Review by FinalBattalion

"What am I supposed to focus on?"

I'm rather disappointed in this game. I feel as though it has a lot of potential that is either wasted or ignored. I'm not entirely sure what the reason is, but I feel as though it may have something to do with trying to push a game out every two years; so many things have to be sacrificed. Black Ops suffers from trying to do TOO much. There's TOO much going on during gameplay and cutscenes, we can't actually focus or decide what really matters.

Story: 4/10

I'm honestly not impressed by the story. I think the general concept of a CIA operative who has been brainwashed and the threat of a deadly nerve gas could be an interesting premise, but I feel like it was executed poorly, mainly because it leaves so many unanswered questions. I can't really go into detail due to spoiler restrictions, but suffice to say there are quite a few.

Another thing that bothered me is the utter failure to create a sense of urgency near the end. The only thing attempting to tell the player that time is short is the rising panic in our captor's masked voice. But while our captor screams that we're out of time, our character is sitting in a daze. The player doesn't actually know what to feel. Do we feel panicked because a man with a masked voice is screaming at us, or do we not care because everything else we see and hear tells us we're dazed?

Gameplay: 4/10

This is a mess. The flow of the gameplay is constantly broken by interactive cutscenes such as bursting into a room, rappelling, or using some unusual weapon to destroy vehicles or buildings. While playing the game, the screen is constantly shaking and there is noise everywhere. This distracts the player from the objective. Background guns firing make it difficult to discern where enemies actually are, and the AI has the ability to hit you accurately despite visual impairments such as smoke. Enemies take forever to fall over dead, and you don't have the time to stare at one enemy to see if he's going to fall to the ground or if he's just leaning over after being shot.

Graphics: 9/10

I really enjoyed the graphics. I don't think graphics should ever make or break a game, and while many people will complain that there's not been much change in the last few CoD games, I enjoyed the varied environments and character models.

Multiplayer: 7/10

This is a rather large area to discuss, so I'll try to only expand upon major topics.

A lot of people will complain that this game doesn't really change anything and that CoD is the same game every year. But, as long as things are varied and fresh, I don't see why this matters. In games like this, you need to provide your audience with something to work towards and achieve. I think this is where multiplayer falls short. Because the title system has been removed from MW2, there is no reason to use any gun aside from the FAMAS/AUG/74u. You no longer get ANYTHING for using a weapon, so you might as well use a weapon that's one of the best.

CoD points: if there was ever a good idea that was implemented horribly, this is it. I remember watching a dev interview in which someone from Treyarch said their goal was to give you more freedom in unlocking weapons. But that's not the case. You essentially unlock things more slowly because not only do you have to wait until you're the right level (like previous titles), now you also have to pay for it.

As for the things I do like about the money system: you don't have to do any dumb challenges to unlock attachments any more. I also enjoy the numerous camos (although I wish there were a few only unlocked via headshots) and gun customization, since I feel that adds variety to the same 4 weapons you'll see 90% of the time. I think this is where the CoD points were successful, not in the gun unlocking itself.

Overall, I think Treyarch made some MAJOR steps forward in the CoD multiplayer. Their patch support has been impressive (despite releasing a broken game, they remedied that), and I feel as though the killstreaks aren't nearly as overpowering or central to the game any more. I think future CoD games would do well to provide the player with some kind of incentive to use different weapons or get headshots (I miss getting camos that way).

I think the last point I'll mention before ending this review is that Treyarch has done a good job reducing boosting. But I think that's more out of a lack of unlockables (such as camos or titles) than anything else. I don't think boosting was game-breaking in any way, and I'd rather have boosters and unlockables than neither. Honestly, make a 1v1 playlist that is a small room and gives little or no exp in which people can boost gun kills or headshots. That way boosters get what they're going to get anyway, and FFA players don't have half their lobby boosting in corners.

I'd say Black Ops is definitely worth a rental, or maybe a purchase, preferably used or with a discount. I don't think it's an entertaining enough game to permanently occupy my xbox like MW 1 and 2 were, but it is amusing for a while.

Reviewer's Rating:   3.0 - Fair

Originally Posted: 05/20/11

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

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