Release Date: Out now!
Infinity Ward is dead, and that’s left Treyarch with a hell of a problem, they have to keep millions of COD fans happy with the release of Black Ops and prove that they can make a game up to the same standard as Infinity. Well, they have. Black Ops is one of the best Call of Duty’s to date, but it does make some mistakes along the way.
Without a doubt they’ve created one of the most fleshed out COD packages yet. The singleplayer is as short as ever with around a 6 hour completion time, but the real meat comes with a large amount of multiplayer game mode types, a co-op zombie defense mode, combat training, replay theatre and a two fully fledged mini-games. That’s a lot of stuff for a COD game, so let’s kick off with the singleplayer side of things.
Alex Mason is the lead this time around, and with a name like that you just know he’s going to be a badass. Things get weird from the start as you relive Masons memories of missions as he’s drugged up and strapped into a chair with a dark figure demanding to know what the numbers mean. The plot still jumps around at points and it can be a little tricky to keep track of where you are and what’s going on, but concentrate and an intriguing plot will reveal itself with some memorable characters. I can’t deny that I predicated some of the plot twists far in advance of the ending, but it was still a ride that I thoroughly enjoyed.
The campaign retains the trademark set-pieces that the series has become famous for with levels now seeing you diving off of mountains during avalanches, piloting helicopters and cruising up a river in a gun-boat while listening to Sympathy for the Devil by the Rolling Stones. The entire campaign rarely lets up on the action but does change it around enough to keep you engrossed, including a few small stealth sections though I would have liked to have seen them used a little more. The singleplayer did lack a certain polish in a few minor area’s, these were mostly just little graphical niggles though I did encounter a glitch or two
However the sound quality has taken a inexplicable hit in Black Ops, battlefields often sound empty, quiet and sometimes muffled while guns lack that sound of raw power. Thankfully voice acting is superb throughout but even this can be a little odd as squad-mates voices often come through unusually loud, ruining the battlefield feeling further.
The game does make up for it with some excellent use of licensed music though, and the gunboat level back up by Sympathy for the Devil will remain one of my favorite COD experiences for a long time to come.
On the graphical level Black Ops continues the trend for top-end graphics, some of the brutal animations will make you wince and ever level is detailed and good-looking. That’s really to be expected though and only a few small graphical details look odd, and only if you’re looking for them. Yes the occasional pop-in did happen, but it was so little that I barely noticed it. There are plenty of “wow” moments in the visuals and the level of detail is impressive but it’s not a big leap from Modern Warfare 2.
For those that want to experience the multiplayer side of the game without listening to the twelve-year olds who shouldn’t be playing it, Combat Training is now included in the package which lets you play out a multiplayer game but with AI instead of real people. The unlocking and ranking system (which has been radically changed, but we’ll get to that) is separate from Xbox Live. To put it simply, any rank you gain in Combat Training will only count in Combat Training, not on Live. While this makes sense what doesn’t is anything you buy or earn via Live can’t be used on Combat Training. This rather defeats the idea of having a mode to go and check out new weapons and gadgets. But still it’s a great addition and provides a good way to warm up before heading online. You can also bring in your friends as well to practice that teamwork.
Of course for most multiplayer is where it’s at, and it’s here that many of the changes have been made. The major chance is the introduction of a currency system. Now at the end of each match you earn XP and currency to spend on what you wish, in fact most things are unlocked from the start, you just need the cold cash to buy the gear. You can still go up ranks and these ranks will unlock new guns for purchase and modes along with a few other things as well, such as an emblem creator that can be applied to your gun and more.
The usual customisation is here, sights, suppressors and more along with some nice new equipment to play with. Along with that comes new Killstreaks such as Napalm strikes and Dogs (grrr) but the big news is kills gained from a Killstreak no longer count toward your Killstreak which has happily put an end to endless Killstreaks going around.
Maps now have more complex layouts with more lines of sight making team-work more important, though you’ll still not see much of that going around. There are plenty of smaller tweaks that may catch veterans off such as adjusted grenade physics and new weapon balancing, including oddly powerful SMG’s. However the dodgy hit detection also exists in multiplayer along with some slow match connections and parties still have trouble connecting at times.New Wager matches allow you to bet against other players, those who can come in the top three get big pay-outs and Wager matches include three sweet new game modes such as One in the Chamber which arms you with just a single bullet, a knife and three lives. These new Wager matches add a new level of intensity to the field and the game modes are genius.
Zombies return with only a few maps and little change since their debut on World at War but the mode still proves vastly entertaining, especially with a certain few “guests” in one of the maps (just watch after the credits roll in the singleplayer).
Call of Duty: Black Ops may not break new ground, but it does offer refinements and new features packaged together to create the most fleshed out Call of Duty game to date. This is a fine shooter, and one of the best of 2010. But many will ask the question: does it beat Modern Warfare 2? Yes. But does it beat Call of Duty 4? That’s a tough question, and one that I can’t even answer.
+ it may not be new, but the shooting is still slick.
+ The hidden games and computer is brilliant!
+ Throwing a random sticky grenade across a rooftop only for it to stick to an enemy!
– Singleplayer is still short.
– The hell happened to the sound?
– Getting owned by someone with an SMG all the time.
Superbly detailed, it looks great.
This was tough. On the one hand the voice acting is first-rate and some of the music use is brilliant! But the general battlefield sounds and guns sound underwhelming.
It’s dark, it’s confusing and it’s cool.
Nothing new, but it’s smooth to play and well-balanced in multiplayer but still needs a little bit of balancing.
The singleplayer is very short, but throw in the multiplayer and zombies and you’ve got a game that’ll be in the disc-tray for a while.
It’s new and improved! well…improved at any rate. The new features are great and the inclusion of currency adds a nice new flavour to the game. If you love FPS’s then you need to play this.