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Posted by Raine Hutchens on Nov 19, 2010

Review – Call of Duty: Black Ops (360)

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Call of Duty: Black Ops was unarguably the most anticipated game of this year. For its release whole cities pulled together for release events, and Metallica even took time out of their schedule to play for a release party. The game takes place during a very “behind-the-scenes” kind of time during history – the Cold War. This timespan hasn’t been ventured into by many, which made for all the more anticipation when the game launched. The gameplay significantly improved over that of Modern Warfare 2, although bugs are still plaguing the title as you are reading this.

The Story

The storyline in Black Ops has to be the most complex I have seen in a Call of Duty title yet. The game’s writers took a shrouded time in history and sprinkled a bit of fiction into it, thus making an unconventional yet interesting story for players to experience. Taking the role of Alex Mason, players are put right into the fray during some of the most “what if” moments during the Cold War. From coming face to face with Fidel Castro to uncovering a secret Russian bioweapon attack, Black Ops’ storyline has it all. It may take a couple of play-throughs in order to pick up on it, but once you do it becomes that much more awe-inspiring.

The story contains twists, and keeps players involved. It is important to keep players on their toes, in order to keep them playing the game. I know a lot of players who skip the campaign and go straight to multiplayer, but this is one I recommend to all players. There are may perspectives that you take in this story, watching Mason as he turns into something which he has no control over. From the moment you awake strapped to the interrogation chair to the moment you pick up your first weapon, the storyline in Black Ops keeps you right at the front of the action.

The Gameplay

The gameplay in Black Ops is what you would expect from a Call of Duty game. The bitton mapping is pretty much the same, which I like because I don’t need to learn a whole new control scheme with every title that comes out in a series like with Halo. Instead of changing the controls the team at Treyarch decided to improve the skills and movement of the player in the game.

Now players can perform a dive while running. While sprinting, if a player hits the crouch button they will dive do the ground to avoid fire. This move helps a lot, and makes for great run-and-gun strategies while playing. With the addition of new weapons and ammo, Black Ops has a lot in store for their fans. I thoroughly enjoyed the Dragon’s Breath weapon, which is a SPAS 12 shotgun with incendiary ammunition.

Black Ops also involves the player more into the scene with vehicle control, and more. I was able to control a helicopter, drive a car, and even escape a prison atop a motorcycle with a shotgun – Terminator style. I liked this very much because it made me feel like the story was coming more to life than in other Call of Duty titles.

The motion capture in Black Ops is amazing. The characters easily conveyed emotions through facial expressions as well as body reactions. Death animations were gory, emotions were easily conveyed, and fear was greatly instilled. The voice acting helped back up this brilliant set of animations. Treyarch was not holding anything back when they made this title. Profanity was not a word in their dictionary during the development of this game I assume. The dialogue easily displays the feelings of soldiers, friends, enemies, and brothers through colorful words and emotionally-fueled choices of words.

Now we come to the graphics. With all of the great animations, the graphics seemed to be a bit tied down to me. Maybe they just needed a bit more polishing? Maybe I am being too picky? Either way, the graphics in Black Ops looked a bit splotchy to me. However, with all of the explosions, bullets, and bodies flying I wasn’t really bothered too much with this. The display wasn’t hardly worse than Modern Warfare 2, so I didn’t complain too much.

I did have one huge complaint on my end, though, with the AI in the game. Now I have seen videos where people have played the game while letting the AI kill everyone in sight, and I must say I don’t understand how that happened. While I was playing there were NUMEROUS times where my AI partners would run past enemies, ignoring them. This would then make the enemy focus on me and I would be caught off guard. When I tried the same thing – running past enemies – it only left me in a pool of my own blood. Now I don’t know if this is just a coincidence, but it happened a lot. A lot of the times the AI wouldn’t even worry about taking out some enemies. They would just leave them, and it always ended on a bad note.

Multiplayer

Multiplayer in Black Ops is 100% dead on target. Headquarters, Domination, and the rest of the Modern Warfare game types play extremely well and are as addicting as they ever were. One disappointment in multiplayer is that the Hardcore playlist is pretty dry, but Treyarch has said that they can patch in more playlists in the future. Some Hardcore fans will be disappointed, though, to get the game and see some of their favorite playlists missing.

Black Ops decided to switch to CoD Points, which was an extremely smart move. This not only allows players to choose their unlocks more easily, but it levels out gameplay. Now it doesn’t really matter if you’re 13 and sit at home with nothing else to do all day, get to a higher rank than me, get a better gun, and completely nerf me. Now players have to use their skill and earn points to unlock better weapons and equipment to move forward. The points system lets you get perks and accessories that you’d rather have earlier anyways, so it all works out.

With the addition of Wager matches, the multiplayer takes the “put your money where your mouth is” callout to a whole new level. Players wager their points against other players and whoever wins the match gets the biggest cut. This is a great way to prove that you are on top of the leaderboards for a reason. This makes multiplayer much more fun than in previous Call of Duty games where anyone could achieve a high rank and nerf other players, which angered many out there.

The Verdict

The bottom line is that Call of Duty: Black Ops is in every way better than its predecessors. With new weapons, a better multiplayer system, and a campaign that keeps players involved, this game is sure to be a great keeper for the next year to come. Since Zombies mode received it’s own attention, the game opens up to many more players than on average. I definitely say you should go get your copy right now, or start begging for it for Christmas.

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