Popping Smoke On Veteran
Call of Duty 2, Activision, 2005
From Kill Screen:
The Call of Duty series represents the extreme forward guard of “hyperrealism” and technological might in contemporary game design. It’s a bombastic, McBay take on American foreign policy. Parents, commentators, and critics look on in horror as frenzied gamers lap up each new entry: Call of Duty games are a prime culprit in good taste’s case against gun porn. They’re desensitizing players to acts of violence, or their glorification of American foreign policy redefines jingoism, or they play a dominant role in crowding any game that isn’t a AAA first-person shooter out of the market.
Usually I’ve got a counterargument. But I must admit that, in the two most recent entries to the franchise—Black Ops and Modern Warfare 2—the designers have been waffling on the one aspect that I consider crucial to its legitimacy.
I play Call of Duty games on Veteran—not to be a masochist, but because on any other difficulty setting they are little more than thrill rides. If I hear someone say that these games glorify machismo and violence, I assume that they’re not playing on Veteran. Because I can recall in perfect clarity the first time I played Call of Duty 2. I remember lying on my stomach for forty-five minutes in Stalingrad, dozens of Stielhandgranates dropping two feet away from me, having no clue how I was ever going to make the next checkpoint. I was inching down a flight of stairs, hiding behind railings and the dead bodies of my fallen comrades, vainly hoping the onslaught would cease as soon I reached a nearby fallen column. It was the most perfect simulation of a living hell that I’d yet seen (this was before the era of FarmVille).
Read the Berfrois interview with Simon Ferrari here