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Specific Games Followup: Call of Duty 4's Mile High

Call of Duty 4's Mile High as an example of a "specific games" type experience (train over and over until it is perfect).

I talked about games (and art in general) that captured very specific experiences and simulated them in complex ways so that repeated play is needed to succeed, with JFK Reloaded being the best example. Trying to recreate the Kennedy assassination with realistic bullet, wound, and ricochet physics is a difficult and entertaining exercise in repetitive play. Call of Duty 4’s bonus final mission (Mile High) is a good example of a similar principle at work in a modern game.


You have 60 seconds to make your way through the entire 2 floors of the airplane to rescue the VIP with 4 flashbangs and an MP5, some teammates, and about 30 enemies in your way. On the hardest difficulty you die in 2 hits. Trial and error tactics-wise is key, but the part that really gets at what I’m talking about is how, after dying 30 or 40 times, you finally nail down the first section of the mission. And then you discover and explore the mechanics of the second encounter, and third. In this case it is a little bit too random to be a perfect exercise in muscle memory, but nonetheless it feels like an exercise in skill-grinding perfection. When finally achieved it was more gratifying than beating any of the other missions (which to me felt more random in most sections, or exercises in patience, than in perfecting enemy locations and player movements).

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