The money truck at Activision is a big one. So laden with cash has it become in the past year that it's left the driveways of Stephen Lang and Brandon Routh, clumsily reversing into that of bona-fide movie-star actor-man Kevin Spacey for the lead role in the new Call of Duty. The juggernaut sails on with a creepy digital Oscar winner as its figurehead.
Unlike its predecessors, Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare does not cast Foreigners as its boogeymen, but a rogue private military corporation taking on the United States of Americorps. The principal villain will be Creepy Digital Kevin. The hero will be guns. The winner will be Activision.
PMCs are certainly intriguing subject material. Their existence merges the two uncomfortable tributaries of militarisation and corporatisation into one mighty river of death and riches. It's just unfortunate that what is likely to be their most high-profile exploration (in gaming anyway) will be through Call of Duty's disturbing, conspiracy-theorist visor. The message Cr'igital Kevin's sending in the trailer is that we need PMCs to hammer order into Foreigners that can't handle American-style democracy. So we'll be stuck between COD's hypermilitaristic, xenophobic United States and an even more hypermilitaristic and xenophobic military contractor. Great.
In addition to a ridiculous and probably offensive storyline to propel its self-playing singleplayer game, CODAW's trailer promises science-fictional gameplay elements like exosuits, hoverbikes, robots and cloaking devices. Each of these will appear in one mission and then resurface as killstreaks in multiplayer, because as usual the bulk of the game will be fought with guns, supernaturally accurate throwing knives, and on-rails destruction sequences. The one surprise is that the Hollywood action setpiece being ripped off isn't anything from the past year, but the bridge sequence from M:I:III.
Call of Duty XI will hit PCs and next-gen consoles on November 4th, then continue making money through multiplayer maps well into the morning of Guy Fawke's Day, at which point the next game in the series will be announced.