It gets to the point where you barely hear it in the end – the constant chatter of machine gun fire that has accompanied Call of Duty campaigns for nearly two decades. First it was the tick of the Thompson’s typewriter, then the clink of the AK-47’s factory line – the last one was a real test for the eardrums in the late ’00s, let me tell you. Now it is the more refined kick drum of the Kastov 74u. But the action has always remained the same: click to command your weapon to spread the lead in a specific direction. Maybe this time you interrupt the flow with a grenade. Probably not, huh. Stick to the classics.

The eternal appeal of this setup is undeniable. Even in the cramped and linear environments of a COD level, no encounter will go exactly the same way twice. As you and your opponents change positions, like the paddles in a game of Pong, the battlefield throws up implicit, absorbing technical problems. At what angle can a bullet get between all these shipping containers and hit only the head of the guard on deck? To what extent should you lead the target at 300 yards? At 500 meters? And always a primal question begs to be answered: who is predator and who is prey? No other game can convey the power of a critical hit quite like COD.

(Image credit: Activision)

Still, these are the basic building blocks of the FPS genre. By now, they could be the foundation of a tower of interlocking mechanics that sets Call of Duty apart from its peers. Instead, if you play this year’s Modern Warfare 2, you’ll find that the equation is largely unchanged from 2009’s Modern Warfare 2.

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By wy9m6

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