Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 is set to be another hit in the soldier-simulating game series. The Cold War and future-set special forces shooter is the latest CoD game to let you blow foreigners' heads off in increasing levels of detail, so we don our dress uniform, salute the regimental colours and think of fallen comrades as we look back over the history of Call of Duty and its junior officer Modern Warfare.
The Call of Duty franchise was born from EA's Medal of Honour series, which had its origins in the resources and development of Steven Spielberg's epic film Saving Private Ryan. The team that had developed Medal of Honour: Allied Assault formed Infinity Ward, and was recruited by publishers Activision.
In 2003 the first Call of Duty tapped a full magazine on its helmet, cocked its rifle, and planted its combat boots onto the battlefield for the first time.
The first Call of Duty looked similar to the Medal of Honour games, as a first-person shooter set during World War 2. You play as an American, British and Russian soldier, following the three men on different missions throughout the war from the Normany landings to the Battle of the Bulge, commando combat, and fighting from Stalingrad to Berlin. Throughout the game, you play alongside a squad of computer-controlled comrades.
An expansion pack, developed by Gray Matter Studios, added the ability to sprint, and 'cook' grenades. New multiplayer modes included Capture the Flag and a ranking system that gave better characters to higher-scoring players.
Xbox, PlayStation 2, Gamecube
Ironically, Finest Hour proved to be anything but. The first console version of the game was something of a disappointment, even if it did feature AC/DC singer Brian Johnson as one of the voices.
Xbox, PS2, Gamecube
CoD:BR1 was again developed by Gray Matter Studios, which was renamed Treyarch before the game came out. The game saw you sign up for the US Army's 1st Infantry Division, also known as the Big Red One because of their distinctive insignia. Cutscenes were intercut with documentary footage. It was voiced by Mark Hamill, who had starred alongside Lee Marvin in the 1980 film of the same name, as well as several members of the cast of the BBC and HBO WW2 drama Band of Brothers.
PC, Xbox 360
In 2005 it was Infinity Ward's turn again, as Activision decided the series would continue with the two sets of developers releasing a game in alternate years. In a dramatic upgrade to the gameplay, CoD 2 introduced a proprietary engine replacing the previous games' Quake III engine. Smoke and fog became an integral part of gameplay, while your squadmates could now react more realistically to the battle. A new health system was also introduced, in which you healed gradually rather than searching for health packs.
PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, Wii, Xbox, Xbox 360
Treyarch developed the first game that was designed for next-generation consoles and not PC. The story follows American, Canadian, British and Polish troops breaking out of the Falaise Pocket after the Normandy landings.
The PSP version took the war mobile, following the Americans, Canadians and British from Arnhem to Salerno and Belgium.
Xbox 360, PS3, Nintendo Wii
For Infinity Ward's next entry, the developers decided it was time to drag the franchise into the modern era. The game follows SAS and US Marine Corps special forces soldiers in a geopolitical story of espionage and combat in an unnamed Middle Eastern country and across Russia, but it was the online multiplayer game that really got the blood pumping. Modern Warfare went on to sell over 13 million copies.
Xbox 360, PS3, Nintendo Wii, Nintendo DS
Treyarch took it back to the old school, setting the fifth instalment of the series in the Pacific theatre and on the Eastern Front. A tweaked physics engine meant you could lay waste to your surroundings with impunity. The game was made, however, by the inclusion of a Nazi zombie multiplayer mode. Nazi zombies: we hate those guys.
The PS2 version added a British campaign advancing on the River Rhine. It was developed by Rebellion, the studio which also owns long-running British comic 2000AD.
PS3, Xbox 360, PC
The multiplayer game featured bonus killstreak options if a player achieved a set number of consecutive kills in a row, from a supply drop or an airstrike all the way up to a tactical nuke after 25 kills. The game also kicked off a storm of protest over a level that allowed the player, embedded undercover with terrorists, to massacre civilians in an airport.
Despite the controversy, it had sold over 10 million copies in the US alone by March 2010, and earned Activision well over $1bn dollars. Things weren't so rosy behind the scenes, however, as the bosses of Infinity Ward were unceremoniously booted out by Activision.
A spin-off to the story of Modern Warfare 2 for the DS, Mobilised boasted new kit to play with such as UAV drones and Lockheed AC-130 shootyplanes.
It was only a matter of time before CoD came to the iPhone 5 and iPad, and took the form of the popular zombies mode from World at War. Play with your oppos nearby over Bluetooth or Wi-Fi or go online and find recruits to continue the Nazi zombie-blasting.
PC, PS3, Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii, Nintendo DS
Treyarch's next entry to the series fills in the time between the wars depicted in the series, putting you in the balaclava and tiger-stripe camo of Cold War special forces troops in Cuba, Laos and Vietnam, and Soviet-era Russia. If you weren't there, you don't know what it was like.
PS3, Xbox 360, PC, Wii
Developed by Sledgehammer Games and written by Million Dollar Baby and Casino Royale scribe Paul Haggis, the third Modern Warfare outing sees you play, among others, a Delta Force operator attempting to drive a Russian invasion out of New York. It featured a new mode, Survival, which sees you beset by increasingly tough waves of bad guys. Oh, and it grossed $1bn in 16 days.
More iPhone and iPad zombie-zapping.
PC, PS3, Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii U
Treyarch's Black Ops 2 continues the Cold War adventures before skipping forward to 2025 to control unmanned drones and robots in a new cold war with China. It's the first time the Black Ops series has put boots on the ground in the future, and it's also the first to include branching storylines. Known as Strike Force missions, these branching stories change the outcome of the game based on your choices. Wager matches have gone, but Kill Streaks have been replaced with Score Streaks that reward you when you complete different actions.
A twin-stick-twiddling spin-off from Nihilistic includes Vita features such as holding your breath using the rear touchpad.
Fall out, soldier! Our brothers-in-arms over at GameSpot UK keep the flag flying for CoD, Modern Warfare and all your favourite games. Is CoD still the top brass of gaming or is it time to be dishonorably discharged? Will you be signing up for another tour, and which was your favourite in the series? Tell me your thoughts in the comments or on our Facebook page.
Pictures: GameSpot UK