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A brief history of: Call of Duty

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We like to think that games such as Zelda and Sonic have influenced us in our day to day lives, but so have more recent entries into the library of video game history. Call of Duty is one such title, that has been responsible for many aspects of the culture today, and despite the love-it-or-hate-it relationship it has with gamers today, its still going to be around for quite a while.

Here’s a look back at nine years of explosions and facial hair.

Call of Duty (2003)


Back when Normandy beach served as the Hoth of FPS games, back in the World War 2 phase that the genre went through, along came the original Call of Duty. While the first COD had all the traits of a regular dubya dubya 2 shooter, what made it stand out was that the story was divided, taking place through the eyes of three Allied Forces soldiers from America, Britain and the Soviet Union.

Believable, actually helpful allies helped cement the popularity of the title and do away with the lone wolf syndrome of competitors, while an expansion pack by the name of United Offensive kept the action going in 2004.

Call of Duty 2 (2005)


The first true sequel brought with it numerous tweaks and ideas that have since become a staple in FPS gaming today, such as regenerative health, bombastic visuals, danger icons and misleading advertising.

27 missions over three campaigns, once again from the perspective of American, British and Soviet soldiers, while Captain Price and his magnificent moustache made his first chronological appearance in the game.

Call of Duty 2: Big Red One (2005)

big red one

A spin-off from the first sequel, the big red one had players taking on the might of the axis as a one-man, American army, with battles raging from North Africa, through to Normandy Beach and the heart of Germany.

Interesting fact: Numerous actors from the Band of Brothers mini-series lent their voices to the game, while Mark “Skywalker” Hammill narrated the scenes between levels.

Call of Duty 3 (2006)


The first COD game to be developed by Treyarch, as well as the first to start a practice of releasing an annual game in the franchise, COD 3 was a PS3 exclusive at the time, before eventually making its way onto other platforms.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (2007)


With the rest of the industry still focused on World War 2, this was the game that really hammered the Call of Duty brand into the minds of gamers, across the world. Not particularly innovative, MW was still a blast to play, as it set new benchmarks for the growing summer blockbuster idea of high profile games.

One of the best selling games of 2007, Modern Warfare then went on to sell over 13 million copies since its release.

Call of Duty: World At War (2008)


With Infinity Ward hard at work on a Modern Warfare 2 sequel, it was up to Treyarch to once again produce a game, with a title that went back to the World War roots of the original games.

Not particularly innovative, even for a COD game, but there was one factor that really saved the title from lacklustre sales, and that was the inlcusion of Nazi Zombies in the multiplayer segment of the game, something that is now a staple in Treyarch COD games.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (2009)


If the first MW game was a massive explosion that could topple a building, then the second game in that series must have been a nuclear bomb in comparison. Louder, harder and more polished than the first one, Modern Warfare 2 happens to be one of the best selling games of all time, thanks partly to its superb multiplayer component.

Sadly marred by several controversies, such as the infamous “No Russian” scene and the massive lawsuit surrounding it, this was the final game to feature input from Infinity Ward heads Vince Zampella and Jason West, before they departed to form Respawn Entertainment.

Call of Duty: Black Ops (2010)


With contemporary warfare now an Infinity Warfare thing, and the World War 2 genre of FPS starting to resemble a deceased horse that had undergone severe, repeated blunt trauma, Treyarch needed something different for their next game.

And that’s just what they did, as they created a game set in the Cold War period of history, that had an actual storyline for once. Sam Worthington, Ed Harris and others lent their voices to the Cold War tale of intrigue, spies and brainwashing, in a game that has since gone on to sell over 25 million copies across platforms.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 (2011)


Wrapping up five years worth of plot threads, stories and characters, the third MW game, while once again not massively different from previous versions, still had one of the most satisfying endings ever made, especially for veteran fans.

Multiplayer received a significant revamp however, with new pointstreaks, strike packages and an all new survival mode being added to the overall package.

Other games

Besides the core entries in the franchise, Call of Duty has also made its way through numerous expansions and spin-offs onto consoles and handheld platforms. That list of games includes:

  • Call of Duty: Finest Hour
  • Call of Duty: Roads to Victory
  • Call of Duty: World at War: Final Fronts
  • Call of Duty: Modern Warfare: Mobilized
  • Call of Duty: World at War: Zombies 1 and 2
  • Call of Duty: The War Collection

Last Updated: June 13, 2012

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