CODumentary review

The CODumentary is not a typo (no, it’s not, MS Word), but rather a documentary about the global phenomenon that is the Call of Duty franchise. We watched it – here are our thoughts.

CODumentary, produced by Fizz Pictures and distributed by Devolver Digital Films, is an independent documentary about Activision’s massive Call of Duty franchise, starting with its early days in which Infinity Ward was formed by Medal of Honor alums and then growing into the blockbuster saga it is today.

The release of Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare is rightfully marked by the filmmakers as a turning point for the franchise. It brought the series to the modern era, but also kickstarted the multiplayer movement that’s become so important in every Call of Duty game since then. The second half of the movie therefore focuses heavily on esports and how it’s experienced and grown for both players and fans. As someone who’s not actively engaged with any kind of esports events, this is a fascinating part of the documentary even though the takeaways from it can easily be applied to other games outside of the Call of Duty franchise.

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The film also briefly branches out to other games by mentioning Counterstrike and by interviewing Gearbox CEO Randy Pitchford (Gearbox produced Brothers in Arms during the early days of Call of Duty). It also briefly mentions Titanfall by Respawn, but the inclusion of that game only emphasizes the fact that the filmmakers did not have access to Vince Zampella and Jason West – key figures not only in the creation of the Call of Duty franchise but also in one of its most turbulent time periods – splitting from Infinity Ward due to a conflict with Activision. It’s not hard to imagine why it would be hard to get the two to help out with a documentary like this, but their absence is felt.

The same can probably be said for Activision, which also doesn’t go on record in talking about its coveted franchise. Instead, a select group of developers who worked for Infinity Ward and Treyarch share their insights on how certain decisions and creative directions came to be – and how we also didn’t see Modern Warfare at all.

The CODumentary is an interesting watch, though mainly for those who are already fans of the franchise and wish to look under the hood for a little bit. Don’t expect any industry secrets though – this is by the fans and for the fans – and that group will enjoy watching this.

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