Recently I’ve been trying to broaden my horizon and try out some games, franchises and genres that I don’t usually play or like. Among them were a number of quite linear games like the Call of Duty series and others. My goal was to verify my prejudices I had against a lot of mainstream titles without ever having played them.
In this article I’ll be talking about a few examples of linear games I’ve played recently and what observations I made while and after playing.
Note that I’ll be only talking about the single player portions of games and I don’t necessarily mean, that linearity entails a bad experience. If you like CoD, great, more power to you. There’s numerous of different preferences when it comes to playing games and I’m just talking about my personal experience.
Let’s get started
Call of Duty: Black Ops
This one I actually finished, just for the record.
I’m someone who tries to explore game environments, try different approaches to situations and in general find out what’s possible in the game. This is probably a result of playing too much System Shock and Deus Ex and also exploring the complex secret-riddled levels of Doom, back when it was released.
Turns out that’s a terrible thing to do in CoD. Following the games rules to the letter and staying on the path laid out for you is critical to “your” enjoyment of the game. Any deviation will either lead to death or absolutely nothing, because nothing will progress.
At first I tried getting at least some enjoyment out of the game by letting the AI do all the fighting or trying to skip sections and scripted events, but it usually didn’t work or took ages, of course with the same result, so eventually I caved and just played like I was “supposed” to.
At that moment I started thinking how my experience of the game was different from that of other players and I couldn’t reach a satisfying conclusion. Except for the difficulty and sometimes weapons, you basically have no say in anything that happens in the game, especially how the story plays out. Everything remotely important is presented via cutscenes and the actual gameplay playes more or less in a series of corridor-levels or at least linear areas.
But other than “That’s not the game for me.”, I didn’t really think much more about it after finishing up the solo campaign and getting myself killed a couple of times in multiplayer. But that would change a couple of years later when I tried the next game: