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The Call of Duty series was making a progression through time. In the first three games we won the Second World War, teaching those menacing Nazi's a lesson they won't forget. It was time to move on to modern times with modern enemies and all the cool gadgets that our modern lifestyles afford us. So why take a step back in time to fight World War Two all over again? That was the question on everyone's mind when they heard about Infinity Ward's new release, Call of Duty 5.
A lack of original story-telling might have something to do with it. The Tom Clancy-ish story in COD4 worked well enough, although not particularily original. How many angry rogue Russians have tried to nuke the United States? Too many to count, that's how many. But the problem with a game like this is that one needs a lot of bad guys to kill... LOTS of bad guys, who keep running at you with complete disregard for their own lives and refuse to quit until every one of them is dead. In the modern age there aren't too many of those sorts of people left, and we already killed most of them in COD4. Back in WW2, however, they were everywhere.
So instead of inventing new enemies and new scenarios of world destruction, they took us back to fight the old ones. So we said a tearful goodbye to our nightvision goggles, our GPS devices, our laser-dot scopes, our flashbangs and our helicopter support and found ourselves back in the ruins of Stalingrad with a bolt-action rifle, surrounded by Russian accents and advancing Germans. All the theatrics are still there- the ruined cities, the columns of tanks, the operatic music swelling as we charge over the battered terrain. But somehow, amongst all of this carnage, I found it impossible to suppress a yawn.
The online muliplayer remains as popular as ever. The layout is almost identical and you still get to shoot your friends and run around with the same fluid motions. The gameplay remains as polished as ever, the very reason why this game has been so unbelievably popular with tens of thousands of addicts still glued to their screens, trying to get another headshot, move up another rank, go prestige one more time and intimidate the noobs in the forum with their fancy medallions.
The helicopter is replaced with dogs, the radar is substituted for a reconnaissance plane and the air strikes are now artillary strikes. But the maps are all new and the weapons have a different (albeit antique) feel about them. It was time for a change anyway, but why couldn't it have been a change for the better? It needn't be futuristic, it just needs to be fresh, and COD5 was stale before it even hit the market.