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Although many people might not realize it, Call of Duty games (Black Ops II included) do actually have single player campaigns, and- convoluted though they usually are, these campaigns have some neat stories as well. Well, as you may or may not have noticed from my obvious title choice, this blog is going to be all about the Call of Duty single player stories- what was great about them and worked, as well as what could have been better. Who knows, by the end of this blog (or wherever it should lead me, as I am openly admitting right now that this is being written somewhat 'on the fly') maybe I'll even have ranked them by enjoyment, which will unavoidably be biased of course. Enjoy the blog, and be sure to prepare your caustic remarks and interesting feedback after sacrificing a few minutes in order to read this particular article. Thanks again.
First of all, allow me to furnish you with a list of the nine core titles I will be talking about in this particular blog.DLC and expansion packs from previous or recent Call of Duty games will not be included, as this is only for single player, and there are about ten expansions for the first two CoD games alike- making the length of this blog much more than I would prefer it to be... Allow me to continue:
2003-4|Call of Duty: Finest Hour (aka CoD 1)
2005-6|Call of Duty 2 (aka CoD 2)
2006-7|Call of Duty 3 (aka CoD 3)
2007|Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare (aka MW1)
2008|Call of Duty: World at War (aka CoD 5)
2009|Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (aka MW2)
2010|Call of Duty: Black Ops (aka CoD 7)
2011|Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 (aka MW3)
2012|Call of Duty: Black Ops II (aka BO 2)
Now, I shall continue with the ordering (chronologically) of the games' single player stories, and after that I will give you my final verdict. At the end of each short blurb here with the rundown of the stories, I will say whether the game was moderately, lowly, or highly enjoyed when I played through as well. Onwards!
Call of Duty: Finest Hour
Developed and Produced by:
Infinity Ward and Activision
Instead of doing the now norm and having multiple playable characters throughout the entirety of the single player campaign, as the last few Call of Duty games have done, CoD 1 actually had three different campaign factions. The story mode was actually the combination of three campaigns, all of which were equally enjoyable- as it's award of 2003 GotY just goes to show. In brief summary, the American campaign begins in August 9th, 1942 and goes through the European and German assaults until 1945; the British campaign begins in 1944 and goes through a pursuit mission of V2 rockets in 1945; the Soviet campaign (similar to the American's) starts in 1942, runs through '45, and raises the victory flag over Berlin a la WaW (Cod 5) style. Overall, CoD 1 is a great start, and the stories- branching though they were, were pretty intriguing.
Interest/Enjoyment Level: Moderate
Call of Duty 2
Once more, this CoD game features the popular three campaigns from the previous title, and is again well received as well. The Soviet, British, and American campaigns return, with a more down to earth focus in each. The Soviet campaign takes you through the '42 invasion and recapture of Stalingrad, a well as the resistances and Russian effort put into beating back the German tide. The British campaign meets with long-time franchise hero Captain Price (though not as the main character) in Africa and the surrounding countries (Egypt, etc.) as they try to stem the flow of the German and Axis powers throughout the modern twentieth century world. The American campaign is definitely the most explosive, as it continues the push from D-Day to the Rhine crossing over into Germany, where players encounter their toughest opposition yet. Then of course, there is the epic conclusion, where we witness Price's rescue at the hands of some gung-ho American soldiers. Overall, a commendable effort.
Interest/Enjoyment Level: High
Call of Duty 3
Treyarch and Activision
CoD 3 aims even higher than previous IW entries of the series, as Treyarch is normally apt to attempt, and meets with generally mixed but favorable results. In terms of the single player, which was still a big portion of the game (although the multiplayer was much more fleshed out than in previous entries), there are four main campaigns- although one is technically the soldiers of two countries working together. You have the American, Canadian, Polish, and British/French campaigns- all of which are pretty interesting, and overall feature the same levels of attention to detail and equal polish. The American campaign focuses heavily upon the long-running Battle of Normandy and the heavy losses on both sides- especially within the squad your character (Nichols) is assigned to in the beginning, after D-Day. The British/French campaign focuses on the SAS teaming up with the French Resistance and battling it out for control of France with the Germans, before moving on for a successful allied sweep through Europe. The Canadian and Polish campaigns generally revolve around each other, and the defense of Hill 262 and clearing of nearby German controlled towns within Chambois and the surrounding areas of France and other countries. These two campaigns center mainly on hunting down armored cavalry of the opposition's. Everything else aimed high and the action was intense, but at the sacrifice of some story.
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare
In short, as I am running out of room here, and need to be able to fit in the next five titles or so as well, Modern Warfare is a dynamic change for the series in more ways than one. While it for once focused heavily (and successfully) upon the greatly improved multiplayer modes, which made it a go-to destination for FPS fans everywhere, it also improved upon the modern setting and crafted a beautiful story as well. One that successfully managed to span across two more entries into the MW trilogy as well. Focusing heavily upon a fictional plot involving war within Russia for complicated reasons, the seizure of an oil-rich Middle Eastern country, and other global (yet interlocked) power plays, the story featured the now normal switching of characters on the go between missions- which surprisingly wasn't too confusing after all. The single player was easily the most high octane one to date, at least until the second MW game released of course... It focused heavily upon an elite group of fighters including majority SAS troopers. (And an old time friend returns in the form of Cpt. Price...)
Call of Duty: World at War
While technically a new branch for the series to grow upon, and including the only single campaign avenue of the previous game (CoD 4), WaW (aka CoD 5) returns to the roots of the series in more way than one, but makes it a refreshing journey all the same. The game focuses heavily upon the Japanese campaign in the Pacific and the Eastern Front of Europe and surrounding antions within it's first two segments. In the third and fourth segments, it switches between the Pacific theater and the Eastern European missions once again, before ending with the epic placing of the flag signalling Soviet victory. The story seems kind of like a repeat in some ways of the story of CoD 3- with the exception of an entirely more graphic appearance, better visuals, and a slightly more story-based story 9and not all action). Treyarch obviously learned from their time with the previous title they worked on, as this one was much better of course. It still could have used work in the single player department, but of course made up for it with the now popular zombies mode.
Call of Duty; Modern Warfare 2
While received slightly less well by certain reviewers than it's predecessor MW1, MW2 was in many ways a step up- both in terms of multiplayer fine tuning and single player story progression continued on from the very first MW1 game. The newly represented Task Force 141 (a global counter-terrorism unit) is called in once more as a Russian-American war sparks up due to terrorist activity around the world and other specific but semi-ignorable heinous actions as well. While the main bad guy of MW1 was killed, he became a martyr to the ultranationalists who inevitably took over Russia in the near future setting, and his lieutenant- Makarov easily becomes one of the most well known and infamous names in CoD history in one fell swoop. The climax of the game is delivered by a heart-rending betrayal, which continues IW's trend of low mortality rates in their CoD games (seeing as many well-loved characters often encounter brushes with death, only to experience the real deal later on as well), and involves the epic final scene of knife to the face as well. By far, MW2 is one of my favorite single player and multiplayer playgrounds. It's truly worth noting.
Call of Duty: Black Ops
While Treyarch had been thoroughly investigating the WWII era for all of their previous Call of Duty entries, and seemed reluctant to let the familiar territory go, they compromised when it came to Black Ops- as they created a semi-modern ('60's) story that reached fans from both the MW series and the WWII era games. Beginning with such infamous events as one of the many attempted assassinations of Fidel Castro, and continuing to spiral further and further out of control, a group of Blacker than Black Ops soldiers fights through Soviet controlled territory in the few actual battles of the Cold War. The game actually spans several skirmishes and conflicts, including Vietnam, and follows the group as they chase several leading Soviet scientists and terrorists, and eventually wraps up in shady conspiracy revolving around President Kennedy's murder as well. All in all, Black Ops was a risk, but well worth it in more ways than one, and a feat of controversial story telling as well- making it one of the better ones of the series.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3
Almost in an analogy of sorts to the production and upward battle that IW had while producing MW3, the campaign starts with the fallout of the previous title catching fire and lighting up underneath Price and the other soldiers and resistance men that fight along side him, seeing as they now lack the majority of support from either side and are considered rogues. The game sadly continues the trend of mortality for loved characters, features a lengthy chase of MW2's Makarov from the previous game (at least until the epic ending), and the beginning and end of WWIII as well. While the end comes shortly after the climatic final battle and leaves players not knowing much other than Price survives- for the time being, little is known in regards to the big hole that is the future of the longtime series hero's life and story, and in what direction IW will take the series in any of their next endeavors (assuming there are any, which there hopefully are). MW3 is a fitting end to the current trilogy, and the story holds up to the previous two MW games- despite what other players may think.
Call of Duty: Black Ops II
While just recently released, I have already completed the single player, and can easily asses how it was carried on from the previous Black Ops game as a sort of sequel, and how it compares to the previous series titles as well. The biggest change is of course that the game is set in not one, but two time periods- 2025 and the mid to late '80's. (Without becoming terribly convoluted surprisingly enough.) The game follows in the footsteps of the previous protagonist from BO 1, as well as in his son's footsteps, and features one of the best enemies in the series to date- aside from Makarov I suppose. Raul Menendez is an ingenious creation in the form of a worthy adversary, the possibility of change in outcomes of the game (for once in a CoD title) is revolutionary and literally game changing, and the other tactical options added to the game (save Strike Force) allow the story to progress easier and work quite well indeed. While semi forgettable and not spectacular, the story is actually quite larger than it at first seems, and for the first time, allows true replay value as well- with four possible outcomes.
Now, I guess I'll rate my favorites in the story based themes of the CoD series, but be sure to keep in mind that this is not identical to the ratings or rankings I give the entire games- merely in a single player aspect only. Thanks for making it this far with me!
09) CoD 3
08) CoD 5
07) CoD 1
06) BO 2
05) CoD 7
04) CoD 2
Thanks once more, for the final time, for bearing with me through this lengthy and semi-tedious glance at the often breezed over single player elements of the Call of Duty franchise, and a wonderful night to everybody!