Why is Call of Duty so successful?

The only war worth fighting...

History, mused Mark Twain, does not repeat - but it does sometimes rhyme. And so it seems that Call Of Duty - one of the most artistically and commercially successful game franchises ever - is in danger of falling in the same way it once rose.

Activision has spent much of 2010 desperately trying to downplay the importance of several key Infinity Ward staffers defecting to EA, but the symmetry of the situation can't be lost on them.

Before forming Infinity Ward, those same people worked (under the 2015 Inc umbrella) on EA's then-dominant Medal of Honor franchise, before upping sticks to Activison and leaving EA holding a grenade without a pin.

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Medal of Honor subsequently blew up in their face, allowing Infinity Ward's newly-created Call Of Duty series to march to victory unopposed.

But what is it about Call of Duty that has seen it dominate the wartime FPS genre so imperiously?

Much of it is down to the intangibles - the feel of the guns, the weapon recoil - but other difference-makers are plain to see. The most important of all is CoD's decision to take the power out of the player's hands.

Instead of casting you as a oneman wrecking crew, CoD puts you in the soiled shoes of a disposable grunt. You spill out the bottom of an aircraft with a dozen identical grunts, and you don't give orders - you just take them.

You're on a death mission, and the telegram to your family is always on standby.

Of course, you wind up as the hero, but it always seems to be by chance. Stop looking down your sights for a second and chances are you'll see a teammate die. These are characters with lines of dialogue and even a little name floating above their head, but their demises warrant no fanfare. Or even a passing mention.

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Since each game is told through various different viewpoints, you can't even be sure you'll make it out alive yourself. No series reflects the brutal senselessness of war as authentically as Call of Duty.

And yet, the series thrives on sensationalism. Linear (yet tactically open) levels funnel you from one glorious set-piece to another with expert timing. As the series has progressed from its World War II origins to more modern surroundings.

These set-pieces have steered ever further from the realms of plausibility - cliff-jumping in ski-mobiles and water raft chases being a couple of Modern Warfare 2's less credible moments - but it's always presented with such bombast and belief that it never fails to suck you in.

Online, Call of Duty dominates the competition through sheer quality of level design, although more recent iterations have lost their way due to a surplus of unbalanced extras, such as attack helicopters and tactical nukes (2007's CoD 4 remains the connoisseur's choice).

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Call of Duty's future now lies with Treyarch, the former Infinity Ward understudies who, until now, have churned out the weakest CoD titles to date (CoD3, World At War).

With a bigger budget and bigger team at their disposal, the studios latest offering offering,
CoD: Black Ops, sees the series enter a bold new era on a high-note.

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