Review by Wiggis

"Paint it Black (Ops)"

Many, many gamers will scoff or turn their noses up towards the Wii version of Call of Duty: Black Ops, oftentimes without even giving it a playthrough. The complaints are always the same: "The graphics aren't HD", "The multiplayer sucks", "The controls are horrible", etc. With few exceptions, I plan to view this as a stand-alone Wii title, only comparing to the PS3/360 versions when necessary. I mean, let's face it: plenty of people only have Wiis; they have they right to know if Black Ops is a worthy purchase.

STORY: 7 / 10

Black Ops tells the tale of a solider named Alex Mason who is introduced locked in a chair, being heavily interrogated. Each flashback forced from him is a different level, each of which tell of Mason's exploits the world over, with locations including Cuba, Vietnam and the U.S.S.R in the late 1960's. It's a very unique way to tell a story, playing well with the classified info/conspiracy theme carried throughout. It isn't by any means the greatest story ever, but it does stand well own it's own, even if it didn't have the unique perspective of the protagonist.

GRAPHICS: 8 / 10

Not as bad as Wii-haters say. Picture the high definition as a really fancy coat. Now picture the Wii's arms being too small for said coat. It certainly isn't the best looking Wii game, but the graphics are still well-rendered. They're definitely not "Nintendo 64 graphics"; mouths move properly, characters have individual fingers (not "mittens") and the draw distance is surprisingly far. The most significant difference is in the lighting. The PS3/360 versions utilize lighting to the utmost degree (moving light sources, shadow effects, etc), where the Wii version sticks with one or two lighting conditions for an entire level. This can only truly be seen as a problem for those who place graphical quality above all else.

Lastly, due to the lack of HD, the text in the game is bigger than the other versions. But this isn't a problem, merely an observation.

SOUND: 8 / 10

Nearly every voice-over in Black Ops is very good, which is aided a long list of talented actors which includes Sam Worthington, Gary Oldman, Steve Blum, Carlos Ferro, James Hong, just to name a few. Everybody does a great job telling the story and narrating the online matches.

The music is almost totally neutral. The songs fit the scenery, but the soundtrack won't be why people remember this game years from now (aside from the licensed songs found from artists like The Rolling Stones and CCR). The only times where the music is of a higher quality are during the last mission and when you level up online.

Perhaps the highest point in Black Ops' audio department, which is usually the case throughout the Call of Duty series, are the game's sound effects. Simply put, they're perfect. Explosions, grenades clattering on concrete, the click you hear after firing your last bullet, etc. are all of the highest quality. If you were in the other room listening to the game, you can picture almost exactly what's going on just by hearing the sound effects alone, they're that good.

CONTROL: 9 / 10

The Wii version of Black Ops allows the player to choose from one of two control methods: the Wiimote attached to either a Nunchuk or a Classic Controller. Here's the breakdown as to how they function:

To start, the Classic Controller works great. Those used to 360/PS3 may need to adjust a bit, but after about 10 minutes you'll be totally used to it. If one control style isn't suiting you at the moment, there are 7 button layouts and 4 thumbstick layouts in total from which to choose. Having a Classic Controler Pro makes all of this much more smooth and comfortable. The only thing that could make this style complete is if the Classic Controller could have some kind of rumble and clicking thumbsticks...

The Wiimote + Nunchuk combo is an entirely different beast, but there really isn't too much to complain about here. Aiming is as simple as pointing and shooting, complete with total freedom to adjust the sensitivity and bounding box (how far you need to move the remote to turn the camera). Furthermore, there are seven different button layouts, which includes the Wii Zapper. To top it all off, there's even the ability to alter the button layout as the player sees fit.

Undoubtedly, players will be split as to which style is the best. Yet no matter which method you prefer, the vast customization options should keep even the most stingy gamer happy.

GAMEPLAY: 7 / 10

Just like World at War before it, Call of Duty: Black Ops can be broken down into 3 categories: the Campaign, Zombies and Multiplayer.

-Campaign: Other than the quality of the graphics, the campaign is exactly the same as the other versions. Play the Bay of Pigs, break out of prison, etc. Grand and cinematic in scope and presentation.

Gamer beware: the Vietnam level titled "S.O.G." is broken beyond comprehension. I don't know if it's a glitch, nor do I know if this is unique to the Wii version, but enemies never stop respawning in this level. Slain foes will have new ones return merely seconds later, standing in the very spot where the first soldiers were stationed! All repeated to an infinite degree! Also, it just so happens that the objectives here aren't near as clear as they are in other levels, resulting in a lot of deaths from confusion alone. Difficulty doesn't affect this either; this is a back-breaking chore even on normal.

-Zombies: Plays the same overall. For those unfamiliar with how this works, the player is charged with fighting off increasingly difficult waves of undead and mutated creatures. Building barriers and continuously killing earns you points to buy and upgrade new weapons and open up new areas of the level. Best of all, if you don't feel like going at this alone, this can easily be taken online lag-free with up to three other players.

-Multiplayer: Basically the same formula that has made Call of Duty the online entity it is today. In Black Ops, in-game money can be earned along with experience. Money can be used to buy new guns, attachments, perks, equipment, contracts, etc. Even the friends list works the same! The only real complaints rest with the lack of killcams and occasional freezing. It doesn't happen too often (about once every 45 to 65 games), but it is a pain when it does. At that point, the only thing left to do is hold the power button down on the Wii itself to shut it off entirely. Otherwise, games themselves generally run lag-free and are always easy to find due to the surprisingly high number of people always playing.

All 3 elements put together all make for a genuine Black Ops experience, save for three missing points that other versions have: high-definition graphics, downloadable content and split-screen multiplayer. Despite this, it doesn't take away from the fun to be had. Hit detection is spot-on, the weapons are greatly varied and the online community is deep. The only other odd issue is that the Home button doesn't work in a lot of areas of the game itself, like when you're anywhere online or in zombies. In fact, there are more places in the game where you can't press the Home button than where you can.

OVERALL: 8 / 10

If you have a Wii and you're looking for a solid first-person shooter, you can't go wrong with Call of Duty: Black Ops. What it may lack in offline options, it makes up for in it's solid online. It's a true Call of Duty experience and yet another great title from Activision for Nintendo's motion-based console.


Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 02/03/12

Game Release: Call of Duty: Black Ops (US, 11/09/10)


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