Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Call of Duty: Now and Then

Like clockwork, Activision pushes out a new Call of Duty game every year, even going so far as to pretty much claim the first half of November as its launch window. The company has been releasing new versions of the game by shifting settings, evolving plotlines, and making new characters, all while keeping its much-beloved multiplayer mode. Earlier iterations of the game focused on World War II, while the last few games have wandered between modern-day conflicts, WWII, and the 1960s.
We went through the PC versions of Modern Warfare, World at War, Modern Warfare 2, and Black Ops to see how the graphics have evolved. For the most part, the developers have kept the changes to a minimum--and with good reason. It would be difficult to heavily modify the game's engine while sticking to a yearly release schedule and popping out versions that work well on every modern console, as well as the PC.


The locales change drastically within any given Call of Duty game, and they change even more so when we pop from title to title. This makes any sort of direct comparison impossible. Overall, we noticed that the lighting and shadowing system for buildings is still static. This stems from the use of either fixed lighting or prerendered shadows. The result generates effective visuals without the need for lots of GPU power.


The Call of Duty series focuses a great deal on character faces. When we look at people when they speak, everything else becomes secondary. With all your attention focused on the head, shortcomings of less-detailed clothing become irrelevant. Black Ops has highly detailed facial animation, although the series is still plagued by the occasional flickering facial shadow, which certainly doesn't help maintain realism.

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