Level Up

Sometimes the lack of originality in the videogame industry is so stunning, so shameless, it must be held up to ridicule. Case in point: Activision's decision to call the next installment in its Call of Duty series of first-person shooter games Modern Warfare. That's a perfectly fine name for a game ... had Electronic Arts not released Battlefield 2: Modern Combat in 2005. We're surprised only at the sheer brazenness of Activision's rip-off. After all, we were at the presentation in Santa Monica, California, when developer Infinity Ward unveiled Call of Duty, its entry into the World War II game space, which bore a striking resemblance to the title of Electronic Arts' then category-leading Medal of Honor. Since then, we've seen Day of Defeat (Activision, 2003), Men of Valor (Vivendi, 2004) and Faces of War (Ubisoft, 2006). Later this year retail shelves will be graced with THQ's Frontlines: Fuel of War and Midway's Hour of Victory. Innovation isn't the most important criterion in videogames. But is it too much to ask for some originality in the names?