Well it’s that time of year again: another Call of Duty and another wad of cash for Activision. As most of you should know this year’s title is named Black Ops and was developed by Treyarch, the team behind World at War, but does it live up to the hype and can it follow the huge success of Infinity Ward’s Modern Warfare 2?
I’ve been a massive fan of the Call of Duty games for a long time now, even before the huge hype train came along, so of course when a new one was announced I was very excited. With Black Ops in the title I went in thinking there would be lots of stealthy missions and thankfully, for the most part, there are. You begin the game as Mason, a black ops agent, who is strapped to a chair in an interrogation room which is filled with monitors displaying various numbers. It is unknown who has captured you but they are trying to find out where a secret broadcast station is and only you know the answer. Each level in the game is based on Mason’s memories of missions he has previously completed which he must tell his captors about, and will eventually unravel the mystery behind the numbers and the location of the broadcast station.
Like previous CoDs, the single player campaign is very short but it is impressive. The level of detail in each mission is unrivalled and at times you could almost place yourself in the locations because they look so realistic. I opted to play the game through on the hardened difficulty, as that’s what I have done with all the previous CoDs, and for the most part didn’t have much difficulty with the enemies. There is an abundance of weaponry throughout the missions and plenty of chances to pick up additional ammunition, so once you find your weapon of choice you can safely make your way through the rest of the mission without too much worry. Even with your weapon sorted you still have to take out your enemies and don’t fret too much if you get stuck at certain parts for a while because the enemies are quite smart and will make sure they find decent cover and often try to flank you and your team mates.
To say the campaign is perfect would be pushing it because there are some serious flaws which really should have been addressed while the game was in testing – let the rant begin. One mission in particular has you fighting in Vietnam and, at one point, trying to reclaim a hill. You begin the mission at the top of the hill and must advance to the bottom where the marker is telling you where to go but it’s not quite as it appears. Firstly, even on hardened mode, there are unlimited troops that will simply replace any of the troops you have already killed, also the marker that you must get to has absolutely no cover whatsoever, so by the time you finally make it there you will be shot and killed in a matter of seconds as you are required to hold the position for around twenty seconds. What the game fails to tell you is there are some barrels at certain locations on the hill that you are unable to shoot but you must be directly next to them and interact with them in order to kick them in order to stop the troops from replacing their dead comrades. This section of the game had me stuck for over an hour and there have been reports of some people quitting the campaign because they couldn’t figure out what to do. A simple fix would have been to put markers on the barrels and would have caused me less rage!
With the campaign being so short, it’s a jolly good job that Treyarch have also added a pretty intensive multiplayer mode to Black Ops. If you are a fan of the multiplayer in Modern Warfare 2, you will feel right at home with Black Ops’s multiplayer mode as it is practically the same thing just with new maps and some tweaks to loadouts and personal settings. First off the ranking system is identical with fifty ranks to achieve and then ten prestige levels to keep you ultra-busy with. You can create your own loadouts when you rank up a couple of times and by the time you hit rank ten you will be able to edit most of the personal settings such as clan tag, Playercard, leaderboards and challenges.
The greatest change since Modern Warfare 2 is the introduction of CoD Points which you gain after each game, fulfilling a challenge or betting them in a new game mode. Although you still need to reach certain ranks in order to unlock weapons, you can buy attachments, Playercard logos and kill streaks without the need to unlock them. I much prefer this system to the previous one as it allowed me to customise my weapons from the very beginning and I felt more at home with my Red Dot Sight on in the first game. One thing that is a little annoying is you are required to purchase the attachments for each weapon so once you pimp out one type of weapon you are stuck with it for a little while until you earn more points but it’s nothing to write home about. The new RC Car is a lot of fun to play with and can allow you to blow up several people at once, which I did on more than one occasion. Good times!
The maps feel good and there are plenty of nice locations for all types of players. I tend to be the guy who runs in sacrificing his life for my teammates while just managing to have an equal kill to death ratio and thanks to some nice tight corridors in most of the maps, I could actually start improving my kill side. The games are still very fast paced and if you are playing a team based game you need to actually work as a team otherwise you can wave goodbye to those precious CoD Points. The only quarrel I have with the multiplayer mode at the moment is the lack of maps but this seems to be the way these games work with DLC being released shortly after with a few more maps- but let’s not talk about that topic! Treyarch have also added their famous zombie mode from World at War which seems to work exactly as it did before; you are in a room on your own or with some friends, and you must stop the zombies from killing everyone. Killing zombies earns you cash which you can use to rebuild your defences or buy new weapons. As the rounds go on the area you have to protect increases in size, which makes it more difficult and your aim is to survive as long as possible.
All-in-all the game is good but it could have been better. The main problem I found was the highly frustrating hill mission which could have been fixed very simply. The lack of multiplayer maps is also a pain especially since everyone tends to vote for the same two over and over but there will be more coming I’m sure. If you are a fan of Call of Duty chances are you already own Black Ops and if not well I would say this is one for the Christmas list. If you enjoy the multiplayer this game will keep you playing until next Christmas!