With Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 being released in November, Infinity Ward’s new effort will be judged by many. As such, it’s a good time to look back at the differences between the two CoD Developers Treyarch and Infinity Ward. We’ll look at different aspects in both Treyarch and Infinity Ward games, while comparing and contrasting the two studios in style and quality.
All Call of Duty games have a bit of Quake III’s code inside them, and this is very apparent in the multiplayer. Let’s face it, besides the “realism”, the speed, and the aim-down-sights gameplay, both Quake and Call of Duty multiplayer games have similar objectives, namely; shoot everyone in sight, or everyone on the other team within a small environment. Infinity Ward has stuck truer to Quake III’s code, with fast, accurate shooting, that downs your foes in a few shots. You also sprint quite quickly. Treyarch, on the other hand, has distanced their shooting from Quake III, with slower, less accurate shooting, that can make you spend up to an entire clip on one enemy, depending on the weapon. It’s a matter of preference, really, but I prefer Infinity Ward’s shooting. It feels like accuracy matters, that if you aim at a guy and shoot first, you’re guaranteed a kill. Not so much the case with Treyarch games, which can make it feel far less satisfying to score a kill.
The campaigns in both Treyarch and Infinity Ward games are quite similar, mechanically, though they differ in small ways. Treyarch includes multiple vehicles and turret sequences in all of their titles, including Black Ops, World at War, and Call of Duty 3. This can vary the action, though the meat of the campaign, the point-to-point shooting, is quite dull in Treyarch’s titles. The big problem is that there are very few varieties of gameplay outside of vehicles and turrets, leaving the gunplay to stand on its own (which, as I’ve already said, I’m not a fan of). Infinity Ward, on the other hand, creates better stealth sections than Treyarch (because you do more than hit the melee button a few times), has more variety in level scenarios, while still having those standard turret sequences.
In World at War, Treyarch introduced the wildly popular Nazi Zombies co-op game mode, where players fought off hordes of zombies while unlocking new areas in the environment, new weapons, and new abilities/traps. Like the competitive multiplayer, Nazi Zombies has some RPG-lite mechanics such as the abilities and currency, and the popularity of the game mode sold several more map packs for World at War. Treyarch reintroduced this in Black Ops, with similar mechanics, and sillier maps, such as “Five”, where JFK, Castro, Nixon, and Mcnamara fight off the zombie menace. Like WaW, the Zombies mode in Black Ops has inspired many new map packs, most recently including the Rezzurection map pack, with all 5 maps being exclusive to the Zombies game mode.
Infinity Ward, on the other hand, has gone the other way with their co-op game mode, making it less similar to the competitive multiplayer, and more similar to the campaign, except with a friend, in the Spec Ops game mode. Spec Ops uses distilled, short missions inspired by the campaigns of Modern Warfare 1 and 2, or completely original ones, and encourages players to play through all of them multiple times, trying to improve on their times, and beating them on higher difficulties. Spec Ops was also quite successful, though it never sold any map packs for Modern Warfare 2.
The focused objectives in Spec Ops, as well as the variety the multiple co-op missions present, makes it an addictive and incredibly enjoyable experience. Many swear by the Zombies mode found in Treyarch titles, so it must be preference, but I enjoy the Spec Ops mode far more.
Treyarch games have always been far more brutal than anything Infinity Ward has offered. Sure, Infinity Ward created “No Russian”, but remember that Treyarch has brained several characters, put out a cigar stub in a prisoner’s eye, dismembered and set several enemies on fire, and more. Knives produce a lot more blood in Black Ops than in Modern Warfare 2, dogs lunge on you to kill you, or end up being stabbed/shot, and the whole plot in Black Ops revolves around a deadly bioweapon in Russian hands. The execution and nuke scenes in Modern Warfare look like child’s play by comparison.
Infinity Ward and Treyarch aim for very separate visual styles, starting with the first Modern Warfare. Infinity Ward creates very clean, sharp, and smooth looking games, even in Call of Duty 4, which for a run-down, war torn environment, looked rather clean in multiplayer. Treyarch, perhaps in an attempt to create an identity for themselves, create environments with the exact opposite in mind. Treyarch’s games look deliberately rough, dirty, run down, and gritty. Weapons have a lot more wear and tear, character’s bare hands are usually visible (and dirty), and environments are a lot dirtier. Perhaps as a result of the development cycle timing between Infinity Ward and Treyarch, Treyarch games always look better than Infinity Ward games. As a graphical side note, fire looks quite great in Treyarch games, while Infinity Ward fire looks merely good.
It goes without saying that this is all my opinion. Agree or disagree? Sound off in the comments below.