Hey guys, Josh here reviewing Call of Duty: Black Ops with a special, never before seen guest; Andy. Andy is a buddy of mine I’ve known for years now, and since I’m still waiting on my pre-order, he has graciously offered to let us review it on his PS3. So without further long introductions, here we go.
Right off the bat, we’re thrust into a spiraling mystery, as a character addressed as “Mason” strapped into a chair in what appears to be some kind of low-tech torture room. He’s being questioned by two totally unknown characters; begging for answers about a classified mission in the Bay of Pigs in 1961. Suddenly, we’re thrust into said mission in the year 1961, with the object of the mission being to assassinate one Fidel Castro.
As we opted to further explore the Zombies mode and Multiplayer, we didn’t get farther than the halfway point of the first mission, but from what I saw, the characters seemed well fleshed, and realistic, not just walking guns to help you mow down the Cuban Army, and the scenery all over the city and hillsides were well designed. I noticed a considerable improvement in voice acting and how the meshed with the way the characters look and act, however, as with the rest of the game, I noticed a graphical downgrade in comparison to Modern Warfare 2. However, when we hit the point (in the very first mission, no less) where something in particular happens to someone in particular, (I’m trying to keep it spoiler-less, however this is hard considering, again, this was the first mission) any ties this game had with historical value went slow motion diving out an exploding window.
You know, my first impression right out of the gate with the single player is “intense”. It tosses you straight into the torture chamber, and after an incredibly brief bar scene, straight into the action, which I liked; Not a ton of plot build up before letting us get to the killing we’ve all grown to love in Call of Duty. I think the driving section, although incredibly short, was a very cool addition, as there was many opportunities in past CoD games that could’ve utilized this.
Breaching is still probably one of my favourite parts of the CoD franchise, and is excellent yet again in this edition. The difficulty is ramped up it seems, as we’re playing through on Regular and having a hell of a time in wide open areas, although I’m sure when you get down to it, it’s just the standard die until you find where enemies spawn and jump from.
Well, multiplayer is really the meat and potatoes of the Shepherds Pie known as the Call of Duty franchise. Whenever a game is released since Modern Warfare, commercials, leaks, screenshots all focus mostly on multiplayer, since the Campaign has fairly limited replay value. We started off as the basic SMG class, ripping through enemy teams like butter with it’s preset perks and attachments. We quickly reached Level 4, which enabled us to create a class, and finally experience the highly touted customization TreyArch has been so eager to feed us virally the last few months. A welcome addition is the ability to change the camouflage / uniform of you character (from presets, of course) and this is a massive improvement, as the red beret on the Spetznaz sniper in Modern Warfare 2 was nothing short of completely useless (and easily spotted) on any level. The ability to customize weapon camouflage, sight camouflage, clan tags, playertags, sight customizations, emblems, and so on create a near infinite combination of customizations to truly make your player yours is something we’ve not seen in the Call of Duty universe, and for this particular editor, it is a welcome change. However, these all come at a cost of CoD points / dollars; you earn these every match, every challenge, and every contract (we’ll touch on these later) and can spend them on new unlocked weapons, equipment, and camouflages.
I found the menus to be fluid and simple as far as game modes (Multiplayer, Single Player, Zombies) however, once you really get into the modes such as Core (access to Team Deathmatch, Free-for-All, etc.) it was fairly confusing and very different from the familiar Modern Warfare menus. As I have never purchased Call of Duty: World at War, and have never really played more than a multiplayer match or two and a lot of Nazi Zombies, I can’t say whether this is similar to WaW, however Andy is confirming it is very similar and familiar to it. Delving deeper into weapon setups and whatnot, gun stats such as Kills, Deaths, KD ratio, accuracy, etc. are all easily accessible and simple to find. The variances in sights, looks, and attachments make it near impossible to pick up the same weapon twice in a game. I really liked that TreyArch decided to keep the now ever familiar radar the same, with green arrows as teammates, orange dots as enemies. The new equipment is amazing, things such as the camera are infinitely useful, and we see some good returns like the Tactical Insertion. Another neat new addition is the addition of Game Kill/Death Ratio in the visible stats at the end of the game, showing every players KD for that particular match.
Onto the negatives, though, as obviously I can’t paint a perfectly rosy picture of this game. The spawns in Team Deathmatch are nothing short of hair pulling crazy. With each kill, it seems like the spawns are deliberately placed all around you, leading to you being surrounded and inevitably shot to pieces. Another game-rage inducing change was Game Mode, then Game Type. we never reached a high enough level to discover the difference between Core, Barebones, and Hardcore modes, this seems like a really unnecessary way to split up game types and is a little annoying to have to hit certain levels, especially if you want to play Hardcore gametypes right away. A new supposedly useful, yet infinitely useless feature is the voting system. You can vote on one map, example Jungle, and another, example, CRISIS, and a random Classified map. One of these examples, CRISIS, will not get any votes and yet somehow continue to pop up for up to 8 games in a row. (tried and true) This voting system needs to be either patched or revamped, as the auto selector if nothing is voted on needs to pick something other than CRISIS.
As with Modern Warfare 2, any shotgun seems to be as accurate as sniper rifles and often result in one shot kills from impossible distances away. This is something I imagine will be leveled out with time, however when other games in the same series have already been plagued with these problems, you’d think TreyArch would’ve been all over this.
Contracts are a new addition – you wager CoD dollars / points on the fact that you can complete certain tasks within a certain time. For example, one contract today was to achieve 3 kills without dying within 40 in-game minutes, wagering 100 points, and if completed, the reward was 400 points. However, I will not praise TreyArch on this new addition, as it is next to copy and pasted out of Halo: Reach, with its Daily and Weekly Challenges. The only real thing TreyArch added that Bungie did not was selection – you get to pick and choose which particular contracts you’d like to take on that day. There is a massive list, somewhere along the lines of 30+, whereas Halo: Reach only has 4 Dailies and 1 Weekly, but again, something that has been done before. (long before Halo: Reach, might I add)
The bleeding seems to be less in-your-face, and I felt it affected my in-game vision less than previous installments. Grenade pointers are much more visible, at least to me, than in Modern Warfare 2. Explosions, dust, and debris are realistic sounding, looking, and overall just add to the experience that you are experiencing a war, yet certain environment like plants and vines are two dimensional and take away from the rest of the game. (Poppy Fields of Afghan, anyone?) Cars, doors, furniture looks great however.
New map layouts lead to games timing out before reaching completion, at least in Team Deathmatch. Too often were there lulls in battle, and the clock would wind down to 0 before either team had hit 75 kills, which was a very rare occurrence in MW2. The challenges seem beyond tiring now, as I’ve seen “You’ve fallen 15 feet and survived!” and “You fell to your death!” and “You destroyed 20 cars!” pop up completed entirely too many times. It’s been in 4 games now, guys, let it go. Figure out some new things to do, like fling body 20 feet with an RC car or something. The variance in environments and maps in CoD 6 makes it much easier to dodge air strikes and helicopters, but also makes it that much easier for campers and corner squatters to sit anywhere they please, which is not necessarily TreyArchs fault, but again – learn from previous games. Along that note, the servers on the PS3 were buggy as all hell, with host migration issues, randomly closed lobbies, PSN logouts, random game shutdowns, and all kinds of other fun stuff. This lies more on Sony’s shoulders, but TreyArch is also to blame, as again, with Modern Warfare 2, they should have been ready and bug tested as far as servers go.
All in all, multiplayer is enjoyable, the customization is good, but when you really get down to it this is just another shooter set in a time so long ago, with nothing outside customization to really set it apart from any other game in the series.
To me, it feels like I just picked up Call of Duty: World at War again. In game feel old…like last generation PS2 old, not 1961 old. The graphics and audio seem better to me, but still missing that ‘modern feel’. I don’t mean modern warfare like guns of today, or UAV’s or anything like that, it just seems like a game that was made a long time ago and released now.
The maps are nice, the layouts are good, varied, and they all play pretty well. The environments are well designed and everything looks great. One thing I noticed in certain maps, the Care Package choppers are bigger and move much slower..can these be shot down pre-drop? I know this was possible in Modern Warfare 2, but unlikely due to the speed of those tiny choppers. The cover in maps are great so Chopper Gunners and Napalm Strikes don’t completely own you, but this leads to what Josh was talking about with the camping.
I really enjoy the new menu layouts and design, it seems new, and yet familiar. I feel like I’ve played this game a million times before. The voting system is a great addition, but the bugs totally take away from the function of the game, and I can’t wait to never play CRISIS again. The Create-A-Class is organized, easy to read and set up, and is definitely expanded on MW2.
As a PS gamer, I’ve played very little Halo: Reach, but I think TreyArch picked the right feature when they decided to get Contracts. It definitely adds to the game experience and will keep tons of people entertained and coming back for more.
Create-A-Class organized, easy to read and expanded from MW2, as with the menus, and people can find what they’re looking for easily, and it’s a nice update.
I only have one real problem with this game, and it’s the removal of Commando. What the hell, TreyArch?! That was my favourite perk! Commando, know that you’re sorely missed, and I’m eagerly waiting for the day I can lunge 15 feet and stab a guy in the neck. Although, the Ballistic Knife is definitely making up for it…
Zombie mode for me was without a doubt the best addition to Call of Duty. The fun of co-op against Nazi Zombies as 4 awesomely scripted and hilarious characters was nothing short of amazing, refreshing and interesting. The storyline with DLC was compelling, and pulled you right in. However, the fact that you can’t unlock the JFK / Nixon / Castro / other guy level without playing the campaign through kind of sucks, as it was really the thing I looked most forward to trying in this whole review.
There seems to be more doors to unlock, and the difficulty has ramped up severely in this, and has almost a Left 4 Dead feel to it, as when the dogs come (WaW fans will remember the dogs) you pretty much have to all huddle in a corner and blast away with shotguns. If you get separated, you get downed. If you try this in solo (this could have just been because I was an Xbox player on a PS3, and really dislike the controller) you pretty much get owned from every direction by dogs.
The good thing is TreyArch stayed true to what worked, and really kept the original feeling of Nazi Zombies from World at War, which will without a doubt bring previous customers back for some more zombie killing, window building, mystery box action.
I don’t really have a ton to add to that. I mean, as soon as I loaded it up, I thought I was playing World at War, the characters are the same in the first available mission and just the general feel of it brought me back. The difficulty seems ramped up for the first ten waves or so, but after that it seems the same. Overall a good addition to a great game, and plenty of fun for return players.
Alright guys, well that’s about it. Questions? Comments? Your take on the game? Feel free to comment below.
About the Author (Author Profile)
Hamilton, Ontario, born and raised. I’m the oldest of two, really into the tech scene. Like my Macbook, Live for my Xbox 360, and LOVE my phones. I work for a large Canadian Telecomm company by day, and a Gizmo Ninja editor by night. I’ve jumped around every mobile OS I can get my hands on, including Symbian, Windows Mobile, WP7, BlackBerry, iOS, Android, etc. Current devices include the HTC Desire Z, HTC Desire HD, Motorola Milestone, HTC HD7, LG Optimus Quantum, and my daily device is my Motorola Atrix.