In light of my mixed review, I got sent this link to a Kotaku editorial by Luke Plunkett about a million billion times over the weekend, usually accompanied with something like “Don’t hate” or an invitation to violate a couple of laws of anatomy and local sodomy statutes which I probably did anyway because I lived alone in my mom’s basement, so there.
Plunkett essentially argues that people who hate “Call of Duty” and rant about it in the comments sections and forums are being elitist jerks and to leave the game’s millions of fans alone. Which is fair, actually: I don’t want to take away from the fun anybody gets from the game. Especially since, as I mentioned, the multiplayer, which everyone shows up for, is so refined and much better.
But I think Plunkett needs to stop and consider the flipside…namely, that amid his ranting he dismisses some fairly valid criticisms of the single-player campaign wholesale. That’s really the thing: the single-player campaign is a terrible game, for exactly the reasons Plunkett thinks anybody who hates the franchise should shut up about.
For example, incremental updates. This isn’t a minor complaint; if a company is demanding $60 a year for the same product with a coat of paint on it, that’s a bit insulting, not to mention troubling.
Activision has grand plans for Elite, and none of them will be free. Are we going to be facing server shutoffs and attempts to herd us onto the next $60 title, like EA does with its sports games? Will we be dealing with attempts to insert advertising into games that compromise our systems? If so, that’s something the gaming community needs to talk about now. And, frankly, it’s something older gamers need to warn newer ones about, because the publishers are not going to.
He also dismisses complaints of bad design. Again, this drove me absolutely crazy when I was playing; part of the reason I hated the single-player campaign so much was the fact that it felt like I was working for minimum wage at a job I hated. Go here, do this, get this, go here, do this…it was mindless, and not in a good way. And it’s not like I only want sandboxes: I just want options. “Deus Ex: Human Revolution” was on rails, but you had multiple methods of solving a problem; sneak around, kill everybody, mix and match.
I agree that being an elitist snob/comment troll is a bad thing, but I also think it’s not wrong to be angry that a company is foisting a substandard product on a huge segment of the population. That Activision thinks it can refine the multiplayer and make the single-player one step above its own franchise’s knockoffs and that’s OK is…well…honestly, it’s got every right to think that. The game sells piles of copies. But it doesn’t mean we don’t have the right to be annoyed about it.