It was a blissful day saturated with autumn’s bellowing frigid touch in the desolate niche of where I reside. Children’s laughter permeated the morning sky and junkies shuffled their feet resembling movements of a George A. Romero zombie flick. Everything seemed normal except, that on this day, one of the greatest games was released – Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare.
Like the loser that I am, I walked fiercely pushing and shoving anything and anyone that stood in my path as I went to Game World (my local video games shop) to claim what was rightfully mine. I looked like a recently released pedophile stalking the closest thing with a Winney The Pooh backpack and a Juicy Juice box. I finally approached my destination, with cash in hand, and asked for my copy of Call of Duty 4. The gentlemen handed me my game, I walked out, and went back home.
When you first get a game you’ve anticipated for so long, your adrenaline goes through the roof. You’re so frantic and antsy that you forget about everything around you, almost. Interruption isn’t handled well in my patience department, so I make the needed phone calls and ask everyone to frak off for the next day or so (including my girlfriend).
I pop-in the game, and start the single player campaign. It’s exactly what I expected: great graphics, great sound, great gameplay, great story (although a little short). Now, time for the multiplayer.
COD4’s multiplayer resembles that of Rainbow Six: Vegas and Halo 3 where you have an online system that allows a player to gradually evolve their ranks through accumulating points in matches. With each rank that you obtain, you unlock new perks and weapons in your arsenal. What I enjoyed most about this online experience was the the customization abilities that was given to the player to fully control the balance of battle. Some perks worked better than others, while other perks were just plain ridiculous and annoying (I’m talking to you “Martyrdom” and “Last Stand” whores).
For the first couple of weeks, the online system was pretty good. There were still some bugs and, of course, connections issues until Infinity Ward would address them with patches, and this is where my patience perceptibly began to thin.
I kick ass in COD4. Anyone on my friends list will tell you that. I’m pretty sure the lot of you reading this are doubting my godly skills and are subconsciously saying to yourselves that you can kick my ass to next Wednesday. Those of who have converted to the religion of Call of Dutyism (someone who plays the game vigorously and cries when they lose) are more than likely able to beat me senseless, but I will give you one helluva fight. I would, without a doubt, play you all and accept challenges, but the frustrating connection issues, hacks, etc. has pried me away from playing COD4 the way I used to.
Infinity Ward are, without a doubt, a bunch of great developers. No questioning that. But the issues that have been perpetually arising amongst players is the lack of support that Infinity Ward gives to the gaming community. The fact that they didn’t include any multiplayer achievements on the Xbox 360 version was surprising and very much a let down. The PS3 version, sadly, didn’t see any trophies. They apparently don’t want to waste any resources on a CURRENT game that people were playing constantly. You know, because it takes an entire team of developers to implement trophies/extra achievements.
The connection issues, however, is by far the most problematic thing that has affected the online experience. Routers have caused numerous conflicts when joining a friend – who might also have a router – in their room, or when inviting people from your friends list, and joining a match sometimes can take years. Many will debate and come to the conclusion that because it’s a peer-to-peer matchmaking system, routers will conflict with each other, or fanboys will taunt their console superiority and rabidly dictate that it’s the console that is causing such issues. This is not true. Other games offer the same peer-to-peer matchmaking system (Halo 3, GTA IV, World at War, etc.) with less problematic connection issues. “But they’re different games!” Um, of course they are. The issue isn’t the game itself. It’s in the network/matchmaking code that they created. The issue itself has more to do with lazy developers not taking time to pinpoint the problem and fix it. Slander me all you want, but it’s true.
Infinity Ward is an example of such laziness. “Yea, asshole, but they’re working on the next game that will revolutionize gaming as we know it” is going to be regurgitated constantly in the minds of many. There are tons of other developers that continuously work on their “next titles” and still continue to support their games that people continue to play. Of course, once the game hits its life-span, then support should be omitted. But Infinity Ward has drastically lowered their standards when it comes to supporting COD4 from the very beginning.
With Modern Warfare 2 just days away, many of us cringe at what we’re to expect with regards to the online component of the game. The issue isn’t whether or not they will release a concrete online system that will, undoubtedly, promote entertaining feats. The big problem is whether or not Infinity Ward will brush off the consistent support they lacked giving console owners in COD4 for their anticipated upcoming title. There are still issues that plague Call of Duty 4 – issues that have yet to be addressed. Knowing that there are still a generous amount of loyal supporters that continue to play the game, Infinity Ward refuses to release patches that can fix a lot of the tiresome faults that have angered many. And this is a game that, two years later, is still played by the masses.
I believe it’s only fair to offer gamers a chance to experience an online multiplayer system that’s consistent. We pay our hard earned money for it. The fact that a multi-platform game doesn’t give equal experience on different consoles is not only bullcrap, but unjust. When you’re aware that your matchmaking system has perpetuating issues and you fail to do anything about it because your “working on your next title”, you’re showing your lack of consideration for your supporters. Infinity Ward, without a doubt, does create great single-player campaigns. But we’re in an era where the online experience is equal to, or far more important, than the single-player. We’re not developers so we can’t comment on distribution of resources when it comes to handling the online part of gaming. We, however, are gamers and we do know when we’re being treated unfairly when it comes to our games.
Will this desuade me from getting Modern Warfare 2? Of course not. The game looks amazing and looks to evolve on a lot of the previous elements that made its predecessor amazing. However, just because the game has its great points doesn’t necessarily mean that it should be enough to accomodate online gamers in its entirety. Let’s not repeat the same mistake of releasing a game, giving it three or four patches, and then moving on. If a game has problems that affect the experience of the player(s), it is the responsibility of the developer to make sure the problems are fixed.
Infinity Ward makes great games, and they have a track record that proves this. I love the developer and what they have brought to the genre of FPS and online multiplayer. What I am not fond of, though, is the lack of support they provide the community with. Hoping Modern Warfare 2 is a success, and I know it will be, I just pray that their outlook on what they consider “support” changes. I don’t want to re-experience the god-forsaken issues that, till this day, sufficates Call of Duty 4. With Modern Warfare 2 being a new installment to the franchise, I look forward to seeing Infinity Ward make new changes in their ethical business values with regards to their gargantuan online community. It’s only fair that the very folks filling their wallets with cash get the full respect and attention they deserve.