Call Of Duty, You’ve Come A Long Way, Baby

Call Of Duty, You’ve Come A Long Way, Baby

Activision’s Call of Duty franchise occupies a fascinating place in the gaming landscape. It is the world’s biggest-selling annual series, yet each year offers only incremental improvements. It is beloved by millions, yet derided by many as well. Its production values bring out the best in video games, while its online multiplayer community often brings out the worst.

It is an enigma. And in the eight years since the first game in the series was released, in many ways it’s come a long way. And in other ways, it hasn’t gone very far at all.

The gallery above will take you on a tour of the history of the series, showing footage from all the major entries in the franchise, and some less than major entries in the series.

What’s interesting to note is that while the graphics have improved and the multiplayer has taken precedence over the singleplayer, the core tenets of the game remain the same: you take control of a few soldiers in a battle, there’s a ton of scripting, there’s cinematic bombast and then, when you want to play against real humans, you pick up a gun and run around like madmen shooting anything that moves.

Total Recall is a look back at the history of video games through their characters, franchises, developers and trends.

Call of Duty (2003) – The original. First released on PC, it laid down a template that’s still being used by the series’ developers to this day.

Call of Duty: United Offensive (2004) – An expansion pack for the first game, providing more missions set in Europe.

Call of Duty 2 (2005) – Probably my favourite entry in the franchise. Stuck to the same formula but kicked everything up a notch. The Market Garden missions are all-time classics.

Call of Duty: Big Red One (2005) – A console game based on the events of the PC’s Call of Duty 2.

Call of Duty 3 (2006) – The first annualised entry in the series, and the first main game to be developed by someone other than franchise founders Infinity Ward (though Treyarch had done Big Red One, released a year earlier). Wasn’t as well-received as the first two games in the series.

Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare (2007) – A total reboot of the franchise, taking it away from its Second World War roots and thrusting it into a contemporary scenario lifted straight from a Tom Clancy novel. A blockbuster success, and for many people the best game in the series.

Call of Duty: World at War (2008) – Treyarch take the franchise back to the Second World War for the last time.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (2009) – Infinity Ward’s Modern Warfare sequel falls flat as a singleplayer experience, but continues to refine its multiplayer.

Call of Duty: Black Ops (2010) – Treyarch finally leave World War Two behind and stake out their own turf in the franchise’s canon, focusing the story on the Cold War.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 (2011)


  • That’s it, a few paragraphs and collection of youtube videos? Come on Luke Plunkett you previous Total Recall entries have be great.

    • That’s it, two lines? Your previous comments have being great… but, really? Two whole freaking lines?! Talk about lack of effort on your part! Geeezh!

  • It’s strange but I went and played COD4 for the first time recently and found the single player really lacking compared to MW2. It didn’t seem as exciting as some of the MW2’s set pieces. COD4 had great set pieces though I’ll grant you that.

    • I’ve gotta disagree. I found the campaign in MW2 to be too fast paced and confusing at times. Half the time I didn’t know what I was doing except walking forward.
      MW1 at least took the time to slow down every now and then for you to set it sink in.

      • I have to say I like the single player campaigns of MW1 and 2 together, they add up to a nice package! I wish I still had MW2 on me, very exciting campaign, while MW1’s sort of sets the scene… which makes it a bit dull for me to replay over and over again. MW2 though took what I liked about the original COD’s story and turned it into a modern form, with a post-modern sense of action and baysplosions. The nuclear missile EMP explosion thingy irked me a bit though…

        • I’m sad to say I gave up on MW2 (it was only a rental) after that first snow mission kept busting me back to a really wayback checkpoint, by contrast COD4 held my attention throughout the campaign and I even replayed some levels to get some of the harder acheivements – no shooter since (and I’m a mad keen Battlefield fan) has had a level that has matched “All Ghillied Up” for sheer tension and inventiveness.

          • Too bad they probably asked twitching CoDKids and fratboys what they thought of that level and they complained that there wasn’t enough action or that they couldn’t get past it since they always failed the second they started firing every enemy :/

    • I’d say the one on the right. WW setting – we kind of know what’s going to happen; modern setting – anything goes.

  • COD2 was the best of all. I spent hours playing that on PC and also on 360 it had a great online community. Now they are money hungry and just keep releasing new games every year with barely any differences. I am sick of it and will not be spending anymore money on COD and their overpriced map packs.

      • Though I recall IW shafted modders but really restricting what they could do; they apparently couldnt port over the CoD 1 style mods it was that restricted/crimped. Plus it came out some time after the Xbox 360 “exclusivity” period. Was downhill from there for PC gamers 🙁

  • Guys as much as I agree with you about the repetitiveness of COD. Sometimes its fun to kick back and do some thoughtless auto-aim shooting. Which is exactly the reason why I purchased COD MW3 today despite never buying a COD game after MW 🙂

    • Tracking cookies have worked out you like heels..

      Probably best to keep your personalised ad selection to yourself in that case.. Unless you’re female that is..

      BTW.. Firefox and Ad Block Plus = no ads on any site.. I’m sure if you use another browser you can find an equivalent..

  • Also, the original Call of Duty was way harder than any other Call of Duty. But it’s still my favorite because you could hold 2 weapons AND a side arm and there’s no regenerating health.

  • which modern warfare is that comparison from?

    seriously, call of duty (especially the first 2) used to have an excellent and replayable single player campaign that took quite a bit of time to complete. It had a lot of things that were fairly revolutionary for the genre; and it had a solid multiplayer experience.

    none of this has gone, but theres really been nothing new added. Don’t get me wrong, CoD is a good game, but it has been milked and is becoming a bit of a running joke.

    The best thing for the franchise would be for it to collapse, and then in 2014 a new cod game, back to its roots on a new engine.

    call me nostalgic, but it has become a generic experience – I partly blame IW because ‘why fix something that ain’t broke?’ and activision “because it prints money”

  • Um, shouldn’t Medal of Honor be mentioned? At least once? It’s like going over US history without mentioning the British Empire…

    • Umm thats EA dude – this is a story about Call Of Duty and Activision – maybe if they did a look back on Battlefield/MOH

        • And your point is? This is still an article about each release of Call of Duty, not an article about the histories of those who worked on the franchise.

          • An article about the release of CoD games can’t include how the first game came to be released? You seem to be getting a tad worked up there, sonny.

          • Getting a tad worked up? Que?

            I merely pointed out that this is not an extensive article about the history of the series, but a gallery of gameplay footage and such.

      • Sure, if the people who started Coke created Pepsi and then went and made their own cola… learn to history. As mentioned above, the CoD guys made the first Medal of Honor…

        • As I said above, this is not about the “CoD guys” or the full history of CoD. Just a look at how the game has evolved in each iteration.

    • I feel exactly the same way, the gameplay isn’t that compelling, the guns sound and shoot horribly, the game looks so old. If it had awesome gameplay I would overlook these issues but I can’t help but feel it’s an antiquated game……i dont feel immersed in the game

  • I still remember on CoD “For RUSSIA!!!!” whilst storming Berlin (previously only given 5 bullets and no gun and told I will be shot if I turn and flee :/ )

    That was when CoD was awesome. Replaying real life WWII battles.

  • Beloved by brain dead retarded fanboys, derided by people who realise how terrible it’s become. It just went downhill after CoD4 Modern Warfare. This is no exception.

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