The year is 2011. We’re nearing the home stretch of the 360 and PS3 console generation. We’re seeing really cool games that push the power of their hardware, while also being fun as hell to play.
One day, while browsing on Twitter like I usually do, someone I followed retweeted this gem by one Clifford Bleszinski:
Naturally, being the curious guy I am, I checked out the website and found out there was a free game there. I download the 700MB installer, not knowing what to expect.
Duty Calls: The Calm Before the Storm is a parody game that makes fun of the long-standing Call of Duty franchise. This is very apparent by the logo that makes fun of the old Call of Duty logo, to even that important disclaimer that Activision had nothing to do with it. Because the last thing they needed were lawsuits.
Parodying games in other games is a fickle thing. Sometimes you can be right on point and make it funny, otherwise you end up just making half-baked references that fall flat and seem incredibly dated, like Duke Nukem Forever rejecting Master Chief’s power armor, saying it’s “for pussies.”
With a parody like this, it can only go up from there, so let’s give it a try.
Our adventure begins with an introductory cutscene learning about some secret base, complete with a Call of Duty-style talking about how war has changed, and yet war never changes. It oddly reminded me of that song from Idle Thumbs about the wizard.
After that, our intrepid shooterguy drops in with an M4 assault rifle and a secret base to find by some random commander dude. So let’s jump into the fray and fight the big bad.
I could do a play-by-play, much like I did with my last article on CTU Marine Sharpshooter, but this game is short. I beat it in 10 minutes. Not only that, this game relies on such silly gags like the one below, thus if I showed you every gag you wouldn’t wanna play it, so here’s a sampling instead.
Duty Calls throws a lot of jabs at Call of Duty, usually referencing its fairly linear nature, its over-emphasis on slow motion action scenes, even making fun of the silly rank progression of COD‘s multiplayer. The only thing it doesn’t make fun of is being penalized for going out of bounds. Oh well, can’t have everything, I guess.
Oddly, a lot of Duty Calls parody elements tend to make fun of the Modern Warfare era of COD, rather than Black Ops, which was the most recent game at the time. I guess American jingoism makes for better humor than Alex Mason’s yelling how he “keeps hearing the fucking numbers” while fighting Vietcong and Soviets. I’m surprised no one made fun of that, Black Ops is like an ’80s B-grade action movie that almost parodies itself, really.
I won’t spoil the ending, but it’s gloriously stupid, really hammering the American patriotism home in almost a cartoonish way. There are also a lot of subtle gags, so give yourself time to poke around the minuscule world.
This is such a goofy game. I wonder why CliffyB would advertise such a thing? Did he find some amusing parody game and hoist it onto the world for everyone to see?
Oh right. Bulletstorm was coming out around this time. This was a god damn advergame for that game, full of leashing dudes, combo points and Steve Blum yelling dicktits and other compound swear words. You done got me this time, Dude Huge. Well played.
This parody game was made by Other Ocean Interactive, makers of various licensed titles, and most recently #IDARB for the Xbox One. I’m actually curious how this parody came about, because this was probably made on a tight schedule. This was made around the time where making fun of Call of Duty was the in-thing to do, and these guys succeeded. This sort of thing wouldn’t work nowadays considering COD‘s ubiquity, so this was made at just the right time.
You can still grab the game on Fileplanet, since the website itself has been replaced by a domain name squatter. It’s a silly little timewaster, and as a person who used to follow Call of Duty religiously, I found it funny.
Nowadays parodies tend to be an aspect of a game – such as Saints Row IV making fun of both Call of Duty and Mass Effect in parts – thus we might not see another parody game like this any time soon. Unless there’s people out there urging me to write about GAME OF THE YEAR 420BLAZEIT or something, which I don’t know why you would.