Call of Duty: monumental; world-renowned; genre defining. It’s one of those media franchises that everyone, and I mean everyone, has heard of at least once in their life. Hell, I’d hazard a guess as to say that, despite maybe not hitting a knife-only tactical nuke, even 70 year old Judith a couple doors down is at least aware of CoD. Through a collaboration of many developers, and of course Activision as the overarching publisher, Call of Duty has taken off in more ways than would have been previously thought of for the humble video game.
But where am I going with all this? Well, with the recent release of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare – the latest CoD title that rebooted the breathtaking Modern Warfare series – Call of Duty is arguably back to the peak it experienced in the old MW2 and Black Ops days. It’s only natural to wonder, therefore, just how do the developers put together such an expert work of art, as well as an uber-fun game? Titan Books and author Andy McVittie have your answers, with the Making Call of Duty: Modern Warfare book – it’s a deep-dive into the characters, weapons, maps and everything else that is present in CoD: Modern Warfare.
Upon opening up this hardback, it’s immediately clear that this piece of merchandise carries through the moody tones that are weaved throughout the game. With swathes of dark blues, greys and blacks, the detail and pictures within are constantly submerged in a feeling of shrouding darkness and dreariness. So far, so Call of Duty. After a brief forward and introduction by Infinity Ward’s Art Director, Joel Emslie, we start to get our teeth into the main course of the meal.
Starting off with the characters and it’s not surprising to say that, like everything within the book, all of the main characters that you would expect are heavily detailed, to the point where you start to gather a real understanding as to the background of the figures, and why Infinity Ward crafted them as they did. As well as the usual subjects from the main game such as Farah, Alex and the notorious but dashing Captain Price, more minor characters from the campaign like Kate Laswell, the evil Butcher and Nikolai are also included. As is the norm for the book as a whole, what you get with the character pages is a bit of detail as to their design and placement within the story, as well as a number of concept art shots. There’s even room for the inclusion of the multiplayer operatives, as well as the performance capture and technical rigging technology that allows Infinity Ward to create characters using real-life actors, and then implement them into a digital skeleton. Also, as a side note, how cool is it that they have a ‘virtual camera’ which allows the actors to act ‘within’ the actual game?!
Next up on the agenda is a look at the weaponry and equipment that the player will deploy throughout Modern Warfare’s Campaign, Multiplayer and Special Ops. The first few pages of these sections gives a very limited overview of each weapon class – Handgun, SMG, Sniper etc.. Personally I would have loved to have seen a bit more information given here – perhaps Titan Books could have singled out some of the more popular guns for special attention. I for one would have loved to have understood more about the creation of my beloved 750 shotgun and M4A1 assault rifle combo.
In this ‘Weapons and Tech’ section there is also a segment which includes some of the killstreaks, handhold equipment, grenades and weapon attachments that many a player will encounter in their time with the game. Further to this, anyone wondering what the interior of a Modern Warfare vehicle looks like will be pleased with the section regarding the vehicles in the game. I also particularly enjoyed the information regarding the audio of the weaponry present in the game – the reason as to why some of the in-game guns sound so realistic is that many of the sounds were recorded by shooting their real-life counterparts!
Personally when I heard that I’d be getting my hands on the Making of Call of Duty book by Titan Books, the first excitement that sprang to mind was getting to gather a real understanding of the environments that the team over at Infinity Ward had crafted. And the third main section of the book provides just this; there is a deep-dive into the main areas that you will experience in both the campaign and multiplayer elements of the game. Expect to be looking at storyboards showing the creation and photo-realistic scenes of various maps – from the sniper’s paradise of the Euphrates Bridge to London Piccadilly Circus. As a proud Brit myself, the latter especially interested me, as it is clear to see that the development team pride themselves with attention to detail regarding realism. Oh – and it’s here that quite possibly the best Call of Duty mission ever took place… but I’m never one to give away a spoiler.
The jury is still out as to whether Modern Warfare has the multiplayer maps to contend with the best of the best, but this book certainly goes a long way in allowing you to appreciate just how painstakingly accurate the game’s environment creations are. The secret? Well, the development team routinely head out to real-world locations for inspiration, and capture images that they can recreate as a photo-realistic render, ensuring the optimum in visual fidelity.
Closing out the Making of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, and there is enough room in these 191 pages of content to mention how the User Interface of the game, especially in multiplayer, was created. As well as mentioning the creation of the notorious kill-cam and the graphics shown when calling in killstreaks, the ‘Graphics’ chapter also provides information on how the development team had to create mock-up brand logos, body tattoos, faction insignias and more, just to hammer home the fact that Call of Duty: Modern Warfare is one of the most realistic looking games around. It goes to show that it isn’t just game visuals that play the part of realism and immersion, but something as simple as including a fake fizzy drink logo gives you no opportunity to tear yourself out of the experience. It doesn’t all need to be in your face to have an impact, it seems.
Overall, and Titan Books’ Making of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare does exactly what is asked of it. It’s an in-depth look at the various elements of the latest Call of Duty title, and it does the job in showing to the outsider just how much work and effort is poured into the making of one of the biggest games of the year. No wonder the Call of Duty franchise has sold 250 million units and netted itself $10 billion in the process – it’s not just a game that’s developed by coders. Instead it has a full team of researchers, actors and, of course, all the newest technology that all culminate to produce a complete work of gaming art.
Huge thanks go out to Titan Books for providing the opportunity for us to look into this book. If you want to pick up the Titan Books Making of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare book for yourself, it will set you back £35.00 either from Titan Books themselves or Amazon. It makes for the perfect Christmas gift for any hardcore Call of Duty fan, or indeed someone who just wants to know what it takes to make a world-famous video game. Get it for Judith, perhaps?