The Call of Duty series has broken records with each subsequent release, and has introduced fans to a myriad of unforgettable action scenes, gorgeous set pieces, a deep multiplayer, and some of the best gunplay the shooter genre has to offer. And the two latest games in the series, Black Ops and Modern Warfare 2, have been the most successful yet. They've each managed to attract two different audiences, despite being installments in the same series.
So which Call of Duty is superior? We have pitted two Cheat Code Central writers, Adam Dodd and Josh Engen, against one another in a battle over this very issue.
Round 1: Single Player Campaign
Adam "Black Ops Is Better" Dodd:
I prefer Black Ops' story to Modern Warfare's for a handful of reasons, the biggest of which is definitely the setting. The Cold War era is a breath of fresh air, since it hasn't been covered in too many games. The "near-future" setting of Modern Warfare, on the other hand, has been practically done to death in the shooter genre.
Black Ops has a story that is much easier to follow than the overly convoluted mess that is Modern Warfare 2. Through most of MW2, it's difficult to even remember who the bad guy is or what exactly is going on.
Presentation is an important factor as well. The story of Black Ops is played out through Alex Mason's flashbacks as he's being interrogated in a room surrounded by TV screens. It's consistently engaging without having to rely on gimmicky scenarios like Modern Warfare 2's controversial "No Russian" mission to get our attention.
Josh "Modern Warefare 2 Rules" Engen:
The internet is chock-full of people having the Modern Warefare 2 vs. Black Ops debate, but they always seem to concentrate on the most inconsequential details. Some people try to use MW2's graphical realism as evidence for its superiority, but to compare any video game to reality is absurd. If you really wanted realism, you wouldn't play Call of Duty; you'd join the military. Other people have applauded Black Ops' Cold War setting, but, to be honest, the setting has no real bearing on whether a game is good or bad. Modern Warfare 2 could have been set in a clown college, and it would have a superior game.
I'll admit that Black Ops gave us an interesting perspective. Telling the story via Mason's flashbacks was a clever move, but it didn't really improve the actual storyline and had a tendency to become slightly repetitious and/or incoherent. Still, I had fun with it.
However, for me, Modern Warfare 2 takes the cake, but only because it has one major advantage: it's a continuation of the Modern Warfare 1 storyline. For anyone who's played through the original title, Modern Warfare 2 was a welcome sequel. It was somewhat less brilliant, but still entertaining.
But If we must compare Modern Warfare 2 exclusively to Black Ops, Ops might take the win. However, this comparison is probably a little unfair to MW2, because it was intended as a continuation of MW1. And when you take MW1 into account, MW2 has the power of ten genetically-mutated gorillas whereas Black Ops only has the power of four. So, Black Ops might sneak by with the win, but it will come with an asterisk in the record books.
Also, let's face facts, no one bought Black Ops for the single-player campaign. The multiplayer is really where the Modern Warefare vs. Black Ops debate is won or lost.
Round 2: Multiplayer
Josh "Modern Warefare 2 Rules" Engen:
The recipe for a high-quality multiplayer game really only requires two major ingredients: gameplay and map design. Sure, the graphics and audio need to be on par with industry standards, but those things will always play second fiddle to the gameplay. And Black Ops has a few major drawbacks in the gameplay department.
First off, and perhaps most importantly, the controls in Black Ops are less accurate and the hitboxes are larger than MW2. In short: it's easier to be good at Black Ops. At first, I was actually unsure if this should be considered a good thing or a bad thing. On one hand, this levels the playing field by making it easier for new players to compete. On the other hand, it places a ceiling on the amount of skill that a player might gain. In the end, though, it effectually puts a cap on the game's replay value, and this is definitely a bad thing.
Next, many of Black Ops' maps were designed by complete idiots. Seriously, whoever designed maps like Cracked and Launch should be fired or murdered, I haven't decided which. These maps have no discernible choke points and almost instantly turn into a game of "Who can find the sneakiest hiding spot?" Though, whoever designed Nuketown and Firing Range should be given the Medal of Valor.
The final nail in Black Ops' multiplayer coffin is the god-awful respawn system. I understand that finding a perfect spawning system is nearly impossible, but sometimes I feel like Treyarch didn't even try.