Every Call Of Duty Game, Reviewed: Black Ops, Modern Warfare, WWII And More
By Peter Brown on
Heed the call.
Call of Duty is a force to be reckoned with in the video game industry. It has, for the past 14 years, been the dominant first-person shooter in a market with some serious contenders. The series has had to evolve to maintain its edge, and despite being developed by multiple different studios, the entirety of the Call of Duty series has almost consistently garnered widespread acclaim from critics and players alike. People will always debate the merits of an annualized series, especially one that seems to thrive on iteration, but Call of Duty shows no signs of slowing down.
It all began back in 2003, with the original Call of Duty appearing alongside the likes of Medal of Honor and Battlefield, two series that had already established a glowing reputation among military FPS fans. All three were set during World War II, and Call of Duty would continue down that path for both Call of Duty 2 and Call of Duty 3.
After four years and three games set in a decades-old conflict, the decision to ground the next Call of Duty game in a more contemporary setting resulted in Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. The departure was welcomed with open arms by an audience hungry for something new, and the positive reception ensured a steady stream of modern- or future-set sequels, including multiple Call of Duty: Black-Ops and two more Modern Warfare (Modern Warfare 2 and Modern Warfare 3) games in the years to come.
Like so many things, Call of Duty moves in cycles, and it was just last year that Activision took the series back to World War II, for, you guessed it, Call of Duty: WWII. It was a return to form that felt, to many, like the right move at the right time--a good way to shake up the flow of the previous 10 years. We are now looking ahead to the impending release of Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 this fall, and it's anyone's guess as to when the series will return to a more traditional style of military mayhem.
Call of Duty's reach is so vast that it has no doubt resonated with people for a wide variety of reasons. We've collected GameSpot's Call of Duty reviews from over the years and compiled them to illustrate the series rise to prominence, and to provide a historical snapshot of each individual games' place in the process. But if there's a particular game that made you fall in (or out) of love with the Call of Duty, shout it out in the comments below!
Call of Duty -- 9/10
"Call of Duty is an all-around excellent game that confidently challenges, head-on, all the other WWII-themed shooters out there and comes out on top. When a game is outstanding, like this one is, some people invariably expect it to be something completely different from what's already available. That's not true of Call of Duty, which is directly comparable to Medal of Honor: Allied Assault and other such games. Yet, on its own merits, this game is executed extraordinarily well, and, therefore, can be wholeheartedly recommended not just to fans of other WWII-themed shooters but to anyone looking for a first-rate action game." [Read the review]
-- Greg Kasavin
Call of Duty: Finest Hour -- 6.7/10
"Overall, Call of Duty: Finest Hour is still a competent shooter, and those who enjoy World War II-based games will still have a good time with it. Had the feel of the weapons been a little better, and had the campaign been more consistently intense, Finest Hour could have been a much better game. As it is, though, it enters a market that becomes more and more competitive with each passing month. Judged against the standards of so many other quality first-person shooters, Finest Hour is difficult to wholeheartedly recommend." [Read the review]
-- Bob Colayco
Call of Duty 2 -- 8.8/10
"Call of Duty 2 is just about everything you would hope for and expect from the sequel to one of the most successful World War II shooters of all time. Its varied campaign, excellent sound and gameplay design, and generally good AI make it a worthy successor to the original. At the same time, though, it's still a World War II shooter, and if you've grown weary of them, then Call of Duty 2's lack of new material might turn you away. It can also be murderous on your computer if you have modest hardware. What Call of Duty 2 does do well is nail down just about all aspects that define an ideal first-person shooter. If you liked the original and have been thirsting for more, Call of Duty 2 will definitely deliver that." [Read the review]
-- Bob Colayco
Call of Duty 2: Big Red One -- 7/10
Overall, Call of Duty 2: Big Red One is still a worthwhile first-person shooter. The game has made noticeable strides over the previous Call of Duty game on consoles with an interesting, but short, campaign. While the game has its moments, particularly with the turret shooting and vehicle portions, Big Red One still falls short of the standard the series set for itself on the PC because of pedestrian sound effects, poor AI, and a lack of intensity in the infantry combat. The multiplayer action on the Xbox and PS2 is also only serviceable, so it's worth a bullet point on the back of the box...and not much more. Unless you're a hardcore WWII game fanatic, Big Red One's probably only worth a rent." [Read the review]
-- Bob Colayco
Call of Duty 3 -- 8.8/10
"From start to finish, Call of Duty 3 is an intense experience and a great game. The visuals are fantastic and the sound is some of the best in any game to date. Though there's no question that Call of Duty 3 is every bit as good as its predecessor, and without question the multiplayer is vastly improved, none of the changes or additions to the single-player campaign significantly alter the way the game plays. If the Call of Duty series hasn't won you over previously, Call of Duty 3 isn't going to do much to change your mind. But for anyone else, Call of Duty 3 is a must-own." [Read the review]
-- Aaron Thomas
Call of Duty: Roads to Victory -- 6.2
"Call of Duty: Roads to Victory isn't a terrible game--it's just unnecessary. While it may look like Call of Duty and for a while feel like Call of Duty, nearly all of the things that make the Call of Duty games so enjoyable are watered down or missing." [Read the review]
-- Aaron Thomas
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare -- 9/10
"COD 4 is available on the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and PC, and each version holds up admirably. The differences between the two console versions feel mostly negligible. Both systems deliver good frame rates and have good, easy-to-use multiplayer setups that most closely resemble Halo 2 and 3's party system and matchmaking playlists. The PC version of the game uses a more traditional server browser to get you into games. Both systems work just fine on their respective platforms. The PC version has the ability to run in a higher resolution, if you're equipped with a PC that can handle it, but it seems to scale quite well. You can also create servers that allow up to 32 players to play at once on the PC, as opposed to a limit of 18 in the console versions, but given the size of the multiplayer maps, putting 32 players in them makes things a little too crowded. Despite listing 1080p support on the back of the box, COD 4 appears to prefer 720p on the PlayStation 3. The only way to get it to run in 1080p is to tell your PS3 that your TV doesn't support 720p or 1080i, but the difference seems minor. Either way, you'd be hard-pressed to tell it apart from its Xbox 360 counterpart. And all versions control just fine, making the decision over which version to buy totally dependent on which controller you like the most.
It's a shame that the single-player is so brief, but you should only skip out on Call of Duty 4 if you're the sort of person who doesn't appreciate great first-person shooter multiplayer. The quality of the content in the campaign is totally top-shelf, and the multiplayer is some of the best around, making this a truly superb package." [Read the review]
-- Jeff Gerstmann
Call of Duty 4 (DS) -- 7/10
"The bigger issue is the lack of any sort of online play. It'll take you roughly eight hours to finish the campaign, which you'll probably spread out over two or three play sessions just to give your eyes and hands ample rest. Beyond that, the multiplayer mode is restricted to four players who happen to be in the same room as you. There's a decent selection of environments while the layouts are well suited to the different deathmatch and capture-the-flag options, but realistically speaking, how likely are you to convince four of your friends to buy one DS game then arrange for everyone to get together to take advantage of its multiplayer mode? Not very likely. As such, the game's longevity stems mainly from its single-player campaign. That's Call of Duty 4 on the DS in a nutshell: intensely satisfying, but over in a day or two." [Read the review]
-- Frank Provo
Call of Duty: World at War -- 8.5/10
"By staying largely true to the formula that made Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare so successful, Call of Duty: World at War has ensured a proven level of technical quality, particularly in the multiplayer arena. On the other hand, one of Modern Warfare's strengths was its fresh approach, and by embracing a familiar setting and familiar mechanics, World at War achieves greatness but falls short of excellence. This is only a bad thing if you are expecting this game to top its benchmark predecessor. If, however, you are hoping for an exciting campaign, fun cooperative play, and engaging multiplayer action, then you'll find a lot to be happy about in World at War." [Read the review]
-- Chris Watters
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare: Reflex Edition -- 8.5/10
"All told, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare: Reflex Edition does right by the source material. The expertly scripted and intensely exciting campaign is just as entertaining as it was two years ago on other systems, and even the occasional lapses in visual fidelity and control precision can't keep it from being a must-play for Wii shooter fans. Though the multiplayer will feel familiar to World at War veterans, the modern guns, equipment, and perks will make it feel new again, and the expanded gameplay modes offer a lot more variety. Though there are a few hitches to deal with, the core excellence of this game shines through, giving Wii owners a great shooter to keep them entertained for months to come." [Read the review]
-- Chris Watters
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 -- 9/10
"Fortunately, the action generally remains on the good side of hectic, and the stream of rewards is as satisfying as ever. Two new elements, title and emblem, are little graphics and titles that you earn through your match performance, and these range run the gamut from serious to totally goofy. While not exactly in keeping with the serious tone of the campaign, they add an amusing way to further customize your online presence. With a robust variety of playlists in which to ply your deadly trade, Modern Warfare 2's competitive multiplayer is the best in the series and one of the best available on consoles. The inelegant campaign plot may make you feel like you're just along for the ride, but it is such an intense, roaringly great ride that you will be glad just to have played it. The cooperative missions provide a uniquely fun angle on the action that rounds out the package superbly, making Modern Warfare 2 thoroughly entertaining, thoroughly rewarding, and thoroughly worth the wait." [Read the review]
-- Chris Watters
Call of Duty: Black Ops -- 9/10
"While it may not take the signature Call of Duty action to dizzying new heights, Black Ops is a thoroughly excellent game. New modes and mechanics give a jolt of energy to the lively competitive multiplayer, and the engrossing new campaign develops into one of the best in the series. Combat training allows anyone to enjoy the thrills of arena combat and the satisfaction of leveling up, and the opportunities for cooperative play, local competition, and community video creation provide even more outlets for entertainment. Call of Duty: Black Ops lives up to the top-notch pedigree that the series has earned, giving players an awesome new shooter to enjoy just in time for the holidays." [Read the review]
-- Chris Watters
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3
"Modern Warfare 3 doesn't take any chances with the tried-and-true formula. At launch, even the matchmaking playlists feature standard fare, but the robust Private Match customization options let you tweak the standards to your liking (even offering some of Black Ops' more interesting modes) and hold the possibility of odd permutations to come. Whatever diversions or innovations may lie in Modern Warfare 3's future, the competitive multiplayer still offers the same sweet satisfaction you've come to expect from the series. This is some of the best online shooter action around, and with the daunting challenges of Spec Ops and the exciting, globe-trotting campaign, Modern Warfare 3 stands tall as another great descendant of the game that changed a generation." [Read the review]
-- Chris Watters
Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 -- 8/10
"Though zombies mode is stagnating, the rest of Black Ops II is lively, and it's great to see some shifting in the familiar structure. Developer Treyarch's storytelling prowess has once again resulted in an engaging, exciting campaign, and the addition of league play to the online multiplayer arena is an intriguing change that could reinvigorate the formula that has endured for so long. By reaching forward while remaining rooted in the things it does so well, Black Ops II offers a great shooter experience." [Read the review]
-- Chris Watters
Call of Duty: Black Ops Declassified -- 2.5/10
"Crashes occur on a fairly regular basis, locking the system up. It's tough to stay connected to games, and even remaining hooked up to Wi-Fi can be a challenge. Call of Duty: Black Ops Declassified is a massive disappointment that tarnishes this highly regarded franchise. What's more, this is a blown opportunity for the Vita to garner itself a headline game and franchise that could have really energized the system. Instead, we get a quick, forgettable knockoff cranked out simply to take advantage of the buzz around the Black Ops name." [Read the review]
-- Brett Todd
Call of Duty: Ghosts -- 8/10
"From an exuberant campaign full of spectacle and variety to the way Extinction's unpredictable aliens force you to use those targeting skills in entirely new ways, Ghosts strikes an excellent balance between the familiar and the novel. This is a game that's keenly aware of the series' strengths, but doesn't find itself beholden to them. No matter what standard you apply, Call of Duty: Ghosts is a terrific first-person shooter." [Read the review]
-- Shaun Mcinnis
Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare -- 8/10
"The last time Call of Duty had “Warfare” in its subtitle, it led to a well-received trilogy that deftly transitioned the series away from a well-trodden global conflict to modern-day combat. If the settings of today have run their course just as World War II did years ago, Advanced Warfare makes for a convincing foundation of futuristic yet relatable combat that is worth exploring and expanding further. The huge change in player mobility is less of a paradigm shift and more of an overdue retooling for an 11-year-old FPS franchise, especially in a year of mobility-focused shooters. Yet for all its predictability, Advanced Warfare is a deluge of action-film bravado, and it's difficult to not be carried away by its tidal forces." [Read the review]
-- Miguel Concepcion
Call of Duty: Black Ops III -- 7/10
"There are fleeting moments when Black Ops III's cybernetic modifications change the way you play. These abilities let you control enemy drones, stun human opponents, or set fire to robots' internal systems. The powers would be more impactful, though, if there wasn't such a lack of enemy variety. Aside from flying drones and the occasional mech mini-boss, enemy variants just require differing numbers of bullets to take down. And when you're using them on such a repetitive group of targets, who react the same way every time, the abilities lose their novelty.
Although Black Ops III offers the option to play the campaign cooperatively, its problems only multiply as a result. Instead of creating deeper scenarios involving teamwork and communication between up to four players, Black Ops III decides to just throw more hardened enemies at you. One Warlord--an enemy that requires several magazines to bring down--is bothersome enough. Four of them together is downright frustrating. They feel more like brick walls than sentient soldiers.
Black Ops III's narrative doesn't support the campaign in any meaningful way, either. It tells an incomprehensible story about AI ascendancy and the moral grays of a hyper-connected future, raising intriguing questions but never bothering to answer them. At the end of it all, after hours of soulless shooting and unremarkable storytelling, Black Ops III delivered its nebulous twist, and I didn't dwell on it.
In its undead modes, and the first 10 hours of multiplayer, it excels. But in its campaign, it merely crawls forward. Black Ops III doesn't offer anything remarkable to the series, but does just enough to maintain the Call of Duty status quo. The franchise, however slowly, continues its inexorable march." [Read the review]
-- Mike Mahardy
Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare -- 8/10
"By venturing beyond Earth--and not just to other planets, but to space itself--Call of Duty found a canvas to produce its best story in years. It reinforces the notion that a game's narrative is only as good as its characters. Given the campaign's accomplishments in space combat, it's puzzling that no effort was made to replicate its zero-G sensations in Infinite Warfare's multiplayer. Consequently, the well-crafted Zombies mode is a more attractive, time-consuming proposition for those looking to play with friends. While no Call of Duty game has matched the comprehensive excellence of Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, the exploits of Reyes and Ethan are at least as memorable and moving as any deeds from “Soap” MacTavish and John Price during from the series' heyday." [Read the review]
-- Miguel Concepcion
Call of Duty: WWII -- 9/10
"Ultimately, if every shooter set in the European Theater of World War II is measured by how it depicts its D-Day landing--assuming it has such a mission--Call of Duty: WWII emphatically succeeds in its impactful designs and delivery. The sensation of riding the troop carrier as it approached the beach filled me with depression more than dread, knowing I'd survive eventually while many of my surrounding brothers in arms wouldn't. While not equally emotional, this battle's reinterpretation in War mode proves to be a highlight in a superb suite of competitive modes. Zombies rounds off this stellar return to form, effectively blending the ferocity of online cooperative play with the goal-driven satisfaction of found in the campaign. As one of the most comprehensive and filler-free Call of Dutys in recent memory, Call of Duty: WWII successfully capitalizes on the series' strengths" [Read the review]
-- Miguel Concepcion