Review by KenshinKatamari

"Plagued with problems, Black is far from the revolutionary shooter it made itself out to be."

Black is EA's new first person shooter, touting the tagline 'As a Black operative, you'll obey no laws, know no borders, kill without mercy, and live by the five rules of guncraft'. With gaming magazines up until the release of the game praising the graphics and destructible landscape, I was eager to get my hands on Black. It didn't take me more than an hour of trite gameplay to make this game out to be what it really is: a run-of-the-mill, by the numbers shooter.

Graphics: 9/10

Though I didn't enjoy the game, Black certainly has some nice visuals. From the flames left on small buildings when they're blown to pieces, to the firing of gunshots into the forest fog, Black makes itself out to be one of the nicest looking games on the Xbox in recent months. The cutscenes were also very well done, using real actors with quick-cutting scenes to lay out the storyline. One of the problems that I was able to point out, however, was the constant use and reuse of the same in-game textures. You'd find a wall littered with posters and gunshots to be interesting, only to see the same texture used three or four more times before the level ended. Otherwise, the graphics held up well under inspection.

Sound: 610

Although most of the sound bites were crisp and clear, the game seemed to use many of the same voice clips for the actors who were recording, as the enemies all responded and communicated in the exact same way. The sounds of gunshots were interesting, but not enough to keep you constantly switching guns to listen to the same firing.

Gameplay: 4/10

Gameplay is where Black really gets bogged down. The first level is a breeze, letting you run and blow up an office building, shooting enemies as you duck from car to car, trying to find that elusive weapon that is located in each level. Once you enter the forest of the second level, however, you realize that you're tasked to do the same thing you did in the first - get from point A to point B, shooting the same enemies over and over again. In a tight spot? Simply shoot the well-placed exploding barrel behind Baddie #225, and a hole in a nearby building is blown open, allowing you to restock on ammo. It doesn't take long to realize that the first person shooters that you've been playing since you were a kid aren't much of a step backward for this game - Black reminded me of a post-apocalyptic, graphically upgraded version of Doom - a game I played in 1995.

Final verdict:

Black is a good addition to the shooter family, but won't be remembered in five years. It isn't innovative enough to place it up on a pedestal with other games, and is doomed to the fate that mediocre offline FPSes do - an unnoticeable game in a bargain bin a year after its initial release. While worth a rental, Black isn't worth the $40 that it claims to.

Reviewer's Rating:   3.0 - Fair

Originally Posted: 05/17/06

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