Before They Were Big: Treyarch - NewsVGChartz Staff , posted on 09 October 2011 / 5,402 Views
The year 1996 was a pretty significant year for gaming. Nintendo launched the Nintendo 64 alongside Super Mario 64, Capcom launched the first entry in the Resident Evil series, the original Pokemon Red and Green launched in Japan, and much more. While gamers were basking in all this fantastic content, Peter Akemann and DoÄŸan Köslü were looking into creating an all new studio to join the early 3D era. Before the year was out, Treyarch was founded. Despite whatever ambitions they may have had, it's hard to imagine that they could have thought that eventually they'd be working one of the most successful franchises of all time.
Despite their future basis in shooters, Treyarch's first game, that wouldn't release until 1998, featured the exact opposite of guns – swords. Die by the Sword was a third person action game that featured an innovative control scheme. Specifically, it gave players full control over their character's sword arm, allowing them swing and slash it an any direction they please over a decade before The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword even existed. Rather than using a motion controller, it used a mouse or joystick. The title was quickly followed by an expansion pack and also by a spiritual sequel exclusively for the Dreamcast under the name of Draconus: Cult of the Wyrm in 2000.
Unfortunately, Die by the Sword and Draconus would be the first and the last of Treyarch's original IPs. Shortly after, they started porting the early Tony Hawk titles to the SEGA Dreamcast and working on licensed titles like Max Steel: Covert Missions. After these releases, Activision purchased Treyarch, where they continued to work on more ports and licensed software, most notably the Spider-Man series including Spider-Man 2 and Ultimate Spider-Man.
After nearly five years of work on ports and licensed titles, Treyarch got a break. While they weren't able to develop a brand new IP, Activision tasked them, alongside the Gray Matter Interactive, to work on a spin-off entry of Call of Duty 2 for home consoles. By 2005, Gray Matter Interactive merged with Treyarch during development. Later that year, they launched Call Of Duty 2: Big Red One on Gamecube, PlayStation 2, and Xbox. This title would set the road for Treyarch, as by 2006, they were already releasing a numbered entry in the Call of Duty series, Call of Duty 3.
Call of Duty 3 marks the beginning of what would become the two year cycle for the Call of Duty franchise between Infinity Ward and Treyarch. Their presence wouldn't become extremely well known until 2008 when they released Call of Duty: World at War. Unfortunately, it made them well known for the wrong reasons, as the title was considered in many ways a step back and inferior to Infinity Ward's Modern Warfare. They were able to redeem themselves with Call of Duty: Black Ops, which was a stellar entry in the franchise and so far the most successful. With Infinity Ward's talent in question after the Vince and Zampella fiasco, they could now be considered the most capable developer for the Call of Duty franchise now. We'll have to wait and see how Modern Warfare 3 sets in all of our stomachs later this year to see for sure.
Despite for the last five years always being on a tight schedule to get the next Call of Duty ready to go, they've still found time to continue to work on ports and licensed titles. It's been a few years since they've had a licensed title, but in 2008 they worked on both Spider-Man: Web of Shadows and 007: Quantum of Solace. More recently, they've been porting over Infinity Ward's HD outings of Call of Duty to the Wii, including the original Modern Warfare and the upcoming Modern Warfare 3.
Like Activision's Neversoft, it's a shame to see a developer get stuck only building off other's works. But when you're working on a franchise like Call of Duty, I'm sure Treyarch probably isn't complaining all that much. Who knows, maybe Activision will give them a break and let them work on a Die by the Sword and Draconus HD collection! Yeah... we're getting another Call of Duty in 2012.