10 things you didn't know about Call of Duty as it celebrates 10th birthday
Call of Duty: Ghosts is now available for Xbox 360, PS3, Wii U, PS4 (strangely, considering the console itself doesn't come out until the end of the month) and PC. It will also hit Xbox One on 19 November and its release marks the tenth anniversary of the hugely successful franchise.
The original Call of Duty was released on 29 October 2003 and was developed by Infinity Ward, the same studio behind the latest in the series. It was set in World War II, as were more immediate sequels, and initially came out for the PC - a Mac version followed and Xbox Live and PSN both offered HD versions for download in 2009.
To celebrate the anniversary and the release of Ghosts, we've been rooting through the facts and stats for all the Call of Duty games over the 10 years and have come up with some tasty nuggets. Some you might know, some might be as much a surprise to you as they were to us. All, we think, are chin-strokingly interesting.
One of the most bizarre things about the original Call of Duty is that alongside the PC, Nokia released a version for its failed phone come games machine, the N-Gage.
Since then, just about every popular games format has had a Call of Duty game, including Nintendo GameCube, Sony PSP, original Xbox, PS2, Nintendo Wii, PS Vita and many more. Even the Wii U is being supported by Activision, even though rival games - such as Battlefield 4 - will not appear on the Nintendo machine.
Over the years, the Call of Duty franchise has featured a host of Hollywood and British acting talent as voices for major characters. Brandon Routh (Superman in Superman Returns) is one of the voice actors credited in Ghosts. Michael Keaton (Batman, Beetlejuice) and Sam Worthington (Clash of the Titans, Avatar) loaned their voices for Black Ops 2. Worthington also appeared in the first Black Ops alongside Gary Oldman (The Dark Knight, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy), Ed Harris (The Rock, Apollo 13) and Ice Cube (Boyz in the Hood, XXX: State of the Union), and there are many others.
However, did you know that the very first game featured Mr Transporter himself, Jason Staham, as Sergeant Waters? No? You do now.
Back in 2007, a few months before Infinity Ward's Modern Warfare hit the streets, another Call of Duty game set in World War II was in development for Xbox 360, PS3 and PC. Call of Duty: Devil's Brigade was to be based in Italy and feature third-person gameplay rather than the traditional first-person fare. It was cancelled though and never saw the light of day.
Underground Development, the studio behind it, said that Infinity Ward's dominance of the franchise was one of the key reasons for its demise. "If the IW guys say they want to control the Call of Duty IP, they don't even have to say our name. We just got sideswiped. And that happens. I don't begrudge them for that," said Jason VandenBerghe, who ended up being creative director of FarCry 3.
Return to World War II
Although the latest Call of Duty games have been based in either the present or the near future, Infinity Ward told Pocket-lint that the franchise could return to the battlefields of World War II one day.
Speaking to us in 2011, Robert Bowling, creative strategist for developer Infinity Ward, said that with the games technology available today, it would make for a brilliant setting for a future CoD. "There’s so many great stories there that can still be told," he teased. "And to be told now with the technology that we have, to the level of detail that we can now attain, would be fantastic."
As an in-joke throughout the Call of Duty franchise, teddy bears have been placed in the games by the developers. First appearing in Call of Duty: Finest Hour, the first in the series to be released on consoles - in this case the PS2 and original Xbox - discarded teddy bears can be found in a majority of the games that followed.
Fans even spend time looking in each subsequent game for the teddy bear Easter Eggs. They can be found in all of the Modern Warfare titles and both Black Ops games, as well as Call of Duty 2 and the Call of Duty: World at War zombies add-on.
Call of Duty: Ghosts may have the word in the title, but like teddy bears, ghosts have also appeared in many of the games in the franchise. Spiritual forms and disembodied voices can be heard in several of the games.
Check out the video from around 4 minutes 50 seconds. 'Tis scary, indeed
For example, there is a hidden room in Call of Duty: Finest Hour where you will encounter the ghost of a small boy in more of a homage to Japanese horror movies than old war films.
A North Korean propaganda video appeared earlier in 2013 that showed the United States under attack. However, the footage it claimed was the US under siege was actually taken from one of the sequences in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 which showed buildings being destroyed.
Needless to say, the North Korean government had to take down the original video.
Call of Duty developers hate cars
Activision released some interesting statistics about the Call of Duty franchise in August 2013. Among the facts and figures was the revelation that more than five billion cars have been destroyed in the game, when the fact that over 100 million people have played a Call of Duty game is taken into account.
The number of registered cars in the real world is one billion. That means the number blown up in-game is five times that of actual cars on the streets around the globe. What is it about cars specifically, eh?
Activision also revealed that 32.3 quadrillion shots have been fired in the 10 years.
Some die-hard gamers have complained that more recent Call of Duty games have been over-cinematic, featuring massive set pieces that are sometimes just cut scenes. However, others laud the games for exactly the same reasons, citing the fact that the most recent entries are the equivalents to Hollywood blockbusters.
That's perhaps because, in some cases, the screenplays have been written by some of Hollywood's finest. Paul Haggis, the Oscar-winning writer and director of Crash and writer of Million Dollar Baby, and David S Goyer, writer of Batman Begins, wrote the stories of Modern Warfare 3 and Black Ops 2 respectively.
Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg level
There's a really cool video on the 'net of a Call of Duty level designed by Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg. Of course, it isn't really, it's an excellent spoof created by Funny or Die.
Featuring the Omaha beach landing from Saving Private Ryan, the video adds trademark maps and user names overlaid and imagines the sequence as a multiplayer session. Lost connection and all. Brilliant.