Call of Duty: Black Ops, the 7th in the critically acclaimed first person shooter CoD series. This instalment is brought to you by Treyarch. The game was released worldwide on the 9th of November 2010.
Whenever I think of a Call of Duty game, I think of a 3 course meal. The appetizer – campaign, is the start to your experience. It needs to be good, but just a taster of things to come. The mains – multi-player, this course needs to leave you feeling full, and satisfied. Then of course, the dessert – zombie mode. The dessert is often the thing you remember, and savour most, so it needs to be awe inspiring.
Campaign: The Black Ops campaign primarily takes place during the Cold War, a nice step away from the World War II theme for Treyarch, even though they still manage to sneak some WWII inspired levels in! You mainly play as Alex Mason, a studies & observation (SOG, a branch of the CIA) operative – which will see you play across Cuba, the Arctic circle, Laos, Vietnam, and Russia. There are some nice little twists, and turns in the campaign – although it would seem the Treyarch team were watching the SAW films, throughout the game being created.
This campaign, in comparison to past CoD campaigns, is quite visceral and graphic. Something I have no problem with, it helps convey the brutality of warfare.
Treyarch are obviously assuming people playing their game, are familiar with past CoD games – due to the fact that there isn’t a true tutorial level. You get the basic run-down of the controls, but all in all, you’re thrown into the action. That’s something the game is definitely not lacking – the action is like a giant slap to the face. The vehicles featured in the campaign start out shaky at first (a motorbike getaway), but come into their own later into the game (the Mi-24 – a helicopter, basically).
The veteran difficulty is as soul destroying as always, but once you’ve completed a level on veteran – there is an immense sense of not only relief, but self satisfaction.
The usual problems with most CoD games is present: the grenade bombardment, stupid AI (friendly & enemy) – a friendly AI will often shoot into walls or whatever else they’ve taken cover behind. They often position themselves directly in your line of sight, which can be problematic, especially on veteran. The game freezing for a few seconds, usually at the start of a level.
I know that some people have complained that the campaign is too linear, and that there is a lot of ‘hand holding’ – I don’t think this is necessarily a bad thing. It gives you direction, and means you constantly know what you’re supposed to be doing to complete your current objective.
The campaign review purposefully contains no spoilers, as many people will not have had a chance (or the inclination) to play/complete the campaign yet. However, I would highly recommend people do play it. There’s a highly enjoyable story, the characters (specific: former Red Army Captain) are quite interesting, and the settings are brilliant.
Campaign review score: 8/10
Multi-player: The mode that many people would have bought the game for, and it doesn’t disappoint. Treyarch have brought something different to the table this time round, however. They’ve introduced ‘CoD Points’, in-game currency, which can be gained by completing contracts. The contracts change ever 24 hours (akin to the daily challenges in Halo: Reach), the contracts are bought, and if you complete the contract in the specified time you receive your points, and in some cases XP. Contracts range from killing 20 enemies, to getting 5 head-shots in a row, to knifing someone in the back – there is actually quite a good variety of contracts.
Once your level up, you unlock different weapons, attachments, face-paints (yes, face-paints!), equipment, etc. These new unlockables aren’t yours yet though! You must purchase them with your CoD points, ah so that’s what they’re there for! This method offers a huge amount of customization. You can also add your clan tag, and your completely customisable emblem to your guns. Nice little touches, but early on, a complete waste of your CoD points.
There’s also the new ‘wager matches’, which lets you wager some of your points – in the hopes of placing 1st, 2nd or 3rd, thus being ‘in the money’. The wager matches are: one in the chamber – each player starts out with a pistol (containing a single bullet), and a knife. For each kill, the player will gain another bullet. sticks and stones – the players only have a ballistic knife, a crossbow, and the tomahawk – which if killed with, you become bankrupt. Sharpshooter – the players start out with a random weapon, kills reward the player with perks, along with score multipliers. Gun game – the players start out with a pistol, each kill they perform rewards them with an improved gun, however be knifed – you’re knocked down a level.
Of course there’s the usual game types: team death match – straight up, kill the opposing team. Domination – capture the 3 flags in the level, hold onto them for as long as possible to score points. Search & destroy – one bomb, one bomb site, one team defends the site – the other team attack, trying to plant, thus winning. Demolition – a variant of S&D. The hardcore modes, which removes the HUD, and damage indicator.
In total, there are 14 playable maps in multi-player, with a good variety of large, and close quarter maps. Most (if not all) of the maps are brilliantly laid out for domination or objective based game types. With more expected, as Treyarch are rather good with the DLC.
For the people who aren’t keen on the competitiveness of online gaming, there’s ‘Combat Training’. Which gives the player the online experience, using bots as the opposition (the bots are named after people on your friends list, an amusing little touch). The bots difficulty level can be set, choose veteran if you fancy being annihilated!
Multi-player review score: 9/10
Zombie Mode: after the immense success of WaW zombies, this mode simply had to be included. You start out with one map (the other, a very Patriotic map, is unlocked once you’ve completed the campaign), Kino der Toten – which features the WaW zombie slayers facing off against the undead army, in an abandoned theatre. While the default map feels more like an add-on to WaW, as opposed to a revamped version – zombie mode is still as addictive, and enjoyable as ever. The abandoned theatre is creepy, and features plenty of doors to open.
The power, as always, must be activated – which is a bit of a trek on this map. Once you’ve got the power on though, you’re in with a fighting chance! Not only do you have the electric barriers, and the teleportation pad – you also have access to a turret, very handy in sticky situations! Other new features are the ‘nova 6′ (finish the campaign!) zombies, which resemble Gollum/inferi creatures, that explode once killed – don’t get caught in the gas!
Overall, zombie is a great game mode, which will keep people playing long after the novelty of multiplayer has worn off. Plus, with the inclusion of new weapons (crossbow, ballistic knife, etc.) that can be upgraded (pack-a-punch), keeps killing the undead new and fresh.
Also, the zombie story continues in this instalment, with more hidden messages…and a peculiar haven for ‘Teddy’. People who enjoyed WaW zombies, will love this – the exploring, finding the best routes to the power, the best location for a stand-off, the ideal weapons to upgrade, and of course – finding all the perk machines! Just keep those windows boarded up…
Zombie mode review score: 7.5/10
There’s also the hidden ‘Dead Ops’ game mode, if you’ve played the XBLA game ‘Zombie Apocalypse’, you’ll have no problems with this mode. It’s a nice little addition, if you can locate the terminal, and unlock it…;-)
Overall, yet another successful outing for the CoD franchise.
This was written for a website that I was a reviewer/writer for, said website no longer exists…and yea, now this BS is here.