Call of Duty. We all play it. We all know of it. A lot of us evidently love it. On that note, we all have our favourites. My personal favoured title is 2010’s Call of Duty: Black Ops, just in case you were wondering. Black Ops just so happens to be host to one of the coolest Call of Duty moments ever in the franchise. With that in mind, and in light of the recent release of Black Ops 4, I figured I would go over my top five coolest Call of Duty moments in the franchise… and five that kind of sucked.
1. COOL: All Ghillied Up – Call of Duty: Modern Warfare
Regardless of which game you started out with, there is no denying that Modern Warfare will have a special spot in your heart. It was the first title in the franchise to feature modern, present-day technology (and then some). It was also the first title I played that featured an extremely fun and incredibly memorable mission: All Ghillied Up.
In this mission, players assumed the role of a one Lieutenant Price, somewhere in Pripyat. The mission took place fifteen years before the events of the rest of the game, where Price was tasked with eliminating Imran Zakhaev. Instead of the usual guns-blazing machismo that Call of Duty is known for, All Ghillied Up forced players into a stealth scenario. Here, players had to join Captain MacMillan in sniping down enemies from all kinds of positions.
The entire chapter featured bits where enemies practically walked right over you. One wrong move and boom – game over. Needless to say, it was one of the best stealth missions I have experienced in a first-person title. A CoD title, no less!
2. SUCKED: Davis Family Vacation – Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3
Right near the start of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, a mission begins with a brief scene where you witness a family that went on holiday in London. The family had a good time as well – their daughter especially seemed to like the Big Ben a lot.
Just as the little girl and mom were looking at something, a truck pulled up on the corner… and then proceeded to explode. The game shows how the truck killed the family in detail. It was a truly shocking moment to any and all fans of the Call of Duty franchise. The game received a lot of divided attention as a result, some good and some bad, but definitely one of those Call of Duty moments that will not soon be forgotten.
Many critics and fans figured that Infinity Ward was trying too hard to garner attention, following the events of Modern Warfare 2. Everyone was asking for 3, but no one expected that 2 would be topped… Clearly, it did not go Infinity Ward’s way.
3. COOL: Turbulence – Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3
It is evident that Modern Warfare 3 started out on a pretty controversial note. Fortunately, there was some light at the end of the tunnel! In the mission Aftermath, the player is tasked to safeguard the Russian President. Not long in, and all hell breaks loose. The plane gets hijacked, and loses to gravity!
The rest of the mission is about taking dudes down in seemingly zero gravity. It is complete insanity as you float around and shoot guys as they corner in ludicrous ways, and bullets pierce the hull of the plane. One of the best Call of Duty moments!
The mission is an all-out gun fest, and the fun only continues once the plane crashes onto the ground. The entire mission feels like it is ripped right out of some action flick starring Liam Neeson and Samuel L Jackson! The mission even ends on a crazy note, as the terrorists seemingly get the upper hand: the player character is executed by Makarov, who kidnaps the president.
4. SUCKED: The Frozen Forest – Call of Duty: Black Ops 3
Black Ops 3 is one of the most poorly received titles in the franchise. The biggest reason for this is that no one asked for it. After the exceptional Black Ops, the franchise was only poised to go downhill. Well, fortunately for those of us who actually liked most Call of Duty campaigns, Black Ops 3 delivered… it also had a few terrible bits here and there though.
One of those sucky bits came by way of The Frozen Forest. In this mission, the player enters into a neurological landscape crafted by an evil artificial intelligence called Corvus. The idea was to generate the illusion of life after death. It was a supernatural hellscape that was adequately conveyed in the game’s gameplay and narrative. Definitely one of the odder Call of Duty moments in the franchise.
The mission is weird. It not only fails to deliver a concrete message, but it also leaves players kind of confused. Are they dead? Did they really kill themselves? If so why is Corvus trying to keep them in this weird limbo by terrorising them with weird shadowy ghosts? So many questions left unanswered at the end of, what was said to be the final instalment in a franchise (at the time), is never a good thing. Too bad there is no campaign in Black Ops 4 to answer these questions, right?
5. COOL: General Shepherd’s Betrayal – Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
Modern Warfare 2 is one of the best titles in the entire Call of Duty franchise. It not only perfectly follows up on the events of its predecessor, but it also delivers incredible twists all the way through. General Shepherd’s betrayal is, without a doubt, one of the best narrative twists in the series.
Throughout the campaign, players work closely with General Shepherd. He is a stoic man worthy of the title. A good role model in pretty much every single way. Throughout the campaign, he is by your side doing his level best to help you put “the man in the shadows”, the one that bankrolls and runs everything the bad guys stand for, behind bars.
Imagine the surprise that millions of fans across the world received when it was revealed that General Shepherd was that very man that you have been after, all along. Right after a harrowing mission, Shepherd comes down in a transport to seemingly rescue Roach and his good friend (and fan favourite) Ghost. Shepherd executes Roach and Ghost in cold blood. This was a plot twist not even George R.R. Martin could dream of; and an incredible way to motivate players to kill the man in the final mission.
6. SUCKED: Fake News? – Call of Duty: Black Ops 3
This is quite the controversial topic, and it is way before the words “fake news” made it into the White House! It is also one of those Call of Duty moments that made a lot of people scratch their heads in disbelief.
Leading up to the release of Black Ops 3, whoever ran the Call of Duty Twitter account decided that it would be a great idea to fake a terrorist attack in Singapore. The verified account changed its name to Current Events Aggregate and updated its bio to include the phrase “we bring you real news”, without any disclaimer stating that it may be satirical or fictional in nature. The account then continued to release a string of breaking news tweets, that spoke about an explosion in Singapore. It also went on about how a 30-mile quarantine zone had been created, and how chaos ensued when people tried to escape the city.
Naturally, the tweets picked up in popularity across the world. Many unknowing twitter users assumed the “real news” to be just that. You know, considering how a verified Twitter account was breaking the news as if it was current. As you might expect, complaints started flooding in from people who did a bit of digging, and Activision removed the tweets and apologised shortly thereafter. What a great way to hype up a game!
7. COOL: Kevin Spacey – Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare
Press F to pay respects. Yes, yes, we all know that meme. It is a terrible game design decision in an otherwise stellar game. Fight me on it. One of the things that made it so stellar was the inclusion of proper acting talent, Kevin Spacey. The Hollywood big leaguer may not be everyone’s favourite person at the moment, but there is no denying his incredible acting prowess.
In Advanced Warfare, Spacey plays Jonathan Irons. Irons is the president of the PMC Atlas Corporation and the eventual bad guy, as any cliched story goes. Spacey’s performance in Advanced Warfare is as memorable as it is uncanny – I have no idea how Sledgehammer Games did it, but they perfectly captured the likeness of the Oscar Winner; making this entry in the series one of the better Call of Duty moments.
Some reports at the time even stated how Spacey collaborated with writers on the direction of his character and the characters surrounding him. This means that it was partly thanks to Kevin Spacey that many of the supporting cast also performed as well as they did. Gideon Emery and Troy Baker always perform amicably, mind you.
8. SUCKS: Yet another marketing mishap – Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
If there is one thing Activision has a hard time getting to grips with, it is viral marketing campaigns. Before the release of Modern Warfare 2, Activision released a “public service announcement” urging players not to be, well, assholes. While it was an interesting means of interacting with loyal gamers, the way it was done was rather distasteful.
In the released video, a video game version of American professional baseball pitcher, Cole Hamels, stands in full military uniform in front of a camera. He then asked players not to spam grenades when they play online. The message was decent… until he continued to call pretty much anyone who uses grenades in the game, a “pussy”.
Right after he said that, a bunch of cocked grenades landed on the guy and blew him to bits. That was pretty funny… until a text message popped up on-screen reading: Funding provided by Fight Against Grenade Spam”, or FAGS. Yes. First Activision called their fans pussies and then told them that FAGS hate said pussies. Not only was this video received very poorly, but both Activision and Infinity Ward also ended up as the real assholes in this tale.
9. COOL: Call of Duty: Black Ops
Yes. Okay. I just had to. The ENTIRETY of Black Ops was exceptional and is a permanent fixture in my top Call of Duty moments. But hold your horses already, let me explain.
Throughout the entire Black Ops campaign, players experience the struggles, challenges, and pretty much entire life, of Alex Mason. Most events in the game play out as flashbacks – whereby the players, and the ones who are questioning Mason in the present-time, are trying to figure out “what the numbers mean”. Toward the end of the game, a long-standing ally, Resnov, loses it and kills their comrade, Steiner.
However, players soon learn that, from the viewpoint of Mason’s other comrades (Hudson and Weaver), Resnov never existed beyond the first time he and Alex met. In fact, Resnov actually died early on in the game, but Mason had hallucinated throughout and conjured Resnov – acting out as Resnov would.
This revelation was a massive shock for many Black Ops players, including myself. Through smart narrative quirks and dialogue, the writers perfectly encapsulated how it was to play a character that never even knew he was, essentially, crazy. A cutscene after this revelation perfectly highlighted all the parts where fellow characters called Mason out on his craziness. At the time, however, Mason played it off or created his own narrative… one that pretty much all players believed right up to the end.
The game is incredible! One of the best, ever.
10. SUCKED: No Russian – Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
In a franchise that is all about gunning opposing forces down, one would think that doing it a million times over would get real old real fast. That is why moments such as All Ghillied Up and Turbulence are as good as they are. However, every now and then, “changing it up” may not go as planned. This is especially the case in a mission called No Russian.
Throughout some of the campaign, the player assumes the role of undercover agent Joseph Allen. Allen is undercover with Vladimir Makarov, Modern Warfare 2’s apparent big bad guy. In No Russian, Allen must help Makarov take part in a terrorist attack on Zakhaev International Airport. The terrorist group mercilessly guns down hundreds of innocent civilians, and the player has no choice but to partake. It is one of the most gruelling missions in the franchise, and one of those Call of Duty moments that will not soon be forgotten. The mission goes on for several minutes before the group makes their way outside, where they make it away.
Later, Infinity Ward updated the game to include the option to skip the mission entirely. Regardless of that fact, the mission made headlines as one of the most shocking displays of video game violence ever.
The Call of Duty franchise has always been one that pushes the envelope, and these Call of Duty moments showcase that. Right from its inception, through to its current title, Call of Duty: Black Ops 4, the series continues to be at the forefront of the first person shooter genre.
What are you favourite or least favourite Call of Duty moments from the franchise? Let us know in the comments.