At this year’s E3, there have been sadly very few interesting PC-centric announcements. Even Ubisoft’s new DRM system has been slammed as “badger-crazy”, “… dafuq?” and “less a step backwards, and more a backwards-somersault into a pit of live scorpions, all festooned with Susan Boyle’s face and voice”. However, one of the more surprising moves has been Activision’s rather bold attempt at boosting interest in US/British Army careers among gamers by including compulsory enlistment to all who purchase their next big Call of Duty title – Black Ops 2.
Yes, each and every copy of CoD: BO 2 will come with automatic enlistment into the regional Armed Forces of your home country. With both the British and the US Army on board, a “Rapid Training and Deployment” initiative will have Call of Duty fans acting out their favorite pass-time for real in a matter of weeks. The announcement itself was somewhat dramatic - “You want realism? WELL, YOU CAN’T GET ANY REALER THAN THIS, MAGGOTS!” the chap with the pixellated face and full-body camouflage booms from the stage, to thunderous applause. Our sources from the crowd have speculated the chap may have been Andy McNab, but we have yet to have this confirmed.
The logic behind this is fascinating. Most, if not all CoD fans already have a basic understanding of modern warfare tactics – keep moving forward and keep shooting. And with the aid of a ten-day induction for all CoD:BO 2 players – mostly explaining the difference between a game-pad and a gun – these well-seasoned FPS-fanatics will be transformed from flabby, pasty chair-lovers into hardened war machines and super-heroes. At least that’s the idea.
However, trials run on volunteers by Activision’s military advisers have had mixed results across the board, with a few training issues rising from the console demographic. Popular complaints from the testers have included issues with the lack of a “jump” button, and that the aiming-sensitivity is set way too low. Also, a small portion have had difficulty accepting that a “360-no-scope” shot just isn’t safe in the real world, and have been excluded from further trials. Activision’s enlistment PR have assured us that “these are just a few kinks the developers/drill-sergeants have to work out, we are confident in our endeavours. Recon! Hoo Rah!”.
The PC-gaming crowd allegedly had less difficulty transitioning from a mouse to a gun, requiring only a slight addition to their specially designed PC-style heads-up display to include a “ping” and “current latency” display, and an ammo counter. There have been a few quiet reports of, while during a live-fire exercise, a small number of testers have been found standing very still in open ground. When queried, they simply say “lag”, when in fact their guns have jammed or simply ran out of ammo. The addition to the upgraded HUD will hopefully alleviate this issue.
This writer can’t help but wonder though, of Call of Duty’s billions-strong fan-base, nobody seems to be questioning the fact that while these many fine lads (and fourteen ladies) will be pushing the front-lines to make the world a safer place; do they realise that none of them will actually get to play the game? Is this relevant? Is doing it for real make all those polygons and pixels pointless? Does anyone even care?
I sure as hell hope not. “Hoo Rah” indeed.