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Last year, my friends and I were busily anticipating two games in separate camps: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 and Battlefield 3. Personally, I had not enjoyed Bad Company or its sequel enough to think BF3 would change my opinion on console, while the long-awaited closing installment of the record breaking Modern Warfare series by Infinity Ward was the only thing on my mind.
After more than a year of reflection, I have analyzed and acknowledged the strengths and weaknesses of each series. But as the old movie said, there can be only one. This edition of Contradistinction is the battle of the FPS giants, a metaphorical Chuck Norris vs himself: Battlefield vs Call of Duty
Make every soldier a rifleman, pilot, driver, paratrooper; basically Keanu Reeves in The Matrix, with a focus on warfare and without the religious symbolism. So better than The Matrix. Oh, and gigantic maps to play with all those wonderful toys.
Call of Duty
Take the FPS genre and conquer it. Great action movie-quality set pieces, addictive multiplayer and breaking the entertainment sales records with each new installment since the original Modern Warfare (not counting World at War, of course. No one broke records with that one…)
Numbers win this one by a nose. Both concepts are great, but the greatest in the one that sells the most copies from game to game. Call of Duty wins this round.
Friends to the bitter end
Likable characters, good framework and solid plotlines. Usually confined to one or two general countries or regions, Battlefield develops those plot lines through the eyes of a single soldier, usually to the effect that you connect more with him.
Call of Duty
Multiple characters across multiple theaters of war take away from strong player connections in a single game, and some of those characters end up dead, but with CoD’s lineage of story through the series, surviving characters usually come back for the sequel.
In a single game, Battlefield tells a decent story, but at least CoD keeps the stories we love going over multiple installments and always surprises us in a good way. Let’s put it another way, who would you rather have with you in war; the silent but intimidating Ghost from MW2 or Bad Company’s Private “Truck-a-saurus” Haggard? A huge win for Call of Duty.
Friends are lost along the way…
Slower but more deliberate than CoD, Battlefield focuses on more realism in its games. And vehicles. By realism, I mean as close as you can get to war without getting trenchfoot and spending three months of gametime recovering and hitting on nurses (wait, I may be onto something here…) It’s almost justified to call it a simulation instead of an FPS. What gives Battlefield a unique advantage is its truly team-oriented multiplayer. And it has vehicles. Every class has its own item made for assisting others (ammo packs, medkits, etc) and allows squads to form within teams, giving you more reasons to not lone wolf the whole thing. And did I mention the vehicles?
Call of Duty
The fast-paced CoD delivers what most people want out of their shooters; story-driven or reaction-based, in-your-face action. You can’t spend a minute in a full room without seeing opponents to confront, which can be better than huge maps you might not be able to even approach on foot without three snipers taking you out, or worse, not finding anyone. Kill- or Score-Streaks, more soldier customization and choices, and the new BO2’s balanced and fun Pick 10 system make this series the seller it has been. But no vehicles.
CoD’s awesome action or BF’s more realistic take? I love teamplay, (and vehicles), but I also need to feel the tension of turning a corner and finding something there. Too close for me to call. This one’s a tie. Vehicles.
Bad Company was flat out ugly, and Bad Company 2 was a decent improvement but Battlefield 3’s Frostbite 2 engine is one of the finest engines ever made. Like Wonder Bread to Potato Bread, but for graphics.
Call of Duty
Infinity Ward’s in-house IW engine has been a gold standard for great engines since Modern Warfare’s version 3 to the self-titled engines of BO2 and MW3. Unique and powerful, like Chuck Norris. But not as much as the man himself.
Call of Duty is the standard of FPS graphics, but it still has to catch up to BF3’s incredible graphics before being the best as well. Battlefield takes it for now, but strongly.
The obvious winner
The classic Battlefield Theme is an iconic song, but the rest don’t seem to stand on their own. Gun sounds are great, reflecting the power behind the guns being fired. Voice acting is standard, great quality, though Haggard was bad move in dialogue choice. I really hate that guy.
Call of Duty
The CoD soundtrack is subtle, which is both a flaw and a strength at the right moments. The voice acting is always well cast, though the dialogue tends to be cliched military jargon.
Unfortunately, compared to other games of similar sales numbers (Assassin’s Creed, The Elder Scrolls, any Bioware game), the sound of these two games just doesn’t measure up. No points awarded to either game. I’m not even putting the pictures up. I love sound too much.
Truly an exercised dichotomy. When you play with random players without voicecom, you feel like you’re playing any other FPS with a mobile, uncontrollable extra spawn point. When you get it to really work, with friends who take to their roles in a squad and communicate well with each other, you feel like you’re part of an unstoppable powerhouse, and that feeling has only gotten better with each (numbered) version of the series.
Call of Duty
Again, CoD is the gold standard. You can play with groups in a variety of game modes, or free-for-all just as easy. The matches are shorter than BF, but it always feels like the perfect length, not over quickly, but also not dragging on outstaying its welcome. It is a consistently fun time, though with more players come glitch exploiters (MW2 Javelin Glitch, anyone?), and immature children (and adults) can ruin a good time if you decide that game chat might be fun.
For anyone who has read the Death of Competitive Gaming article, this one will be no surprise. Battlefield may be a little more uneven with its experience, but it manages to reach greater heights than CoD does, and that counts for a lot. Battlefield wins this round.
With great teammates comes great experiences
There is not a singleplayer campaign or even level I have ever felt the need to replay in Battlefield, but multiplayer has always been the core of this long-running series. Battlefield 2 was a particular high point, with modifiable map sizes, high player counts and Commander Mode, which sadly did not make its way to consoles. Who didn’t want to command the entire team, seeing things the other players didn’t and dropping bombs on them? Battlefield 3 stands strong on its own merits, but unfortunately omitted the series’ best replay feature from seven years before.
Call of Duty
Almost every mission was filled with explosive setpieces, and though most of them lose their charm with multiple playthroughs, who didn’t replay CoD 4’s Nuke sequence? The Vorkuta breakout in Black Ops? The Juggernaut finale of Modern Warfare 3? Let alone the multiple endings of its new Black Ops 2. And I don’t need to go over its multiplayer; look at the XBox Live game traffic stats and CoD will be on the first page, if not the top of it.
Call of Duty. Obviously.
There’s no escape from that kind of shockwave…
Moment of Truth
For those counting, Call of Duty beats Battlefield, 4-3. Although it was a close victory, I doubt it was a surprising one. Call of Duty does not sell so many copies for no reason. Compelling storylines, characters you grow to love and some of the best competitive multiplayer in modern gaming. Sure, it doesn’t stand up to Battlefield’s graphics, but they are still great. And Battlefield may be a better team game, but CoD has better game types for the teamplay it has. And Battlefield may have more mature and fun-to-talk-to players, but I don’t have a counter for that one.
Metaphorically, Soap stands for CoD
Call of Duty outshines Battlefield on replayability, concept and storyline much more than Battlefield takes the advantage on any category. Battlefield 4 may force a new conclusion to an update of this article, but until then, Call of Duty is the winning FPS.