated. But it’s also all you get. It’s hard for it not to feel like a huge step backwards for the franchise.

Unlike my time in Black Flag, I spent almost no time on extracurricular activities in Unity. Why would I? In Black Flag I got to hunt and kill a Great White. Unity offers the chance to solve murders by talking to a bunch of British French people and searching for clues. Optimistic, Cole. I felt little to no desire to explore on my own in Unity, which meant my experience leaned heavily on the game’s primary campaign. Which wound up being pretty unfortunate.

An introduction lets you, through the avatar of Arno Dorian, run through the storming of the Bastille. You get to join an order of Assassins in the heat of a revolution. There are guillotines! Again, bright and shiny. This game should have been thrilling.

I play games for the story. It’s what I look for to separate a serviceable game from a fantastic game. But by the time I was halfway through Unity I’d all but lost sight of why anyone was doing anything, most of all me.

Cool, but why?

Cool, but why?

Unity starts out as the story of a young man seeking revenge. Then it continues down that same road for eight more hours. Arno and his adoptive sister, the story’s two primary protagonists, are so obtusely defined by a thirst for vengeance that you’ll assume there’s more to their quest and that perhaps you’ve missed some small detail on the way. You haven’t. You definitely haven’t. By the time the game reached its emotional climax I’d been waiting for it impatiently, like a late train, for hours.

None of these things make Assassin’s Creed Unity a horrible game. After all it’s a game not a novel, and my boredom with it was largely condition. Perhaps I’d have thought more of Unity if I’d skipped over Black Flag. But Unity is a game that feels empty. It’s a game whose characters I couldn’t have cared less about. It’s a game that rests on the laurels of being really pretty.

It’s a game where all of France has a British accent.

Call of Duty: Advaned Warfighter, or, Hey Look! It’s Kevin Spacey

CODAW!

CODAW!

.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Call of Duty is football. It’s a regularly scheduled bout between two rotating colors with just enough flexibility in its variables to differ from installment to installment. But there’s a reason people watch football. It’s familiar and somehow, someway it manages to evoke excitement in spite of that familiarity. You know what you’re getting with a Call of Duty game and depending on your taste that can be great or horrendous.

I don’t watch football. But man do I look forward to shooting my way through a six hour campaign one and a half times every year. Yeah, yeah, “Call of Duty sucks, it’s the same thing every year.” Well so are you so’s football ya nerd.

That being said, I wasn’t exactly sold on this year’s Call of Duty installment when it was announced, primarily because Call of Duty: Advanced Warfighter is being unapologetically promoted as Call of Duty: Kevin Spacey.

Cashing in on the actor’s recent critical praise from the Netflix series House of Cards, Advanced Warfighter somehow managed to get Kevin Spacey, and neither the promotional materials not the game itself will ever let you forget it. In pre-mission briefings, rather than showing you a snapshot of Kevin Spacey, you’ll get an entire collage of snapshots of Kevin Spacey, as if the game is bragging over having the rights to use the actor’s likeness.

Rollo Tomasi.

Rollo Tomasi.

It seemed really, really dumb. It seemed gimmicky. It seemed like a desperate attempt to feign relevance by plastering a recognizable face over tired gameplay. Like I said, I wasn’t exactly sold on Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare. But as I do every year I quickly found an excuse to get it: I just got a PS4 and I wanted something to look pretty on it.

Graphically and conceptually Advanced Warfighter is not for this generation of gaming what Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare was for the last. The cutscenes look nice but the graphics fall short under even minor scrutiny. The newly introduced exosuits let you hop around like a bunny, which is fun, but the set pieces and action movie tropes I hopped through were never exactly jaw-dropping.

For all intents and purposes Advanced Warfighter is just another football game. Maybe an arena football game, but even that would be a stretch. That’s not to say it was bad or that I didn’t like it, but this year’s Call of Duty is essentially more of the same.

Except this year’s Call of Duty has Kevin Spacey.

It seemed dumb. It seemed so, so dumb. I don’t even watch House of Cards. But hot damn, two-time Academy Award winning actor Kevin Spacey provides a compelling and thought-provoking performance in a video game in which I used magnet gloves to ride on the top of a bus like it was a skateboard while chasing a terrorist with an unironic Mohawk.

In the words of Kevin Spacey’s Christopher Walken impression, “Wow, that’s crazy.”

Some spoilers for the first act of Advanced Warfighter follow.

Spacey plays Jonathan Irons, the owner of Atlas, a private military that, by 2060 or so, has become the largest standing military force on the planet. Countries across the globe call upon Atlas to prop up (get it?) their governments and provide infrastructure, which is all well and good until Irons and Atlas go rogue.

Pretty by the numbers, yeah? I mean I put a spoiler warning above but I imagine few even considered Spacey wasn’t going to wind up the villain in this installment. But his performance in this Advanced Warfighter highlights a deficiency in all of the series’ previous entries: villainy.

The villain in the last game was, like, your dad’s friend or whatever? And before that it was a Russian guy? And there was another Russian guy? And an older guy? And Fidel Castro? And another other Russian guy?

Call of Duty villains suck.

Until now.

Not only does Kevin Spacey bring an undeniable gravitas to Irons, Irons is an inherently interesting villain.

Spacey Vader

Spacey Vader

Jonathan Irons is a villain who is legitimately relatable. He wants to get stuff done, to make a better world, and he sees the government as standing in the way of progress, going so far as to deem the very concept of the nation outdated.

It’s telling that while the protagonists in Advaced Warfighter obviously oppose Irons’ villainous plot, no one ever provides a counterpoint to his underlying argument. At no point does Irons have a moment of grand realization in which he grows to understand that his premise was flawed and misguided. Because it isn’t.

Jonathan Irons is a man infuriated by bureaucratic gridlock, and in the midst of fiscal cliffs and government shutdowns who among us can’t relate to that? But Irons isn’t just an infuriated citizen, he’s an infuriated citizen who commands an expansive private military which he utilizes to live out a power trip fantasy many of us have probably had while reading one news story or another.

Jonathan Irons is a man disgusted by the likes of Frank Underwood.

I had a jolly old time shooting his minions to death.

I suspect every football game has some little flourish that makes it distinctive and exciting for ball fans. Maybe someone kicks a three-pointer or grand slams into the touchdown. Call of Duty is no different. Last year there was a dog. The year before that there were divergent endings. One of them had an airplane level. Another one had Russian roulette. One had Jack Bauer. And who could forget the one that leaned in to our collective cultural phobia of a second 9/11?

Call of Duty: Advanced Warfighter is still a football game, but Kevin Spacey is one hell of a quarterback.

Liberal Arts, or, Shadow of Mordor: A Quest for Enlightenment

I went to college, so I know all about culture. I love culture. Culture is great. Culture is the best. I’m well rounded. I know about things.

That’s why I found Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor, a new video game set in the world of Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, so endlessly fascinating. Because culture.

Specifically, orc culture.

The orcs are an ugly, ugly people. But Shadow of Mordor taught me about their intricate, lavish culture.

Mordor is basically a cultural melting pot.

Mordor is basically a cultural melting pot.

I watched orcs engage in power struggles to rise through the ranks of Sauron’s army. I watched some go berserk at the sight of fire and others run away crying at the sight of bees. I learned their myriad motivations, be they social insecurity, cannibalism or just straight-up, old-school blatant racism.

It can be easy to stereotype orcs, to hide them from the cleansing rains of personhood under a singular umbrella of collective ugliness. But Shadow of Mordor refuses to paint this regal, ugly, ugly people with a single brush stroke, instead showing orcs and their culture for the gross canvas of mud brown and renal-failure yellow it is.

And it lets you just murder the hell out of it. There are orcs everywhere, orcs of all different shapes and sizes with all kinds of names and personalities, and you just kill the shit out of all of them and they die dead, each extinguished life a small subtraction from the aggregate sum of a breathing heritage.

Shadow of Mordor unapologetically lifts it’s gameplay from the Assassins Creed and Arkham series, as such moving through Mordor will feel pretty familiar to some. But in Shadow of Mordor you don’t watch henchmen from above, perched on a gargoyle, and you don’t hide from Templars amongst hordes of nuns or on discrete benches. In Shadow of Mordor all of the henchmen and Templars and gargoyles and nuns and benches are orcs. And they all have names. And you just murder their butts real good.

Its basically Gorillas in the Mist up in here.

Its basically Gorillas in the Mist up in this mess.

In fact, orc culture in Shadow of Mordor is so diverse and varied that if you play Shadow of Mordor my arch nemesis, Mozfel Half-Breed Lover, probably wouldn’t even exist in your play through. Because orcs and their culture are so expansive and distinct you’ll wind up duking it out with some other orc who loves some other gross thing. And then you’ll chop his ugly head off, just like I chopped off Mozfel’s ugly head and watched it spew thick, black, subhuman blood all over his horrified constituents, whose heads I also gave a good chopping too.

Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor probably should have just been called Mordor: Mordor of Mordor. You aren’t traversing Middle-Earth, you won’t be spelunking in Moria or taking in the beauty of Rivendell. You’ll be exclusively in Mordor, whose bleak and barren lands only serve to further illuminate the vivid pantheon of its indigenous, ugly people, whose throats you just slit into oblivion like nobody’s business.

The orcs in Shadow of Mordor are such a hearty people that sometimes they will even survive your violent onslaughts and overcome their cuts and bruises and handicaps, triumphing over adversity to confront you once again. And then you can just straight up feed them to a living wild animal. And if they come back again you can straight up burn them alive cause screw ’em.

I did a lot of stuff over the course of my time with Shadow of Mordor, but chief amongst them I explored and appreciated the many facets of a unique and vibrant culture, treating its practitioners with dignity and respect. Because I have been to college, so I know all about culture.

 

Dark Souls: Year Three, or, A Glowing Recommendation and a Stern Warning

The video game Dark Souls came out on October 4th 2011. I bought it that day. The sequel, Dark Souls II, came out on March 11th, but I haven’t bought it yet. Because I still haven’t beaten Dark Souls.

Yeah, yeah. Shut up.

No worries, he's totally on your side.

No worries, he’s totally on your side.

Dark Souls is an open-world RPG, you know, like Skyrim. Except Dark Souls actively punishes you for dying while simultaneously trying its absolute hardest to butcher you.

It’s a real romp.

So why am I writing about a three-year-old game that I both hate to Hell and have yet to beat? Because goddamnit, I respect it.

And I want you to play it in hopes that you will be worse at it than I am.

The Souls franchise (the aforementioned Dark Souls I & II and the original installment, Demon’s Souls) requires the player to observe and analyze, to apply critical thinking and above all else to learn. Dumb, right? It is built to be a challenge, rather than a choreographed sequence of set pieces masquerading as “off the rails.” But where a game that is difficult just for the sake of being difficult would just infuriate me (AMIRIGHT fellas?) Souls continually impresses me with its second-to-none, honest-to-god craftsmanship.

Where your standard issue console video game is a Gibson Les Paul from Guitar Center, Dark Souls is a gorgeous, one of a kind classical guitar, crafted by the wrinkled and storied old hands of a luthier whose father and grandfather before him were luthiers and whose blood, sweat and tears run thick with song.

Oh, look. He's dead.

Oh, look. He’s dead.

The world of Dark Souls is staggering. It isn’t an expanse of map full of dozens of entrances to dozens of smaller maps each separated by a load screen, it’s a sprawling collection of gorgeous vistas, bleak catacombs and everything in between, all organically flowing into one another.

Time after time I’ve fought my way through difficult portions of the game, taken an odd turn and found myself back at a hub I’d frequented hours earlier in my playthrough. Everything in Dark Souls is connected, like a terrible, homicidal hellscape turned cyber ecosystem. And that environment is only heightened by Dark Souls unique online-play.

Players can leave messages for one another in the world. Maybe they’ll give you a sign that safety is near, or maybe they’ll tell you safety is close, but really they’ll be leading you toward an enemy way out of your league. Maybe when you come across such an enemy you’ll need some help. You can summon players into your game to assist your progress. But players can also invade your game and murder you. Luckily, you can enter their names into a book of sinners, so that other players can go murder them for murdering you. Like justice.

Dark Souls is next level. And even though I haven’t beaten it and therefore haven’t played Dark Souls II yet, I can’t recommend either game enough. You may come to loathe me for that one day, but I wholeheartedly stand by the opinion that Dark Souls is the single most finely-crafted game I have ever played. And I have played, and beaten, Jaws Unleashed.

Dark Souls is brilliant.

And I hate every godforsaken second of it.

And I can’t wait to beat it and get DSII y’all!

 

 

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:

1. How do you get through the Tomb of Giants?

2. How do you use cheat codes without forfeiting your PlayStation trophies?

3. How do you unlock trophies without actually doing what you’re supposed to do to unlock them, so that people think you’ve beaten a game when you really haven’t? I’m only asking for a friend who is playing Call of Duty on Hardened.

More Like Schtick of Truth, or, Just Kidding! Stick of Truth was Fantastic! I Just Love Puns!

I’m not sure I understand why more people aren’t constantly talking about the new South Park video game The Stick of Truth.

MULTIMEDIA FRANCHISE ATTACK

MULTIMEDIA FRANCHISE ATTACK

It’s fun. It’s hilarious. It’s really, really gross. But most importantly it is a completely interactive piece of adapted fiction that is so authentic in regards to its source material that it is indistinguishable from it. Depending on the thoroughness of your playthrough Stick of Truth can take you anywhere between 9 and 14 hours. It is for all intents and purposes an entire season of the show.

You are in South Park, moving about the locales, chatting with the locals and beating people up, and if it weren’t for the health bar across the top of the screen there’d be no way of knowing your filthy adventure isn’t an episode of the show.

The Stick of Truth is as brilliant as an R-rated parody of Skyrim is likely to get. You’re cast as a new kid in South Park whose appearance you customize. Though, full warning, you have to be a boy. Upon arriving in your new neighborhood you are immediately swept up into a heated LARPing session that informs the game’s RPG game mechanics. Of course, as is South Park’s way, the scale of the game amplifies far beyond a bunch of neighborhood kids hitting each other with sticks and hammers.

The gangs all here.

The gangs all here.

The authenticity of Stick of Truth very much extends to its quality. Much like the show Stick of Truth is ripe with sharp satire of the lowest and highest degrees. I suspect if you know anything about South Park you know to steer clear of it if you are easily offended. I would tweak that statement ever so slightly for Stick of Truth. If you are offended ever you probably shouldn’t play Stick of Truth.

But taken in stride and with the necessary veil of satire, Stick of Truth is hilarious. Which is yet another reason more people should be talking about it.

Games aren’t movies. Sure, sure, The Last of Us, Bioshock, Heavy Rain, sure, sure. Games can be cinematic, but, at least so far as major console releases go, they aren’t exactly diverse.

The movie section at Best Buy is divided into genre. The gaming section is divided into consoles.

Most games are action games. Such is the nature of the beast. A lot of the best games out these days are action-dramas, and Heavy Rain arguably sways closer to drama than action, but if you zoom out far enough, so far as genre goes games are all fairly similar.

Did you catch all of those qualifiers? Am I safe from the gaming connoisseurs our there?

Dope stick bro.

Dope stick bro.

Stick of Truth isn’t exactly an exception, but much like Heavy Rain took a step towards the truly dramatic, Stick of Truth takes one towards the truly comedic with fantastic results. The game boasts a slew of interactive jokes that make you the punch line. There are clever riffs on everything from character customization to skipping cut scenes. South Park’s creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker, who were heavily involved in Stick of Truth’s development, have proven that the video game is a medium just waiting to be exploited for comedy. The potential is staggering and will hopefully inspire other developers to follow suit.

Be they Superman or The X-Files licensed games traditionally exist on a scale from blatant cash grab to unmitigated crap. Stick of Truth bucks that trend and in fact embraces it. The South Park license gives Stick of Truth a familiarity and leeway that a fresh intellectual property would not have. Making a comedic game for major release out of a fresh property would be great. But it would also be a pipe dream. Now that Stick of Truth is out, however, maybe that pipe dream has become a little more feasible.

Ghosts, or, Why Do I Play Call of Duty Anymore?

LOGO ATTACK

LOGO ATTACK

First off, for as long as I’ve been playing them I’ve consistently enjoyed the Call of Duty games.

I bought Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare because word on the street was it was going to be, like, a whole “thing.”

I bought Call of Duty: World at War years after its release because it was $10 at Target.

I bought Modern Warfare 2 because, hell yeah, Modern Warfare bro.

I bought Call of Duty: Black Ops because I was in college and when you’re in college that’s what you do.

I bought Modern Warfare 3 because I’m a trilogy kind of guy.

When Black Ops II came out near the end of 2012, complete with cryptic “the future is black” tagline, I had very little intention of buying it. The night before its release I told a friend I’d only get it if IGN gave it a 9 or above, convinced it there was no way it would rank above an 8.5.

Whoops.

It got a 9, Trent Reznor did the soundtrack and I was out of college and going on three months without a job. And you know what? That game was great.

But I still had reservations when Call of Duty: Ghosts came out a few months ago. None of the old excuses were there, and I’m very busy running a wildly successful cultural phenomenon of a blog.

But I got a GameStop gift card for Christmas. So here we are.

In Ghosts your boss is named your dad. Not a Bill Cosby dad, mind you. Just your regular dad. Your one squad mate is your brother Hesh and your other squad mate is your robot-backpack wielding dog Riley. Who takes down a helicopter. What? Don’t worry about it.

"Hero" by Chad Kroeger ft. Josey Scott

“Hero” by Chad Kroeger ft. Josey Scott

Maybe it’s because of their massive monetary success, or because I want to find any reason playing Call of Duty doesn’t make me a bro, or because as I get older my time is more valuable to me and I find the things I spend it on have to justify themselves to me for more competently.

Whatever the reason, I’ve placed the Call of Duty games under an increasingly stringent microscope with each entry.

A few missions in to the campaign of Ghosts you find yourself repelling down a skyscraper en route to intercept a business associate of this guy your dad dropped in a river. Classic dad. As you descend step by step down massive windows it’s explained to you that the people inside the building can’t see you because of the light pollution inside the building or because your ghosts or whatever.

Cool. Understood. Stealth required.

Not a minute later I’m peering through one such window at a guy on a computer screen with his back to me. My squad mate tells me to take him out, so I blow his brains out all over what is presumably a doomed game of solitaire.

Wait – what?

Soon after that two dudes appear on a balcony below me, looking out at the fireworks lighting up the night sky.

“Take ’em out.”

So, with the push of a button, a swoop down from on high and stab him to death.

Knock knock! Who's there? MURDER!

Knock knock! Who’s there? MURDER!

There was a time when these orders made sense to me – after all, I got no idea what the hell I’m doing. Who gave me a loaded gun? They now feel like the creeping fingers of military propaganda, training me in yearly installments to blindly do as my elders tell me.

I mention these thoughts to me commanding officer, who promptly orders me to “take him out.”

“You’re not my dad!” I tell him. He corrects me.

Ghosts is aptly titled. After all the entire campaign is haunted by the franchise’s predecessors. Where once big, jaw-dropping set pieces and quick time events sent your heart racing, they’re now expected. Where once the members of your squad were a selection of world-weary badasses they’re now archetypes. Even Riley.

More than anything else, Call of Duty: Ghosts is familiar.

And that’s why I’ll probably end up finding a reason to play the next one.

Call of Duty is football. Call of Duty is a cold beer. Call of Duty is the Sunday funny papers. It’s a formula with variables that offer just enough wiggle room for a change in number and title. You can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but you can depend on an old dog. You know what you’re getting with an old dog.

KISS KISS PEW PEW

KISS KISS PEW PEW

I’m never going to compare a Call of Duty game to The Last of Us or Bioshock. I’m never going to cite it in an argument for video games as art or literature. But when a dog with a robot-backpack takes down a helicopter while I gun down nameless, faceless bad guys in the ruins of an abandoned sports arena I’m going to have a chuckle. I might even pump my fist.

 

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:

1. Is Call of Duty a bad franchise, or simply a repetitive one?

2. Do you play Call of Duty for the story or the multiplayer?

3. Are you a bro?

 

For more on recent video game releases:

Arkham Origins

Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag

Grand Theft Auto V

LEGO Marvel Superheroes

Pony Tricks 2013 Game of the Year