Review: Call of Duty: Black Ops (Xbox 360, PS3)January 12th, 2011 | Written by Josh Schwartzman | Topic: PlayStation 3, Reviews, SmashPad, Xbox 360
Yes, another Call of Duty game. While Activision is giving gamers more than their fair share of the popular shooter franchise, year after year one thing remains clear: they are always consistently great games with some of the best multiplayer components around. That said, Treyarch has always been the step-child of Infinity Ward, developers of the Modern Warfare games, in terms of both manpower and media reception. Pride aside, Treyarch continues to stand strong (while Infinity Ward is in a complete restructure after than entire staffing debacle) and put out what is perhaps considered the best Call of Duty game yet by Treyarch and perhaps the best title since Modern Warfare back in 2006.
What’s It About?
Developed by Treyarch, Black Ops focuses solely on the missions of Alex Mason, a former operative who wakes up to find himself strapped to an interrogation table being zapped by bolts of electricity. The interrogators need information only Mason knows, so players will flashback into Mason’s mind and relive some of his greatest moments. Besides a stellar single player campaign that grips you from start to finish, Black Ops also features that patented online multiplayer component, complete with revamped leveling, new perks (RC car!), and the brilliant Zombies mode. You couldn’t ask for a more complete package.
Why Should I Care?
Because it’s Call of Duty. You know Activision spends tons of money on both development and advertising, and Black Ops is no exception. In fact, Black Ops might be the best looking Call of Duty title to date. The weapons look as realistic as ever, the animations all remain crisp and fluid and the level designs are all incredibly detailed and original.
While the basic core of Call of Duty gamers play the franchise for its addictive multiplayer modes, Black Ops deserves credit for its gripping and adrenaline-fueled campaign, which had me on the edge of my seat from start to finish. Even the twist at the end of the game had me floored, and since games these day seem to be basic cut and paste in terms of storylines, that is a very remarkable feat. The campaign takes place over various years, ranging from infiltrating a space center to abort a potential launch to running through the streets at night filled with Nova-gas.
The thing about the campaign is that I actually felt for the characters. Mason’s journey throughout the campaign is one of struggle, sacrifice and redemption. You find out why he is strapped to the interrogation table at the start and how events scattered throughout the game ultimately led to that moment. It’s a length journey that not only has you wanting to play more to learn of Mason’s past, but also play the great levels along the way as well. The other players Mason interacts with, such as Viktor Reznov (who players might remember from World At War), are also equally memorable, offering their hand into the various missions as well.
Why Is It Worth My Time And Money?
It is everything you loved about Modern Warfare 2, but better. Sure the setting back to the time of the Cold War might deter some, but the action has never been better. The core aspect of Black Ops, the multiplayer, feels completely fresh this time around despite the fact that relatively nothing was changed. For starters, the balancing issues seem to have been addressed and no longer are players running around with double shotguns blasting people across the screen for one-shot kills. Campers can be met with a remote-controlled explosive car than can sneak up on unsuspecting shooters or run around and blow up anyone in its path. The same basic structure of leveling, earning experience and updating your class remains the same, but it’s the smallest changes that make this multiplayer experience more enjoyable than previous years.
The perks system for starters is better acclimated to newer users, letting them have a taste of fun and firepower that only the most skilled players seem to have a shot at. RC cars, probably the best new perk available, can be earned with just three kills (two with hardline). This type of perk could easily have been a five or more killstreak, seeing how unfair it is at times, but the ability to let all players, beginner or advanced, have a relatively easy shot at obtaining it is a nice touch.
Zombies mode is back and revamped in Black Ops. The level layouts this time around are even bigger and more complex than World At War’s version, complete with triple story buildings, more deathly booby traps and hundreds of more enemies coming at you at one time. Plenty of old favorites return such as Kino Der Toten (a map from the original Nazi Zombies mode from World at War) and a new one that takes placed in the Pentagon as players control famous American (and International) figures such as John F. Kennedy, Richard Nixon and Fidel Castro. It is definitely a break away from hardcore, frantic pace of regular multiplayer and with an added two-player co-op split screen option, players never have to worry about fighting off zombies alone.
To add to the fun, an arcade shooter titled Dead Ops is also available if you know where to find it. Similar to other classic top-down shooters, in Dead Ops players run around with the left analog stick and shoot with the right, mowing down zombies along the way while picking up special abilities and weapons. Its great fun for a quick change of pace every once in a while.
What is great about Black Ops is that the fun never ceased to end. The single player had me hooked from beginning to end and the levels, which had you fighting through the streets of Havana one second to blowing up enemies in a stolen attack helicopter the next, is pure fun. The visuals continue to impress in any mode you try, and even the hidden goodies, such as Dead Ops, have their own unique visual style that sets it apart from the other various modes. The voice acting and score are just as good as ever, providing a great balance to the already impressive production values.
All in all, you simply cannot find a better package out right now. Call of Duty: Black Ops continues to shine above the rest of carbon copy shooters even with yearly releases. Treyarch has proven that they have what it takes to gain control of the franchise after Infinity Ward seemingly went AWOL last year. Everything comes together well in Black Ops and the game can be considered one of the best entries into the long running Call of Duty series.
Score: 9.0 | Recommendation: Buy It
Editor’s Note: The reviewer purchased the game on the Xbox 360 and has put over 25 hours into the game. Single player mode was completed after roughly nine hours while multiplayer mode took an estimated ten hours to assess all of the various modes. The game was played on both the Xbox 360 and PS3 systems.