Shooters used to have a great storyline to back up the multiplayer. Then the multiplayer's started taking over and becoming the brand, pushing the single player aside.
The worst of the franchises for this folly is Call of Duty. The first three were brutally brilliant, bringing out the horrific details of the World Wars and boilibg it down to an almost personal story. Then came the modern titles.
Call of Duty 4 is still regarded as being the best title in the entire series. You can see why, within it you got two sides of the story, playing as a young American soldier and "Soap", part of the British elite. Soap never said much and had a stupid callsign, but throw him, he witnessed the rise of not one but two shooter legends.
Ghost, the masked psychopath, that like "Soap" barely even spoke, yet this character was one of the most successful of all the CoD soldier's. Alongside him the wisdom and gruff attitude of Captain Price. You got a sense of leadership from Price that would be sorely missing in future titles, even part of a story was based in his past, which still remains as one of player's favourite missions of all time. Not only do you get backstory of Price, but you learn how our main villain lost his arm. All in the chilling backdrop of Chernolbyl.
Then came World at War, a story set deep in to the Second World War. Covering multiple fronts and even in to Japan, it had an straight forward storyling that anyone could easily grasp, making it a strong contender for Modern Warfare. But it lacked characters that resonated with players. That was the stories main slip up. This bred Modern Warfare 2's rise, Infinity Ward came back with another adventure for the poorly named "Soap", Cpt Price and Ghost to embark on.
Modern Warfare 2 isn't as strong as Call of Duty 4. It's story to discover who betrayed you and the western world, which is coincidentally someone trying to start a major war. The twist came with a punch, we finally figure out who betrayed us, an American General. The bews comes with an added impact as Ghost is killed off during the revelation, executed infront of our eyes.
These stories are at the pinacle of what made Call of Duty's campaigns so good. Unfortunately, TreyArch would come along and ruin it.
Not only did Black Ops feature a 1960's style game set in Vietnam, which isn't the problem, it kind of without telling you, features a mechanic of, alternate reality. Both Black ops 1 and 2 used technology not really suited to the era. Okay, fine Black ops 2 can get away with it, mainly because it was the better title. But we just couldn't get passed the fact that there were things in the first game that didn't really match the timeframe.
Plus throw in awful character designs and a story you'll largely forget, then you'll see why TreyArch are yet to match Infity Ward's storytelling prowess.
Don't celebrate too early though IW, because Modern Warfare gave birth to the greatest Call of Duty story ever and at the same time the worst one. At least with Black Ops there was an arch (excuse the pun) that you could follow easily, Modern Warfare 3, almost immediately threw unbeleivable sequences at you, like imagining the London Underground is exactly the same as the New York underground, most tunnels only carry one train in London, IF seem to think all tunnels carry more than one train going different directions. I've digressed a little, but you can see how still keeping bits in reality still matter even when you're talking about a war that never happend.
After Balck Ops 2 almost redeemed Treyarch, I'll admit probably my second personal favourite of all the campaigns, Infinity Ward came back with Ghosts.
Another unbelievable story, where guns could be fired in space freely and the most enjoyable character to watch was Riley the Dog.
It lost credibility early and never quite scrapped it back, the same could be said about Advanced Warfare. This story actually had some personal attributes to it, going back to Modern Warfare, you had characters you cared about and an actual villain worth hunting down.
The gameplay was so-so (Titanfall having came out earlier in the year and having made better usage of the skills available), but the story was an interesting one. After a mission goes wrong in the Marines, Mitchell (the player) witness' his best friends death. His father (Kevin Spacey) then dorms a private militia, which starts to become the worlds police force, brutally taking over the world in the process. Mitchell turns face and knows he must take him down for the world to be safe.
By far not the weakest campaign, but not even the strongest either. With characters coming at you as strong those we found in early CoD titles, it makes up for anything the went AWOL in the middle parts of the franchise.
Can Black Ops 3 deliver the same punch as we've needed for a long time coming?