CODBLOPS First Mission Without Firing

By John Walker on November 16th, 2010 at 5:20 pm.

Just stare everyone down. Works just as well.

One of my main criticisms of the mediocre Medal Of Honor was the lack of feeling involved. Indeed, I felt similarly playing the Modern Warfare games, whenever it became apparent that my actions weren’t exactly crucial to progress (I followed behind on No Russian, without firing a shot). This is something “T2DMrBungle” discovered when playing Call Of Duty: Black Ops, specifically the first mission, played on the disturbingly named “Hardened” difficulty level. It’s a fifteen minute video during which he doesn’t fire his gun once. It’s below.

As he narrates near the beginning, if you don’t have time to watch all 15 minutes, skip to around 13:50. I think this is perhaps the point where people should maybe be asking to have slightly more of a role in their games?

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213 Comments »

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  1. Seth says:

    Oh come on.

    When I was (when I still do) level design for FreeSpace 2 we always, always do self-playing checks whereby we park the player in a corner and see if the level wins itself.

    I guess this at least requires you to move forward to hit the scripted events, but…jeez.

    • bob_d says:

      This was very clearly a deliberate design decision. There’s a lot of debate about “how challenging do you make a game?” Games where you spend endless hours redoing particular sections until you “get it right” are niche products, honestly. You want a game like this to be accessible, to not trap players in a particular level and prevent them from continuing. Now there are different approaches to that, but this is the tutorial mission – it’s absolutely vital that players be able to get through it with a minimum of difficulty. I suspect you really can’t do that on any other level.
      I detect a certain amount of nerd elitism as a response to this approach, though (“That’s not the way games are supposed to be!”). As a heavily scripted, linear, cinematic-style shooter, the player isn’t exactly having a huge impact on the virtual world. (On the other hand, if an RPG had a similar level of player superfluousness, it couldn’t avoid being highly problematic.) What does it matter if the fundamental goal of the game is to give the player a complete experience that they can surf through if they find it fun and engaging?

    • Chris D says:

      @ bob_d

      I’d have to question the effectiveness of a tutorial where you succeed without doing anything. You’re not learning anything other than which keys to press. Surely some kind of feedback as to whether you’re doing it right is desireable?

    • imirk says:

      Yes it is just the first level, but it is the first level of the “hardened” difficulty, if the rest of the game is much much harder than the first level you experince wouldn’t you rage quit over the percieved difficulty spike, and I’d assume (dangerous word there) that if you did change the base difficulty level it is not because you think you might have trouble or get stuck, or if you were you change it to fluffy bunny not hardened. But what do I care I didn’t buy it and wont unless all of my friends buy it and I want to play at LAN parties, but we’re all still using MW for that.

    • Casimir's Blake says:

      As an aside, between this atrocity about CoD’s level design, and your post about Freespace 2: I’ve finally convinced myself that I MUST go and buy a joystick, and play through both games ASAP. Because, yeah, it’s 2010 and I haven’t yet. I’ll just go hang my head in shame now.

      (Seriously, it’s hard to find the time when you’re finishing an album…)

    • Wraggles says:

      Well there are sections of the game that won’t progress until you dash forward while your allies sit back and don’t shoot anything and you come under fire from 14+ constantly re-spawning bad guys to get to a set of 3 barrels out in the open. Seriously, on hardened, without needing to fire a shot, that section, made me rage quit for 2 days b4 coming back.

      See, their level design is bad in both ways.

    • GHudston says:

      @bob_d

      There’s accessibility and then then there’s watching a story unfold without any direct input from yourself. The latter is usually called a “film”. I think that most people who play games actually want to be involved in some way.

      As a side note, my reCAPTCHA actually has “lol,” as one of the words.

    • SevenSixTwoX39 says:

      I think all this video shows is that they made the AI teammates powerful enough to beat the easiest level on the second-hardest difficulty. Not really sure what this proves.

    • bob_d says:

      @GHudston: There’s a world of difference between “doesn’t require you to do anything” and “doesn’t allow you to do anything” though.

  2. Canadajezus says:

    Don’t mind us we’re just pretending to make a game.

    • Zogtee says:

      When I played this part, I was surprised and a bit impressed that I did so well. Especially with the driving, I’m usually terrible at that. Now I understand what was going on and I don’t think I’ll bother “playing” through the rest, because seriously, fuck this crap.

    • GoodPatton says:

      Yet another CoD piece? Oh ho! Dick joke. So the CoD movie is a direct to DVD Release? God this is lame, was actually considering picking it up whenever it went on sale, now am not!

  3. Doeke says:

    I spend 10 seconds looking a steam message before realizing that the notification sound came from the video.

  4. Chris says:

    Eh. While you definitely can’t get through the opening of MW2 without taking part, I almost never played COD4 because of the demo. That level, in the sinking ship, made me feel like everyone around me was doing everything for me. No matter how fast you ran, there was always someone in front of you shooting and leading you along and I felt like all I did was just run. Figured the whole game was like that. So, yeah, this doesn’t surprise me too much. If anything, I’m glad they made the friendly AI a little more helpful this time around than in previous games.

    • PFCskinner says:

      The ship level wasnt the demo level… the demo was warpig… where you definitely had to fire your weapon…

    • Navagon says:

      In CoD4 the only keys you need are forward and sprint. Mouse look takes care of the rest. Your only part in the game is to advance the action. Not take part in it. The only exceptions are the sniper mission and the end getaway sequence.

      Both this and MW2 look like the same kind of shit to me. I might be wrong. But it doesn’t look like I am.

    • PFCskinner says:

      you wont get very far on any difficulty above easy without crouching or lying down now and again

    • Navagon says:

      Those aren’t needed to advance the game though. They’re just helpful. Just like how shooting things is helpful. And leaning (where possible).

      Most FPS – you know – actually require shooting. CoD single player really is just too damn casual. The less said about the multiplayer the better.

  5. Jymkata says:

    I’m not a fan of war games in general, and COD isn’t exactly famed for its realism, but this is probably as close to realism as this series gets.
    I mean, considering that war FPS’ are treating you as a soldier in an army, they have a fairly individualist agenda.

  6. Mike says:

    The thing is that CoD calls into question this idea of player involvement. Are you here to be challenged in CoD, or are you here to play soldier? If it’s the latter, you actually have a contribution to make in order for the game to be fun – you have to play the ‘role’, you have to shoot and duck and pretend it matters. If you can do it, you will get more out of it.

    I think there’s a big section of gamers who like that form of entertainment, where there’s imagination involved and they have to help suspend their disbelief. I know that it’s not something that many people like, but a lot of linear shooters are made a lot stronger when the player contributes a little effort. I watched a younger relative play CoDBlOps at the weekend, and although it was heavily scripted, it’s presentationally flawless. He was getting into it because he wanted to believe he was a soldier.

    Some games intend to do all the work, such as STALKER, and these games we often call ‘immersive’. But I think there’s something to be said for games which encourage a contribution from the gamer too.

    • Bhazor says:

      So… it’s a good thing when games require no input?

    • Face says:

      @Mike: Yes, but that’s the opposite of what this game is encouraging.

    • Hmm-Hmm. says:

      Watch the show and play along, eh? Like an interactive theme park ride.. interaction is optional, but you are urged to because it helps it feel more real.

  7. Premium User Badge

    Colthor says:

    But if you let players’ input matter they’ll just muck up the story or the setpieces, won’t they?

  8. Vinraith says:

    When you set out to make a movie instead of a game, you end up with a movie instead of a game.

    • 7rigger says:

      Nail. Head. Vin just hit it.

    • FunkyBadger says:

      Save us from “more cinematic experience”.

    • Wulf says:

      Smart Vin is smart. Unsurprised Wulf is unsurprised. Fed-up-of-memes brigade is fed up, but I digress, this was never funny.

      Anyway, I tend to play games where the designers set out to create worlds and experiences rather than just movies, this is very important to me, and I’ve actually stressed that in the past. A film wants to tell you a story, but it’s different from, say, a book, or a storyteller telling tales to children in front of a fireplace. With the vast majority of films, you can just shut your brain off and let it happen, almost like a drug. But when you have something that tries to create a world and/or experience, it then involves people.

      I think that’s very important, in fact, for a game, I think that’s one of the most important things it can do. Writing, setting, atmosphere, and consequences are all part of that, consequences are a very important aspect for player involvement, and even RPGs are forgetting that, these days. This is why I cling to developers like Obsidian, really, because they realise exactly what I’m talking about, here. The sad part is though that most gamers don’t want what I or Vin want, they want this, they want BLOPS, they want a polished, perfect AAA game.

      Emergent gameplay, ambitious worlds, and cleverness (in dialogue, world, setting, and so on) that might go over the head of the players isn’t something that’s desired, in fact, it’s even shunned and made fun of. Some games even try to encourage players to think, to involve themselves in a world, and it completely fails. A great example of this is Yahtzee’s Zero Punctuation, where he wondered why the soda of the Fallout Universe didn’t actually do much to quench thirst. That’s because the soda of our bloody Universe isn’t actually designed to hydrate, but there’s more to it than that. The pre-war society in Fallout was capitalism and corrupt government gone crazy, it was capitalism completely out of control and unchecked, no one cared what horrible chemicals they put in their food, no one cared how quickly it would kill the consumer. CHIN UP, they’d say, because these companies are your family, and you don’t disrespect family.

      For that reason, I always avoided pre-prepared goods in the Fallout Universe like the plague, instead I cooked my own food, and I acquired water or other pure liquids which did quench thirst. It’s logical, it’s intelligent, and it requires the player to use their imagination, it makes you a part of the world. See? Something as simple as that makes the person a part of the world. You have two sorts of people there, you have people who’ll see something they aren’t familiar with, people who’ll encounter something strange and exotic… and the one group? They’ll balk at it, won’t they? They’ll yell, scream, and rail against it, it’s not familiar, it’s not easy to understand, and lordy, it might actually be challenging on some level, it might require some creative thinking, it might actually require the gamer to have a bloody BRAIN, and they’d throw a fit over that. The other group? They’d embrace it, love it, and make sense of it all, coming to understand it, and making that world theirs, and making their place for themselves in that world.

      And this is why you have two sorts of games, as well, you have more ambitious games, which try to provide a world and experiences, and these might be buggy but that’s because usually people like me can overlook bugs if the game provides an incredibly compelling experience, one with a believable world, one I can really put myself into, you get those sorts of games, and then you get the film-games, the AAA shooters, the games-on-rails, where you don’t really have to think. Everything is familiar, nothing is challenging, you just shut your brain off and blunder through it. I actually really despise that sort of game, and I tend to strongly dislike it when games of my favourite genres invite that sort of thinking in too. It’s why I disliked Dragon Age, which threw out the fantastic in favour of the more familiar, gritty approach, it was Lord of the Rings with grit and bling, there was no imagination there, there was nothing inspiring there, and there was nothing to pull me into that world. In fact, the only thing that required one to have a brain in Dragon Age was the RPG system itself. The world, the setting, the storylines? All completely unchallenging, I felt.

      And things are going to continue to go this way. Of course, eventually likely one is going to win, and then all the developers of the other sorts of games are just going to die off. And with how developers like Obsidian are being treated, I can see who’s winning this battle, and it makes me feel sad for the future of gaming, where everyone is a couch potato, and anyone with passing gust of creativity to their soul will have evacuated the scene, looking for other hobbies that might hopefully challenge them. It’s like my own, personal mini-apocalypse, and we’re seeing it right now, with games where you can just shut your brain off and watch as it plays itself.

    • Ateius says:

      I see Wulf is still out on his one-man crusade to convince the rest of us that there really are only two types of games: the “ambitious” buggy mess and the deep-as-a-puddle but polished to a mirror shine console port, with absolutely no middle ground whatsoever.

      Who knows? If he keeps shouting long enough, one day he might succeed. Then it will be my turn to despair, because I prefer my ambitious, open-world, immersive games to go through some semblance of QA before release. But hey, that’s just me.

      On the topic of the video: Call of Duty has always been heavily scripted and has usually (though not always; I recall the first game was fond of frequently making you work alone) kept you within spitting distance of NPC allies. Sometimes, like in the opener to Modern Warfare, it’s fairly obvious that you’re largely along for the ride and the NPCs will do most of the work. But in this video, it’s quite clear that they meant for the player to be shooting. The fact that the player can just hide behind a box for several minutes is hilarious.

    • Vinraith says:

      because I prefer my ambitious, open-world, immersive games to go through some semblance of QA before release.

      I’ve never seen a non-buggy game of the type you describe. I’d certainly like to, can you suggest some?

    • Ateius says:

      I did say “middle ground” somewhere in there, didn’t I? I’m not going to hold out for completely bug-free, but maybe doesn’t eat my savegames would be a nice start.

      You know, baby steps.

    • Vinraith says:

      I’m still genuinely interested in some examples of “acceptable stable” deep and ambitious games. I’d like to play them, after all.

    • Chris says:

      Define “acceptably”? I mean, I played through STALKER: ShoC unpatched and freaking loved it. Yes, it crashed in the Red forest, but you didn’t need to go near the helicopter, so I stayed away after that. Everyone seems to describe this as a “buggy mess.” For me it was a wonderful, atmospheric experience with the odd problem (and no degrading armour, which was a misfeature).

      I’m replaying KOTOR at the moment, and it just CTD’d for no particular reason. Is that unacceptable?

  9. SirKicksalot says:

    It’s the tutorial mission. Shit gets real later.
    What matters to me is that the illusion and scripting are perfect. I feel I have to shoot those people, and when I try to flank I’ll never face a NPC that’s immortal until he throws a bottle in the fire to signal the rest of the talibans…

    • Mark says:

      I’m playing COD:BLOPs through on single player at the moment. To play devil’s advocate, this is the first level, so of course they’re going to go easy on you; secondly, I’d like to see this guy try this on Veteran.

      However, leaving all that aside, the level design is boring, the scripting is worse, the direction (guiding the player as to what to do) is sometimes astonishingly poor, and, to top all that off, it feels less interactive than Modern Warfare 2 did. IW made an art out of scripted, exciting set pieces. Treyarch just aren’t as talented as them.

      @SirKicksalot:

      I have come across points in BLOPs where enemy AI is invulnerable for a few seconds while an animation plays out. That maybe part of the reason why I felt that bullets didn’t feel like they were impacting enemies the same as they were in MW2. It’s really illusion shattering.

    • Skurmedel says:

      This problem has been present in pretty much all the Call of Duties, you could sit at certain places and shoot an infinite amount of enemies. Only when I moved forward did the story progress and the enemies stopped spawning. I became aware that behind the scenery enemies spawned infinitely; like knowing the secrets of a magic trick.

      You can/could shoot people locked into scripted animations, but it wouldn’t do anything. If I see some guy assaulting a friendly NPC I would of course react, but when my bullets didn’t do anything the whole illusion waned. This scene could have been much more satisfying if killing the enemy would’ve saved the NPC.

      I think Call of Duty is way to scripted for me to ever enjoy it. I had trouble with the scripting in Call of Duty 4, where at least death was imminent if I did not respond. But often I felt like a camera travelling through a movie, there is a lot of shit going on, but what I do doesn’t matter one bit. Mostly the mechanics of the game boiled down to “avoid grenade, snipe dude A”, it is very shallow. If I want to feel part of a war I would go fire up Band of Brothers which delivers a much more satisfying illusion. Or at least Red Orchestra.

  10. JohnArr says:

    It’s a roller-coaster guys! Just put your hands in the air and scream!

    • Premium User Badge

      Okami says:

      The funny thing is, it looks like you can actually throw your hands in the air while playing and still complete the mission :)

    • Vinraith says:

      @Okami

      Nope, gotta hold down that “w” key to keep moving forward. Hooray for player agency!

    • Tokjos says:

      You can hold down w without using your hands! :)

    • Bhazor says:

      Well a rollercoaster that cost £40-£60.

    • teo says:

      If your dick is small enough to only hit one key

  11. Ricc says:

    The Call of Duty series is not trying to simulate war. It’s trying to simulate an action movie. Instead of going back to these interrogation scenes, they might as well show the cast getting their make-up done or talking to the director. It wouldn’t be jarring at all.

    And as Arnie showed us so well in Last Action Hero, the hero never dies in an action movie. ;)

    • EthZee says:

      My friend, that idea is excellent. A big-budget, action movie-style shooter, where the point is that it is an action movie, and all the characters and mooks are actors, and all the weapons shoot blanks, and the cars and barrels are fitted with flashpots and barrels of wired-up gasoline so that they explode like they do in films and videogames?

      That would be brilliant.

    • Premium User Badge

      Devan says:

      No One Lives Forever 2 was spoofing an action movie, but it only tips you off in the last level when there’s an awkward cutscene, which you don’t really understand unless you sneak around later and overhear the villian complaining about one of the actors.
      It’s hilarious because it’s not obvious, and it casts the whole game in a different light but only after you’ve nearly finished it.
      Good, good game.

    • RC-1290'Dreadnought' says:

      Yea, no one lives for ever was indeed an awesome game. The Just Cause games also seem to go for the, “this is just an action movie” approach. (I really prefer No One Lives forever, though, is it still available on Steam? Oh and where was that post where they asked for entries on the list of ‘must-play’ games?)

    • TonyB says:

      I agree with EthZee, there’s a touch of genius in that game idea. All sorts of things you could do with it are running through my head now.

    • battles_atlas says:

      Hasn’t MW already done this though? If I remember right the credits of MW2 show a series of dioramas from the game in a museum like setting. I thought it was the only glimpse of self-awareness in the whole game – “Look! It was all just a ridiculous facade!”

  12. Jim Rossignol says:

    This is like the polar opposite to Front Mission Evolved, where the robots on opposing sides will shoot at each other ineffectually for hours, forcing you to step in and use the only real gun on your team.

    • Gap Gen says:

      I think the AI in previous CoDs refused to advance unless you went first in many cases. This kinda sucked sometimes, too, because the AI would wait a bit before following and let you get shot from a few different directions. Still preferable to allowing you to be passive, I guess.

    • Mark says:

      Gap Gen is right, in that the same applies here. I think it’s just because this is the first mission that you’re being guided more than usual. It’s certainly overdone, though.

    • TK says:

      At many times in the game I just inched past the trigger point and hauled ass back to let my teammates rush in and do the dirty work. The game has to be played this way because it really doesn’t have much in the way of AI. Their only programming, as far as we can tell, is to run to a predetermined cover point for each NPC, take shots, attempt to move forward, repeat process until NPC can melee player. The NPC teammates are programmed to run to a specific cover point, and proceed to the next pre-determined point either when resistance is low or the player reaches the trigger (which happens to be 5-10 yards ahead of the closest teammate cover point).

      I can say with quite a bit of certainty that if you took out the teammates and made the player invincible, the enemy NPCs will behave more like a zombie mob than as soldiers, and you will find the player will be surrounded by a large group of NPCs. There could be some protection against that, as enemies will only come around the corner of your cover one at a time, and it seems some enemies never move from their first shooting point.

      I hate to bring it to Crysis and Halo, but the AI had something right when they would (somewhat) properly flank you. I don’t think it’s much more of a stretch to add cover fire to the flanking, but the designers would have to prioritize that over other game features. Too bad even the classic non-linear shooters (R6) have dropped their level of design sense over the series. The problem is that the simple and stupid gameplay is what sells, and the people that try to implement advanced AI market their games to the more hardcore audience under the guise of realism. Designers should really just stick in AI and let the game reviewers reveal it and hype about it when the game comes out.

  13. Tei says:

    From a philosophy point is very interesting. The player is unnecessary, the achievements are a joke more than ever.

    From a gamer point of view there’s not much to say, the people that play this level probably has fun, and is not aware is on a setpiece. Fun is the most important part of a game, so is a ok game.

    • Premium User Badge

      DollarOfReactivity says:

      @Tei
      Totally agree. In some cases the illusion of importance is enough. I’m reminded of a huge setpiece battle in one of the Wing Commander games, dodging lasers in your fighter while two capital ships duke it out. Probably nothing you can do to affect anything or even get accidentally blasted by one of the big guns, but it was awesome all the same. Of course in that game, like CoDBO, at other times your input is critical.

    • DMcCool says:

      The problem here is that the player character’s role in the story and the player character’s role in actuality are not identical – as they should be. In the mythology of the game, in set pieces like that your imput was important – you were part of a small team massively outnumbered, relying on eachother to escape and survive. However, if a game is too scared to show failure states of any kind, which includes being unwilling to plan for failure states that do not result in Game Over (see Dragon Age’s last act), then the player will never recieve the feedback that places him inside these sorts of situations, as an actor in a role, and not merely a spectator. Its cowardly, lazy game design. No, its not even game design, its cinematography in games. Which is fine: this is a piece of entertainment, but it should only be viewed as such; as an example of how a studio can avoid designing a game if they try hard enough.

    • Tei says:

      @DMcCool

      Thanks, you did a fantastic post here. Now I can see the flaw you point and is a important one. Anyway since this game will only play once, maybe very few, or no one, will see the flaw. Is like making a RPG with options to choose evil and good side, and forget to implement evil side, very few people will chose the evil side.

  14. Tacroy says:

    You know, this actually raises some relatively interesting moral questions – if you could go through the game without killing those NPCs, if their bullets can’t hit you often enough to actually kill you, are you really justified in killing them?

  15. Theory says:

    Blatant mechanical spoilers in this post.

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    Nathan says:

    So? This is clearly the tutorial mission on the easiest difficulty. I don’t see why it’s a big deal if someone doesn’t have fun with a game whilst intentionally playing it in a way that isn’t fun.

    • Vinraith says:

      Actually, it’s the second hardest difficulty, as you’d know if you’d read the article or watched the video.

    • mwoody says:

      But it’s still the tutorial mission, which needs to be pointed out loudly and often. Show me this done in a later level and we have an interesting problem.

    • Mman says:

      “But it’s still the tutorial mission, which needs to be pointed out loudly and often.”

      This. BLOPS is hardly the pinnacle of interactivity, but there’s no way you can get through any later areas (outside of a couple of story-based sections anyway) like this on the top couple of difficulty settings.

    • Taillefer says:

      I think the lesson is not to try and have an intense, actiony level as the tutorial since you can’t punish the player during it. Although, I’m not sure such games need a tutorial level.

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      Nathan says:

      Apologies for that. I did actually watch the whole video after someone linked it elsewhere a couple of days ago, but muted after a few seconds because the guy’s voice was grating on me.
      I think my point still stands though: I don’t really care if someone plays a game (particularly the tutorial of a game) in a way that’s intentionally un-fun. A game is only ever about how much fun the individual can extract from the experience if it’s the sort of game they’re after.

    • RC-1290'Dreadnought' says:

      If you can go through the entire tutorial by shooting twice, in a game where shooting lots of people is the main mechanic, how successful was that tutorial?

  17. terry says:

    I preferred Bungle when he was on Rainbow :-(

  18. Mechorpheus says:

    I totally agreed with John regarding the ‘Oh for gods sake they shot that guy again!’ issues with MoH, but found CODBLOPS to be nothing like as bad in this regard. You mostly had to do something to make progress, especially towards the end, unlike in MoH where you could do the whole game on hard without really thinking at all.

    Thoroughly enjoyed the CODBLOPS single-player all told, far more than stupid Modern Warfare 2. At least your player character had a bit more presence in the world (had a few spoken lines COULD OPEN DOORS SOMETIMES!!!), without being the all obeying mute. Particularly incongruous was that in MW2 good old Soap Mctavish spend the whole game shouting about everything, then as soon as you stepped into his shoes his tongue dropped out.

  19. Lu-Tze says:

    *pulls beard off Santa Claus*
    “Hey this is just a guy in a suit! He’s not the real Santa at all!”

    But you know, sometimes it’s just fun to pretend.

  20. bleeters says:

    Out of interest, does the player jump off the plane themselves, or does the game boot you out the door?

    • Skurmedel says:

      It kicks you out, then you run and press fire. The scripting wouldn’t have worked if you instead decide to run away and cook a dinner in the hangars behind you. Although that would have been a more worthwhile endeavour.

    • Rinox says:

      The game does it.

    • bleeters says:

      So, essentially:

      “WHAT’RE YOU DOING?!”

      “I HAVE NO IDEA”

      Harrumph :(

  21. Griddle Octopus says:

    That said, Call of Duty 2, on Veteran difficulty was amazingly tough – I remember playing the same ten seconds over and over, trying to get through one of the Russian levels; and you couldn’t just sit still, as the enemies would hunt you down. Perhaps they’ve realised the vast majority of gamers just want to feel like heroes, and aren’t very good at games?

    • Bob Bobson says:

      Then the vast majority of gamers should avoid the hardest difficulty levels. That’s what difficulty levels are for, so people that want to kick back and enjoy the cinema can put it on a low one, and people that want ot play the same 10 seconds a hundred times until they perfect it can put it on a high one.

  22. coldwave says:

    This has to end soon.

    At some point people will realize this is wrong and stop making single player military shooters.

  23. Basilicus says:

    It’s a shame, especially when compared to the original Call of Duty and CoD: United Offensive, which were truly difficult games. CoD2 struck a great balance of scripting versus difficulty.

    I miss CoD making me feel like I was in a war. It’s this special ops stuff, that takes away the feeling of being in a war and suddenly makes you Arnobruce Stallonorris, that’s ruined the entire gameplay philosophy.

    • N'Al says:

      I’ve now decided to call my firstborn son Arnobruce Stallonorris. Too good an opportunity to miss.

  24. bansama says:

    While I’d consider this sort of thing acceptable for say a “casual” difficulty level, it’s inexcusable on the harder settings.

    As to the comment, “At some point people will realize this is wrong and stop making single player military shooters.” that’s just as ridiculous. People who enjoy single player games shouldn’t be restricted from genres they enjoy just because some developers want to be lazy. If anything, the demand should be on the developers to do a far better job.

  25. Colej_uk says:

    CoD has always been an on-rails action movie rollercoaster ride. Back in the day of the first one, it being a PC exclusive, I’d like to pretend it was more sophisticated and realistic, but that simply was never the case. This video doesn’t surprise me.

    But: I don’t think it’s a bad thing. We have games where the player does all the work (stalker) and games where realism really is the focus (arma). This is CoD; its fun, action-orientated, popcorn entertainment. Who cares if it’s a rollercoaster? Rollercoasters are fun!

    • Spacewalk says:

      Ah those were the days, when you couldn’t sleep through a COD game because your health wouldn’t auto-regenerate.

  26. Crapknocker says:

    Would the not-shooting-anyone action be better if you had a healing gun and wacky hats?

    • coldwave says:

      And item store.

    • Arthur Barnhouse says:

      Yes, because the healing gun would at least provide agency in what’s occurring.

    • Lilliput King says:

      And at least then you actually have to dodge, rather than sit staring vacantly into the eyes of your aggressors.

  27. Lobotomist says:

    This is why I dont play MW games.

    When it comes to dumbing down , question is how much is too much?

    The game playing for itself ? Even on hard difficulty?

    Problem with MW games. That even if you try to dictate your pace , and play better – than the game kills you (no mater how good you are) you must play at predetermined pace, or no pace at all.

    I long for the days when we will go back to games that require skill

  28. cov says:

    Anyone who paid good money for ths 6 hour action movie has been had.

    I have never played a more heavily scripted and un-viable game in my life.

  29. Dervish says:

    I don’t see a fundamental design flaw here, just an indication that the game is a bit too easy, and the AI buddies a bit too effective. COD games have always been pretty easy on Hardened. Clearly they went too far this time around, but the player takes damage at various points, so some tweaking of the variables seems all that’s really needed. Hell, maybe upping the difficulty to Veteran would be enough.

    For COD4 I remember a bunch of people complaining that your AI friends were too ineffective and wouldn’t move up without you, or that all the enemies seemed to target you instead of them. Let’s not act like this is a question of the player’s role or interactivity when it’s a simple problem of balancing difficulty vs. competency of AI teammates.

    Also: I bet I could go through most of HL2 Ep1 letting Alyx kill all the enemies, too.

    I am also interested whether this really is just a case of “easy tutorial mission” as others have suggested.

    • Brumisator says:

      I recently replayed Ep1 in detail, tried all kinds of silly things, and Alyx WILL DIE if you leave her alone and don’t help. Even on the easy difficulty setting.

      it’s a really clever move on treyarch’s part. Nobody can honestry say CODBLOPS is a bad game…becasue it’s not a game at all, it’s a cut-scene all the way through!

      I have nothing but irrational hate for this franchise and I wish for everyone who works on it to DIE HORRIBLY!

    • FunkyBadger says:

      Brumisator: re: Alyx: Good.

  30. Satchel_Charge says:

    man this is depressing

  31. FhnuZoag says:

    There is basically two factors at play here:

    1. Effective, invincible AI buddies. Invincible AI buddies will always kill everything, assuming you give them enough time and avoid getting shot yourself. (Which the player in this video was doing by hiding all the time.)

    2. Invincibility flag set in the ending sequence. I’m guessing they found it too frustrating in playtests. The explosions just before that can’t kill you, because remember that part in COD1 where you had to go exactly along the right path or get killed by a mortar shell? That was LAME.

    It’s not really that bad for a tutorial level. Compare MW where the first level had no enemies on it, and the second level you were confined to the interior of a car and couldn’t shoot.

  32. Yargh says:

    Quite frankly, in any game, there’s nothing worse than feeling like you’re irrelevant to the events going on. Might as well watch a film instead.

  33. Araxiel says:

    The comments section is even far more interesting.

  34. Psyk says:

    mmmmmm This is pretty much how I completed both modern warfares on veteran.

    EDIT

    “For COD4 I remember a bunch of people complaining that your AI friends were too ineffective and wouldn’t move up without you, or that all the enemies seemed to target you instead of them.”

    They were alright, the never ending enemies on the other hand

  35. Ruuh says:

    Isn’t the ability to advance through the game without shooting men in face one of the reasons for which Planescape: Torment and Fallout are regarded as classics?

  36. T says:

    the SP campaign its more off a movie than a game (a bad movie)

    It should be caller RPFS where R stands for Rail or a GMovie, meaning a Movie you experience by one off the characters
    Aftwerwards you can use the same carachter in a game (MP part) with diferent disguises on some of the movie setings.

    Its all ok, except when they sold it as a Game.. not to mention a PC game…

    • Archonsod says:

      Actually, just replace the gun with a video camera and rename it Call of Duty : War Correspondent.

    • Lachlan says:

      See, that could actually be a really good concept for a game because the player is using his FPS “birthright” (a camera view pointing at the action) AS agency. It would provide a convincing reason for the player to hide, run, and generally try not to get shot.

      You’re on to something there.

    • Premium User Badge

      stahlwerk says:

      “I covered wars, you know?”

    • DJ Phantoon says:

      And then you end up at a mall filled with zombies, and can karate chop dudes in HALF.

    • DigitalSignalX says:

      Wasn’t there some game where the protagonist had a camera and the whole point was to run around with your wacky sidekick and photograph the evil-doer-stuff while avoiding violent confrontations? I forget the name.

      Anywho – I think the video’s narrator had it spot on with the console comment. Remove them from the picture, and this sort of optional interaction would never be a multi-million dollar franchise.

  37. Taillefer says:

    I actually quite like the idea of a game where you just have to avoid damage as opposing sides fight it out.

    • Zenicetus says:

      You can do a little of that in Fallout: New Vegas, by staying neutral with factions who hate each other (and then looting the bodies after a battle… heh… get more loot that way). It’s not a central part of the game, but it’s possible here and there with certain quests.

      I’m not sure I’d like a game where I was forced into that stand-offish role though. What makes it fun in that game is the ability to choose whether to participate or not, and on what side of a conflict. Pretty much the opposite of an on-rails FPS.

    • drygear says:

      I was thinking that too. It could be like Catch-22: the game.

  38. Jimbo says:

    So the first 15 minutes (probably less if you were playing it as intended) of a 6-7 hour campaign can be played like that. Does it work on the next level? How about the one after that? It seems likely that the opening is deliberately designed like that to ease the player into the game. For the one in x million players that decided to go out of their way to play the first level as seen in this video, then yeah it looks dumb (particularly the plane part), but for everybody else their design works as they intended.

    How much of MW2 can you get through without playing your part? The first half of No Russian is the single instance I can think of. That part is obviously deliberately designed to be like that and lasts a few minutes (how is that any more objectionable than a cutscene would be?), and anybody *forcing* you to open fire during that part would make no story sense at all.

    • Al3xand3r says:

      6 hours isn’t a whole lot, and there are plenty more a-few-minutes-long segments where you don’t do much scattered throughout the game, even if it’s not complete levels like this one.

  39. Rond says:

    Hey, you people used to praise Deus Ex for being able to complete the whole game without a single shot! :D

  40. Premium User Badge

    Shakermaker says:

    6:27

    Elitists ftl

  41. SlappyBag says:

    People don’t seem to get the idea that its supposed to be an on-rails shooter, its supposed to throw the player head first into combat and make him feel as if hes just a slightly above average marine, thats what it tends to do well.

    Also, most people buy it for the multiplayer anyway.

  42. Tyshalle says:

    MW2 was so much better than this game. It still had the same illusion going, but it was much less obvious. I don’t know why John Walker brought up No Russian, as IW said right from the getgo that you wouldn’t have to participate in that level at all if you didn’t want to, so I don’t find it to be a particularly great example.

    Black Ops sucks as a single player campaign. I had a ton of fun in the James Bond-style action of MW2, but the scripting in this game is so terrible. There was one level where a bridge apparently must get blown up with you on it, but they give you like 2 full seconds to machine-gun the asshole carrying the bazooka, and it doesn’t have any effect. I can’t remember anything like that in MW2.

    This video doesn’t surprise me all that much. One thing that I am not a fan of in all the CoD games is how all the key NPC’s are invincible, but they are able to easily dispatch the enemies. No wonder you can just walk through this level without firing a shot. It’d be much better if primary NPC’s had more hit points, and did less damage to other NPC’s, so that they could still be killed.

    On the other hand, I don’t want to have to baby sit NPC’s if the mission is gonna end should they die. So maybe they did right. Either way I don’t think this video is very revealing of anything.

    • Tyshalle says:

      Also, y’know, it’s not like the dude isn’t struggling to stay alive. He’s getting shot, he’s dropping into cover, he’s hiding. Certainly his survival would be made much easier by shooting.

      So what exactly do you want, here? He’s still using strategy and playing the game, he’s just letting his teammates take down the enemies. I really don’t see the problem here.

      It’s one mission, guys.

    • Nallen says:

      The question is, if the video was made to show that if you didn’t shoot then your buddies would essentially never manage anything at all by themselves (like the Front Mission Example) would everyone be up in arms about that? I think so.

  43. nobody says:

    This was actually an acclaimed feature in the original Operation Flashpoint (Cold War Crisis). AI would mind its business and stuff would happen regardless of your actions or even presence, AI winning the mission for you being one of them :)

  44. Clovis says:

    That dude was straight up beastin’!!!!!

  45. Thoroughly Annoyed says:

    What disturbs me the most is that a far too large amount of people here are defending this as being perfectly fine and implying that it is the player’s / gamer’s fault if he can’t make/force himself to enjoy it / pretend.

    RIght, so the challenge is no longer in the game, but in me lying to myself enough to enjoy it and stay.
    What, are you all in a dysfunctional relationship and too afraid to leave or where is this psychotic logic coming from?
    Seriously worrying defense and logic.

    Like some, I do hope this devolution stops soon, because I for one would like to actually still participate and be challenged in a game, feeling like what I do not only matters, but can tangibly impact and change the gaming world \around\ me.

    Also wtf @ new captcah system.

    • cov says:

      Remember when games used to be hard?

      That was awesome.

    • Sir-Lucius says:

      But not everyone LIKES hard games. That’s not a hard concept to understand. I understand where you’re coming from, I really do, but there’s a large segment of the population that doesn’t play games for more involved player/game interactivity. Modern CoD games have very clearly been targeting this segment of gamer. So just because it doesn’t fit with your perception of what makes “good” gaming doesn’t mean that it’s a bad design philosophy. There’s an inherent NEED on the part of the player to immerse themselves in the world of the CoD games. It’s an on-rails, heavily scripted game, where you’re not supposed to be directing the world around you with your actions but playing out the role of an action hero. It’s a movie from the first person point of view.

      The CoD games from top to bottom are painted in broad strokes. It’s like those images where you have to defocus your eyes in order to see, but the second you blink the whole facade drops and you’re looking at gibberish. Keep moving forward, never look back. Just because you may need to force yourself to pretend what you’re doing matters doesn’t mean that the majority of people who are going to play the game need to, and when the game is designed around that principle then it is the “fault” (although the word is more negative than I want) of the player that they don’t click with the philosophy. It’s not bad, it’s just not for you.

      Don’t get me wrong, this is not my personal preference when it comes to game mechanics, and I have plenty of issues with BLOPS. I love the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. series MORE than the next guy, and I’d love to see GSC’s approach to design and immersion mimicked on a larger scale across the industry. But that being said I do still enjoy turning my brain off and running through the CoD campaigns from time to time. It’s popcorn gaming, and I don’t quite see the point of going out of your way to play a game “wrong” and then throwing a fit when it becomes brazenly obvious that you’re not supposed to think when playing.

      To me it’s like watching any of the old 80’s action movies and whining and complaining about how the hero should have bled out 15 minutes into the film or how shooting a gas canister won’t cause a mini-nuclear explosion. Yeah, you’re right, but nobody cares. You’re missing the point, no matter has mind numbingly simple that point may be.

    • SlappyBag says:

      @Sir-Lucius

      I love you.

    • Zogtee says:

      There’s an impressive number of people here telling me what this game and level is supposed to be and how I’m supposed to feel about it. It’s like the scripting is carrying over into real life.

    • ix says:

      You “lying” to yourself is what they call suspension of disbelief. I could go on a rant about how all movies suck because they require you to believe the people on the screen aren’t actors with make-up on. But I didn’t, because that would be silly.

      Not that I intend to play CODBLOPS, but I did play mass effect 1 and 2. Although I died here and there, that really is on rails just as much as this one. All those big choices you’re offered, does it matter? Now if I could betray humanity and side with the reapers, that would be something.

  46. DiamondDog says:

    Unfortunately I didn’t get to the best bit because around half way in he told me to “get the fuck off” his channel. Seems like a reasonable chap.

    All I’ll say is, if I ever watch Transformers 2 I won’t be shocked by its stupidity. When does it become redundant to point out that the CoD series is unsophisticated? I’m not saying we shouldn’t be critical but we know by now, don’t we?

    • JFS says:

      Yeah he sure is. How can one be so stupid to ruin the great idea of the video with such a childish crap. Makes me sad, even sadder than the revelation that Call of Duty is quite a not-so-intellectual game franchise.

  47. l1ddl3monkey says:

    I bought this. I regret buying it, it’s balls.

  48. briktal says:

    I don’t see how this is really any different than the many many other games where you can just run past all the enemies without shooting them (Well, most of them. You might need to take a few key ones out here or there to stay alive). And most of the ones you can’t are the ones that don’t unlock the door until you kill all the guys in the room.

  49. Frosty says:

    People might be defending this by saying it’s the tutorial level but the fact that the level allows you to complete the airplane section without a single shot fired is pretty bloody stupid.

  50. GenBanks says:

    This has probably already been pointed out in the comments above me, but the ‘No Russian’ mission of MW2 is not a good comparison to this. That set out to be a show, and couldn’t be anything else since your opponents were unarmed. The handful of cops you meet are intended to be victims just as much as the civilians. & anyway, it would have been ludicrous to implement a gameplay requirement that the player take part in the massacre.

    What I found annoying about that mission was the fact that it felt like I could easily have killed the small bunch of terrorists and ended the entire story then and there.

    • Jimbo says:

      From your character’s perspective you were there to get closer to Makarov with the aim of working your way up the food chain. Killing Makarov and his guys was already achievable at any time without going on the mission, but wouldn’t have helped you achieve what you were supposedly there to do.

      Or at least, that’s the situation as far as your character is concerned. In reality of course you are just being given to Makarov by Shepard so that he has a US agent to dump at the scene. Had you killed Makarov and stopped the attack anyway, it still wouldn’t have ‘ended the entire story’, because Shepard would still be unexposed and would presumably just find another way to fake a US attack on Russia.

    • internisus says:

      “it would have been ludicrous to implement a gameplay requirement that the player take part in the massacre.”

      Nope. That would have been the gutsy, interesting thing to do. Along with removing that ridiculous warning that pops up before you start the game.

    • Jimbo says:

      As gutsy and interesting as that may be (which is questionable – it’s not like I haven’t killed innocent virtual people in a game before), it would have been ludicrous on the grounds that it’d make no sense. Nobody present during that mission has any believable motive to force you to open fire on the civilians.