Product Type: Activision PC games
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Interesting singleplayer, tense cooperative and addictive multiplayer - Black Ops is fantastic
Call of Duty: Black Ops (PC)
Member Name: Coolchris330
Call of Duty: Black Ops (PC)
Advantages: Mature campaign, addicting multiplayer, brilliantly layed out cooperative mode
Disadvantages: Occasional (soon to be fixed) optimization niggles
CALL OF DUTY: BLACK OPS is the seventh in the arcade series CALL OF DUTY, this instance is developed by Treyarch and published by Activision. It is rated "18" by the BBFC and "18+" by PEGI.
I spin around the corner, and check for enemies. I stay crouched, I can hear the footsteps of the enemy slowly approaching, I reload my weapons. All of my team members pile up against the door way, and the footsteps gradually grow in sound, in amplitude. The decibels were rising, and the heat was on. I hid behind the wall that interchanged my death for that of the unfortunate Russian squad that were just about to enter. The door swings upon, its shadow dances in the light, shining in angle down through the crooked doorway. The squad enter, and Reznov silently closes the door behind them. I bring my weapon up to my eyes, stare through the sight. We sit, silently waiting for about three seconds.
"Weapons Free", calls Reznov. I pull the trigger and the man's lifeless body crumples to the ground. The other men in my squad engage, some with brutal up-close combat. Reznov pulls in for a silent kill, but is shot in the leg. He stammers back and stumbles to the ground, firing from his helpless back-layed position. My weapon clicks as I pull the trigger, the terror, the dread of running out of ammo in a combat situation overwhelmed me. I dropped my weapon, pulled my knife to hand, lunged at the enemy and he no longer stands. Reznov congratulates me on my kill as he pulls himself to his feet, turns, and pops the head of the final remaining enemy.
-- There are spoilers to the themes of the campaign in the paragraph below --
It's very rare for me to write primarily about the campaign of a game, especially in an instance such as this, but I felt that it was necessary, as it was perhaps one of the best campaigns that I have played in an FPS in recent years. To sum up the campaign, I would use a single word, vicernal. It's vicious and quick; the enemy doesn't have a second chance to take a pot shot at your squad before they are eliminated. There are also some brilliant examples of innovative gameplay mechanics. There are several driving elements where you actually get to control the vehicle, instead of man the gun on a seemingly-on-rails shooter. There is also a scene where you guide a squad through a combat situation from the sky, at times taking control of one of the squad members as the action kicks in. In addition, the game also tells the story in a way that I haven't seen before. In short, it is shocked out of you. In the long, you are in an interrogation room, being shocked into remembering exactly what happened leading up to the point of interrogation, to prevent a war that the country is currently standing right on the brink of. There are so many twists and turns to the story, so many delicate, controversial themes. A vast majority of the game takes place in Vietnam, and some of it covers the Cuban Missile Crisis. However, it's not all roses with the campaign modes of Black Ops, there are also excruciating problems. There are sections that are made stupidly hard, and sections which occasionally glitch and kill you needlessly. These sections are infuriating, but can often be beaten by a mad sprint to the objective, where the game stops spawning the enemies for that section. Other than that, it's a genuinely fun, if completely unrealistic, campaign experience.
The "Nazi Zombies" game-mode which popularized Treyarch's last game, Call of Duty: World at War, also makes a high-profile appearance. Gone are the days where you must unlock the zombies by finishing the campaign, here are the days where it is listed as a feature of the game, not an unlockable. The zombies are actually quite well done, despite only having a few (very well designed) maps. There is a lot more variety to the game type now, with different stylings of zombies, zombie dogs and a large variety of traps and weaponry. It's all seamlessly connected and for some, a major selling point for the game. There is also an unlockable arcade game, based upon Nazi Zombies known as Dead Ops Arcade, a top down, frantic zombie shooter which can be played cooperatively with up to four players, just as the usual Zombies can be. The zombie maps include an area with a large indoor path and extensive outdoor region, Dead Ops Arcade and "One", a map based in the White House where you are given control over certain US Presidents, including of course Jonathan F. Kennedy. The zombies is also a lot harder than the World at War zombies, giving extra replayability and always pushing you the extra distance to try and do better each time. The zombies are a brilliant addition to the game experience.
However, as with any Call of Duty title, it will always be the multiplayer that gets people talking about it. The multiplayer formula in this title remains mostly unchanged since the previous game, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, despite being by a totally different developer. The game has actually had a lot of balance added, the perks are no longer overpowered and the days of a single weapon dominating the battlefield are long gone. The maps in the game also tend to be well balanced, allowing for a fun and fair gaming experience throughout. The variety of game modes is just as good as other Call of Duty games, with well-loved game modes such as Search and Destroy, Headquarters and Team Deathmatch making a comeback for this rendition of the series. However, there has been a major change undertaken to the gameplay of previous Call of Duty games, the levelling system has been completely redesigned. Now, when you level up or complete "Contracts", you are allowed to receive "CoD Points", a virtual currency that can be used to buy weaponry that you have unlocked for buying with the levelling system. It may sound overcomplicated, but the idea is executed really well, and it's one of the reasons that I still have a desire to play. However, with CoD Points comes a different type of match. The Wager Matches are a fantastic addition to the standard game modes, adding such game modes as 'Sticks and Stones', where the player is handed only a crossbow with exploding bolts and a throwing knife, as they are pitted against each other for the CoD Points that they can earn (everyone has to put a certain number of CoD Points in to compete). Other Wager Game-modes include GunGame, a game mode that was originally found in the Counter-Strike community, where kills allow you to get the next level up in a weapons ladder, until the only weapon you have is a knife, which the first person to kill with wins. The excellent thing about the wager matches is just how tense they are, they're extraordinarily tense, and you always want first place. It's an extremely brilliant way of doing the game-modes. In conclusion, the multiplayer is balanced, fun and has some extremely interesting points
The graphics is Call of Duty: Black Ops are far from astounding. It's still using the modified Quake 4 engine, but that doesn't mean that it can't deliver some cinematic set-pieces, with cool slow motions and brain shooting detail. There is also some impressive shadowing and lighting effects that are apparent throughout the game. Particle effects, especially throughout the parts in the snow, are extremely visible and help add a new dimension to the game. The specular lighting has also been massively improved, and for those that do not know, Specular Lighting is the effect that changes the shading around the edges of the characters depending on their surroundings. The textures in Call of Duty: Black Ops are also crisp and easy to look at, the bloom is a bit overblown, but it helps add to the cinematic feel at some points, especially during levels with lightning. The game also looks extremely crisp at higher resolutions, especially since it features some really fancy Depth of Field effects, blurring the areas that are further away, focusing your vision on those that are closer. However, there is a price to pay for the graphics, and those are generally high system requirements, that are detailed at the bottom of the review.
There are a few professional voice actors in the game, and it does occasionally show. Perhaps the most notable actor that was prominent in the game was Ice Cube, playing Bowsman, who is painfully related to throughout the games story, to the point of "It was freezing cold, Ice Cube was in his element". It sounds ferociously silly when you're listening to the voice acting, but it wouldn't be Call of Duty without some element of cheesy humour that the developers attempted to sneak in inconspicuously. The gunshots also sound fairly realistic in the game, as do the dying screams of the enemies and the battle chatter ("Nice shot, Mason"). The soundtrack is also distinctly heavy metal, and it suits it really well. The sound is better in this game than many others, although the game's multiplayer voice chat does sound a little lacking in quality.
Value for Money / Longevity
Black Ops is most certainly not cheap, especially for a PC Game, and it's unlikely to be cheap for quite some time yet (most stores are still selling Call of Duty 4 at near full price), but there is quite a lot to be doing in Black Ops. There are optimization issues, especially in lower end computers, resulting in stuttering, which will drastically break how good it is for the money for users of such low end computers, but if you're computer is fine, there's a lot to be looking forward to playing. The multiplayer is endlessly replayable, the singleplayer, especially after the first go, feels too scripted to replay, so it's a good thing it lasts about 6-7 hours off the bat. The zombies is also replayable, especially if you're a fan of the gamemode from World at War. In short, I think that the Value for Money is a bit off, but the longevity is excellent.
The game is most certainly not hard, save for some very badly done singleplayer moments that kill you unnecessarily until you get it exactly right. The multiplayer can really range in difficulty depending on whom you are playing with, but for the most part, and the zombies can definitely pull up a challenge, but the game is actually quite easy in the field that you can play it without that much prior knowledge to the genre, meaning it's a perfect, popular entry point for potential FPS gamers. The learning curve is extremely mild.
Ranging from cooperative to competitive, the multiplayer is a core aspect of Black Ops. The zombie mode is incredibly fun and brilliantly addictive with friends, and the competitive multiplayer is brilliantly replayable and extremely fun to play again and again. There are addictive points to the multiplayer modes and enough variety in the game-modes to captivate any audience. It is easy to say that the multiplayer was definitely the focus of Black Ops.
Black Ops, being rated '18', has some moments, especially in the singleplayer, that may disturb some.
In the multiplayer, you shoot the enemies and they fall down. There is no post mortem damage to be done and there is no mutilation of limbs. There is, however, a brief blood splat, that occasionally stays on the wall if your weapon is powerful.
The following notes relate only to the singleplayer
There is a significant allowance of mutilation, shotguns can tear limb from limb and machine guns can chop people up better than a meat cleaver.
There is several points throughout the game where the game slow-motion glamorizes headshots, showing pieces of brain and gore flying out of the head.
The scripted melee attacks cause large blood splats and sprays
When dead bodies fall into the water, blood separates out from their bodies. The effect is gory and intense.
You are shocked rather brutally in an electric chair to get your memory going.
A man is stabbed in the eye, but the man doing the stabbing blocks to view. The next time you see him he has a bandage over it.
The entire plot line revolves around a poison, the poisons effects are particularly brutal, and you see them in a somewhat disturbing gas chamber scene.
Some of the gore effects can be turned off in the main menu.
The marines occasionally use strong language, and the language used by players in the multiplayer can be strong at times.
A mature teenager should be able to make it through the game just fine. Perhaps a fifteen year old should have absolutely no problems, unless they are particularly squeamish. Younger children are very unlikely to understand the plotline (Vietnam, Cuban Missile Crisis, Genocide)
It has excellent campaign moments, fun cooperative zombies and extremely addictive multiplayer. If you pay £1 for an hour of gameplay, you're getting more than your money's worth. A brilliant game, hampered only by a few optimization niggles which should be fixed in due time. Extremely well done.
Summary: Great game, well worth your hard-earned cash.