A lot has come to Black Ops since its launch. The game has seen four successful map pack releases as well as inclusion of Call of Duty: Elite support, though still in beta (officially launches November 8th, coinciding with the release of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3). The question at hand is simple. Looking at Call of Duty: Black Ops now, is it deserving of all the accolades it received before and during the game’s launch? Has my experience with the game improved or deteriorated with time? Did Treyarch do justice or a disservice to the franchise?
I am a fan of the Call of Duty of the past. I say this because my favourite Call of Duty game is Call of Duty 2. In fact, I have not been a fond of any Call of Duty game released after Call of Duty 2. I say this because the franchise has changed very much between then and now. The game’s philosophy in multiplayer has changed. Even the target demographic is different. In order to review this game I have to keep that all in mind. Call of Duty is no longer a game aimed at gamers like me. In other words, how does this game perform when compared to expectations and needs of current Call of Duty fans?
The single-player campaign is not one I personally am fond of. Still, it maintains the allure that brings in current Call of Duty fans. There is tons of action. In terms of its plot I will give Black Ops this much; it is the best story in a Call of Duty game since I last enjoyed the series. It is shockingly deep and ties in fantasy with reality. It accomplishes this by bringing in past events in history and people with a storyteller’s imagination. Black Ops focuses on the Cold War during the 1960s. Players complete missions on levels that span both different locales around the globe and times during the decade. Black Ops uses the main character, CIA Special Operations Officer, Alex Mason to guide players through the game via his flashbacks that are sparked by his current interrogation. Why is he being interrogated? What led to his interrogation? Play the game and find out. Personally, I really liked the grittiness of the game. There actually was a lot of controversy in regards to the single-player campaign internationally, due to the events that happen in it. I applaud Treyarch for staying the course with the plot knowing that it might rub some people the wrong way. So what do I not like about the campaign? I really hate having to shoot enemies far too many times for them to die. If I get a headshot, they should drop. I do not like how the enemy always knows exactly where you are on the battlefield, even without ever having actually seeing you. These are legacy issues I have had with the Call of Duty franchise, even back when it was a game made for my demographic of gamer.
Black Ops saw the inclusion of tons of new features for is multiplayer. COD points are currency players use to acquire new perks, attachments, weapons, and more. It is earned by simply playing the game. I like this approach because it lets players focus on how they want to develop their arsenal instead of the archaic methodology that requires use of every weapon to attain unlocks that players actually want. If a player wants it, he simply has to earn the required amount of COD points. It adds an incentive to play and do well. Earning money is not too daunting of a task at all. This mainly due to the newly add Wager Matches and Contracts. Wager matches see players entering one of four match types (“One in the Chamber”, “Sticks and Stones”, “Gun Game”, and “Sharpshooter”) where they wager a specified amount of money from their own COD point balance. The sole purpose of this is for earning COD points. Oddly enough, matches here are usually very intense. As for contracts, that is pretty simple to grasp. Players purchase actual contracts for a varying amount. These contracts are usually in-game tasks that have to be completed in a specified amount of time.
Other new features custom insignias creation using an Emblem Editor and the ability to record highlights using Theatre Mode. The theatre mode addition was a huge one in my book. It is one that is long overdue to the franchise and makes it much easier for players to make their own clips or montages. The surprisingly popular Zombie mode returns with even more bang this time around. Via DLC updates, players were able to control both celebrities and historical figures (former US presidents for example). In terms of features, this game is lacking in no possible way. I hope this feature list becomes standard for all future releases.
As an overall package, Black Ops is a game that even I can see the value of. It boasts tons of features and has vast amounts of replayability. When compared to the previous Call of Duty games Post Call of Duty 2, it stands tall above them all. For me, the issues with Black Ops are the same issues I have had since the first Modern Warfare. The game misses the mark on the most important element, gameplay. This is a FPS at its core. I, personally, can not get into an FPS where hit detection is an issue as well as the amount of bullets it takes to down an enemy. If this was a sci-fi or fantasy shooter, then I would be more welcoming to it. It is neither. The game features real weapons being fired by humans, at humans. The gameplay does not reflect that. That is my issue. Then again, most fans of Call of Duty now do not share my thoughts on this so it is not an issue for them. There is fun to be had playing this. I have to give Treyarch credit where it is due. This game is one that continued to improve from its launch. They also did a great job monitoring cheating/modding/hacking, unlike other Call of Duty games. I will admit looking back on this review is a large part of the reason I am giving Modern Warfare 3 a shot (the feature set and the changes to the gameplay being the other part). TheBitbag will have a review of Modern Warfare 3 up in the coming weeks. Be sure to give it a gander.