I am rapidly running out of Call of Duty games. Knocking out MW3 and BLOPs in the last few days leaves me with only Call of Duty 3 – the rather poorly-received console-exclusive entry in the series – and the original 2003 CoD and its expansion.
I will confess that, when I finished MW3, I switched to Recruit difficulty for BLOPS just to blow through the thing with as little fuss as possible, and this turns out to have been a good move. But more on that later.
Modern Warfare 3, which I played first, was a pretty decent wrap-up for the trilogy. It suffered a bit from a frenetic series of character viewpoint swaps, and I am more than a little tired of the slow-motion-QTE-to-kill-the-final-boss mechanic, but I have no complaints to speak of. If you’ve played Modern Warfares one and two, you may as well finish it out.
BLOPS was a harder call to make. On the one hand, it had a pretty interesting story and a neat framing device. On the other hand, I thought it that suffered considerably by having entirely too many scripted sequences of the “you could normally jump over a wall of this height, but we’re going to make you wait until we say it’s OK” variety.
It wasn’t as bad as Homefront – nothing could be quite as bad as Homefront – but I spent way too much time waiting for NPCs to open doors for me.
There’s also a surprisingly dumb bit about halfway through the first level, where you breach into a room and there’s a slow-motion bit where you shoot someone. This is, in itself, not dumb; it’s a mainstay of the series. What IS dumb is that, for no logical reason, the weapon you have equipped changes mid-breach to the pistol you started the level with, even if it’s no longer in your inventory, and then changes back to whatever gun you were holding afterwards.
Seriously, guys, if you want to put in a cutscene, just put in a cutscene.
It was also the second-buggiest PC port I’ve ever played, and I am putting it behind Stranglehold ONLY because Stranglehold managed to blue-screen my PC.
CODBLOPS did not cause any bluescreens. Instead, I had a couple of crashes to desktop (which come with losing all level progress, of course), one bizarre sequence where my character started randomly clipping through the level and warping around until he was killed by an exploding barrel, though the game didn’t actually acknowledge my death, and a lockup on the next-to-last level that happened three times in a row and was particularly infuriating because the level is nothing but a series of unskippable cutscenes and sequences where you press forward to walk down a hallway.
The workaround that I finally found is to set the video mode to 800×600 and turn off antialiasing and shadows, then spam the ESC key during the sequence that crashes to constantly pause and unpause the game.
This sort of nonsense is so out of character with the generally highly-polished Call of Duty experience that I have to wonder exactly what the heck went wrong during the development cycle, and I am really glad that I elected to start on the easiest difficulty level just because it meant that restarting levels from scratch wasn’t THAT painful.