TL;DR: People legitimately hate CoD because it represents all of the worst, most cynical, pandering, greedy habits of modern game design. But I somehow enjoy playing it anyway.
At 2/4/13 12:15 AM, LemonCrush wrote:
No, they just suck. No substance. No rewarding experiences. Not to mention the online community consists of a bunch of annoying 12 year olds. It's a 12 year old's game for 12 year old mentality.
And as an artform, it does nothing. It doesn't innovate, it doesn't create anything new. The music sucks, the art style is shit, the story is shit.
I can't really disagree with any of this, and yet I still play Black Ops 2 online fairly regularly. I dunno, it's addictive.
I think the key to the games' insidious charm is that over time they've become really, really good at constantly dangling a carrot in front of the player. You'll almost never make it through a match without leveling up or unlocking a new attachment or camo for your gun or getting to the next level of some challenge or achievement (which are split into tiers, so the game can always make you feel like you've accomplished something, even when you haven't). Each of these moments is instantaneously marked by a shiny medal at the top of the screen and a loud, badass sound effect. And then after the game you can check your stats to see what the next thing you're close to unlocking is, and of course, you are always close to unlocking something.
Really, it's a similar model to the kind used by most MMOs, only CoD improves on it by ramping up the sense of instant gratification. There's pretty much at least one challenge to complete for everything you can possibly do in the game, but more than that, CoD has distilled the basic visceral *pew pew pew* appeal of the FPS down to its barest, dumbest essence. The lack of substance, innovation, and required skill are actually strengths, because they make the game so simple and fast-paced that anyone can play it and anyone can feel like they're doing something, even when they're playing terribly. Needless to say, this is a fucking horrifying way to go about game design, but I can't help but play anyway, and I have fun doing it.
And then once you hit the level cap (which happens faster with each successive game thanks to XP bonuses from all the aforementioned achievements/challenges and frequent Double XP promotional events) they use all kinds of shiny baubles to encourage you to go into "prestige mode" and start all over again from the beginning, with the only real benefit being unlocking even more achievements and challenges to complete (and I totally did it! What's wrong with me!). It's brilliant and pure evil and I'm shocked that World of Warcraft didn't think of it first.
Why I still buy into it despite knowing all of this is beyond me, let alone these games' arguably icky sociopolitical implications, but whatever. Everyone has their guilty pleasures, and Call of Duty is mine.