Review by LtCardboard
"Solid, but offers nothing groundbreaking."
Black is a gorgeous FPS. Upon release, it's main selling point was the destructible environment and stunning graphics (for the time). Doubtless, the game looks incredible - explosions are massive, environments detailed and there's a cool little blur effect when you reload, adding a little intensity to the combat (you lose sight of the enemy while you're looking at your gun). The game delivers in spades in the graphics department. And the sound effects, my god they are superb - you hear every shell hit the floor, and every bullet resounds wonderfully. Every little click of the grenade brings joy to your ears. On top of this, the orchestral soundtrack compliments the gameplay beautifully. The overall presentation of this game is simply stunning.
Unfortunately, the whole destructible environment aspect is severly overhyped. While there are sections in which walls will break, doors shatter, they are restricted to mission progress - the vast majority of the environment won't collapse. In fact, while almost every wall and pillar will receive chips and cracks as bullets riddle them, the effect is purely aesthetical. More annoyingly, bullets pelting walls will cause an obscene amount of dust to fill the area, essentially blinding the player. A frustrating amount of times, you will have to stop mid combat, simply to wait until the dust settles before you can resume the gunfight. This takes pace from the game.
For a game that prides itself on its realism, Black's enemies take a ridiculous amount of bullets to kill. It's not uncommon to empty and entire round into a single enemy just to bring him down. Headshots are a one shot kill, but they're overly hard to pull off as a result of some stiff aiming. Recoil is significant, making accurate shots difficult, but this does add realism and isn't a problem.
The player can arm themselves with just two weapons, plus grenades. Some would argue this adds strategy, but I've always found this to be more restrictive - limiting the variety with which you can take down a group of enemies. Besides - the gun you need will always be conveniently in the area.
Gameplay itself is fairly unimaginative. Black is severely lacking in enemy variety. You'll face common soldiers, heavily armoured shotgunners, shield holders, snipers, rocket launchers and turret gunners... and nothing else. Not even a helicopter or a tank. Just soldiers. For the whole game. The biggest issue with Black is that it is entirely deprived of memorable set pieces. The game is just one horde of soldiers after another. Admittedly, the action is quite intense, but still, there's nothing to break the repetition. Even the end of the game is unimpressive - difficult, yes, due to the sheer number of enemies, but hardly memorable. Worst of all, Black commits the deadly sin of FPSs - exploding barrels. Yes, to take down most enemies, just shoot something explosive conveniently nearby. It's an unimaginative gimmick designed to show off Black's explosion effects. The developers should be killed, preferably by an exploding barrel, for including this.
The objective based gameplay takes place over 8 chapters, roughly taking an hour each, at most. So Black is fairly short. Secondary objectives are necessary in the harder difficulties, increasing length somewhat. But besides that, there's no multiplayer whatsoever - a crime for an FPS of this type. There's little reason to play the game again. In fact, there's little reason to play the game the first time. It's fun, but it offers no imagination whatsoever, no unique selling point and is little more than a solid FPS with pretty graphics.
Reviewer's Rating: 3.0 - Fair
Originally Posted: 01/11/10
Game Release: Black (EU, 02/24/06)
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