Call of Duty Modern Warfare and its recent successor, Modern Warfare 2, it's not surprising that developers are aiming for similar things these two games achieved and what they think made these game such phenomenons. Crazy, over-the-top moments, ranking, customizing, and rewarding systems dominant in Call of Duty games seep into other shooters. Non-stop action seems to be the 'big' thing at this moment.
But Call of Duty has its share of flaws not simply exclusive to itself; and considering how new shooters want to imitate its formula, these problems are quite noticeable. These following points are not necessarily the most significant issues, but they were definitely not being focused on during development and could make major improvements in gameplay if dealt with.
One issue is that non-stop action is not the most effective way of delivering emotions to the player, whether that's fear, an adrenaline rush, or the feeling of being a badass. Too much of a good thing will undoubtedly dilute their impact on the player, and I'm sure others have noticed this while playing Modern Warfare 2. Rushing from one shooting arena to the next within five seconds, and incredibly over-the-top scripted events happening in every mission... the players barely have time to breathe!
The underrated aspect of shooters in question here is down time â sections in the games where no action is taking place. The ultimate purpose of playing a shooter is to shoot things, but these moments of down-time can build tension and anticipation, resulting in a shootout that feels more meaningful than simply being put into the fight.
In my personal opinion, the best moments in Call of Duty are not the intense fights, but the slow, methodical moments during the 'stealth' missions. One only fires a few bullets during those segments, but each shot fired is more impactful to the player.
Another issue dominant in modern shooters is AI. Many games receive criticism for bad artificial intelligence, for both friendly and enemy units; however, my complaint is that the enemies are not 'dumb' enough. Allow me to elaborate.
Players like to feel that they're in control over the battlefield when playing a shooter, and AI probably has one of the greatest influences on giving that emotion. An example of 'dumb' AI being done right is Batman: Arkham Asylum. Although it's not a shooter, it's AI is the level shooters should be aiming for. Upon getting attacked, the enemy AI show distinct signs of worrying, walking around and searching for the player. They behave 'realistically', but at the same time never know exactly where you are. This allows the player to toy with them to his satisfaction until he makes a silly mistake that causes him to be spotted.
AI in modern shooters is that they're too smart. When the player is given the opportunity to assault a group of unsuspecting enemies, upon releasing the first bullet, every enemy within proximity will turn without hesitation and unleash their hail of bullets. Not only that, but they will do so with incredible accuracy. What is the purpose of setting up scenarios like that? Ideally, it would be to allow the player to quickly and lethally eliminate a handful of enemies taking minimal damage, but in our games, they turn out into a regular shooter. Ideally, the AI would look upon their dead teammate and behave like they're searching for the shooter, not knowing the exact position of the player, maybe even looking in the opposite direction on purpose.
I experienced this problem less so in Call of Duty, as the majority of the enemy actions are heavily scripted (whether this is good or bad in games is debatable), and more so in Battlefield Bad Company 2. In certain missions, I crept over a hill to have a nice view over an entire enemy stronghold and was given a sniper to deal with them. Unfortunately, after firing that first bullet, enemies from all corners of their base fired at me, and I wasn't getting the feeling of satisfaction. In fact, it was rather tedious: tracing the bullets to their origin, creeping around a corner, and shooting the NPCs down one by one. The easy fix would have been to reduce the NPC's accuracy, forcing most of the bullets to fly around me and force a sense of tension in me, but like I explained before, AI is essential in perfecting these kinds of encounters, and should not be quickly glanced over by developers.