It's not that we don't like Call of Duty. It's not that we're averse to grinding our faces against killzones, ducking and diving through herds of screaming noob-tubers, and rolling our eyes lovingly every time Soap eats a bullet and walks away. It's just that sometimes we look out the window, and all we can see is Call of Duty.
So ludicrous is the franchise's success, so effortlessly gargantuan its sales, that other IPs can't help regurgitating its techniques. That guy on the corner there, the one styling a stick-on Mohawk and plastic bullet belt - he used to be an action-RPG. You can still see the scars where he pulled out his cybernetic implants. And that Japanese schoolgirl, customising her phone ringtone to sound like a SCAR? Once upon a time she was a survival horror series.
It's an insidious process, this gradual bleeding-out of distinctiveness under the weight of callous commerciality. How to restore the balance of nature? Let's throw a stupid list feature at it - that always works.
Watch your favourite videogames closely, readers. If they begin exhibiting any of the following, break out the pitchforks.
1. Suddenly you're somewhere else
Call of Duty's never seen the sense of staying in one place for longer than forty-five minutes. Gunned down a few shacks in the Middle East? Excellent, now to London for tea and crumpets and jam and rocket-propelled grenades straight through the pantry window. And then to Russia, where a maniac-depressive male choir falls on you.
2. All the women are gone
Call of Duty has no truck with the fairer sex or any of the associated interactive functions, presumably because Captain Price fears the cooties more than terrorists. That explains why your squad has to keep hopping from country to country - with every passing second, the likelihood of running across somebody who doesn't have a penis increases. Cue Freudian yelling about "extraction" towards the end of each mission.
3. You can't open doors
Because you've got people to do that for you. It's below your station, dear. Don't sully yourself. Also we need time to load the next bit.
4....unless it's a breach sequence
But doors with enemies behind them? Now that you can do, but only in slow motion and only by disintegrating them with parcels of explosives you could've sworn you weren't carrying a few seconds ago. Turning the handle? What are you, some kind of overgrown child? We know how to deal with children round these parts...
5. Kids are blown up for tenuous reasons
Every game has its trademark move, publicity wise. Battlefield shoots pixel-precise holes in things, Assassin's Creed puts on moody rock music and casually fillets armies of Papal knights. Need for Speed dazzles you with chrome. And Call of Duty brings innocent and, lately, juvenile lives to a messy end. It's all about standing out.
6. Famous landmarks are made of bombs
If you saw it on a postcard once, grab a-hold of your hat, Toto, because it's about to be pancaked. Call of Duty has a healthy respect for iconic architecture, providing load-bearing structures are nice and obvious.
7. Now it has multiplayer
Call of Duty didn't invent competitive multiplayer, but it's the main reason competitive multiplayer is so popular, and thus the main reason Dead Space woke up one day itching to get online and flush its own credibility straight down the toilet.