Review by Paintbal_Retrns
"Call of Duty: Black Ops... Just another CoD re-skin, with zombies tacked on."
Call of Duty:Black Ops is the newest installment of the Call of Duty franchise. Developed by Treyarch and produced by heavy hitter Activision. To date, the Call of Duty franchise is huge and is the number one selling game of all time. Awards like that don't come around often, so the game must be good right?
Well... It's good if you want just a re-skin of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare2, which was also a re-skin of Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. Activision has not pumped out a original Call of Duty since it was revolutionized with CoD4. Some people might say, if it ain't broke, don't fix it, But honestly, the same thing over and over again gets old and repetitive. A Call of Duty every single year is pushing it.
Let's look at the specifics shall we?
Black Op's campaign is easily the best one to date. You play the role of Alex Mercer, who is a an ex-spec ops soldier sent to kill Fidel Castro. You start the campaign strapped to a chair, with unknown interrogators pumping drugs into you and trying to get information out of you. As you start to remember your past, you start to relive your memories. The campaign takes you all around the world and through different time frames and wars. It does an exceptional job of telling the story of Alex and the huge twist at the end had my mouth open in shock. The action scenes are superb and the levels are very well done. The only gripes here is that it was short, which is expected seeing as how this is a Call of Duty game and the campaign is NEVER a focus. The other gripe is that there is basically NO exploration at all. You are on a linear path basically the whole game, which kills any sort of creativity.
The sounds in this game aren't very impressive at all. When you shoot a gun, it sounds like you are shooting a pea-shooter rather than a AK-47. Gun sounds are just terrible. Explosions sound dull and quiet and they even had to bring out a patch for the Multiplayer because footsteps were unhearable and it made a specific perk useless because of it. They even brought out a patch to fix the gun sounds, but all it did was make them louder, not more realistic. Modern Warfare 2 beats the pants off of Black Ops here in this category.
This is one of the things where Call of Duty has always done right. The controls of the game are superb. The controls are tight and responsive and the customizable options, like button layouts, sensitivity and the like are extremely friendly and customizable.
Again, something that Modern Warfare did better than Black Ops. The graphics are dull and boring. The details on the environment are nothing compared to what it was in Modern Warfare. The leaves on the trees, the expressions on your enemies faces, the rain as it hits the rooftops... all of those things look like a launch Xbox 360 game. It's just not very detailed at all. They put more time into the detail of things that barely make a game, like the customization options of your gun (i.e. the dot sight types, the lens colors, etc). There's a feature on the Multiplayer that enables you to add your Gamertag and your clan tag on your gun. Don't bother with it, as you can't make it out at all. The detail is just non-existent there. And there is a reason most people use the Tiger print gun skin on all of their guns. It's the only one Treyarch actually put any time and work into. I know they say graphics don't make a game, but for a game that tries to immerse you into the atmosphere of the Vietnam War, a huge military prison, etc, it will turn you off when it doesn't look like much detail was put into it. when your predecessor had better graphics than you, you know something is wrong.
Now we get to the main reason people play Call of Duty games, the Multiplayer. If Call of Duty does one thing right, it's the addicting Multiplayer. Don't get me wrong, it is fun and it's great to sit down, pick up the controller and play a quick game or two. Call of Duty is made for casual players. The reason I'm giving this such a low score is that even though it's fun, it has remained the same game for THREE YEARS! Nothing has really changed since Call of Duty 4. It's the same formula. Choose a perk, kill people, gain Killstreaks and destroy everyone. Call of Duty 4 changed the game forever by introducing a bunch of new features and making the game easy to pick up and play by anyone. It revolutionized the series and made it mainstream. Instead of building on that, Activision decided to milk the franchise for all it's worth by pumping out a title every year without changing much to it. Call of Duty: World at War took the franchise back to its WWII roots, but except having the guns from back in the WWII era and vehicles (which they ended up taking out), nothing changed much from the Multiplayer perspective. It was still the same. Killstreaks, perks, easy knife, ranks, etc. The ONLY thing that was different was zombie mode, which I will get to later.
Now on to Modern Warfare 2. I will give Infinity Ward some credit, they tried. They really did, but Activision pushed them and made them release a crappy, buggy mess. Some new things were cool, like all the challenges, and the Pro versions of Perks, but for every new cool thing, there was a bug to go with it. Anyone remember the Javelin glitch? Or dual 1887's? Care package glitch? All of those made MW2's MP almost unplayable. At the end of the game's life they tried to fix it, but with Black Op's coming out soon, it was to little to late.
Finally, it's Black Op's turn. Again, here I will give Treyarch some credit. They tried to jazz it up some by touting things that pissed off Modern Warfare 2 fans. Killstreaks wouldn't stack anymore, there would be no more nukes and they took advantage of Modern Warfare 2's imbalances and promised to change them when the time came. They also promoted customization. Being able to customize your own gun, your own character, etc. Also, the inclusions of CoD points and the introduction of some fun, quirky game types had people clamoring for the game to be released. Black Op's Multiplayer is probably the most balanced out of any Call of Duties, but the features they touted tended to not be as good as people thought.
For one, the customization options weren't all that great. You can't really customize your character like you would think. When you choose your first tier perk, your character will be customized depending on what you took. If you took lightweight, your character will look like a fast, light, runner, while if you took Flak Jacket, you will be seen wearing more armor and a blast helmet. The only real customization you have on your character is the ability to paint your face, which barely anybody sees. The next touted customization feature was the ability to pick your gun lens color and the color and shape of your reflex sight/red dot sight. This was such a little feature that I was surprised they thought this and the perk picking your style was Treyarch's definition of customization. For one, choosing another lens color actually HINDERS your ability Aim down the Sight. Same with the red dot sight. Some red dot colors and shapes actually makes it harder to hit, and to see your enemy.
Another thing was the maps. They just weren't as good as Modern Warfare 2's maps at all. There isn't any maps that scream AMAZING! and most maps are extremely small and packed. I mean I like firefights Treyarch, but sometimes I like a map where I would be able to use a sniper rifle, or be alive for more than 20 seconds. The maps needed to be bigger and more open.
One last thing is the CoD points. As you complete matches and challenges, you earn special points which are used to unlock guns, perks, gun skins...You name it. This was something pretty cool, but the one bad thing is that if you are competent at the Wager Matches, you can stockpile HUGE amounts of CoD points, which makes them worthless in the end. The ability to choose what you wanted and buy the guns and options you and only you wanted was diluted when you can play a couple wager matches and then buy anything you want to your hearts content.
Treyarch tried. They tried to make things a little more different then others, but in the end the changes they promised weren't as great as they made them out to be and they still couldn't change the main game formula. No matter how much customization you throw in a game, it will still get boring in the end if the main game formula is unchanged in 3 years.
If Treyarch does one thing right, it's zombies. Introduced in World at War, Zombie mode was AMAZINGLY fun. Especially with friends on one Xbox, or over Xbox Live with three other people. I know many people that bought World at War just for the Zombie mode. It was fun, it was addicting and it was scary as hell. Black Op's Zombie mode is no different.
Black Ops came with two zombie maps. One has you playing as one of the original zombie characters from World at War, and the other has you hilariously playing as some of history's biggest players. JFK, Richard Nixon, Fidel Castro, and Senator Macnumera are all playable characters and the map you play on with them is...the Pentagon! There is a cut scene that introduces you to the map and the hilarity that ensues is amazing. The one liners that Nixon and JFK say rival those of Duke Nukem.
The maps are great. They have many levels, are varied and extremely open. The perks make a return and so does the pack a punch machine. The chaos and addicting fun of zombies will have you returning for more and more.
Black Ops does have some shining moments, but overall in the places it needs it most, it's still the same old same old. Sooner or later people are going to want something different and Activision will need to come up with something new for a change, before this franchise goes the way Guitar Hero did. Straight into the ground.
Reviewer's Rating: 3.0 - Fair
Originally Posted: 05/09/11
Game Release: Call of Duty: Black Ops (US, 11/09/10)
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