Genre: First Person Shooter Developer: Treyarch Publisher: Activision Classification: MA15+ Release Date: 9th Nov 2010 Platforms:
Average of 67 Ratings
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The Good bits
CODP is an awesome addition to multiplayer.
The multiplayer is really well balanced.
Singleplayer story is well written.
Voice acting is largely spot on.
The Bad stuff
A little lack of polish in parts.
Nuketown map flat out broken.
Treyarch has played second fiddle to the ego-maniacal efforts of Infinity Ward for too long and Black Ops is the violent and inevitable coup weíd seen coming since World at War rocked out and Modern Warfare 2 arrogantly exploded onto PCs.
Of course, things arenít perfect in Black Ops - Infinity Ward earned their ego by delivering an amazing level of polish every time they dropped a new title and Black Ops shows that the Mighty Ducks of Call of Duty development still donít spit-shine like their predecessors.
The singleplayer is where this shows - multiplayer is about as tight as multiplayer can get. You spend most of the game as Alex Mason, voiced by Sam Worthington. If youíve ever seen a movie with Worthington youíll know he has only a limited amount of American Accent at any time and he drops his accent a few times during the game.
The other voice actors however are outstanding - Ed Harris and Gary Oldman both feature in huge speaking roles and they do excellent work, while Ice Cube is... well, he puts on his best Ice Cube voice and unsurprisingly carries it off well.
The story was written in house by Treyarchís team, but they had David S. Goyer (Christopher Nolanís go-to story guy) consulting on the finer details and it pays off - the plot in Black Ops is more Manchurian Candidate than it is Transformers 2 (which it was in the last COD instalment).
Told in flashbacks, the game focuses heavily on the Vietnam war - though it also spends quite a bit of time in various other locations - including the Pentagon, the Arctic Circle and a Russian Gulag. The contrasting environments deliver a nice change of scenery - too often games based on Vietnam are relentlessly green.
The plot itself isnít nearly as predictable as previous COD games and the entire game lasts between 5.5 - 6 hours - depending on how well you know the tropes of the Call of Duty games. The focus is to always stay moving - push forward at all times - and this remains in Black Ops.
If you get stuck (say at the top of a hill while thousands of VC pour into your base) you run around maniacally trying to find whatever is needed to trigger the next sequence (you need to melee a barrel and roll it down the hill... youíll thank me later).
The game mixes things up a little with vehicular combat - you pilot a chopper and captain a boat and while the controls are simplistic itís accomplished in a viscerally successful manner. The boat sequence is especially cool, though the controls are somewhat awkward.
The way the SP plays out is interesting - if the game exists as three thirds, the last third is easily the best, the first third is a close second and the middle sequence is a distant straggler - the lack of polish tends to clump together in the middle of the game only to be
washed away by an outstanding ending.
The polish is probably lacking because of all the other stuff Treyarch packed into the game. Zombies. Dead Ops. Zork. All readily available (once you know how) additions to the Black Ops experience. Keyboards are enabled so you can tool around in the console of the game (and actually play Zork).
Zombies is back from World at War - itís much the same, with up to four players fighting off hordes of zombies and struggling to work out the crudely designated objectives at hand. We only played two different maps - one in the Pentagon (with a Presidential team of zombie killers, complete with over-the-top voice acting) and one in an eerie German Mansion (featuring the zombie killing team from World at War).
Dead Ops on the other hand is a SmashTV clone - again, four player coop, but this time the zombies attack you on an island, while you play from a top down perspective. Itís ok with one player, but it really lifts when you get others involved - whereas Zombies has an air of cooperation about it, Dead Ops is pure competitive coop. Oh and Zork is... Zork.
It seems like they got so carried away with cramming extra stuff in, they ran out of time to get rid of the tiny glitches or clean up some of the less obvious trigger spots (like the barrel I mentioned before) - to be honest itís hard to fault them on this.
Still, singleplayer is barely a speed bump in the COD experience - the real meat of Black Ops and the area Treyarch has made the biggest leaps is in multiplayer, where theyíve essentially rebalanced the entire experience.
Theyíve created a learning tool for new players - Combat Training - so the terrifying notion of playing with the sorts of people who play Call of Duty is mitigated by the option to play the same maps with up to five of your friends and a number of bots. This means you can hone your skills, learn the maps and develop strategies without watching a Killcam every four seconds.
Thereís more to this puppy than just the addition of bots though - the entire multiplayer has changed thanks to the addition of COD Points (weíre never calling them CP). The change affected thanks to CODP is enormous, game changing and infinitely for the better - though itís a certainty people will resist it.
The experience points method of ranking up - introduced en masse by Battlefield 2 and refined by the first Modern Warfare - has taken over multiplayer shooters thanks to the extraordinary success of both games. COD Points takes the idea to the next logical conclusion - you earn both XP and CODP when you play MP now - all modes award CODP, but only the core modes award XP.
CODP is used as currency whereas XP unlocks new things to spend said currency on. Imagine it this way - whereas levelling up in MW2 might have unlocked an MP5, it may have been worthless because you couldnít yet add the attachments you wanted - they werenít unlocked yet.
With the CODP system you unlock the MP5 with XP, purchase it with your CODP and youíre then free to kit it out with any attachments you want - as long as you have the cashola to buy them.
Perks are also purchased using your new currency, so as soon as you are able to make your own kit youíre able to deck it out with the boosts you want. Essentially - when the game begins, if you have the funny money available you can deck yourself out with an ACOG scoped, silenced assault rifle, the Ghost (invisible to tech) perk, Ninja (silent running) perk and the Warlord (two attachments, no underslung attachments) perk and disappear from the radar.
It allows you an outstanding amount of control over how you play the game - you can basically play it however you want - instead of simply grinding your way through tedious upgrades solely to get to something you want to use, you just crack it out from (almost) the beginning.
Earning CODP is the same as earning XP - kills and objectives earn them. You can also purchase contracts - these cost a small amount and they add a timed objective to your gaming - finish in the Top 3 on your team before an hour is up and you will score yourself a bonus 125 points, plus the 25 points you put down in the first place.
Of course, it wonít be long before you consider 125 extra CODP to be the peanuts they are - a drop in the water compared to what you could be earning, if you back yourself. Put down 10,000 CODP in a High Roller Wager match, for example and you might walk away with 30,000 - thatís a lot of guns.
Wager match is the best addition to Black Ops - it brings the nerve-racking nature back to random matches, as you desperately donít want to slip up and throw away all your points by accident. There are three levels to Wager matches - low stakes, medium stakes and high stakes, rolling from 100 to 1000 to 10,000 points respectively.
100 point matches serve mostly to get players acquainted with the game types - unlike the normal CODBO multiplayer you donít have your average Deathmatch variants in Wager Match. Instead youíre looking at Gun Game, Sticks and Stones, One in the Chamber and Sharpshooter. Of the four, Gun Game is the most predictable, One in the Chamber next, Sharpshooter third and the wildly ridiculous Sticks and Stones last.
Gun Game will be familiar to anyone whoís played the fantastic Counter-Strike variant - when you get a kill youíre immediately equipped with the next weapon in the order. Unfortunately in Black Ops they have you gradually progress through better and better weapons until the end - typically the order is reversed, allowing players a chance to catch up when they have SMGs and their enemies are stuck with pistols. Itís still great fun though and definitely the game type you want when playing High Stakes.
One in the Chamber is a one shot Golden Gun game type - you have three lives and one bullet. Getting a kill earns you another bullet, whether itís by shooting someone or stabbing them. Shooting and missing leaves you without ammo - you have to stab to get your kill back. When it comes down to you and one other person and youíre both out of ammo it can be hard to unclench, win or lose.
Sharpshooter is hectic - everyone is randomly assigned a weapon, which changes every 45 seconds. Score multipliers and Perk bonuses add to the random nature of the game type - you could very realistically get nothing but guns youíre great with one game and guns youíre terrible with the next.
The last game type is Sticks and Stones, a crazy game type featuring a crossbow with explosive tipped bolts, ballistic knifes and a bankrupting Tomahawk. Being Bankrupted resets your score to zero - during a 1000 point game I won a game with a mere 200 points, as every player was bankrupted at least once. You can literally go from being Ďin the moneyí to losing a match in the space of a second - and whatís worse, the person whoís coming first has a different coloured marking on the mini-map, painting a giant tomahawk target on you.
Prepare for a shock - the core multiplayer of the game is very much the same as what youíve gotten used to in Modern Warfare, World at War and Modern Warfare 2. The kicker here is, it has been exquisitely balanced to eliminate the sort of crap which turned so many off Modern Warfare 2 after a few weeks.
Gone is One Man Army, a perk seemingly designed to turn everyone into a scrubtastic noob tuber. Maps are huge and designed with multiple chokepoints and varied spawn points. Killstreaks no longer add to the deaths needed for the next one - meaning you still have to earn your kills once you crack out the remote control buggy.
The game types are all the same standard fare weíve gotten used to in recent years - Domination was the overwhelming favourite when I played, but we did get to play Sabotage, Search & Destroy, Ground War, Demolition and (of course) Team Deathmatch and each map remains well-balanced across all game types - except one.
Nuketown, a suburban map based on the fake towns the US government set up to test nuclear bombs, is a bit of a mess. During the dozen or so playthroughs of the map I had during my review session it crashed the server all but once. Iíd vote to skip this one every time personally, but itís up to you.
Nevertheless this new, better balancing should pair up nicely with the other new community feature - Theatre Mode records your best games and allows you to edit them whenever you like. Itís a feature which will be familiar to Halo players - you can assume the role of any player in the match and see the game from their eyes.
It will help players learn from their mistakes, showcase their favourite moments and create ludicrous machinima - and each player is allocated six upload slots so they can share their favourite bits with their friends. Obviously itís ripped straight from the bowels of Halo 3, but itís still well realised here.
Call of Duty: Black Ops isnít just a superbly crafted multiplayer game, or a well-written story with a good deal more subtlety than any post Modern Warfare COD combined. Itís a fun and well made coop SmashTV clone. Itís a wave based coop zombie shooter with stacks of B grade charm. Itís brand new way to experience multiplayer by putting your hard earned credits on the line. Oh and itís got region based matchmaking on consoles and dedicated servers on PC. Get Call of Duty: Black Ops. Itís more than worth it.
Disclosure: Activision flew GameArena to LA to play Call of Duty: Black Ops at a Review Event.
just not for me.perks killed this game and the developers.stuffed it with to much bling.others might have noticed other glitches and sort comings. but to me if you dress up a character in a first marine division uniform.give it the name call of duty then give them the characteristics of the guys from looney tunes,
Waste of time for the PC version.Over priced and runs like a bad arcade style Beta.Stick with BFBC2 or MOH if you want a decent shooter.The worst part is once you activate thru steam cant even sell the disk.Sorry this should be called BLACK FLOPS.