Gamer Tengou offers his first review for us! To read more gamer reviews and enews visit his blog.
**Warning: Thar Be Spoilers Ahead**
When I first heard of the release of Black Ops I was extremely against the idea of shelling out another 60 bones for a game when I was still grinding through the upper prestige levels of Modern Warfare 2. It looked to me to be a quick money grabbing gimmick or more of an expansion to Modern Warfare rather than adding any really new, innovative content. Despite being resolute in not buying it I was eventually convinced by one of my friends to purchase it because we had no games that our group would all play together anymore. As a compromise I bought it on boxing day when it was cheap and I could salvage some of my pride.
After playing the game for a couple of hours I was somewhat relieved to find that I had not wasted my money as I first feared as some of Modern Warfare’s short comings are fixed in this game. First of all the system for unlocking weapons is completely changed. Instead of having to reach a certain level to unlock the particular gun you like they are more or less all available from the very beginning and, after playing through a few matches and gaining “COD Points”, you can use purchase your favourite gun pretty quickly. This fixes the problem of getting into a match and being instantly annihilated by higher level players with better equipment. Camouflage for the guns is also purchased in this way as well as the new feature to put a created emblem on your rifle as well as the ability to scratch your clan tag into the side of your rifle.
The second shortcoming that was fixed was the imbalanced maps. Modern Warfare’s maps tended to encourage campers and snipers. Anyone who was quick on the draw could find a corner and blow anyone away who came into view. Black Ops fixes this by limiting the number of spaces that would be conducive to camping, and anywhere that could be a good perch has it’s view restricted so someone can’t simply watch vast amounts of space from cover.
Another feature which I particularly liked was the contracts that players can purchase: If you are feeling lucky you can spend your COD points on these contract challenges which, if you complete them in the allotted amount of time, return more points and some experience. Similar to the Reach’s daily challenges, these help break up the potentially repetitive game play by giving players something else to do.
The horrible re-spawn system has yet to see any form of improvement.
Most players buy Black Ops for multiplayer and I would say that is a good policy to stick to because the single player is crap. I spent little over an hour playing the single player campaign and it was the most ridiculous, over-the-top thing I’ve ever seen. The start of the story has you hiding out in a café with some chums discussing how it would be best to keep a low profile so Castro, who you’re there to assassinate, won’t catch wind of your operation. They then proceed to shoot up some soldiers, the café patrons, and presumably the entire Cuban police force only moments after uttering these words. After blowing up the downtown area of the Bay of Pigs the player proceeds to break into Castro’s estate and guns him down, or so they thought, and in the escape things get even more over the top as they hijack a military plane in order to escape but the runway is cut off by a group of trucks. So naturally the player heroically dives out of the moving plane and runs over to an Anti-Air flack cannon and uses it to blow up all the trucks on the runway allowing his comrades to escape. He of course is captured. After doing this bit I chuckled to myself and then put the controller down to do something else. I’m not sure what went wrong but my theory is that Treyarch in their panic to fill Infinity Ward’s shoes tried to create something epic but overcompensated. Really the only thing that is half tempting me to play the single player again is the achievements that I can get from it.
In summary if you are considering buying Black Ops but are on the fence here’s what you do: If you are buying it for multiplayer because you like Modern Warfare then do it. The changes Treyarch made to the game add to the experience and are extremely satisfying. If, however, you don’t like going on Xbox Live and prefer to run through a story driven adventure save your money for a better FPS.
WARNING TO PARENTS:
The Call of Duty series is one built on violence. This game in my own opinion tops all the others in the series. The opening cinematic sees innocent bystanders gunned down in the café mention above as well as a lot of over the top violence. In one instance a soldier gets his hand pinned to a counter with a combat knife before being shot repeatedly and left to hang dead by his pinned hand. There are multiple moments in the game with similar graphic moments so caution is advised if purchasing this product for a young gamer. In addition to the violence, the game features plenty of strong language. If you are hesitant to let your child play online because of the often rude and hostile interactions between players this game offers a nice alternative of BOT matches that was not present in previous Call of Duty titles. These BOT matches use all the same maps and features as the online multiplayer but instead of other people the matches are populated with artificial intelligence opponents. In other words it’s the same experience without the interaction of hostile, aggravated people. These BOT matches are just as challenging as playing with other people (trust me!) so there is no loss of enjoyment or challenge in the game in this mode.
Call of Duty: Black Ops has a ESRB rating of Mature and has definitely earned it.