Review by ptemptibus

"COD = Cause Of Disappointment"

A few weeks ago I wrote a review for Medal of Honor. In it, I complained that the game was a bit too arcade-ish as it did not provide the realistic experience of war that it advertised. Well, compared to the over-the-top flight of fancy that is COD: Black Ops, Medal of Honor could be considered a freakin' military-sim! This new Call of Duty is the very definition of an arcade shoot-‘em-up and despite being exciting and reasonably fun, it comes off feeling rather generic and empty.

Many gamers bagged MW2 for being too simple and shallow. Black-Ops will only outrage these people further as it is even less involving than its predecessor. You literally kill hundreds of people in this game, mowing them down mindlessly with high powered artillery. Whilst this might be considered impressive by some, it will disappoint anyone who is hoping for a strategic challenge. A highlight to this game is some of the characteristic COD moments and set-pieces that you will get to play through. These moments are always explosive and exciting, albeit a bit over-blown. Prison breaks, motorcycle getaways, base-jumping, etc., are all good and well but, again, it still feels somewhat empty or seen-it-all-before-ish.

The story takes some good twists and turns, but basically it just consists of a bunch of melodramatic shouting reminiscent of a bad 80's action flick. There is only so many times you can hear: ‘What do the #%@&ing numbers mean!', before getting bored. Visually the game looks great. I'm currently playing Fallout: Los Vegas on PS3 and I wish it had the textures and character mods of this game. Everything looks good and heavy; bits and pieces of grit and blood and whatnot scatter nicely through the air; fire and explosions are great. Sound is equally good despite the voice work being over-acted on occasion.

Multiplayer is an important factor in COD games, if not the most important factor for many people. In Black-Ops, the multiplayer is essentially exactly the same as the MW games but with different maps and weapons. However, the maps seem tailored slightly differently than previous games, as if the developers were trying to stop people running around like idiots and racking up heaps of kills. You seem to have to play more defensively thanks to the map layouts. Another nice new feature is the in-game currency that allows you to buy weapons and equipment. This is good because you no longer have to wait until you level up to unlock better gear (although you won't have full access to all guns until you hit certain levels). This makes it slightly easier for low ranked players to survive against the die-hard players or cheats. Still, newcomers to the game will die a lot and may find multiplayer to be a very frustrating experience.

So, whilst it cannot be said that Black Ops is a bad game, it is not exactly a great one either. It's enjoyable in the same sort of way that a cheesy action movie is enjoyable, but it is not a wholly satisfying gaming experience. I imagine I'll be keeping it for the multiplayer (although I am starting to get a bit sick of that already, to tell the truth) and might play the campaign through again one day when I'm bored, but this is not quite the game I had hoped for from all the hype.

Reviewer's Rating:   3.0 - Fair

Originally Posted: 11/17/10

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

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