Review by allaboutbuff
"Treyarch listened to the gamers, and it shows."
Let me preface this review by saying that so far I have read other reviews of COD: Black Ops, and I believe that this game does not cater to the widest possible fan base. Treyarch obviously listened to many players who thought MW2 was able to be manipulated too much through the use of spawn sniping, noob tubes, and other exploits, and removed their effectiveness. These changes has turned off many who relied on these exploits, and Black Ops has become a lot more about effort and strategy, and less about reflexes and gimmicks. I have no interest in this game at all other than a part of the gaming public, and I was extremely impressed.
The graphics really blew me away this time, no doubt about it. On every single map, there are specific additions such as a rocket or a train that breaks up the monotony of the background and adds a unique flavor. Every warehouse, every hut, every brick building, every ruin is a masterpiece that doesn't appear to be even remotely similar to any other Call of Duty, detailed to aid in describing targets and to reflect realism. Edges of the board aren't merely just cliffs or buildings with blurry backgrounds, but sharper and crisper backgrounds that emphasize details over taking the easy road. The gun camos and the character loadouts are really well thought out and look stunning as well. My only beefs are minor- the emblems don't look smooth all of the time when applied to the titles, and there aren't enough lighter title choices for those who wish to apply darker emblems.
Finally, the sound gurus from Treyarch have brought realism back to the Call of Duty franchise. The sounds of battle in Black Ops sound a lot less like Hollywood and more like actual weapons. Grenades actually go "thud" rather than BOOM, explosions are muffled and involve much less fire, and background additions such as cultural music, alarms, barking orders, trains, and rockets are impressively crafted and are unique. If they had brought back the celebration music for each team as they had in World at War, I would have given it a 12/10, but hey, we can't have everything we want! And as an aside for a small note, you can't really have someone saying "Heads Up" when a remote controlled car is spotted... just for next time.
This part of Black Ops is where the game becomes repetitive to me, as well as another example of a short campaign that feels like it had to be inserted in order to have one rather than exist to impress. Despite the attempts at plot twists to shake up the experience, it doesn't do much to make it memorable. I would like to see the next Call of Duty installment really shake up the rut that the single player campaign is in with something really impressive, something that is not present here.
Let's face it- Call of Duty has pretty much been about the multiplayer experience, and knowing that, I really placed more weight on this part than the others. First, the bad. I don't know if it is because of the first week of gameplay, but the connection times are so long and connects to lobbies unreliable that it has detracted from the mode. Saying this, the overall experience of multiplayer is outstanding and a large improvement over Modern Warfare for several reasons. The availability of attachments and equipments without having to level up gives a player flexibility early to play to their strengths and level up quicker than being forced into additions. The World at War engine is back, but with a lot more polish and smoothness with regards to motion and player actions, an engine that presents more of a realistic feel. The removal of spawn sniping, spawn tubing and overemphasis of explosives leaves the gameplay a lot more pure and places the onus squarely on the player to be better tactically and strategically in all game modes. The additions of Wager Matches like Gun Game, One In the Chamber, and more are so tense and riveting, living from second to second without pause, that they are an addiction that can only compare to Search and Destroy. The Zombies mode, particularly set within the Pentagon with former presidents and their hilarious asides referring to "K to the D" and "hippies", had new life and still thrills. The camera, Blackbird, and ballistic knife are creative additions to the arsenal that have concrete purposes without being so outrageous as to be cartoonish. So many aspects of the multiplayer have been altered to show a genuine concern to make Black Ops unique that I found exceptional value in a game that was in no way just another COD product.
Not everyone will be happy with what Treyarch has done as compared to Modern Warfare 2, but in my humble opinion the aspects of MW2 that were replaced will not be missed. So many positive additions to the franchise are packed into this effort that I could not say that it was just another Call of Duty game, for it is not. If Treyarch can solve the problems of slow multiplayer connections and make the single player campaign completely different or mind-blowing, then I think they would have the perfect game. As of now, this edition easily gets a 9/10 from me.
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 11/12/10
Game Release: Call of Duty: Black Ops (US, 11/09/10)
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