Dogs are everywhere. They’re filling up our houses, hiding under our beds and spilling out of our cupboards. They’re cluttering our streets, riding their BMXes around us menacingly and poking their heads out of dustbins in the background.
You can no longer walk down the street without having to wade through a chest-deep morass of corgis. When’s the last time you saw a bus that wasn’t being operated by a team of dogs, two small ones operating the pedals and a big one to turn the steering wheel? And how many times have you tried to eat a hotdog so delicious that you close your eyes in anticipation of your first bite, only to bite down on thin air, having had the sausage snatched away and gobbled up by an opportunistic chihuahua?
How many times indeed. It seems we have allowed dogs to take over. As a society, you could say we have gone barking mad. (Barking like a dog.)
Games are hardly immune to this rising tide of dog appreciation either. In a cynical attempt to cash in on our recent fascination with all things canine, almost every game released or announced in the past few months has featured dogs in some capacity.
Grand Theft Auto V has a dog that sh**s all over your house until you install an iPhone app, Ubisoft’s Watch Dogs is reportedly just a game about watching some puppies attempting to run up a slide in a playground, and David Cage’s recent Playstation 3 adventure Beyond: Two Souls takes place entirely inside a dying labrador’s memory.
But it’s the dual war-boner behemoths of Call of Duty: Ghosts and Battlefield 4 that star perhaps the two most remarkable dogs in gaming right now. They may seem like very similar army pooches, but how do these brave soldier mutts stack up against one another? Let’s consider the facts, by which I mean let’s watch both games’ launch trailers.
DOG ONE - CALL OF DUTY: GHOSTS
In their respective games, these special-trained and battle-hardened dogs operate at the two extremes of canines behaviour. In Call of Duty: Ghosts the dog can be seen biting a terrorist helicopter pilot right on his helicopter piloting arm, sending him spinning out of control and, serendipitously, into a human pyramid of terrorists-in-training.
In Call of Duty the dog is portrayed as a hero, standing alongside his human squadmates as an equal. He is a dog willing to be threshed to hairy ribbons by deadly helicopter blades in order to preserve the security of his nation. A proud dog, a handsome dog. Top marks.
Battlefield 4’s dog will have to meet a high standard if it wants to be taken as seriously — let’s hope it’s not simply being punched to death by that game’s main character.
DOG TWO - BATTLEFIELD 4
In Battlefield 4 we see a dog being punched to death by that game’s main character, which is no doubt an alarming development for an intelligent animal with little concept of our human wars, an animal who was drafted into the army against his will and trained to bite men in return for porkchops and cuddles.
This simple and swift act of canine brutality, which admittedly may be just a tiny part of the dog’s overall performance in Battlefield 4, sends a rather confusing message to players, or at least to columnists who have watched the launch trailer and then hastily drawn their own conclusions.:
Is this the same dog? Why is he having such a miserable time? Is Battlefield 4 anti-dog? Has developer DICE seen the extensive positive attention lavished upon its competitor’s incredible, bomb-defusing, helicopter-fighting dog and in retaliation launched a petty and violent vendetta against all dogs?
Is DICE’s mo-cap studio filled with limping and terrified dogs, like some harrowing canine version of the beach landing scene from Saving Private Ryan?
“Oh, so you like dogs do you?” DICE are almost seeming to say, with a condescending sneer, “well let’s see how you like it when dogs get punched in our trailers.” What awful business, if anything written in this paragraph turns out to be true.
All other factors aside then, it’s clear that Call of Duty: Ghosts hosts the most brilliant dog, and that DICE should probably be investigated by the police. I’m not making any accusations here. All I’m asking is that we simply check that their studios are not built on top of a pile of dog skeletons.