Review by DandyQuackShot
"Welcome to the Classified 1960's"
Call of Duty: Black Ops is no doubt the most anticipated game of the year and compared to last year's predecessor in Modern Warfare 2 , Treyarch follows up with a grand entrance into the turbulent 1960's with top secret missions featuring some of the worst fighting in Vietnam, the Bay of Pigs, and plenty of exploits through the Soviet Union. Following up the new warfare setting, Call of Duty: Black Ops reintroduces the outstanding multiplayer experience online with a few new features but same style of play as well as the fun and very quirky zombies mode in which I think we'll see again as its own stand alone game.
The story of Black Ops follows the trail of secret operative Richard Mason who is introduced to us while being tortured to divulge information about his past. Each time Mason comes in and out of consciousness the story picks up where he starts to remember. So throughout the game you get to revisit some of the most memorable military incidents in the 1960's starting with the Bay of Pigs and as the plot develops you start to find out how the story of Black Ops correlates with these events. What results is a James Bond/Max Payne like walk through the campaign. Playing on normal or recruit will get you through the campaign in a few hours as there are not that many missions to the game and each has its own bits where we are cut back to Mason in the present day as he comes to in the interrogation room.
I would have to do my fact checking on some of the weapons featured in the campaign but I guess they were introduced that early on in the 20th Century. The MP5 and M16 are very prevalent as well as the AK47, which defined the Communist armies of the era. As for the sentry guns in multiplayer...I don't know. The game play is very standard and fans of Call of Duty will have no trouble picking up the controls again for Black Ops. Taking cover is always a necessity to not get shot up too quick or to recover from wounds but it's too bad you can't peak out from cover. Enemies will immediately find cover and peak out from time to time until you flank them out or borrow a flamethrower and melt away all opposition. A lot of the campaign experience can be best described as a Michael Bay film where you can be in the middle of a heavy firefight and as soon as a checkpoint is reached all fighting stops and it is back to normal again. I'm not too much on how realistic this game feels as to how realistic it looks.
My greatest dislike of the modes of Black Ops was definitely on the campaign. I found the campaign to be full of glitches due mostly to having to be at the right place at the right time for a scripted event to happen. Getting ahead of somebody you are supposed to follow seemed to be the biggest result of the game glitching to the point I had to restart the second mission over. Other glitches such as enemies getting stuck in midair or freezing in place were also prevalent. No update can cure that. The campaign starts to take off once you get to the Vietnam missions but a lot of the sequences of these missions are not too original since all of the ideas for the missions are taken from Vietnam war movies. There have been plenty of games to take advantage of the same exact ideas (such as the much overused Russian Roulette) so originality takes a beating with the game's campaign. I'd dare say the last scene in the final mission is a poor attempt at an armed forces recruiting commercial.
Call of Duty's multiplayer is still the best online and while you can't improve on something that is the best a few new features are added to take your interest in playing and reaching the prestigious prestige mode to the next level. My favorite experience was the Combat Training where you compete against the AI who take on the role of random members of your friends list so that you can improve on your skills or unlock achievements. Unfortunately, what you earn in Combat Training does not cross over to the online multiplayer so you have to start from scratch when you take to the gritty streets of combat against other players. So if you have a friend online that is a mega fanatic you can get a video clip of him stepping on a claymore you placed in plain view and send it to him asking what's up.
Once you hit rank 5 online you are pretty much home free to start creating classes and purchasing challenges to help boost skill points to purchase more items like perks and weapons and gadgets. There are more multiplayer modes and you can even take the Zombies mode online. Customization is a bigger feature as well as you can virtually design what your favorite weapon will look like from color to writing and even the dot sight shape.
Had this game been made simply as a multiplayer game I actually would have given it a 10/10. Between remote detonated RC cars after a three kill streak, napalm strikes, and the ever wonderful Semtex grenades there is plenty to enjoy online. The Zombies mode has been given more of a story as the bonus mode features key figures from history banding together to fight to the last man and you can also jump into an online game in this mode so you do not have to wait on your friends to stop playing the multiplayer to join you.
The graphics are very detailed and remains the reason why the Call of Duty games have such a realistic feel. The only thing I did not think worked are the napalm strikes in multiplayer because they do not create the wall of fire you see in the vintage footage of such strikes. Certain weapons will cause enemies to lose limbs so this game takes a more gory tone than with the likes of the Modern Warfare games. This is an outstanding game visually with so much split second video to give even the most unfazed a seizure and plenty of time to take in a view of the action during large battles going on. The musical scores are quite good but the dialogue during interrogations is the only thing we have to keep up with the story, but things do finally fall into place at the end.
The multiplayer is the greatest selling point of Call of Duty: Black Ops and it will make this game last long into the years ahead until the next Call of Duty game is made. Achievements are easy to get with a few tricks to perform during campaign missions and finally we have a few multiplayer achievements available for the Call of Duty series. Picking up intel items during the missions will score being able to take the black tape off of classified documents so you can read up on the background of each mission you complete. There is always an Easter egg hunt with these games.
Final Recommendation 8/10
Call of Duty: Black Ops is everything that I expected it would be and having expected the campaign to be as far out as the Modern Warfare 2 story this game did not exceed expectations. Still, the multiplayer is a fun and engrossing part of this game that I would have paid full price just for the online play only. Will there be another Call of Duty to top this and Modern Warfare 2 in the future? Without any more competition from the Halo series I would say next year may be a bleak year for online shooters, but Black Ops will be a top game for online gaming well into the end of next year. There were plenty of other games preceding Black Ops but if you were thinking about another game to get while waiting for the word on Black Ops the word is: get Black Ops.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 11/15/10
Game Release: Call of Duty: Black Ops (US, 11/09/10)
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