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coolbeans

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User Review : Call of Duty: Black Ops

Ups
  • Addictive as ever
  • Near-limitless online experience
  • Enjoyable story....
Downs
  • ...although somewhat incoherent story
  • Not many core changes to gameplay

A Safe, Albeit Solid, Iteration Into One of the Most Popular Gaming Franchises

At this point, everyone is used to the routine by now: Another year produces another Call of Duty. This year, the reins are given to the "younger brother" developer. The result for this year's iteration places you in both fictional and non-fictional events surrounding the Vietnam War. Although the setting may be one that's hardly used in today's FPS, it is feared that this seemingly endless pumping of COD's could be blurring one's vision when it comes to seeing what's the difference between them. Although Black Ops doesn't try to show that it's different from the pack, it does bring several nuances (both online and offline) that could very well make it worth your while.

As stated before, the story of Black Ops places you in different events ranging from 1961-1968; most of these missions are told through the means of flashbacks. The flashbacks are part of the story element told mostly through the eyes of Alex Mason, a SAD/SOG operative who is secured in a chair being relentlessly interrogated by his unseen captors. The reason for this cruel interrogation is for the acquisition of information; in this case information about what a series of broadcast numbers mean, which they believe Mason knows.

Mason's flashbacks will take to both non-fictional battles, such as the Bay of Pigs, and fictional battles. The variety given for the story's sake help weaves a good ball of yarn; taking to the jungles of Vietnam in one moment, then jumping rooftops in Kowloon really shows you how well-made the SP campaign really is when judging it from this standpoint. Overall, the story is one that can be quite enjoyable, although disjointed. I also personally can't find the use of psychology implemented in Black Ops (or BLOPS for short) to be feasible in the real world, which is disappointing since it is one of the core foundations to this game's story.

Coming to the technical side of presentation (graphics and sound), there sadly is not a huge reason to get excited for BLOPS -unlike it's predecessors-. While this game engine still has a few tricks up it's sleeves when it comes amount of destruction and mayhem, it just never hits that quantifiable leap like Modern Warfare 2 had over WaW (or it's true predecessor "Modern Warfare 1"). You certainly have many high aspects that are still rock solid in both the visual and audible department, but nothing to that will truly stick with you once you have stopped playing the game. One small note I must make in the sound department is the bad voice-acting of Sam Worthington (voices main character). It's quite terrible when listening to his flashback narrations.

Gameplay for BLOPS is what you'd expect from the Call of Duty series IF you have played any of the COD's dating back to CoD4: MW. Whether you take this "more of the same" attitude as either good or bad is up to you. What's certain from the COD formula is that it has now become a template for almost all of today's military shooters, and hardly any of those military shooters rank up to COD's ability to spice it up. Going from leveled moments to scenes on that of Hollywood levels, Black Ops has a great culmination of intense shooting, great set-pieces, and enjoyable action.

Additions to this game are a bit sub-par in comparison MW2. A new dive ability has been implemented which is enabled by sprinting and then holding the crouch button. And since this is a breed of warfare unknown to the COD franchise, you will have a plethora of weapons that you have not seen before. Although, they still are the basics (assault rifles, sub-machine guns, etc.) you've come to known with a few interesting items here and there. Certain weapons such as the explosive bolt crossbow and ballistic knives are the main ones to note.

Just as like CoD's formula remains unchanged, so does it's testament to value since Treyarch's last game: CoD World at War. With the foundation of split-screen to the campaign, co-op, offline/online MP, and more there's truly a great amount of value. In addition to expected returns, such as Zombies, BLOPS also caters to the arcade in all of us. Upon arrival to the main menu, you have the option to look down at your character's hand and break free by pounding the shoulder buttons. Once you have freedom to move around the room, you'll notice an old waist-high console that allows you to enter various codes that achieve different results. By typing in 'DOA', you enter a 3rd person arcade zombie shooter called "Dead Ops Arcade". These code-enabled games may just be "gimmicky" but you may spend just as much time playing these as the SP campaign.

What has been the main course bringing millions upon millions of gamers back everyday is the online multiplayer. Although this loadout and perk system has now been used 4 times in the series, the formula is still addictive. Unlike World at War, Black Ops is able to distance itself from the Modern Warfare games thanks to it's credit system. Credits are an in-game monetary system that allows you to buy your weapons, scopes, etc. rather than simply unlocking them at a certain level. This does enable a sense of fairness which allows you to focus on your strengths at a more prompt pace. BLOPS online also introduces a theater mode, which allows you to record, take pictures, and share recent online games you have played with friends. Among with those come smaller nuances like a training mode to prepare you for online and a deep gun customization option that goes down carving your clan tag on your gun. Overall, BLOPS has done a great job of distancing itself from Modern Warfare when it comes to the online category.

Call of Duty: Black Ops is a mixed bag of FPS goodness. It tailors to more casual FPS gamers while also having an exciting amount of content for FPS addicts to stay glued to it for many, many hours. It is disappointing to see that the ebb-n-flow of CoD hasn't changed much beyond one category; however, it's still a satisfying iteration to a great series. Even with it's inherent value online, there is still something longed for on the offline side: whether it's the need for a more enticing campaign (in regards to length and/or "crispness") or something different altogether. In the end, I can recommend this FPS only to those either with an online account because of how integral the that component is to Black Ops.

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Score
8.0
Graphics
Just a sign of an abating game engine. Releasing in the same year as Mass Effect 2, Red Dead Redemption, and other multiple-platform lookers shows that the engine isn't going to "wow" as much as it's predecessors did in the past.
8.0
Sound
Very cool to hear some de facto Vietnam songs; in addition, the gun sounds are rock solid. Main character's voice acting was quite irritating.
7.0
Gameplay
It may hold to the saying "...more of the same", but it is still an enjoyable romp nonetheless. Note to some gamers: the formula may feel archaic to you by now.
8.0
Fun Factor
Insane amount of content to be had when considering the online component. Random arcade games, Zombies, Split-screen for many modes, campaign, online, the list goes on and on.
9.0
Online
It seems Treyarch is now able to flex a bit of it's own creative muscle with the new credit system design, among other additions. The noteworthy flaw is the obtrusive balance issues are prevalent; my experiences in this regard have not been "game-breaking".
Overall
8.0
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coolbeans2718d ago

Hope you guys/gals enjoyed the review :).

49erguy2717d ago

I did enjoy it although I do NOT like COD. As I was playing the SP on normal I felt as though all of the enemies were annoyingly accurate at all times. This was amplified by the fact that the red fruit juice thing happened and got worse with every shot. Crysis 2's SP gameplay is better in every way imaginable.

The online offered nothing special as well as it all came down to who saw who first, hence why people camp to see everyone else first. Battlefield is a much better shooter IMO.

coolbeans2716d ago (Edited 2716d ago )

To each his own in regards to MP. I've certainly had my share of unbalanced online MP games since CoD4, but I found this one treated me well. I also must state that I've only played/beat this campaign on Veteran, so I can't differentiate the enemy AI shooting between the various difficulties.

I can't say I like Battlefield: Bad Co's gameplay more than CoD's. And I haven't played any Crysis games yet, so I can't speak on that.

bwazy2716d ago

I really wanted to like this game, although its SP was action packed, I can't forgive its horrid infinite spawning system and well known trophy/achievement glitches that if you beat the game on veteran you didnt get them and had to beat them all over. Not to mention that the graphics were of PS2 quality, the audio was god awful unrealistic, and the hosting system was worse than MW2's.

coolbeans2716d ago

"gfx were of ps2 quality"?

Sure, as I stated in the review, the engine is getting weaker but it certainly doesn't look that bad. Call of Duty Arcade looks better than any PS2 game imo.

SkittlesLikesPopcorn2714d ago

by safe iteration you mean same content for another 60$ ?

coolbeans2714d ago

No, by safe iteration I mean sequel that brings new ideas to the table but nothing that goes far beyond the established comfort zone. Black Ops has so much new content.

Same content =/= same formula, you and many others need to recognize that.

SkittlesLikesPopcorn2714d ago

same broken engine IS same content. Bad hit detection and other problems not fixed from previous games. Its the other way around : same shit in new envelope, not new things from the "same formula". Cod is stagnant and has been for quite some time now. And how else could it be when they cant even spare money for a new engine. Its an update not a new game. And a shitty update to say the least. Maybe ur expectations are low if blops is satisfactory to you.

coolbeans2714d ago (Edited 2714d ago )

No, one thing does not have to do with the other. If the content within the game is on the same engine you then have the definition of "same content". Example: Crackdown 2 can be slighted by reviewers for "same content" since it's the same city (although plauged by destruction in some areas).

An update? Don't be absurd. If you're going to slant blops, at least make it a legitimate complaint. How can a completely new story fall under the word "update"?

Maybe you came in before playing the game, giving it an unsatisfactory score ahead of time.