Review by BloodFalcon64

"A decent FPS with a lot of minor annoyances"

Black is EA's latest FPS, about a classified special forces cell known as Black Ops. The game boasts highly destructible environments, and a large array of powerful guns. Does Black have what it takes to walk with all the other shooters? Read on to find out.

Graphics – 7/10
The graphics in Black are neither outstandingly bad, nor are they very good. They simply allow for the game to be playable. The weapons are quite realistic and look good. Enemies all look good, but the problem is there are only about half a dozen different enemy models throughout the entire game, and blasting the guy over and over again gets repetitive. When bullets hit the ground, or walls or destructible objects, debris, smoke and dust get kicked up into the air, hindering your sight. If you stop shooting, you can see the dust settle, and shoot again. I thought this was a pretty good effect for the type of environments the game takes place in. The locales you play in include a bombed out city, a forest, some abandoned industrial complexes, a large bridge, and a vast military bunker complex. Many of the environments have a gritty look to them which fits the mood of the game.

Sound – 8/10
The sound in Black is done well. Every gun sounds different, and when you have a silencer attached, it makes a realistic noise. When you get low on health, you can hear your character's heartbeat. The voice acting was done right for the characters. Whenever you heard someone over the radio they had the correct intonation in their voice for what they had to say. The soundtrack fits in the game extremely well. It is mainly orchestral, but it plays at just the right moments in firefights.

Gameplay – 6/10
The game does not fail here, but it doesn't impress either. It's mainly several minor flaws which bring the game down. One problem you will notice is enemy hit detection. Enemies take a lot of damage. It's true that every gun holds an absurd amount of ammo per magazine, (the MP5 holds 80 rounds per mag) but it will take about half of that magazine to bring one normal enemy down. Unless you're specifically aiming for the head, stray headshots won't automatically kill the enemy. In short, the enemies simply take too much. The magazine size should have been reduced as well as the enemies' toughness.

There are a lot of guns to use in this game. Unfortunately though you rarely get to choose which. You can pick up a few different ones throughout each mission. Unless you are using a weapon that is hidden in the level, like each level has, running out of ammo will never be a problem for your standard machine gun. The main problem with every gun though, is inaccuracy. When you aim at an enemy, and your targeting reticule turns red, that means your enemy is within the effective range of your weapon. Even if an enemy is in range, a lot of the bullets you shoot at him will not hit. If this occurred with just some guns that really are inaccurate, I could understand. But it happens with every gun. Also, this game forces you to snipe with submachine guns way too many times.

On normal, the game is not very difficult. There are a few things that can make it frustrating though. For instance, when you get to a building that you have to enter, normally there will be a bunker at the entrance and an endless flow of enemies until you kill the guys in the bunker. So while you're sniping the guys in the bunker with your Mac 10, you have to worry about random enemies who will just run right up to you and spray you with an SMG. Other enemies to worry about include RPG snipers. Yes, snipers with rocket propelled grenades. You will be running through a combat zone when you see a rocket explode nearby. You take cover instinctively, and pop your head out to see where the guy is. He fires another rocket, you see where he is and you get back behind your cover before the rocket hits. You take reduced damage from the rocket, since you were hiding. You can either try to snipe the rocket launcher with an SMG, or just empty your magazine in his general direction. No matter what you do, you will end up taking damage. These guys show up in almost every level.

Every mission has primary and secondary objectives. The primary objective is always pretty obvious, like “find the farm house.” The secondary objectives are basically just running around the level on a scavenger hunt to find papers on walls, blueprints, or destroy laptop computers and safes. You usually have to complete a minimum of secondary objectives each level to not fail the mission. But you will always run into secondary objectives enough to not worry about that.

Also, Black has no multiplayer whatsoever, which would have really helped its replayability. It took me a little bit less than seven hours to play through on normal. But it has a few things you can unlock by beating it on harder difficulty levels.

Story – 5/10
Before each mission, you will see a cut scene of your character being interrogated by a government official about the mission you're about to do. Basically, every mission is a flashback of the main character did. The story isn't very strong. It doesn't provide enough purpose or motivation to go and kill 200 enemies each level.

Controls – 9/10
Black has controls like every other PS2 shooter, so no complaints here.

Overall (not an average) – 6/10

Black is not a bad game by any means. It has its moments, but they are brought down by the games many flaws. I don't regret paying $35 for this game. I have already beaten it, but I'll continue to play it. Hopefully, there will be a sequel so EA can improve everything that wasn't right with this game.

Reviewer's Rating:   3.0 - Fair

Originally Posted: 05/17/06

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