Advised Infinity Ward On What Had Gone Wrong
A Call of Duty release is always interesting to watch. Before it does, ultimately, exceed already lofty expectations and ensure Activision's big hitter is the biggest around, I often wonder whether this is the year the Call of Duty brand wanes. It's yet to happen, but considering the West-Zampella fiasco, the restructuring of Infinity Ward and Sledgehammer and the frankly ballsy new multiplayer additions, I'll be examining Modern Warfare 3's figures with a keen eye. Sledgehammer was brought in to assist with the troubled development, and co-founder Glen Schofield sat down with CVG to discuss the ins and outs of building MW3 with Infinity Ward.
"We came in and said here are some of the things, as a fan that we believe should be corrected," reveals Schofield, referring to when Sledgehammer was first brought in to help the fragile remnants of Infinity Ward back to their feet. "And they were pretty much like, 'You're speaking to the choir. We agree.' So that was like a big touchdown, first day, goal. So here's a big win on day one, sort of agreeing that we need to do that. There were so many things that we were agreeing on in the first few days of meeting and talking."
Schofield reveals one of Sledgehammer's main concerns was the story. He admits the decision to leave each of the last two Modern Warfare games dangling on a cliff-hanger was the wrong choice. The series was never envisioned as a trilogy, but with the third game, Schofield wanted to bring the conflict to a close. "We want to tell a story. We want to tell a good story, we don't want it to be confusing," he explained.
Addressing concerns that Call of Duty titles always feature meager single player offerings, often completable in five to six hours, Schofield revealed he and his team of writers don't set out to pen a small tale, they simply aim to deliver a "really great story". He admitted that, as a developer, he's played each level hundreds of times, so he's not in a position to judge impartial length, but he's confident fans will enjoy the story as a whole.
Schofield was also keen to dismiss claims Call of Duty's annualized model prevents the series from re-inventing itself, or at least enhancing the formula with new innovations. He cites "character development" and "great dialogue" as notable improvements, whilst not quite innovations, to the story, and mentioned the new XM25 grenade launcher as a great new addition to Modern Warfare's well-populated arsenal.
"We've got a new audio engine," he added. "You're hearing whizzes, bangs, which way they're coming from, how far they are. The sound is all around you, we really, really upgraded that." He also brought up Strike Packages, MW3's new take on killstreaks, as an example of Sledgehammer and Infinity Ward's intentions to improve the Call of Duty formula.
Overall, Schofield's enthusiasm for Modern Warfare 3 is quite infectious. He truly believes in the title, and from what we've seen and played so far, it probably won't fail to impress. However, can Call of Duty continue to not only survive, but succeed, as an annualized series? Or will Activision take Sledgehammer up on that offer of a new take on the Call of Duty brand? [CVG]