Once upon a time, Medal of Honor: Allied Assault ruled the WWII PC FPS world. Then the majority of the guys who made it broke ranks with MoH: AA developer 2015 and the game's publisher EA, formed Infinity Ward and delivered for its first project Call of Duty, which stuck a potato masher under Allied Assault's arse and blew it to smithereens.
But how did the brains behind Call of Duty whip up such a sterling title and what were they thinking during the creation process? Our colleagues on PC Zone magazine recently sat down with Infinity Ward president Grant Collier - as Call of Duty 2 has just gone over the top - to chat about his company's first masterpiece.
The goal of the game was immersion. We wanted players to feel like they were in the shoes of the soldiers - that they were in that place and time period. We wanted people dodging bullets when they were in their seats, to sit there flinching and cringing, and we went to all the lengths we could think of at the time - the explosions, the planes, the noise. Later, our military advisors came on board and told us a few more things we could add - you can see even more of that stuff in Call Of Duty 2.
Call Of Duty was the first time where you had real squad warfare. You had situations with you know, ten on ten, 20 on 20, 100 on 200. You had real large-scale warfare, and I'm proud of how that came together. It set a high benchmark for a lot of games. If you want squad warfare, it's got to be as good as Call Of Duty - otherwise, why even bother? I can't think of any other game that has robust squad warfare - certainly not on the same scale."
I'm a big fan of the mod community, so we tried to make COD as accessible to modding as possible - but the modders just weren't there. They were doing all kinds of mods for Allied Assault, but for Call Of Duty it wasn't anywhere near the same level. And we made the game much easier to mod than Allied Assault... In AA, there was nothing - you had to hack the executable to make a mod. So if I could go back and have time to work on the game more, I'd spend it making the game more accessible to the modding masses, with more robust tools.
OK, the British missions. The Special Forces solo operations... That sucks. Well, maybe it doesn't suck, but it wasn't good. Every game does that, and what's special about Call Of Duty is the mass warfare: 100 guys versus 200 guys, that's what makes Call Of Duty special. 'No man fights alone!' That's the motto, and we're sticking to it from now on. There are no more solo missions in COD2.
We could have done health better, which is why we've changed it in the sequel. We've watched people play the game: they'll be fighting and fighting and then they'll get down to about ten health and basically stop playing. Then they start backtracking through the level, looking for health packs, and that just kills the action. I really like how we do it in the new game, with no health gauge or anything. Now, you're either dead or alive. It lets you stay in the action longer.
The AI was good, but it could've been better. We knew from the start that while the enemy AI is important, the friendly AI is what you're seeing all the time. So we spent more time on the friendly AI than the enemy. That paid off to a certain extent, because it added a lot to the immersion. But at the same time, the enemies would sometimes just sit in a certain area, and they'd do the whole whack-a-mole thing. They'd just be popping up and firing and you'd just wait for their head to pop up and then shoot them. There's none of that in the new game.