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Call of Duty: Black Ops Review

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Review by Darren Cartledge
Published 18th November 2010

Call of Duty: Black Ops

  • Developer: Treyarch
  • Publisher: Activision
  • Release Date: 9th November 2010

With the turmoil that we have seen unfold at Infinity Ward it looks now as if Treyarch are set to become the dominant developers of future Call of Duty games, and Black Ops isn't a bad way to start.

Black Ops starts off with the games lead character strapped to a chair in a dimly light room being interrogated and tortured about his past missions, which he recounts through flashbacks triggering play. It’s a pretty good system that gives the game the feel of a Hollywood movie. But it does have its problem! Firstly these flashback occasionally end abruptly bringing play to a sudden halt, only for it to be begin again seconds lately with you in slightly different circumstances. For instance one mission has you heading down a river in a gun boat, once you have dispatched all the enemies the flashback ends and you find yourself back in the room and once you return to the mission a few seconds later you find yourself out of the boat and on the riverbank ready for the next part of the mission. It seems a little strange to me, why Treyarch took this approach rather then just using normal transition animations, as it gives the game a real stop start feeling and does prevent you getting deeply involved with the games narrative.

Black Ops story is set in the 1960’s and the Cold War era, chartering the emergence of the S special forces. The game mainly revolves around the Vietnam war and an elaborate plot by a Nazi scientist and some Russian dissidents to release a deadly nerve toxin on the USA. It all gets very complicated and there’s plenty of potential to cause controversy along the way with an assassination attempt on Fidel Castro and even a likeness of JFK. As you progress through the game the story seems to become even more complex making it very hard to follow. This coupled with the flashback system mentioned above, which even goes as far as to put you in the role of characters other then the one actually having the flashback makes it extremely difficult to get involved in Black Ops story on any real level. This of course does have a detrimental affect on the single player campaign as a whole, and it often feels like your playing through nothing more than a series of set piece shoot outs.

Black Ops plays very much like Treyarch’s last COD game, World at War placing you on the frontline of some ferocious battles, in Vietnam, Cuba and other real world locations. Just as in world at War progression through the games levels is fairly rapid for the most part, then out of the blue you’ll reach a location where the enemy is entrenched and you’ll have to take part in some extremely intense shooter action. These small sections pose a whole different challenge then general play and bring a sudden halt to your progression. Often requiring a much more measured and calculated approach, but do provide a much more worthwhile experience.

A.I is on a par with Treyarch’s last game, albeit much more aggressive then its was in World at War, enemies no longer simply standout in the open waiting for you to gun them down but fight ferociously as anyone who had cause to would, and this can make for some very involved and intense action. However, as good as it is, it still does have one of the same issues as World at War did, that is when you advance towards enemy lines and they try to push you back they will simply ignore you allies even if they’re in closely proximity and head straight for you. Not so bad you may think but just as your allies did in World at War, they completely ignore any enemies that do this seemingly totally unaware to this enemy presence. This can be especially annoying if it results in your death, mainly due to the fact that checkpoints are quite sparsely spaced out.

As good as the action is in the single player campaign on the whole I struggled to engage with the story and characters, and this coupled with the fact its still has some of the same bugs as Treyarch last instalment makes it feel a little disappointing, especially when you consider how good the single player campaign in Modern Ware 2 was, Black Ops just doesn’t seem to be on par with that.

Of course just as past COD titles have Black Ops has a large focus on multiplayer action, and for many gamers its this that is the main appeal of the series. Black Ops does serve up some changes to what we saw in Modern Warfare 2.

Multiplayer returns as good as ever, with all the usual staple Call of duty modes such as team death match, headquarters and sabotage are all present. But with black Ops Treyarch have changed and refreshed the multiplayer element and managed to make it a more involved experience then in past games.

Progression is still handled by earning experience points and you still rank up in the same way. However, Black Ops also introduces COD points which you have to spend on weapons, equipment and perks once you unlock them. This really adds a new level of depth to how you manage your online character and you’ll often be caught between saving your COD points in order to purchase the more expensive unlocks or spend them on what you can afford right away.

Multiplayer is made up of all the staple Call of Duty modes, such as team death match, headquarters and sabotage. However, Treyarch has still managed to push the competitive element even further with the games new “Wager” modes. These modes allow you to gamble your COD points in four dedicated game modes which are deigned to make it as level a playing field as possible. The most notable and enjoyable of these modes is gun Game in which every player starts of with a pistol and then with every kill gets awarded with a new gun through a pre-designated list. However, the standout game in the new Wager mode is Sharpshooter, this gives every player in the game the same weapon which changes every 45 seconds. Killstreaks earn basic perks so you never feel overwhelmed by other players and player ranks count for nothing.

If we lay things on the table, the single player campaign isn’t quote on a par with what Infinity Ward managed with Modern Warfare 2 thanks to an over complicated story which many will struggle to get involved in. However, the enhancements made to the games multiplayer are more than equal to that of Infinity Wards last game delivering some of the more interesting game types in a FPS for a long time. It’s still not MW2, but it’s a good try.

Review Score: 8/10

Please note, this review was scored using our old system. For more information please see our review policy.

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