Review by gman19

"Best shooter for PS2, hands down. Don't agree? Find out for yourself."

I first played this game on a Playstation Underground demo disc earlier this spring. It was a short demo, just having the first area of the first level, then the demo ended. I played it, and never really noticed it as a good game or one that I wanted. Afterward, that demo disc went into my vault, of sorts, or Playstation Underground demo discs. Recently (yesterday, December 1st, 2006, to be exact) I was bored and looking through my collection of demos. I saw the disc from issue 103, containing Black on itself, and popped it in. Now, having seen tech demos and videos and whatnot from the prelaunch and postlaunch of the PS3 and accustoming myself to those standards of graphics, I immediately thought I had the PS3 I long for to the day of this writing in my living room, just for that split second where I got into the game, saw the starting room, and thought "So, this is what next-gen games look like in person" before I came back to Earth and heard that distinctive, loud whirring noise that my 5-year old fatty PS2 has always made, and always will. But playing through that demo, I realized that I need this game to satisfy my hunger for incredible games with just as awesome graphics until I can finally get Resistance: Fall of Man in the early Spring, when income taxes are abundant and my parents have nothing to spend it on. So, I went to the store the next day and bought Black, however my dad had to go through interrogation, it seemed, for me to buy it (M-rated game, and I'm 13 years old, so they [clerks/cashiers] needed my parents consent). And let me tell you, this game is nothing short of breathtaking. Take a look why:

Artificial Intelligence: Not state-of-the-art, but it does the job quite well. Enemy AI is not as good as friendly/allied AI, but that is actually very realistic; the enemies are terrorist grunts, and obviously don't have as much skill, training, or intelligence of a Special Forces commando. However, that doesn't mean that the terrorists are stupid; I have been flanked while reloading behind a truck countless times and shot dead by AK-47 wielding guerrillas. Snipers spot you from a quarter mile away and kill you mercilessly if you stray into the path of their trusty .50 caliber bullet at just as long a range. Enemies and squadmates alike will come under fire and rush to the nearest form of cover, whether it be a tree, building, sandbag, vehicle, or anything that can (partially) block the path of a bullet.

Overall, I give the Artificial Intelligence aspect an 8 out of 10

Graphics: Wow. Just, wow. If you haven't played this game, go online to IGN and open, in separate windows, a screenshot from Black and a screenshot from the PS3's Resistance: Fall of Man. Notice that Black is PS2, and Resistance is 1st-gen PS3. The graphics are obviously not the same, but look very similar in terms of quality and detail. Also, particle effects and explosions are incredible. Think something along the lines of an interactive Saving Private Ryan, just without the beaches of Normandy, blood and dismembered limbs (yes, the shocker; no blood or gore), or German-speaking...well...Germans. The weapon and explosion effects, though, are still there. Also, did I mention destructible environments? Not everything can be destroyed, but most of it can. RPG-ing a sniper in his tower and watching said tower collapse atop said sniper who is falling to the ground a hundred feet below? Priceless.

Overall, I give the Graphics aspect a 10 out of 10

Gameplay: Not the best, but still very good. There aren't a variety of missions, as you won't be doing any hostage rescues, search and destroys, or things like that; the entire game is just about shooting people. Yes, it sounds boring, but the tactics and strategy involved in outmanuvering and outthinking your opponents is very exciting; you're constantly thinking things like "Okay, that guy is on the catwalk with an RPG, now, there's some tall crates over there, I might be able to sneak along beside those and get into a flanking position behind him...oh crap!" And that's the point where your strategical plans are interrupted by a number of things: 1) You leaned out into the Heavy Weapons Gunner's field of view and you have a rocket-propelled grenade streaking its way into your little hiding place, 2) You were flanked by one or more shotgun-toting, armored grunts and are now trying to gun them down, or 3) Your cover was (literally) blown by a bunch of AK-47's and you are now crapping your pants, getting filled with holes that are then filled with lead, and trying to shoulder and aim your best available weapon while looking for another spot to hide or take cover behind.

Overall, I give the Gameplay aspect a 7 out of 10

Sound: Excellent weapon sounds, explosions are superb, and the soundtrack is very suitable and moving. Also, Criterion capitalized on the PS2's support of Dolby 5.1 Surround, so your home theater system really brings out the full effect of the sounds. Nothing like hearing a RPG round scream by you then your subwoofer exploding with the resulting explosion. Very nice, just as good as the graphics.

Overall, I give the Sound aspect a 10 out of 10

Replay Value: Sadly, this is the game's weakest point; while you can complete the game at various difficulty settings, the only thing that really changes is the amount of Medical Packs to heal yourself you can carry. Of course, completing the game on Normal or higher unlocks Silver Weapons Mode, where all guns are silver with unlimited ammo, for that difficulty and below, but the lack of a multiplayer feature really, really hurts this game's replay value.

Overall, I give the Replay Value aspect a 4 out of 10

Story: "Ha, a FPS with a story that doesn't suck, that'll never happen." While there are better out there (Halo, for example) this game doesn't have a cliched, aliens-try-to-destroy-the-world, or evil-scientist-tries-to-take-over-the-world story, it's actually the narrative of a soldier who is being interrogated over the events of a series of past battles. It's not great, but not bad either.

Overall, I give the Story aspect a 7 out of 10

Overall: This game is very good, but not for the person who wants more than a flashy, destructible-environments, shoot-em-up game. If you want a game that you can go online against other people with, get something like Rainbow Six. This is a must-buy for the FPS fan who doesn't like to play against n00bs from across the country :)

The overall score of this game review is a 10 out of 10

Reviewer's Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Originally Posted: 12/04/06

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