In an almost cyclical fashion, Bulletstorm has been getting some attention again lately. This is due to the announcement of Bulletstorm VR, another re-release of People Can Fly’s high octane FPS. Back in 2011 however, publisher Electronic Arts was leading a campaign to attract people to the game. This initiative included the release of Duty Calls, a parody of the hugely popular Call of Duty series.

A few weeks ahead of Bulletstorm‘s debut, Electronic Arts, Epic Games and People Can Fly ramped-up their marketing campaign. This effort saw launch of a new website (now defunct, but still viewable via waybackmachine) and offer of a free game, Duty Calls. This was unashamedly a Call of Duty parody. But in and of itself, Duty Calls was a fun game experience.

Duty Calls screenshot

Duty Calls calls out Call of Duty

Duty Calls was surprisingly well designed. More than just a five minute snigger in Call of Duty’s direction, Duty Calls was a pioneering piece of marketing design, akin to any digitally delivered games intended to market their respective father title (Fable II Pub Games and Kingmaker, for example) and yet most certainly a more inspired experience. Duty Calls wasn’t an invitation to build your character early or offer additional in-game rewards. It was an invitation to join in with an entirely new experience in the outrageously comical vein of Bulletstorm.

Of course, intended to entice players to purchase BulletstormDuty Calls does have a great level of humour that’s all of its own. It intentionally skewed both the player’s expectations and the in-game actors. Be it the levelling-up system, the ‘boring’ sound effect added to every shot or disregard for artificial life, Duty Calls was elegantly written and fantastically presented. The player follows a linear route through the game, taking out only a handful of enemies before its climax. It only lasted a few minutes, but in that time it managed to present as much character as many games do in a 10-hour duration. This, of course, is the intention of the confidently designed piece of software. Duty Calls isn’t actually a game, but an interactive marketing tool. It’s an infomercial for the modern era.

Duty Calls - Call of Duty Parody

More than a Parody, Duty Calls a Fun Time

Despite the fact that Duty Calls is a fairly lightweight presentation, it’s as visually impressive as anything the Xbox 360/PlayStation 3 console generation offered. This of course only enhances the impact the software will have upon the users, as the graphical prowess of the game is an enticement to continue forth just as much as the intriguingly askew gameplay scenario.

As a marketing tool, Duty Calls was undoubtedly a generational leap. Delivering the humorous pastiche that has become expected of comic book tie-ins or short trailers, but in an interactive experience. Epic Games and People Can Fly certainly pushed the boat out when it came to Bulletstorm’s marketing campaign, but in Duty Calls you will find one of the most intelligent deliveries the videogames industry has ever seen. In short, Duty Calls deserves to be recognised even today.

Categories: Games