I gotta say, nothing illustrates ‘the death of truth’ more than using Yuri Bezmenov’s famous speech about the KGB’s manipulation tactics in advertising for a shooty game.
I keep drifting back to the documentary HyperNormalisation more and more. So, the death of truth is already passed… How about the death of irony?
Anyway… I’m really curious to see if this game changes up the formula in any meaningful way. In my mind, I’m hoping they look back to the espionage heavy levels of WW2’s campaign, seeing as how the cold war was more about data than land taken. I doubt it, knowing Black Ops’ history, but I’m hoping that with the CoD fans main focus being on the very popular Modern Warfare reboot, that they can really take the time to explore their franchise in a meaningful way.
I’m a huge cold war fiction fan. (Failsafe is a much better film than Strangelove. Come at me.) And I will ALWAYS defend Black Ops 1 for going HOG WILD with Manchurian Candidate Cold War fluff.
I mean come on, this shit is pure goofy fun:
But this one seems to be leaning into the long term effects of the cold war in a way that was brushed aside as set dressing in the first black ops. Telling stories about the Cold War is always going to be rooted in xenophobia, racism, redistricting, global conflict, total annihilation, total war, crime, revolution, etc. Pretty much EVERYTHING that informs our modern politics today. I just wonder, with morons on youtube saying CALL OF DUTY IS REDPILLING THE KIDS if they’re stepping into really problematic territory here.
“This game is dedicated to the brave Mujahideen fighters of Afghanistan”
On the one hand, I want to engage with what this game will, inevitably, get wrong about the Cold War because a lot of people play Call of Duty. It’s a cultural barometer. But, then again, there’s a million other more important things I can devote my brain power to that isn’t a CoD that’ll be immediately memory holed, like all of its predecessors
A conspiratorial liberal fever dream, eaten up by reactionary nut jobs on the internet. Either this is a successful, cynical trailer strategy by the marketing department and the game will just be cookie cutter propaganda like usual, or this will be one off the biggest political narrative clusterf*cks in the industry in a long time surpassing the other COD games by quite a bit.
I’m leaning towards the first option, but in a morbid way, I’d almost respect it if they just went balls to the wall McCarthyist on this one, openly relating it in the worst way possible, to the present crisis of the US. Even though it would be abhorrent.
Is it already clear where the game takes place? Will we get what would basically amount to a rehash of the locations of Black Ops 1? The trailer suggests, it will be focus more on domestic US politics (with all the conspiracy nonsense of course) than the typical stiff military shenanigans.
Edit: Of course, they could also pull the rug out from under our feet and actually tell an interesting story about the Cold War as an historical period with context and how it made our present, without a “US good, Commies bad” moral underlying everything. But for some reason, I doubt that.
My guess is that they’re going to go for The Americans as a cultural mirror. The use of stock footage is very reminiscent of how that show’s intro starts:
While that show is fun at times, I still cringe when I remember Oliver North wrote a few episodes.
I actually looked up the agent referenced in the trailer, Perseus, and it seems like they were more active in the 40s and 50s. My guess is that it’s going to be THE TRUE STORY HOW OUR GOOD AMERICAN TROOPS STOPPED COMMIE EVIL AND KILLED PERSEUS.
My dream for a complicated game set on the East and West lines of Berlin exploring both sides will never be…
Its a cold war story set in the 80s about two Soviet agents embedded in American Civilian life referred to as Illegals. It’s over the top and dramatic, but it does play with the idea that the United States can be as sinister as the Soviets were in the secret war. PLAYS with, but never really commits to anything. Like I said, Oliver North wrote for it.
I stopped watching it though. Some of the narrative choices bugged me too much.
It has one of the most hilarious out of context scenes ever tho:
I wonder how it’s going for them. I think this year was supposed to be Sledgehammer’s turn and Treyarch was slated for next year, but for whatever reason Activision decided that Treyarch needed to put their game out this year. I wonder what they were able to assemble when losing a full year of development time.
Still one of my favorite video game moments ever. I genuinely love the narrative in Black Ops:
And I kind of wanted to get a little heavy? The new trailer is playing with some weird, specific history that is directly referenced to today’s politics involving Trump.
Can you like the aesthetic of conspiracy while acknowledging how fucked up it is? Blacked out text, secret societies, mind control, grey aliens is ALL very my shit. From Black Ops to X-Files. And I know the baggage that comes with it, I know that this was a terrifying time in history. Maybe its still too soon, affects too many people STILL today. I used to be one of those people who’d say, “I miss when conspiracy stuff was fun! Bigfoot and aliens!” But I know how much of it doubles back to xenophobia, anti-antisemitism, etc…
Oh yea, I’m totally up for Cold War fiction that engages with deeper themes of politics, economics, and lived human experience. But I’ve got no faith they’ll provide that. So I’ll just be happy if I can get number stations and dolphin dives whenever I play this as a free PS+ title. That reminds me, I still gotta finish WWII…
I agree with you, but I also believe that, while these conspiracy narratives by their very conception of ‘how history happens’ have always (at least since the massive conspiracies surrounding the French Revolution) leaned towards reaction, I think there is way to think about conspiratorial thinking and narratives from a more “left” or “radical” point of view.
The Radio War Nerd Episodes on the “Years of Lead” in Italy for example are very good (and sadly behind a paywall).
I also found A.M Gittlitz’ approach to “Parapolitics” in his Book “I Want to Believe: Posadism and Leftwing UFOlogy” (though that’s firstly a history of the movement centering the weird Argentinian Trotskyist J. Posadas), as well as the episodes on Operation Gladio (https://fans.fm/p/9010DXY) and MK-Ultra (https://fans.fm/p/djQMvAe) on his Podcast “The Antifada” to be interesting.
The Cold War scenario is essential in all of them, of course, though it’s broader than that.
Hell, this is probably already putting much more thought into the game than it deserves. The marketing is clearly working.
Isn’t that supposed to be the same character? If not they look weirdly similar.
Maybe you are playing the alleged spy “Perseus” (not much known about them or even sure if they existed) and this image represents the duality of the life of a spy? But this would imply thst you are playing on the soviet side, which is, let’s face it, impossible. Unless they go completely of the rails with it and do a reverse heel turn, of course.
As far as I know, there were already undercover characters you controlled in Call of Duty, so this could fit.
The infamous mission No Russian where you gun down a Russian airport that acts as a false flag to trigger a Russian invasion of America has you playing as an undercover (i think) CIA agent which is funny since the narrative is “damn this evil Russian framing America for participating in a terrorist atrocity” ignoring that the authorities find an American who literally participated in a terrorist atrocity.
Also typing that back reminded me of the amazingly ludicrous Call of Duty campaigns. I’m normally completely willing to accept virtually anything a narrative throws at me and yet even 16 year old saw the Modern Warfare 2 campaign unfolding and said “hold on a sec… How?”
I never will understand the appeal of Call of Duty games post-WWII anyway. But like, I really don’t understand why they treat this series like it’s any kind of prestige story. Like, why do they take any of this seriously?
Call of Duty is more or less the Transformers of video games franchises. You either hate these games or you don’t care, you just want to shoot things. These games are not Last of Us-level prestige where critics even buy the bullshit.
Like, if I’m running Call of Duty and want to make a Cold War game, I’m going full cheese with it.
The original Black Ops was so racist it had to make Mason do the Russian Roulette scene from the also racist The Deerhunter.
Treyarch’s edgy nihilism would be fine for a big shoot bang game on its own, but then the through line between each of the Black Ops games is: “The CIA have done and continue to do some messed up shit… and that’s fucking rad as hell”
I play all the CoD games eventually. Treyarch’s have the lowest hit rate for me, even though they’re probably the most creatively risky team in the CoD stable. The original Black Ops got off light with me because of my affinity for Cold War aesthetics, but when I revisited it last year I was reminded that they totally tried to make the Bay of Pigs seem like a cool thing that should have turned out differently and they played butt rock over shooting NVA soldiers with incendiary rounds.
In a deeply politically bad franchise, the blops series is by far the most cursed.
This kind of media can be perversely fun if you’re able to laugh at the preposterous depth of American mental gymnastics around one of the most horrifying and complicit acts its entire identity is forever based upon…
But the COLD AND BOLD PRESTIGE TV version of false edge this shit evolved into doesn’t give me much hope for a Numbers Mason romp. Like the rest of the right wing these days, it’s going to get too angry to be funny beyond extra broad analysis of how shitass it all is.
but seeing some wacky blops 1 guns rendered with those fancy new animation systems might be neat to look at, so there’s that.