Review by ForzaFan622
"I can't believe people are scoring this 10/10..."
Let me just say this -- I am an avid fan of the Call of Duty franchise. It's one of the only games that myself and my XBox Live buddies can get together and play together and enjoy our company on. Call of Duty 4 was (and probably remains) one of the best games released for the XBox 360 and probably one of the best first person shooters of the last decade. From there, however, the series has steadily started to get worse across several aspects, mainly all having to do with multiplayer -- and let's face it, isn't that the main reason most people buy this game anyways? In particular, the Treyarch installments -- Black Ops and the title that came two years before it, World at War -- have been just terrible in regards to some of the things I'm going to outline. Could it be that they care too much about Nazi Zombies and not enough about, oh, I don't know... regular gameplay? But, more on that later.
CAMPAIGN -- 7/10
I actually enjoyed the campaign. It had a very cinematic feel to it, and for the first time in the Call of Duty series, the developers took a very psychological twist to it. Missions felt unique and a lot of them had memorable moments, whether it was waging a blazing gun fight through a village that had just been gassed with the deadly Nova-6 that the story revolves around, or driving a gunboat down a river in Vietnam, with enemies shooting at you from all sides, in the river, and even from above in helicopters, all while listening to the Rolling Stones hit, "Sympathy for the Devil." Overall, it had a very edgy feel to it, and rarely was there a dull moment -- exactly as a war game should be.
GRAPHICS -- 6/10
In this day and age, I can't help but feel like they could have done more with the graphics. Environments and character models are somewhat bland. The facial capture technology they used is pretty nice, as it allows for accurate lip syncing and facial expressions. Explosions and bullet effects are so-so. It just felt more jagged and rough around the edges than it should have at this stage of the XBox 360's life.
SOUND -- 8/10
Gun sounds are decent, explosions are decent. The voice acting is above average, but at some times is way over the top -- when playing online, I get kind of tired of listening to Ice Cube scream at me just because the enemy has called in a Spy Plane. Calm down, big guy. Sam Worthington does a pretty good job as Mason, the lead protagonist of the game's campaign, and Gary Oldman makes his return as the always-crazy Viktor Reznov.
So far, it looks like the game is shaping up to be pretty decent, right? The single player experience ain't half bad -- actually, it's a nice way to burn 8-10 hours of your life, depending on what difficulty you play on. With that said, let's go ahead and take a look at multiplayer...
MULTIPLAYER -- 1/10
... where this game just falls absolutely flat on its face. Man, there are so many problems with multiplayer this time around it's almost impossible to even know where to begin. Let's start with the maps themselves. I am thoroughly convinced that Treyarch went out of their way to make it impossible to snipe on this game when playing multiplayer. There are very few maps that offer good vantage points or enough cover for a sniper to effectively execute their craft. The only stock maps I can think of where a sniper has a snowball's chance in hell of being effective is Array and possibly WMD, if they are able to climb up to the cat walk. Other than that, with maps such as Firing Range and Nuke Town appearing more frequently than not in every lobby, you're better off just leaving the sniper rifles alone.
Another point on the maps -- whereas Modern Warfare 2 taught us more than ever the value of camping, what with the many buildings on each map to explore and all sorts of windows and towers to shoot out of or off of, Black Ops took this concept and kicked it into overdrive. Never in a Call of Duty game have I personally seen the number of people that crouch behind claymores, or lay on their bellies in one spot for the whole game, or sit low behind walls with a light machine gun, or just never leave their spawn (or as I'm about to show you, YOUR spawn) than I have in this game. And they are absolutely shameless about it. The worst part is that Treyarch rewards these losers for sitting in a corner the whole game -- if they see you before you see them, it's lights out. Hell, even if you're shooting at them, chances are still better than not that you're going to be the one watching a kill cam or waiting to respawn (but again, that's a whole nother issue that I'm about to explore here in a bit -- stay tuned). In the end, it leads to people just playing a game of hide and seek, building up their killstreaks again and again and again while you desperately try ANYTHING to get them out of their hiding spots, spurred on by completely overpowered and downright ridiculous perks.
Oh, the perks... Treyarch really dropped the ball on this one. MW2 introduced the concept of upgrading your Perks by completing in game challenges, and it was a lot easier to do it over the course of the game. It basically rewarded players for playing the game as they normally would. Not here -- Treyarch decided that it would be a wonderful idea to not only incorporate THREE challenges to upgrade, but that they were going to make some of them as downright silly as possible (seriously, you want me to toss back HOW MANY GRENADES? Oh, hang on while I go get 25 kills within the vicinity of a motion sensor or a jammer... I know, I'll go set one up somewhere, go sit in a corner where I can watch it, and tear through enemies right when they run past it. Once again, they promote camping and overall unfair gameplay.). Not only that, but to add insult to injury, they make you pay for the upgraded versions of the perks using the well-intentioned-but-ultimately-completely-stupid-and-useless economy system in this game. And don't even get me started on how overpowered and downright cheap some of these Perks can be. Sorry, but when I went through basic training with the United States Army, I was taught that two to the chest + one to the head = the enemy is dead and you live to fight another day. Not the case here -- with Second Chance and its even more ridiculous pro counterpart, two to the chest + one to the head = your enemy drops onto their rear and pumps you full of lead with their handgun, killing you even if you are spraying them with a fully automatic assault rifle. Oh, and to add insult to injury, their buddy comes running along and picks them up in a fraction of a second, even if they themselves are not wearing Last Stand. And Flak Jacket? I've never in my entire life and military career ever seen a human being who was able to take an RPG to the chest or a direct blast from a claymore and not be reduced to a red spot in the sand. Makes me wish Treyarch was the company that was producing our body armor -- they could save a lot of lives that way.
Hit detection, otherwise commonly known as bullet lag, is probably one of the most glaringly obvious problems with this entire series. In Black Ops, it reaches a fever pitch. Many a game I have gotten several hit markers with a high powered assault rifle, only to have that sap turn around and shoot me in the face. Many more times still, I've shot that same person in the back multiple times, or emptied half a clip on his face in close quarters, to no avail as I helplessly watch him kill me with a knife to the throat (that's the other thing -- when you are getting shot at close quarters, if you knife, you will sprint through your attacker's bullets and stab them for the kill... believe me when I say it works every time). The worst part is having to watch myself on Kill Cam (on the rare occasion I play core, of course), watching myself from their perspective and watching my character not fire a single round, or, in several cases, even be looking at the guy. That's odd... that's not how it happened on my screen, and I'm pretty sure I got off at least 6-10 rounds. And I'm pretty sure that I was looking at the guy attacking me, not a random rock in the creek. But wait, it gets better -- how exactly does someone get multiple hit markers with NO KILL when using a Chopper Gunner killstreak or, better yet, a Gun Ship? Isn't the whole point of those things the ability to rack up quick and easy kills as a reward for playing well? I guess not, as more often than not players will shoot them down quickly and easily, sometimes before they even have a chance to reach the playing field.
Spawning in this game is also broken. Too often have I seen players sitting in an enemy's starting spawn, picking them off as soon as they appear. You would think the game would adjust to fix that issue, or Treyarch would patch that, but no. And it's not just people spawn trapping, either -- I've been spawned in the middle of gun fights, in front of people laying on their stomachs aiming down their sights, next to frag grenades that are about to detonate, in B52 and Napalm Strikes, out in the middle of a field or beach when there is some sort of helicopter circling overhead... you name it. And there are countless numbers of people on this game that exploit the broken spawning system to the fullest. You would think that Treyarch would patch such a potentially serious and game breaking flaw, but alas -- almost one year later already and still no patch. Hey, they've made their millions and continue to make their money off of those ridiculous Zombie maps, so why should they care?
Oh, and let's not forget the awful amount of lag this game incurs. For whatever reason, they decide to pick the least suitable host for a game and make them the host, causing everyone to hop and skip around the map. If they can, they'll even try and throw you into a foreign lobby -- who in their right mind thought it would be a good idea to allow an American player to join a British or Australian lobby? Sometimes, lobbies will close randomly for no reason or games will stay stuck at the loading screen before throwing you back out.
FINAL VERDICT -- 2/10
This game gets 2 points for the Campaign, but let's face it, who buys a Call of Duty game for anything other than multiplayer? Unfortunately, this game just completely fails to deliver on its most important aspect and selling point. The amount of people giving this game such high marks just goes to show how easy it is for a brand name to pull the wool over someone's eyes and still sell them a terrible product. Don't be fooled -- I'm pretty sure that Treyarch somehow found a way to digitize a turd and burn it onto a game CD. I'll take a risk with Infinity Ward when Modern Warfare 3 comes out in the fall, but I don't think I can say the same of Treyarch when they undoubtedly come out with their next horrific installment in 2012.
Reviewer's Score: 2/10 | Originally Posted: 09/06/11
Game Release: Call of Duty: Black Ops (US, 11/09/10)
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