If there’s a single most common criticism of Infinity Ward’s annual modern military FPS Call of Duty, it’s that the series is suffering from franchise fatigue and each new game is far too similar to the last. Infinity Ward has made some effort towards rejuvenating things in Call of Duty: Ghosts, which has a playable dog character called Riley and female soldiers in the multiplayer, but the latest round of reviews have been unforgiving and have criticized the game for being over-familiar. New evidence suggests that this feeling of deja vu is not just an illusion.
Video game developers often reuse existing assets, such as textures or character models, when making a sequel, but it appears that Infinity Ward has gone one step further. As the side-by-side comparison above shows, a cutscene from near the beginning of Call of Duty: Ghosts singleplayer campaign is virtually identical to a cutscene from the end of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. The characters have been reskinned, the environment is slightly different and the player is being dragged towards a truck instead of a helicopter, but the motion capture animations and camera movement appear to be a direct copy-and-paste job.
There are a few possible explanations as to how this might have happened. Infinity Ward could be trying out some hilarious self-referential humor by literally taking cutscene material from an old game and sticking it in a new one, or there could be some kind of profound subtext to the scene that comments upon the nature of war and the endless cycle of death that repeats itself without apparent end.
The somewhat less kind interpretation is that the copy-and-paste job is the result of either laziness on the part of the game designers or a symptom of the crushing time constraints required to get Call of Duty: Ghosts completed on schedule. The latter is probably the far more likely explanation, as it’s easy to imagine the developers reaching into old motion capture scenes in order to finish piecing the game together by the deadline.
If the cutscene is an homage to Modern Warfare 2 then it’s a very obscure one, but if it’s not an homage then it was somewhat naive of Infinity Ward to hope that no one would notice. Tell us in the comments if you’ve spotted any more cutscenes in Call of Duty: Ghosts that seem to use recycled motion capture material.
Call of Duty: Ghosts is now available for PC, PS3, Wii U and Xbox 360 platforms. Next-gen editions of the game are scheduled to launch alongside their respective consoles, on November 15th (PlayStation 4) and November 22nd (Xbox One).
Follow Hannah on Twitter @HSW3K.