Call of Duty : Black Ops [PC]
April 28, 2011
After all the controversy between Activision and Inifinty Ward in the past 12 months, the pressure was on Treyarch to step up and produce an exciting and new chapter to the saga that is Call of Duty. It would appear they haven’t disappointed. Call of Duty : Black Ops is a gritty First Person Shooter set in the depths of the Cold War, that takes players on a mind-fragging adventure as Captain Alex Mason, a member of a classified covert operations unit.
From the get-go Black Ops oozes storyline and depth, and while that has been a mainstay of Call of Duty since the original Modern Warfare, it has expanded to the loading screens and main menu. Many questions are asked throughout the Single Player, and as it would seem you don’t remember the answers you have to explore your past to unlock your present. Playing through mission to mission you slowly uncover the underlying plot, presenting yourself with more and more questions. Don’t worry though, they all get answered by the end of the game. However characters were somewhat typical of previous titles. The lovable deep characters of yesteryear with nothing else added made it easy to just glaze over thinking, “seen this before”. Saying that though the cutscenes appeared to tell more story than what you were playing through; it became a case of the gameplay becoming an inconvenience as I desired to just get to the next cutscene to learn more. Probably one of the worst things that could occur to a game, especially a FPS. There was also less switching between characters, however the storyline didn’t warrant it as the majority of it focused on you as Alex exploring the events leading up to where you find yourself in the present day.
Travelling into your past you play through a variety of locations, from Cuba to the Pentagon, Russia to Vietnam. Eclectic as usual and at least this time round Treyarch didn’t go backwards in quality like they had done last time they followed an Infinity Ward title. Each environment requires you to utilize various tactics and strategies we’ve become so familiar with, so if you’re a fan of the series then get ready for some new stuff, but primarily more of the same.
Following on from previous attempts at vehicle control, Black Ops has leaped into the deep end with players controlling everything from Boats to Choppers and everything in between. While driving a boat requires nothing more than common sense, the latter mentioned chopper can seem a little whimsical at times. Its constant flaying through the canopy of trees while bouncing off rock formations leads me to believe I’m better suited to attempting to fly behind a computer desk rather than in Real Life.
Of course with each new episode in the Call of Duty saga, there’s new toys to play with and Black Ops attempts to bring them. Camera Spikes, Jammers, Motion Detectors, Crossbows, various assortments of grenades, and lots more. All of which is utilized in the Multiplayer.
Players of Modern Warfare 2 will recall Spec Ops, the 2-player Co-op missions. I thought this was quite a success, with many missions requiring one of the players to assume one role while the other assumed another. I was sad to find this wasn’t in Black Ops, as many of the missions were able to lend themselves to such co-op scenarios. Instead Treyarch has brought back Nazi Zombies. Yes the ravaging mayhem of the Führer’s undead yet again attempting to eat your faces. This time there’s plenty of maps to choose from: Kino der Toten, Five (unlockable after completing the whole Single Player Campaign), Dead Ops Arcade (Retro Topdown Easter Egg) and more once the First Strike DLC comes out. To coincide with the new maps there’s new additions to the gameplay such as teleporters, auto-turrets etc; and new enemies to boot. Needless to say still worth bringing back but undecided on whether it was worth at the cost of Spec Ops.
What would be Call of Duty without the multiplayer. In fact a surprising majority of players you may find on any public server will probably tell you they haven’t even finished the Single Player. Multiplayer has always been a major draw card for Call of Duty, and typically will either make it or break it in the eyes of fans. Black Ops has opted out of the standard, “earn points, unlock rewards” in replace of COD points. No longer needing to grind through endless pea-shooters to finally get to the one you desire. In-game you earn experience as well as cash; after earning a certain amount of experience you unlock the ability to purchase certain items. You buy what you wish to use; weapons, grenades, perks, etc. However don’t be drawn to believe this is the same as Counter-Strike, you still have the custom classes same as yesteryear, no fumbling about at the start of a round trying to find which of the dozens of guns on offer you wish to use.
Following on from Modern Warfare 2, Black Ops has Playercards; showcasing your name, a custom-made emblem, and other stats about yourself. These emblems can also be placed on your primary weapon as well, adding to the satisfaction when killing an enemy with their own gun. Of course anything enabling teenagers to create custom images that are shown in-game generally results in half the players running around brandishing guns with male genitalia splayed all over it. Needless to say those who take the time have managed to create some vary impressive looking emblems, majority of which feature items or characters from other video games.
Prestige mode is back, with new benefits for each. Unlocking more classes, new symbols for your rank, as well as other camo and face paint and playercard backgrounds for those who push up through the ranks quickly. It also gives an opportunity to try a different tact when playing through each prestige as you’re not forced to use the same weapons every time.
On the whole Black Ops is a worthy purchase, it has enough of a story to warrant playing the Single Player, and Multiplayer has enough in it to keep your attention for hours. As with majority of games in the Call of Duty series, if you can look over the small faults you will find a game that has a lot to it, considering it’s a First Person Shooter.
Storyline – 3/5 (Once played through once the story loses most of its thrill, worth playing through once, probably not a second time.)
Gameplay – 4/5 (Nothing too innovative in Single Player to differ it from other COD titles, however the new Multiplayer elements add something new.)
Presentation – 4/5 (Continuing to push the depth of Call of Duty titles, however with most games pushing even further it may be time for COD to play catch-up.)