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Duty: Black Ops
Score: 9.0 / 10
always played second fiddle to Infinity Wardís Call of Duty titles. All
of Treyarchís previous efforts have seen the series play out in various
World War II theatres, but Black Ops is a change of scenery and is
easily the best Call of Duty title to date.
The game takes place during the Cold War period of the 1960ís. The game
spans various locales including the Vietnam, Russia and Cuba. You play a
character named Alex Mason who is being interrogated by an unknown party
who is bent on mining information about Masonís military past. The story
actually is told through a series of flashbacks as Mason tries to
recount his past covert operations. As you
journey back through Masonís previous
endeavours youíll come across famous figures from history including
Castro, Kennedy and McNamara as well as some familiar characters from
Call of Duty: World at War.
At the beginning of the game, the story feels confusing and
overwhelming. As you play further into the gameís campaign, the story
becomes more clear, though there are still twists and turns.
truly enjoyed the storyline as itís evident that Treyarch put a lot of
time and effort into creating an engaging and exciting single player
experience. My only real complaint about the campaign is length, which
ranges from 6-10 hours depending on what difficulty you are playing on.
While the campaign is easily the best of the series, there were several
issues I came across. There were some game ending bugs I experienced
while playing through the campaign. The game would usually freeze in
between cut scenes and other times my character would get stuck in
objects in the environments. In these situations, the checkpoints did
not activate and I was forced to restart the level from the beginning.
(I imagine that patches have been released since I played through the
campaign to address this issue.) The enemy AI is pretty smart and they
use cover well, but your teammates AI is downright bad. Your teammates
rarely kill any enemies and often run right past enemy soldiers.
One of the best parts of Modern Warfare 2 was the Spec Ops mode which
was a cooperative campaign, separate from the single player, whereby you
and another human player would fight through waves of enemies to achieve
an objective. This mode is sadly missing from Black Ops. Instead Black
Ops brings back Zombies Mode, which first made an appearance in Call of
Duty World at War. The Zombies mode can be played offline and online and
is extremely enjoyable, although I would have preferred to have had Spec
Ops mode return as well.
The online multiplayer plays pretty similarly to last years game, but
Treyarch has made quite a few changes to the outer shell of the online
play. In previous years games youíd unlock weapons, attachments and
perks by simply ranking up. Black Ops gives you more freedom as you now
earn CODpoints, which can be used to purchase weapons, perks and
attachments. The new system works extremely well and allows you more
freedom to customize your character. The game also has a new take on the
free for all mode by offering wager matches. Wager matches are a free
for all mode where you can place bets and earn CODpoints more quickly
compared to other modes.
Combat Training is a new mode, which allows players to play deathmatch
and team deathmatch against AI controlled bots in the gameís various
multiplayer maps. Combat training is an enjoyable mode and is great for
those who are new to the multiplayer component of the series. Also new
to Black Ops is the online theatre system which allows you to record
your kills and post them online for other players to see. This isnít a
revolutionary change as Halo Reach introduced this earlier this year,
but itís still a nice addition.
Visually, Black Ops is stunning. The game runs at an amazing 60 frames
per second and the gameís presentation seems reminiscent of a Michael
Bay movie. There are a ridiculous number of explosions and the violence
is far more graphic than previous Call of Duty titles.
The game features a star-studded cast including Gary Oldman, Ed Harris
(a personal favorite) and Sam Worthington who plays Alex Mason. Sam
Worthington is originally Australian and he plays an American in the
game. There are numerous moments in the game where his Australian accent
creep into Masonís dialogue and it feels awkward and strange. It reminds
me of the voice acting from Heavy Rain where all the actors were
European, but they were portraying Americans. Apart from Worthingtonís
odd moments, the voice acting is top notch. There is also music
reminiscent of the 60ís including the Rolling Stones and Creedance
Clearwater Revival. These songs are set during the set piece moments in
the game and are perfectly scripted.
Black Ops doesnít drastically change the formula that has made the
series so popular. Instead, Treyarch has made numerous cosmetic changes
and added a layer of polish around the gameís campaign mode. Black Ops
is a must have for any fan of first person shooters.