(PC, PS3, Xbox 360)
It is tough to include this on the list. Once we let in an annually released series-game like Call of Duty, then you have to look at Madden, Rockband/Guitar Hero, and every other franchise that releases a title every year like a deranged bunny dead set on churning out as many offspring as possible. The Madden franchise will sell a billion copies (or so), and although there will be a few new tweaks, maybe slightly better graphics and some new gimmick that EA promises will revolutionize the game but no one really cares about – if you own the previous entry, odds are you are set. Nothing against Madden, it is a great game (with a TON of loyal fans that can be known to destroy forums…), but it is not a game that we get excited about because we are so used to it that we know what we are getting. So adding franchises that have yearly products is a slippery slope. But Call of Duty is different, and Call of Duty: Black Ops especially so.
If you haven’t heard, the makers of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 1 & 2, Infinity Ward have… changed. If you ask Activision, they just trimmed the fat and made the developer a leaner company, hungry to dominate your mind with new awesomeness! If you read the multiple lawsuits against Activision by former Infinity Ward employees, you might go reach for your pitchfork and torches to storm the castle of the evil publisher. The truth is probably somewhere in the middle, but that is another story. Perhaps they will release Call of Duty: Civil Litigation to answer those questions.
Call of Duty: Black Ops made the list for two reasons. First, now that Infinity Ward is a shell of itself and likely to either close down or at least be rebuilt so completely that it will be a different company, the mantle of the Call of Duty franchise has officially been passed to Activision’s in-house developer Treyarch. Maybe not passed, as much as thrown on top of. Treyarch was behind the third and fifth Call of Duty games, both of which sold well, but neither made the impact that the Infinity Ward games did. A lot is riding on this game, and it will probably sell well regardless, but the reputation of the franchise is at stake with the fans that will be eyeing this game warily as they decide whether or not their loyalty to Infinity Ward outweighs their desire to blow stuff up real pretty.
The second reason that Call of Duty: Black Ops is on this list is because the trailer looks freaking awesome. Either way we will probably buy it and, even if it is the best game ever, you can expect forums upon forums filled with lists of reasons on how Infinity Ward would have done it better.