From the historically immortal beaches of Normandy to the vast expanses of outer space, the Call of Duty franchise's lengthy catalog of titles has covered a lot of ground, and each subsequent release has tinkered with its established and wildly successful gameplay formula in some way to keep things interesting. At this point, the franchise as a whole has become a definitive juggernaut within the gaming industry through milestone titles like Modern Warfare.
However, not every iteration of the world's leading soldier-dude simulator was received with open arms and sweaty palms. As it tends to go with many attempts to reinvent the wheel, the hype sometimes fails to align with the final result. To make this abundantly obvious, GameRant has dredged the depths of Metacritic to see which five Call of Duty titles failed the hardest, as well as which five were the figurative cream of the Call of Duty crop.
10 BEST: Call of Duty: Black Ops (88)
Although it definitely wasn't Treyarch's first successful crack at the franchise, Blacks Ops was the title that would set the precedent for an endless debate between Treyarch and Infinity Ward fans for years to come. And it definitely had more than enough selling points to do so.
Although the multiplayer component is integral to the success of any Call of Duty title, what really stood out with Black Ops was the campaign. Revolving around a deeply cerebral plot rife with political intrigue and clandestine operations, the story of protagonist Alex Mason would serve well enough for a film adaptation.
9 WORST: Call of Duty: Ghosts (78)
The problem with Call of Duty: Ghosts wasn't necessarily that it was a terrible game, because it really wasn't. Its root issue was rather that it failed to innovate or press the franchise forward in any meaningful way, resulting in a painfully mediocre experience that did little more than maintain the status quo.
The single player campaign packed in one of the least immersive and unoriginal plots in the franchise's history. And although the multiplayer component did manage to rope in a few neat bells and whistles, it wasn't inventive enough to avoid unfavorable comparisons with the series' more successful hallmark titles.
8 BEST: Call of Duty 2 (89)
The first direct sequel established in the Call of Duty franchise was an incredibly strong entry, finding booming success as a launch title for the Xbox 360. It was graphically impressive for its time, and it introduced gameplay systems that would persist throughout the many games to follow, such as regenerating health.
The multiplayer did have a little room for improvement, which would be taken advantage of as the series charged onward. The single player campaign was one of the best in the series, exploring the events of World War II through the eyes of the British, the Soviets and the usual American perspective in the same manner as its predecessor.
7 WORST: Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare (78)
Infinite Warfare was met with criticism from the very moment of its announcement, with the associated trailer achieving the dubious honor of becoming the second most disliked video on YouTube at the time. Even channeling the rising star power of Game of Thrones' Kit Harrington for the campaign did little to help matters.
Although the game would release to adequate critical reception, there was simply no disguising the considerable fan displeasure concerning the series' increasing inclination towards advanced movement and science fiction components in the wake of Black Ops III.
6 BEST: Call of Duty (91)
It should be less than surprising to see the game that started it all receiving high critical praise, but credit is deserved where it is plainly due. Managing to stand out at the time of its release in 2003 was no mean feat, as the World War II shooter genre was already well saturated at the time.
The amount of realism and care invested into crafting an authentic gameplay experience was incredible at the time. It was one of the first shooters to feature aim-down-sight mechanics as a standard, and atmospheric effects such as the "shellshock" experienced via nearby explosions really connected with FPS enthusiasts.
5 WORST: Call of Duty: Finest Hour (76)
Although the Call of Duty series has become synonymous with FPS gaming on consoles, its first true foray into the living room market wasn't particularly well received. Finest Hour is an awkward and poorly remembered entry into the series that doesn't see a great deal of discussion.
It's a sort of half-way point between a standalone game and an expansion of the original title's storyline, with the plot unfolding in a manner structurally similar to its predecessor. Its reviews were pretty well mixed, as despite coming out only a year after the series debut title, it was already being held to higher standards.
4 BEST: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (94)
Although Modern Warfare 2 had a big set of shoes to fill after the rousing success of the original Modern Warfare, it was still such a huge hit among fans that some would still name it as the absolute high point of the Modern Warfare series.
For the most part, Infinity Ward obviously didn't see the need to fix what wasn't broken. It continued the adrenaline fueled, thrill-a-minute plot line of the original in terms of the campaign, while managing to bring enough gameplay refinements and new toys to the multiplayer in order to keep things fresh.
3 WORST: Call of Duty: Roads to Victory (64)
Any attempt to convert the Call of Duty formula to a handheld format has largely met with disaster, and Roads to Victory is no exception to the rule. It was developed as a Call of Duty 3 spin-off for the Sony PSP, and critics were a lot less than kind about the result.
Almost the entirety of the game was subject to scathing criticism. Whether it was the clunky and ungainly control scheme, the multitude of gameplay bugs, or the remarkably terrible AI programming, it seems like everyone found a bone to pick with this attempt to make the Call of Duty experience a little more mobile.
2 BEST: Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare (94)
Though the series had seen its share of success preceding it, this is, hands down, the title that is most responsible for making the Call of Duty franchise a household name. Bringing the conventionally World War II-based series into the modern era was, to say the very least of it, a bold and rewarding move.
The action packed campaign introduced fan favorite characters such as John "Soap" MacTavish and Captain Price, and the multiplayer lobby has been nostalgically etched into the memories of gamers the world over. Modern Warfare is the game that truly put Call of Duty on the map, and there it has remained to this very day.
1 WORST: Call of Duty: Black Ops Declassified (33)
Obviously having failed to learn any lessons offered by previous attempts to do so, Black Ops Declassified is yet another failed attempt to bring an authentic Call of Duty experience to handheld consoles. Even beyond that, it is perhaps the very worst of them, if not the worst game in the entirety of the franchise.
Developed and released for the Playstation Vita, it's difficult to find anything that this game actually did right. Even the plot is disjointed and disappointing, despite channeling the usually above par storytelling involved in the Black Ops series. Even the multiplayer falls flat on its face, which is an unforgivable sin in a Call of Duty title.