Review: Call of Duty: Black Ops

SAVE THE WORLD OFF THE RECORD

Developer: Treyarch
Genre: First Person Shooter
Platform(s): PlayStation 3 & Xbox 360
Release Date: November 9, 2010
Compatability (PS3): 8MB Mininum Space | Players 1-4 | DUALSHOCK 3 Vibration Function | HD 720p / 1080i / 1080p | Network Players 2-18
Compatability (Xbox 360): 4MB Mininum Space | Players 1-4 | HDTV 720p / 1080i / 1080p | Online Multiplayer 2-16 | System Link 2
Rating: 9.0

To say that Black Ops was a make or break game for the franchise and for developer Treyarch, is an understatement. The first game in the long running franchise since the heated and ugly fallout between the founders of Infinity Ward, the creator of Call of Duty, and Activision, the publisher, the game had all the pressure in the world on its shoulders. Treyarch was constantly looked at as the B-team when it came to Call of Duty and after Black Ops they deserve to lose that stigma. Black Ops is a great game all around, and while nowhere near perfect, it is a solid installment and has the best single player experience since the original Modern Warfare.

As I mentioned the most improved aspect of this year’s Call of Duty is far and away the single player. The game opens up with your main character, Mason, strapped into a chair in an interrogation room and from their you relive the past decade or so of his black ops missions. Mason is not only a fleshed out and well developed character but someone you grow a connection with and who ultimately cares about his story. At certain times throughout the campaign your perspective jumps to a different character but the majority of the game you control Mason. I am trying to be careful of spoilers but the game has a twist ending that, while you can see coming if you are paying very close attention, is something new to the series and works rather well. It is an understatement to say that after completing the game you will look back and see some red flags you overlooked the first time. The level design is pretty good throughout with a variety of locales an interesting take on a few historical events. Jungles, cities, and prisons are all here and while nothing new to the franchise, offer a pretty commendable brevity of objectives. Before I go on, the Vietnam level. You have to go up to the barrels and not just shoot them, you will know what I mean. Everyone I talked to has had the same problem and this compounded with the monster closet elements of the level make it the low point on a pretty high bar.

Black Ops has the best single player campaign in a Call of Duty game.

The controls are what we have come to expect from a Call of Duty game and very little of the core mechanics have changed. The fluid aiming and movement systems still carry weight and there are a few wow moments. The only problem is the wow moments are bogged down by an almost constant stream of action. It may sound like an odd complaint but the game is constantly throwing things at you and it almost gets to be too much. You won’t really care however because just when you would start to get tired, the game changes locations or objectives. Needless to say Michael Bay would be a great director for a Call of Duty movie. The only real negative about the mechanics is the era appropriate guns, and it is more a preference than a problem with the game. Old guns are cool and they more or less feel like the weapons we would see in a Modern Warfare but I miss the laser sight and feel of the newer weapons.

The multiplayer is the main reason Call of Duty is becoming the best selling franchise of all time and little is changed from past installments. The map selection is solid and perks are still interesting additions. Load out are still a main part but how you unlock items has changed a bit. Instead of it being locked to a linear progression where you hit level 10 and you get a certain item, you collect COD points that are used to unlock the item you want. If you like to snipe you can hit a level barrier that allows you to buy a better sniper, want a better sub-machine gun, use your points, and so on. It is a nice change but one that while allowing you to get what you want faster, leaves you with less to do after. After I had about a good sniper rifle I had a lot of points I just didn’t need to use. The wager matches are interesting but I don’t see them becoming a huge hit. It is faster and safer to just play a few matches, lose no points and gain some than put some on the line. This mode could have some interesting dynamics later on as the game ages with only the top tier player playing it, and that would be fun to be a part of. The perks are back and they are better than they have been. The RC car is a bit cheap but everyone has something they rage on. Stopping power is no longer a perk and it is for the better. In MW2 everyone just had to use it and it effectively took away a slot. The multiplayer is still great but little has changed and the system is starting to show its age.

The multiplayer mode is as addictive as ever. Black Ops must not be missed online.

World at War’s zombie mode returns and while fun, comes at the absence of Spec Ops mode from MW2. Zombie mode has gained incredible popularity online and while I enjoyed the little bit I played I think Spec Ops to be a better co-op experience. The almost castle defense nature of the Zombie mode in intriguing and it has that one more round draw, but with only three maps and little in terms of progression it is not my favorite mode. However I will say that after you complete the single player campaign stay after the credits and watch one of the coolest and comical scenes ever, which will lead directly into Zombie mode.

Call of Duty: Black Ops is a good looking game and while the graphics are nothing we haven’t seen before they do a good job of drawing you into the action. The jungle scenes are the most impressive visually and the variety of locations rendered is commendable. Sound continues to be one of the series defining characteristics. Everything just sounds great; from the gunshot sounds in the distance to the voice acting, the sound delivers. Black Ops was in a very unenviable position and I know it is easy to blame Treyarch, but after playing the game it’s hard not to like their work. What would you do if the biggest publisher in the world, and the company that owns you, said to work on Call of Duty? What happened at Infinity Ward is sad but the games have not suffered as a consequence. Black Ops is a great game.

Reviewed by jamespugh5 – December 14, 2010

Graphics
Solid all around. The best part is just how many different environments the game pushes at you.
 
Sound
Amazing. From the stellar voice work to the engrossing sound effects the game really delivers.
 
Fun
The best single player since the original MW and a deep and engrossing multiplayer raise the game above it’s contemporaries. Black Ops lives up to the Call of Duty name.
 
Final Score

 

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Responses

  1. modern warfare 2 is better then black ops still a great game. Cannot understand d reason 4 hightec wepons if d story of d game is in d 1960s

  2. My gripe with the weapons is more of a personal preference. Yes you are correct the weapons fit with the story and the setting and I probably should have made that more clear, I apologize.

    For me MW 1 is still the best followed by Black Ops, and then MW2
    They are all great games though so its just a matter of taste.

    Glad you had a good experience with he game.

  3. Personally I liked MW2 more than Black Ops. Still the latest title from the Call of Duty series is great and a must play for all first person shooter fans.

  4. I usually hate Call of Duty games, but I had a lot of fun with Black Ops. I found the campaign surprisingly innovative, with an interesting ’24’-like story which actually had me pretty interested. Multiplayer was also fun and pretty frustration-free, more than I could say for my experience with MW1 and 2. Didn’t care for zombies though, if I want zombies, I’ll play Left 4 Dead.

    • Yes I agree with you Henry regarding the single player campaign, I think it’s the best from all COD games. Multiplayer is also awesome and smooth but getting disconnected is pretty frustrating after almost two months that Black Ops got released and this problem wasn’t solved yet. Even though I understand that it isn’t that simple.

  5. Why would you aspire to shell out pro something twice. I personally would very shell out pro extra maps. I already paid pro the waw maps some time ago. If they deposit old maps in, they must be emancipated.

  6. Black Ops definately takes the cake with the single player campaign. I thought it was the strongest overall story since MW1. I’ll give some props to Treyarch too for nerfing the grenade lauchers so the multiplayer isn’t a frag-fest.


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