For the first time in years, virtually every major gaming franchise’s newest iteration has garnered mixed reviews, most notably EA Sports’ annual releases of Madden NFL, NCAA Football, FIFA, and NHL. Numbered sequels with years of development are not immune — Square-ENIX’s Final Fantasy XIII-2 and EA’s Mass Effect 3 are the most polarizing titles in their respective fanbases.
In some cases, sales are as healthy as ever. In others, a noticeable dip in sales has prompted panic on the part of publishers, which prompts this question: Will this be the year that Activision’s Call of Duty falls?
Look no further than Metacritic user reviews to see the growing backlash towards these annual releases. Though the casual masses continue to adore the addictive arcade-style action, the gameplay is stagnant. If a casual spectator cannot tell the difference between a game and its 4-year-old predecessor, there’s a problem.
My bias is already settled. I will most likely hate Call of Duty: Black Ops II as much as its forerunner. Although this is a different developer than last year’s Modern Warfare 3, the mechanics and content remain too similar for me to believe that there is innovation in the most-hyped game of the year.