Whether you’re fanatical about it, or you think it can go frag itself, it’s an undeniable fact that Call Of Duty is one of the most popular franchises in gaming.
Each instalment breaks the spectacular sales record set by its predecessor. The only exception to that rule being the latest, Call Of Duty: Ghosts. First-day sales have been weakened because some gamers are waiting for 4th-gen consoles later in the month.
Gamers with money to spend.
That is to say, middle-aged gamers.
Despite the big yellow PEGI 16 tag on the box, an awful lot of the voices you hear over your headset when you’re playing COD or its cousins will be the squeaky tones of pre-teen warriors. With the occasional interjection from their exasperated Mums, when their pleas for L337G4M3R_69 to stop playing that silly game and do his homework get picked up by the Kinect.
Let’s set aside for now the moral and legal issues around underage kids playing 16 and 18 certificate games. The real problem is how infuriatingly good they are. Young nervous systems are running the biological equivalent of gigabit Ethernet. By the time you’re 40, a sinister coalition of age, tiredness, and the hangover from the work pre-Christmas drinks will have throttled your reaction time down to 10BaseT at best.
Besides, you’ve got a job. And a life. You can fit in a couple of hours of multiplayer a week if you’re lucky. The junior assassins you’ll be competing against have nothing but time. They know those maps better than they know the names of King Henry VIII’s wives.
Yes, it’s only a game. But no-one wants to spend a whole afternoon pressing the ‘respawn’ button. Here are 10 tips to give grumpy old gamers the edge. Tips I have formulated through bitter, bitter experience.
1: Choose the right game mode
Free For All is an absolute no-no. The newer, more hectic modes such as Cranked are if anything worse. You want a nice objective-based mode where you can stop and have a think now and then. If straight-up mayhem is what you logged on for, at least try Team Deathmatch, where you can rely on other members of your team to avenge your numerous deaths. In regular Team Deathmatch team damage defaults to ‘off,’ so you can afford to open up on anything that moves without worrying about offing one of your own guys. Or there’s Kill Confirmed, which is pretty much the same thing but without snipers blowing your head off as soon as you spawn.
2: Pick the right perks
Perks that help with reaction time are key. Forget anything that makes you run faster. They’ll have you running into trouble more often than they’ll help you sprint out of it. Ready Up give you an edge in medium-range engagements. Ditto Quickdraw. Sitrep not only flags up dangerous IEDs to older, less sharp, eyes but in doing so gives you a clue where snipers are dug in. Amplify is such a powerful perk, it feels positively unsporting to use it.
3: Load up with add-ons
You’ll have your own preferred weapon. But the Remington R5 or the MTAR are the choice of the true Grumpy Old Gamer. High damage and low recoil are the ideal properties for the commando in varifocals. Whatever you choose, armour-piercing and muzzle brake give you a little more punch at longer ranges. And let’s face it, you don’t want to let those battle-Biebers get too close. They’ll knife you as soon as look at you.
4: Load up with hardware
Here’s where being a Middle-Aged Gamer really pays off. A massive telly will help you decide whether that dark blob in the distance is an enemy sniper, or whether you’re just wasting perfectly good bullets on scenery. Connecting your console to a surround-sound system enhances your awareness even more. Sound is especially helpful when it comes to flanking enemy positions. Remember I said consider equipping Amplify? This is why.