Review by RingsOfUranus
"Enemy RC-XD, incoming."
This review is coming from someone who has, amazingly, never played Modern Warfare 1 or 2. I've never been interested in Call of Duty, but with the rage surrounding 'Black Ops,' I felt I may as well jump on the bandwagon and see what all the fuss was about. I should have probably listened to my gut feeling...
Call of Duty: Black Ops, in the least insulting way I can possibly describe it, is a video game aimed at people who are very incapable of planning, and want to 'kill stuff right now!' It's the "Family Guy" of First Person Shooters. I'm referring entirely to the online multiplayer aspect of the game, as no one who bought this game did so for the (Actually very rich and enticing) campaign. When I jumped into the online multiplayer 'player match' system, after about three minutes of play, I had one horrific realization; Multiplayer is about 5% skill, 25% leveling, and 70% complete, unchallenged, no-questions-asked LUCK. Any Black Ops player that will tell you they're 'really good' at the game, is lying to you. Being 'good' at it is impossible. The 5% skill I mentioned falls into three small factors. The first, being that you learn each map. The second, being that you learn what every button does. And, the third, being that you learn how to move in a way that you see everything around you. This is the extent. Once you've got this down, your kill/death ratio and win/loss ratio can only be aided by your level. Let me explain this in depth.
As you level up, you earn a useless currency that you will no doubt have in abundance (With nothing to spend it on.) As you level, you also earn the right to use that currency to buy different weapons. The beginning weapons are absolutely terrible, while the final weapons are morbidly overpowered. Morbidly overpowered weapons actually aren't a bad thing at all, because you unlock them very late in your leveling process. For example, the G11, which is without a doubt an assault rifle crafted by Jesus himself, is available to you at level 44. This rifle is so ridiculous, it will kill anything, in a single pull of the trigger. It has what is basically an unlimited clip size, as well as ammo supply. Its range is so long, that it the only two attachments available for it, are two different sniping scopes. This gun is the end-all. However, if you choose to 'Prestige" at level 50, (Which you will, otherwise your ego will not inflate to its potential) you actually lose all the weapons you have, and start over. So most people actually don't have any of these superpowered weapons for long. That said, when you're level 44, and you take aim on a guy level 3, the poor guy isn't going to stand a snowball's chance, no matter what he does. Your level is not defined by how talented you are at the game, it's simply how much you play.
Furthermore, the gameplay sets out as follows; If you see someone before they see you, you win. End of discussion. That's all there is to it. There are no fancy moves you can unleash to leap out of the way, flip around,and fire off a shot to their head to kill them after you notice one bullet's hit your back. You just die. Black Ops is purely run and gun, hope nobody finds you before you find someone else. It gets incredibly old, very quickly. Sniping is useless in Black Ops, as you die in 2-4 shots from any gun other than the ones you start with anyway. Headshots are unheard of, Black Ops 'snipers' will simply camp somewhere and shoot you in the knees repeatedly with one of the semi-auto sniper rifles.
The amazing, truly jaw-dropping thing is, I fully believe the developers actually tried as hard as possible to remove tactics, team-work, or skill from the game. You get various forms of equipment, such as tactical insertions, that will allow you to respawn wherever you plant it. Great idea for a sniper wanting to go right back to their tower, except it glows a bright, obnoxious flashing green that can be seen through walls, across the entire map, drawing attention to yourself. There's really no advantage to it when it will alert everyone playing to where you are. This is only one of many things that lead you to believe you're actually really supposed to play-by-luck. For example, the maps are set up in just such a way, that there will be multiple entrances to any building, facing away from every other. So you enter door A, head for door B, and guy in door C behind you, shoots you in the back. This is true with every single area of every single map. What's even better? COVER isn't even applicable here because walls are basically transparent. The "Hardened' perk allows greater bullet penetration in walls and other objects, but it's essentially useless, because you can shoot through most walls anyway. YES! If an enemy sees you, takes fire, and you somehow manage to get behind cover before they kill you it doesn't matter! They will shoot you through the cover and you'll still die. It's almost like it's to make sure if they see you first, you have no hope of just being a better player and regrouping. You.Will.Die.
I'd go further into the gameplay, but most of the things you can do, such as challenges, wager matches, theater, and gamercard customization are so overshadowed by simply BAD gameplay, I honestly don't care to.. I honestly can't think of anything that was done right, gameplay wise, in the multiplayer. Not by my standards, anyway. But I'm spoiled by shooters that require SOME form of tactic. Let's move on..
The Campaign is beautiful. Character models are absolutely incredible, down to the last detail. You really couldn't ask for much more.
However, this is not a campaign review. The online multiplayer is bland, blocky, depth-less, mucky, and almost cartoon-like. In complete honesty, Black Ops multiplayer looks like a launch title. The frame rate is choppy, and the entire experience is just plain ugly.
I think I'm done. Unfortunately, Black ops is one of the only things being released recently actually worth playing for long periods of time. Though as soon a new A-list title emerges, I doubt I'll ever touch it again.
Reviewer's Rating: 3.0 - Fair
Originally Posted: 01/20/11
Game Release: Call of Duty: Black Ops (US, 11/09/10)
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