Review by ToweringM3zcal

"There go the next three months of my life."

So here is my partial review - partial because I have not played the campaign - however I felt it important to give my opinion to balance out some of the, what I think are, nonsense reviews/comments I have seen on the boards and in other reviews.

We all know the ridiculous success that was MW2 and we all also know how much that game divided the gaming community, the marmite of video game, you loved it or hated it. Well actually the reality for even those that did not like the multiplayer was that campaign was ok, Special Ops was brilliant. So how do you follow in the footsteps of such a huge game?

Well 3Arc have taken the approach that is safe, you can pick it up and play very easily and nothing will completely surprise you but they have also added some twists of their own - does it work? Hell Yes.

Right from the start the game feels like it has been crafted with attention and a love for the end result. The Dead Ops Arcade - a Top down manic shooter is immense fun and this is the key to what they have done - they have brought a smile back to the face of a hardened COD veteran.

The graphics look great. My only moan and hence why not a higher score is that the individual characters in multiplayer do not look quite as good as in MW2 otherwise it all looks great, as you would expect from a AAA title.

SOUND: 8/10
Not much you can do when it is all kicking off to show off subtlety and range of sounds but what it does it does solidly enough and they have turned down the footsteps which is a great thing - at times in MW2 it felt like you were tap dancing in clogs when trying to sneak around - here it is more realistic.

This is why I buy COD games, the campaign for me is sweet but the long term replay value and classic gaming moments that I get playing online with my mates is the reason I buy games like this.

So far, and it is only about 6-7 hours in, I love this multi-player experience. For starters it is more balanced, the perks do not add to your kill streak so you have to really work to get a decent score. The weapons feel good and require genuine skill and BEST OF ALL in 7 hours of playing I only got 'noob tubed' once - good kill too that took out three others as well.

This feels so much more right when playing it and the different game modes add a real sense of excitement.

You can customise your character and weapons really nicely, clan tag written on your gun anyone?, and the new leveling up points system - essentially you earn points through playing well and achieving in-game challenges, which you can use to unlock attachments, new looks, emblem and logos etc - giving you a far more personalised feel to your player ID and character. The perks are nice too some of the classics are there as well as tweaked version in response to gamers comments on previous versions, So for example Warlord (Bling in MW2) allows you two attachments but not including an underbarrel so, no noob tube and reaction (holo) sight and there is now no ludicrous eight foot leaping commando pro - yay.

The points you build up can also be used to gamble in wager matches, and this sense of fear of loss/sense of gain, adds a really nice emotional angle to an old formula - you really care about each death, as it could mean you losing points and not being able to buy that sweet gun or that vital attachment. Wager matches also have a few twists rather than just straight death match and the new versions like gun game (each kill gives you a new, more powerful gun to use but being knifed takes you back a step) or sticks and stones ( an awesome FFA mode where you all have a tomahawk, ballistic knife and a cross bow) add genuine adrenaline and drama that is real fun. They brought fun back to the FPS and that alone is why I love this game already - I played a fair bit of MW2, prestiged about 5 times, despite the obvious problems with that game but sometimes I realised I was not having fun, just ploughing on - this game feels more fun and if Treyarch can make good on the promises to keep the cheating and hacking down to a minimum this game has serious long term potential.

Will update when campaign is done but already worth the money.

Overall Rating: 9/10 - A fun re-working of a successful formula with no major surprises but executed with real craft and attention to detail. New multi-player modes add fun and the overall impression is that they have listened to the grumbles of the COD community and tried to deliver a more balanced playing field with actual intent to minimise cheating/hacking. An FPS with good intentions. I loved it.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 11/10/10

Game Release: Call of Duty: Black Ops (EU, 11/09/10)

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