Review by clearharm
"A Great SINGLE player game"
From the demo to the final version, I must say Black has completely impressed me. I have been looking forward to the game for months, and I must say, this game is brilliant. So you know what kind of player I am, I love FPS and I generally ignore stories in video games, unless it's an RPG.
Yeah, there's a story- basically your typical military special ops feel... I can't tell you exactly, but it is filmed with live actors in between each mission- and the style they filmed it in is very neat. However, all of the explosions in between these segments tend to erase the question, "Why am I doing this?" and replace it with "Can I blow that up?" Seriously, we had 4-5 guys playing this game, and not one of us could tell you what exactly happened.
I don't think you can beat Black's graphics on any current-gen system. The guns are beautiful and tricked out- any gun fanatic will truly appreciate what they've done with them on here. Not only are they down to a T perfect, but they go so far as do put dings and scratches on them, put the model numbers on the silencers, and even the harness latches sway when you run. Detail was obviously top priority, right next to lighting and particle effects. There were times when it was hard to see what was happening due to bullets spraying dust and smoke everywhere- which sounds unpleasant, but is beautiful to see.
Overall, solid and above the status quo. It does take some adjusting to, but by the second mission, you should be able to get head shots with some practice. While fairly linear, Criterion does a good job of giving you different paths to your target and certainly a number of different ways to deal with your enemies. Whenever there is a stand-off firefight where your future seems bleak, there is guaranteed to be something volatile and explosive that you can shoot to even the fight. Ammo is never an issue, unless using specialty weapons- the developers definitely wanted you shooting a LOT of bullets- and seeing as 1) your clips hold 2-3 times as many rounds as they do in reality and 2) every enemy drops at least one full clip, you are guaranteed a LOT of action. I've only seen a buddy run out of ammo once for both his guns; and I think he was deliberately trying to empty them. GRIPES: The lack of look sensitivity is annoying as the default seems sluggish, enemy AI tends to run around from behind their cover in erratic patterns at times (which keeps the action moving but is totally unrealistic), and overall, the game seems really short, with the amount of quality explosions seeming to wash out towards the end (which may be due to the fact that the other thousands of jaw-dropping explosions have just made us numb by now). Each mission runs about half an hour to an hour, but for a single player only game, the overall length seems a bit short. Although, I have only played it on normal at this point, so there may be added objectives on harder difficulties. Some of the enemies can be a bit ridiculous and overly resilient; if you don't get a head shot on the first shot, there's a good chance you'll put about a dozen rounds in his head "area" before he finally croaks... not to mention some of the other "special" enemies with their added body armor. Some of these enemies push the bounds of realism, which I do believe Criterion was trying to achieve. However, it does change up the gameplay, and a dude charging you in heavy armor and a shotgun does get your blood moving.
BEST GUN EFFECTS IN ANY GAME that I've played- rivaled that of PC's Rainbow Six: Raven Shield. Each shot is resonant; fire an M16 and you can hear the shot echo off in the distance. Simply beautiful. Ambient noises are well done, but in my opinion, the overall EQ seems to be off. If you shoot out a light on the second level (which seems to have no effect on gameplay as far as stealth goes), it seems to be as loud as some explosions.... while the really huge explosions (and I do mean HUGE) seem to lack the overwhelming pop in comparison to smaller ones. In all reality, you should be deaf (actually, probably dead) from these eruptions- perhaps a muffled, blown-out effect like Ghost Recon 2's would have helped amplify that. All in all, sound effects are still solid enough on their own to justify buying the game. The music is just as powerful- while in-game music is few and far between, it certainly adds to the energy when an orchestra adds their dynamic touch to the game. The music can also be heard in some of the other parts of the game and it is simply beautiful.
While I doubt I'll play this entire game over and over, there are definitely some awesome levels I wouldn't mind reliving again. There are added incentives to replay, such as unlockable modes and guns, enough for me to justify replaying the campaign until they are all unlocked.
Beautiful graphics that rival next-gen games (I at times thought I actually managed to buy a 360), sound effects that rival their visual counterpart, and a world of things to be shot with more than enough ammo to do it make an awesome game with some minor technical flaws. DISCLAIMER: unlike your video game magazine editors, I did not judge this game by it's lack of multiplayer. While it sucks that it doesn't have it, Criterion came out and stated it's intentions months ago: make the best single player shooter available, and at the sacrifice of multiplayer. I do believe this game is the most solid single player FPS; only multiplayer and some tweaking here and there could have made it better.
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 03/01/06
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