This holiday season’s biggest entertainment blockbuster likely will be a sequel to a popular franchise, with jarring depictions of war and an intricate story of good vs. evil. It could easily rake in more than last year’s record $155 million opening weekend for “The Dark Knight.”
But this blockbuster is not a movie.
It is “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2,” a video game that Activision Blizzard Inc. is releasing Tuesday. Fans worldwide are expected to spend at least half a billion dollars on the game in the first week.
That would at least match last year’s “Grand Theft Auto IV,” which was the most successful video game release in history and might have been the top entertainment launch ever.
Justin Criswell, 31, plans to line up at a GameStop store in Brooklyn on Monday night so he can buy the new “Call of Duty” when it goes on sale after midnight, for $60. It’s available for PCs, Microsoft’s Xbox 360 and Sony’s PlayStation 3.
“Ever since they announced it, me and most of the friends that I play with have been crazy excited about it,” Criswell said. Once he gets a copy, he plans to stay up much of the night to play it online with friends and relatives scattered in Tennessee, California, Ohio and Florida.
“Those who have to work the next day have taken the day off,” he said.
Like the previous five “Call of Duty” games, which are all rated “M” for mature (not for kids under 17), this one lets players shoot their way through a complex series of scenes. The game’s developer, Infinity Ward, spent two years creating realistic graphics that are amplified in many players’ homes by big-screen, high-definition TVs sets and powerful speakers. It’s like stepping into a movie.
A big part of the game’s appeal is in its multiplayer component – players can fight each other, whether they’re at the same game console or in separate locations and connected online.
Or a player can dive in alone and get swept into the game’s plot, which picks up where “Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare” left off. That game ended with victory over a Russian terrorist, but he was just part of a larger conspiracy. This time, the target is an even more vicious leader of the Russian Ultranationalist movement. Settings include a snowbound Siberian base, a leafy American suburb and the burning streets of Washington, D.C. One trailer for the game shows a glimpse of action in outer space.
Activision is working with retailers to plan more than 10,000 midnight openings in the United States, including most of the 4,300 GameStop Corp. stores around the country.