As the great Solid Snake once said, 'War has Changed.' Modern war at least, since the original release of Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare the face of console FPS gaming has shifted dramatically from it's infamous World War roots to a more high-tech playground. This isn't to say that 'modern day' shooters never really happened prior, or that Infinity Ward is single-handedly responsible for informing the teenagers everywhere about how an AC-130 works. But the genre has most definitely become more streamlined, and the action has taken a very different shape in the wake of CoD 4's success. The two most recent players? Treyarch and EA, both working hard to make sure that their respective series will wind up at the top of the sales charts. The real question is, which one deserves more attention, Medal of Honor or Call of Duty: Black Ops?
Sitting on the outside of the looking glass there doesn't appear to be much of a difference between both games. The two feature a lot of action, modern day weaponry, obligatory vehicle scenes and have trailers that are chock full of explosions. Simply going down the Nutrition Facts you'll find that neither one of the two appear to be challenging the status quo that Modern Warfare 2 has set into place, but both (upon further inspection) are catering to a different crowd.
Medal of Honor's approach is subtle, but noticeable, with more detail on what exactly the protagonist does. There's a lot more emotion involved too, with more emphasis on how the Tier One Operator is a real person out there, struggling to fight for the freedoms that most civilians take for granted. It's hard not to approach this marketing with a sense of awe and agitation though, as Medal of Honor is almost daring anyone to trash talk a very real (and very dangerous) occupation. Working under a guise of a game that is meant to shine light on the unsung heroes of the war, you can't help but wonder what the game will be about. The scenarios pictured, while no doubt exaggerated at some points, are more or less things that are actually happening. You couldn't ask for a more intriguing reboot.
Call of Duty: Black Ops takes a very different approach, tossing realism out the window and instead throwing down a trailer that rivals most summer blockbuster movies. Explosions, cliff diving, guerrilla warfare, explosions from the cockpit of a plane, a crossbow, and even some sort of Stormtrooper make a debut in Treyarchs most recent trailer. A part of me is excited to see Treyarch finally doing something in a modern setting, but it's hard not to feel like I've seen this sort of action before. Just like World at War simply felt like a low tech Modern Warfare, it's hard to really see this particular developers influence in the trailer, particularly with no real gameplay footage featured.
This isn't to say that it's fair to judge the two games completely based off of the trailers and information given just yet, particularly since there has been very little multiplayer info released. Multiplayer tends to be the bread and butter of these titles, and there should no doubt be a lot of focus on the feature. Medal of Honor has already announced that the same team that did Bad Company 2's multiplayer would be working on making online a unique experience, while vehicles and killstreaks will be making a reappearance in the newest CoD title.
Between the two right now it looks like Medal of Honor has the most to lose, taking a step into unfamiliar territory while at the same time trying to compete with a franchise that has a very well established fanbase. For that reason alone I'll be putting my money on EA having something special prepared for the reboot, be it a unique (and realistic) single player experience or a multiplayer that will give Call of Duty fans a run for their money. It'll be interesting either way to see which of these giants come out on top, and of course where they plan to go from there.