Is CoD4 the most relevant shooter?

Okay, so what I mean by 'relevant' is that CoD4 makes a use of its subject and mechanics to provide a meta-commentary on warfare; the game makes its components relevant to its commentary in ways I can't think of any other main-stream shooter doing. I'm writing this as a way to clear my own thoughts on the subject, but also to hear what you guys have to say. I'd love to hear other break-downs of FPSs in response to this.

My argument is that CoD4 paints an ultimately ambivalent picture of warfare that is communicated through a remarkably diverse selection of its parts. The game wrangles its plot, script and game mechanics (ie. everything from re-spawning enemies to the messages after each player death) together to achieve this effect.

Exhibit A is the AC-130 sequence, viewable at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ryLHhVJ5ecY and http://youtu.be/TO3I2gCD_Ms . For those that don't know, you play this sequence to cover one of the two main playable characters as his squad heads for extraction. I believe this is the only time you play this character or gun from an aerial vehicle. Your goal is to rain down ordnance on the enemy, and the only lose conditions you face are failure to follow orders (as demonstrated in the video) or firing on friendlies (well duh). As you can see, the action all takes place through the screen of a console located in the plane.

So at face value what is the point of this section? It is not very challenging; after all, you can't die, and friendlies are clearly highlighted. Admittedly, it might be a bit difficult to make things out sometimes, but that is the greatest challenge here. The slim chances of failure reduce the risk-related thrill the rest of the game thrives on. The character you play is not important, and the sequence does little to drive the narrative on. Apart from providing some variety in gameplay and a bit of cathartic fun, why bother including it?

'Good shot, I see a lot of little pieces down there.'

It matters not to your comrade that he is reporting the shredding of someone into pieces, but that the enemy is neutralised. This cooly-spoken phrase suggests a disconnection between the reality of the act committed and the completion of that goal. This isn't the only comment from the crew to which this reading could be applied.

Then there are the whoops of 'woah!' and 'hot damn!' that echo the cathartic pleasure the player feels in blowing the enemy away with a well-placed shell. For obvious reasons the player doesn't feel the impact of taking life in such a way. But then, these comments would suggest that these guys don't either.

I appreciate that many games have your comrades bark out comments along the lines of 'LOL HE DEAD' but the difference here is that there is a literal level of disconnection between these men and their actions as well as a figurative one. Impervious to harm, the action is seen through the filter of a heat-sensing (or some-such) scope, and the crew are free to enjoy the fireworks separated from the risk and reality of war.

Gunning from an AC-130 could probably be a more terrifying and horrifying experience than this game suggests. However the point remains that modern warfare is, more than that of any other era, conducted by proxy, through a veil akin to that through which the player views the violence.

In this way CoD4 closes the gap between the player's experience and the avatar's through a complex interrelation of mechanics. In doing so it provides a complex interpretation its subject - 'modern warfare'.

I could go on about the rest of the game - the quotes and statistics when you die, the plot, the ambivalent morality of your squadmates, the endless waves of nameless, faceless enemies etc. - but for the time being this will have to do as an example of what I'm getting at. There is certainly more to the game's approach to warfare than this, but I think it serves as an example that CoD4 used its mechanics to explore its subject in a way I think few give it credit for, and few FPPs can claim to have done (Far Cry 2 maybe.... but who knows, that's for another time).

Perhaps, but it lost it's shot when it got a pair of sequels, in my opinion. That kind of undermines any statement being made in favour of commercialism

IrritatingSquirrel:
Perhaps, but it lost it's shot when it got a pair of sequels, in my opinion. That kind of undermines any statement being made in favour of commercialism

For the purposes of my argument, I ask everyone to believe those two titles were smothered at birth.

MindFragged:

IrritatingSquirrel:
Perhaps, but it lost it's shot when it got a pair of sequels, in my opinion. That kind of undermines any statement being made in favour of commercialism

For the purposes of my argument, I ask everyone to believe those two titles were smothered at birth.

Oh well in that case I can see where you're coming from. I have no counter argument as of this very moment, then.

MindFragged:

IrritatingSquirrel:
Perhaps, but it lost it's shot when it got a pair of sequels, in my opinion. That kind of undermines any statement being made in favour of commercialism

For the purposes of my argument, I ask everyone to believe those two titles were smothered at birth.

But that's impossible. You're asking us to pretend that COD4 exists in a vacuum when it doesn't. Your argument might have some weight if COD4 was the only game in the Modern Warfare series but the simple fact is it isn't. You have to take into account the sequels.

Any points COD4 was supposedly trying to make in regards to warfare are made redundant by the sequels which are far more gung ho.

I appreciated 2 things in COD4 1. The Nuke scene (it worked well the first time and all attempts to one up it in sequels feel like just that) and secondly the SAS squadmates being ruthless bastards, they're morally ambiguous but just NEED to get the job done.

At the end of the day though it's pointless reading more into the Modern Warfare games because they've been made from the ground up as shooters to glorify violence and entertain a young-adult audience through said violence.

Hazy992:

MindFragged:

IrritatingSquirrel:
Perhaps, but it lost it's shot when it got a pair of sequels, in my opinion. That kind of undermines any statement being made in favour of commercialism

For the purposes of my argument, I ask everyone to believe those two titles were smothered at birth.

But that's impossible. You're asking us to pretend that COD4 exists in a vacuum when it doesn't. Your argument might have some weight if COD4 was the only game in the Modern Warfare series but the simple fact is it isn't. You have to take into account the sequels.

My analysis was of CoD4, not the Modern Warfare series as a whole, so I don't really see why people are taking the other two into account. The other two games haven't changed the content of CoD4 - its still exactly the same game it was in 2007. I know its tempting to look at them all together, but there is no need to.

Michael Hirst:
Any points COD4 was supposedly trying to make in regards to warfare are made redundant by the sequels which are far more gung ho.

I appreciated 2 things in COD4 1. The Nuke scene (it worked well the first time and all attempts to one up it in sequels feel like just that) and secondly the SAS squadmates being ruthless bastards, they're morally ambiguous but just NEED to get the job done.

At the end of the day though it's pointless reading more into the Modern Warfare games because they've been made from the ground up as shooters to glorify violence and entertain a young-adult audience through said violence.

I agree, the latter two titles were far more gung-ho. However, my point was of CoD4 that it DOES show a surprisingly complex interpretation of its subject matter. If you want to rebuff that claim, by all means do, but tell me why.

I completely agree. COD4 is by far the most mature, interesting, and nuanced take on war and the nature thereof in a "mainstream" game I have ever seen, especially in the last 5 years. A lot of people seem to miss the game's subtlety and nuance, which is a shame. What is even more of a shame is the sequels, which completely abandoned the messages and themes of 4 for "MOAR EXPLOSIONS!". -_-

Michael Hirst:
Any points COD4 was supposedly trying to make in regards to warfare are made redundant by the sequels which are far more gung ho.

I appreciated 2 things in COD4 1. The Nuke scene (it worked well the first time and all attempts to one up it in sequels feel like just that) and secondly the SAS squadmates being ruthless bastards, they're morally ambiguous but just NEED to get the job done.

At the end of the day though it's pointless reading more into the Modern Warfare games because they've been made from the ground up as shooters to glorify violence and entertain a young-adult audience through said violence.

I agree about the sequels thing. "First Blood," the first Rambo movie. I had always thought that Rambo was all about gungho action movie violence so imagine my surprise when I watched the first one and saw that it actually had a deep message about effects of war on veterans. Of course, popular culture doesn't seem to REMEMBER that as the "Rambo" is colored by all of the sequels.

Michael Hirst:
Any points COD4 was supposedly trying to make in regards to warfare are made redundant by the sequels which are far more gung ho.

How do the sequel automatically invalidate the originals nuanced take on modern warfare, eh? Seriously, I do not get that. When looked at, the game has a ton of obvious messages on the nature of war and those who fight in them. Just because the sequels were gung ho does not mean that those do not exist in the original, and cannot be appreciated. It is like saying that because Load and ReLoad were crappy, they automatically invalidate Master of Puppets and Ride the Lightning. :/

At the end of the day though it's pointless reading more into the Modern Warfare games because they've been made from the ground up as shooters to glorify violence and entertain a young-adult audience through said violence.

Maybe the sequels, but not the first one.

Gatx:

Michael Hirst:
Any points COD4 was supposedly trying to make in regards to warfare are made redundant by the sequels which are far more gung ho.

I appreciated 2 things in COD4 1. The Nuke scene (it worked well the first time and all attempts to one up it in sequels feel like just that) and secondly the SAS squadmates being ruthless bastards, they're morally ambiguous but just NEED to get the job done.

At the end of the day though it's pointless reading more into the Modern Warfare games because they've been made from the ground up as shooters to glorify violence and entertain a young-adult audience through said violence.

I agree about the sequels thing. "First Blood," the first Rambo movie. I had always thought that Rambo was all about gungho action movie violence so imagine my surprise when I watched the first one and saw that it actually had a deep message about effects of war on veterans. Of course, popular culture doesn't seem to REMEMBER that as the "Rambo" is colored by all of the sequels.

But that still does not invalidate the fact that First Blood was a very nuanced anti-war movie does it? The message is still there and can still be appreciated, just like with Modern Warfare.

i never played the sequels but i do own COD4. the ac130 section.. well it did send a shiver down my spine, the disconnect is very profound but thats not what got me. ive seen footage from ac130's in action and thats the sort of radio chatter you hear.

BreakfastMan:
I completely agree. COD4 is by far the most mature, interesting, and nuanced take on war and the nature thereof in a "mainstream" game I have ever seen, especially in the last 5 years. A lot of people seem to miss the game's subtlety and nuance, which is a shame. What is even more of a shame is the sequels, which completely abandoned the messages and themes of 4 for "MOAR EXPLOSIONS!". -_-

I find that COD4 is strangely schizophrenic about where it wants to be message-wise. It certainly has many trappings of the anti-war message, with its' death screens, the nuke sequence, the AC-130 part and the melancholic ending to name some. But on the other hand, most of the gameplay is straight up action-glorification. The gameplay is the one man army player plowing through the opposition, showcasing awesome american weaponry and telling you how awesome war is. Generally speaking: The USMC parts all the way up to the nuke are gung-ho (you could argue that this is meant to create a mood dissonance to drive the point home, though) whereas most of the SAS parts are far grittier and ambivalent in their portrayal of war.

I agree completely. The sequels, while fun, were mindless, gung-ho action movies.

I believe that the disconnected radio chatter for the AC-130 section might be emotionally dead people sometimes, but for other people, it could be a coping mechanism. It's much easier to kill a dehumanised enemy in a violent explosion than it is to kill a father of three kids.

Think about it: if you were the captain of a submarine, about to launch a torpedo at an enemy submarine, would you rather think of it as a metal shell containing 100+ people, fighting for what they believe in like you are? Or would you rather think of it as a robotic enemy who feels nothing, like a training target?

Thinking about enemies being real people with real lives that you've cut short could easily send people into depression. It'd do it to me.

Gethsemani:

BreakfastMan:
I completely agree. COD4 is by far the most mature, interesting, and nuanced take on war and the nature thereof in a "mainstream" game I have ever seen, especially in the last 5 years. A lot of people seem to miss the game's subtlety and nuance, which is a shame. What is even more of a shame is the sequels, which completely abandoned the messages and themes of 4 for "MOAR EXPLOSIONS!". -_-

I find that COD4 is strangely schizophrenic about where it wants to be message-wise. It certainly has many trappings of the anti-war message, with its' death screens, the nuke sequence, the AC-130 part and the melancholic ending to name some. But on the other hand, most of the gameplay is straight up action-glorification. The gameplay is the one man army player plowing through the opposition, showcasing awesome american weaponry and telling you how awesome war is. Generally speaking: The USMC parts all the way up to the nuke are gung-ho (you could argue that this is meant to create a mood dissonance to drive the point home, though) whereas most of the SAS parts are far grittier and ambivalent in their portrayal of war.

Those disconnects were to highlight how the different military operations handle themselves (yes the americans were TOO stereotyped but other than that it hit the point home)

Gethsemani:

BreakfastMan:
I completely agree. COD4 is by far the most mature, interesting, and nuanced take on war and the nature thereof in a "mainstream" game I have ever seen, especially in the last 5 years. A lot of people seem to miss the game's subtlety and nuance, which is a shame. What is even more of a shame is the sequels, which completely abandoned the messages and themes of 4 for "MOAR EXPLOSIONS!". -_-

I find that COD4 is strangely schizophrenic about where it wants to be message-wise. It certainly has many trappings of the anti-war message, with its' death screens, the nuke sequence, the AC-130 part and the melancholic ending to name some. But on the other hand, most of the gameplay is straight up action-glorification. The gameplay is the one man army player plowing through the opposition, showcasing awesome american weaponry and telling you how awesome war is. Generally speaking: The USMC parts all the way up to the nuke are gung-ho (you could argue that this is meant to create a mood dissonance to drive the point home, though) whereas most of the SAS parts are far grittier and ambivalent in their portrayal of war.

No, it seems fairly consistent. Yes the USMC is gung-ho, but they die. Horribly. The game drives home the fact that acting gung-ho in war is a terrible idea and will get you (and most likely your squad) killed. That was pretty much the point of the nuke scene. They acted all gung-ho throughout the war, even doing the classic "I can't leave anyone behind!" scene, and it ended up getting them all killed. They screwed up badly, while the more morally ambiguous SAS all got out alive and ended up winning the war.

MindFragged:
It matters not to your comrade that he is reporting the shredding of someone into pieces, but that the enemy is neutralised. This cooly-spoken phrase suggests a disconnection between the reality of the act committed and the completion of that goal. This isn't the only comment from the crew to which this reading could be applied.

Then there are the whoops of 'woah!' and 'hot damn!' that echo the cathartic pleasure the player feels in blowing the enemy away with a well-placed shell. For obvious reasons the player doesn't feel the impact of taking life in such a way. But then, these comments would suggest that these guys don't either.

Well most of the time these types of guys are like that in the real world. A pilot sees, at most, little dots when he drops his bombs. It is impersonal and, as long as they don't dwell on it, distant. A(n) soldier/sailor/marine/airman on the ground must be able to either dehumanize the enemy or simply rationalize their way through the violence of action if they expect to come out of combat without depression or guilt.

I think CoD4 is by far the best CoD, it does the best job (comparatively) of depicting modern warfare, the nuke was absolute genius, and it sends a very strong set of messages about war, but it by no means truly depicts what war is like. In a firefight it is adrenaline and training, but it is the waiting and the patrolling you never see. Being on your guard for two weeks straight without incident just means you are fatigued and need to continue to be on your guard because you might get hit tomorrow.

bahumat42:
(yes the americans were TOO stereotyped but other than that it hit the point home)

Speaking purely as a former Marine, the depictions of the Marine units were almost 100% accurate, with only minor deviations made, for obvious thematic effect. (Like a SSGT toting a SAW around... yeah...)

Ympulse:

bahumat42:
(yes the americans were TOO stereotyped but other than that it hit the point home)

Speaking purely as a former Marine, the depictions of the Marine units were almost 100% accurate, with only minor deviations made, for obvious thematic effect. (Like a SSGT toting a SAW around... yeah...)

thats suprising, i always imagined it was close thematically, but not that full on. You learn something new everyday i guess. Thanks :)

This is nothing new in gaming, Medal of Honor Frontline had several sequences that were designed to make you sympathise... with the Nazis. It was done through several brilliant events as you played through the game, getting more and more personal (first you saw them sleeping in their beds, then you went undercover to a pub and everyone was drinking, singing songs and telling jokes, etc.) Culminating in overhearing a German soldier radioing his wife and telling her he loved her and missed her and would be home soon... shortly before the base gets bombed to smithereens by the RAF. I could never kill that last German soldier, even though I knew he probably wouldn't survive the bombing, I always had to run past the bunker he was in, and I know I'm not the only one.

Another example is the Brothers in Arms franchise which is as historically accurate and authentic a WW2 game that you'll ever get. It focuses more on the characters than the missions (In the first game your objective is to push forward to some hill somewhere, or something. It's not that important) But your squadmates can die at any time, and since they are key to any of your tactics working you end up really trying to keep them alive, and they become more than just your computer A.I. companions. You realise just how war was in WW2, as they banter in cut scenes you see how they are just frightened, exhausted, young men, just trying to get their mission completed so they could go home alive, and that's the greatest mission of B.I.A.: just to ensure that you and your teammates survive.

Yeah, COD 4 is great in doing this sort of exploration of warfare, for the reasons you stated. It's a shame all the sequels missed the memo, in fact, that's probably their biggest failing.

I think deep down everyone wants to play CoD4 again. It's what started it all and it's definitely--in my opinion--the greatest fps to date. I know some people would argue that. That's fine. But I spent many hours on CoD4 and MW2. CoD4 was definitely the funnest shooter I've played.

MindFragged:

IrritatingSquirrel:
Perhaps, but it lost it's shot when it got a pair of sequels, in my opinion. That kind of undermines any statement being made in favour of commercialism

For the purposes of my argument, I ask everyone to believe those two titles were smothered at birth.

Call of Duty 4 reminds me of The Matrix: "I forgot how good that game was... too bad they never made any sequels."

The Call of Duty series explores the duality of the way we percieve warfare. War is both Hell and "Glorious" at once - it's not a black-and-white situation.

It seems to me that the numbered Call of Duty games are all made with high-quality writing, while the spinoffs are explorations of "What else can we do with this" and take a less serious approach.

I have CoD4 on the Wii, and it was great - I've not been on in a long time to see if there's any chance others are on as well.

Gethsemani:
I find that COD4 is strangely schizophrenic about where it wants to be message-wise. It certainly has many trappings of the anti-war message, with its' death screens, the nuke sequence, the AC-130 part and the melancholic ending to name some. But on the other hand, most of the gameplay is straight up action-glorification. The gameplay is the one man army player plowing through the opposition, showcasing awesome american weaponry and telling you how awesome war is.

I think this is a good point, and there's more to be said on the game's 'schizophrenic' nature. The gameplay is very exhilarating and empowering, and that in itself could be said to clash with the slightly more sombre attitude of other parts of the title; whilst indicating that warfare is an unpleasant business (to say the least) in some aspects of its design, the game still rewards the player with pleasure for participating in it in others.

However, I believe this clash can still fit within the meta-commentary I've read in the game. If the AC-130 section highlights a disconnection from 'reality' it also acknowledges the inability of a mainstream FPS to ever really give the player a glimpse of the reality of warfare. We are no closer to the 'reality' of the subject matter gunning down people as Soap than we are in the AC-130. By inviting us to consider the parallel between our own disconnected state and the crew's this section undermines the notion that playing any other part of it is like actually participating in warfare - we're viewing it through a skewed lens. In doing so it acts as an apologia for gung-ho and fun action because it has acknowledged the separation of the player's experience from the realities of its subject matter.

I know I'm placing a lot on just one section of the game here, but I believe this section provides a certain frame of reference for CoD4. As I said previously, the sequence is completely separate in mechanics, feel and tone. Because it presents such a striking contrast I am forced to consider its relationship to the rest of the game, and vice-versa. Thus my reading of one informs my reading of the other.

Hero in a half shell:
This is nothing new in gaming, Medal of Honor Frontline had several sequences that were designed to make you sympathise... with the Nazis. It was done through several brilliant events as you played through the game, getting more and more personal (first you saw them sleeping in their beds, then you went undercover to a pub and everyone was drinking, singing songs and telling jokes, etc.) Culminating in overhearing a German soldier radioing his wife and telling her he loved her and missed her and would be home soon... shortly before the base gets bombed to smithereens by the RAF. I could never kill that last German soldier, even though I knew he probably wouldn't survive the bombing, I always had to run past the bunker he was in, and I know I'm not the only one.

Its because of my argument above that I find this reading interesting. If CoD4 indicates its own imperfections in the treatment of its subject matter it would seem MOH: Frontline could perhaps do something similar, but not identical. Would you say that the sections that humanise the enemy present a contrast to the rest of the nazi-killing fun, or do you think that these sections actually do a half-decent job of making you regretting killing enemies outright? Either way, they seem to have had a profound effect on how you view your 'participation' in WW2, which is interesting in and of itself.

Hold on just a minute here...

What's wrong with Load?

Promethax:
Hold on just a minute here...

What's wrong with Load?

At the risk of sounding like an ignoramus:

Wha?

There are some good points, but COD4 is not the first one. In fact, there are (at least) 3 Call of Duty games that used similar tricks to expand on the experience and being more than just "mere" shooters... not even counting several other games and franchises that previously explored those possibilities (like Medal of Honor or Half Life).

MindFragged:

Hero in a half shell:
-snip-

Would you say that the sections that humanise the enemy present a contrast to the rest of the nazi-killing fun, or do you think that these sections actually do a half-decent job of making you regretting killing enemies outright?

In MOH Frontline, its sections of humanising the Nazis pretty much completely contradict all other parts of the story. At all other times they are real monsters: There's a level in Holland where they shoot an otherwise harmless paratrooper trapped under a windmill blade by his 'chute. Later in the level the officers are terrorising old civilian people by pointing pistols and shouting at them (when you kill the Nazi officers the old people run behind cover and sit there with their head in their hands shaking in fear. it's a really chilling thing to see.)
Add to that the whole point of the game revolves around chasing down and killing this Nazi General whose characterisation adds up to that of a cartoon villian and it's easy to miss the sections where Nazis are shown to be vulnerable humans, but it's definitely a recurring theme in the game.

It doesn't go as far as to make you regret any of the people you've killed: there's a section where you ride around an underground railway in a minecart mowing down Nazis like ants, and many of your allies die in ways designed to rile you up and go on a revenge spree, but they just exist as subtle reminders as you are playing that these soldiers have feelings and emotions (like soldiers at a road checkpoint at night talking about how much the fog creeps them out)

Hero in a half shell:

MindFragged:

Hero in a half shell:
-snip-

Would you say that the sections that humanise the enemy present a contrast to the rest of the nazi-killing fun, or do you think that these sections actually do a half-decent job of making you regretting killing enemies outright?

In MOH Frontline, its sections of humanising the Nazis pretty much completely contradict all other parts of the story. At all other times they are real monsters: There's a level in Holland where they shoot an otherwise harmless paratrooper trapped under a windmill blade by his 'chute. Later in the level the officers are terrorising old civilian people by pointing pistols and shouting at them (when you kill the Nazi officers the old people run behind cover and sit there with their head in their hands shaking in fear. it's a really chilling thing to see.)
Add to that the whole point of the game revolves around chasing down and killing this Nazi General whose characterisation adds up to that of a cartoon villian and it's easy to miss the sections where Nazis are shown to be vulnerable humans, but it's definitely a recurring theme in the game.

It doesn't go as far as to make you regret any of the people you've killed: there's a section where you ride around an underground railway in a minecart mowing down Nazis like ants, and many of your allies die in ways designed to rile you up and go on a revenge spree, but they just exist as subtle reminders as you are playing that these soldiers have feelings and emotions (like soldiers at a road checkpoint at night talking about how much the fog creeps them out)

War is Hell.

It also tends to be Glorious as well.

hermes200:
There are some good points, but COD4 is not the first one. In fact, there are (at least) 3 Call of Duty games that used similar tricks to expand on the experience and being more than just "mere" shooters... not even counting several other games and franchises that previously explored those possibilities (like Medal of Honor or Half Life).

Even before that there was Cannon Fodder. All your dudes have names. When they die, they get a grave on a hill, and that hill gets covered in graves as you progress through the game. After a mission you get a list of those who died and those who are getting a promotion and the KIA list is generally much bigger.

It's an interesting take on the game, and it reminds me actually of what I felt the series was trying to be with the first two games: commentaries on the messiness of it all, and firmly anti-war. They never quite got there, but you're right in suggesting that CoD 4 shows signs they wanted to make a comparison to contemporary warfare; much of the game sees you in a much smaller team, and you're often in outback-locations as opposed to cities that look like they've had a few hundred bombs dropped on them.

With the dive into gung-ho for the rest of the series, they just seemed to abandon that. I felt CoD 4 was getting that way anyway (personally, the game's never done much for me, the first two games being 'Call of Duty' to me, the rest of it being 'eh, CoD'), so it never really maxed out it's potential when it came to looking at either contemporary warfare or previous wars.

Eurogamer did a retrospective on the first Call of Duty a couple of years ago, and it's conclusion's stuck with me somewhat (paraphrasing):

'Whilst each entry into the series is now almost guaranteed to be the best-selling game of all time, you can't help but feel that, when replaying the original, it could have been so much more than that.'

hermes200:
There are some good points, but COD4 is not the first one. In fact, there are (at least) 3 Call of Duty games that used similar tricks to expand on the experience and being more than just "mere" shooters... not even counting several other games and franchises that previously explored those possibilities (like Medal of Honor or Half Life).

I'd like to hear how. I'm ashamed to say I only got into CoD at number 3, which wasn't exactly stellar (though still enjoyable). You raise a good point though - CoD4 is not the first FPS to make you feel the impact of warfare on a certain level. If its the best marriage of mechanics and 'message' remains to be debated, of course. I know my choice of the word 'relevant' is a bit vague, but I was kind of getting at how it uses its parts to comment on both its subject and its own portrayal of events through the FPS format.

The difference between what CoD4 does and a shooter that makes you feel sympathy for the enemy and your comrades (thereby acknowledging the hypothetical human cost of your actions and others in such a scenario) is difficult for me to pin down. I suppose it is that while the latter makes you feel something on an emotional level, the former also made me consider the form of the game in relation to its subject, and that's what I think is special.

Hero in a half shell:

MindFragged:

Hero in a half shell:
-snip-

-snip-

In MOH Frontline, its sections of humanising the Nazis pretty much completely contradict all other parts of the story. At all other times they are real monsters: There's a level in Holland where they shoot an otherwise harmless paratrooper trapped under a windmill blade by his 'chute. Later in the level the officers are terrorising old civilian people by pointing pistols and shouting at them (when you kill the Nazi officers the old people run behind cover and sit there with their head in their hands shaking in fear. it's a really chilling thing to see.)
Add to that the whole point of the game revolves around chasing down and killing this Nazi General whose characterisation adds up to that of a cartoon villian and it's easy to miss the sections where Nazis are shown to be vulnerable humans, but it's definitely a recurring theme in the game.

It doesn't go as far as to make you regret any of the people you've killed: there's a section where you ride around an underground railway in a minecart mowing down Nazis like ants, and many of your allies die in ways designed to rile you up and go on a revenge spree, but they just exist as subtle reminders as you are playing that these soldiers have feelings and emotions (like soldiers at a road checkpoint at night talking about how much the fog creeps them out)

Hrm. Seems like there are interesting contradictions there like those already discussed in CoD4. Perhaps these humanising interludes could be said to provide a similar frame of reference/apologia for the rest of the game ie. though it requires you to have fun mowing down waves of them evil, evil Nazis, it still invites you to consider that in reality both sides lost sons, father, daughters, mothers etc.

Or they're just a poor attempt to add depth to the treatment of WW2 in a title that is otherwise jingoistic, gung-ho nonsense. Until I play the game, I couldn't say. I can happily state what I have about CoD4 and the AC-130 section because the reading is so well supported by the rest of the 'text'.

Feels like I need to get out there and check out the rest of the CoD series, and MOH: Frontline to boot.

Scow2:

War is Hell.

It also tends to be Glorious as well.

This is one of the reasons I loved CoD4: it did a great job of portraying the dirty side of war without falling into preachyness. I've always thought it a little odd that everyone thinks of the sequels as more gung-ho, considering the villain is an American general who has the CIA participate in a terrorist attack.

Bad Jim:

Even before that there was Cannon Fodder. All your dudes have names. When they die, they get a grave on a hill, and that hill gets covered in graves as you progress through the game. After a mission you get a list of those who died and those who are getting a promotion and the KIA list is generally much bigger.

Reminds me of X-Com. That game had ridiculous casualty rates.

 

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