by Andrew Hallam, reviewed on
Where Few Games Have Gone Before
Apocalypse Now, Full Metal Jacket and Platoon: just a few of the Hollywood films that have taken on the role of recreating the controversial Vietnam war which spanned almost 20 years of American history. However, while most people know of these films, they have a hard time thinking of any video games set within the era other than the popular 2004 online FPS Battlefield Vietnam. Having covered just about every major battle of World War II and stepped up to providing an entertaining fictional modern warfare scenario, the minds behind Call of Duty are now putting all their experience and skill into a new title set within the cold war era. Enter Call of Duty: Black Ops, the seventh installment in the Call of Duty series and the third game developed by Treyarch who previously made the console focused Call of Duty 3 as well as the game which bought the much loved Nazi Zombies to gamers, Call of Duty: World at War.
Charlie Don’t Surf
Black Ops’ single player campaign takes place in the Cold War era, a time of great uncertainty and fear in which America entered the Vietnam War in order to defeat the communist North Vietnamese forces. The player is put in the shoes of two American Black Ops operatives as they conduct covert missions behind enemy lines during the Cold War. Your unit is primarily a reconnaissance and rescue force that conducts strategic recon missions behind enemy lines, such as capturing high value targets and rescuing prisoners of war.
Rather than following Modern Warfare 2’s immense visual spectacle of storming the White House with a ton of US Marines or blowing up the International Space Station, Black Ops follows a more serious route, giving a realistic representation of how the Black Ops group really operated during the Vietnam War. For one thing, the action is a lot more up close and personal, with stealth and guerilla tactics playing a much bigger role in this title compared to the gung-ho all guns blazing Oscar Mike fest that was Modern Warfare 2. Don’t fret though, its still the Call of Duty game you all know and love as seen in the recently released World Premier trailer. There are still aspects of the explosion riddled cinematic extravaganza we’ve come to expect from the Call of Duty series. One mission places you within an American attack helicopter as it rains rockets and 50. Caliber rounds down upon a VC held village. It is obvious that the game draws a lot of its inspiration from Apocalypse Now, with a nice mix of stealth missions and eye popping cinematic explosions all round.
Treyarch already made a name for itself with World at War, providing distinctive AI that really challenged the player with a new enemy that had rarely been portrayed in World War II video games before – the Japanese. The Japanese fought with immense cunning and bravery, setting deadly ambushes and traps as well as producing some of the most frantic moments for the player that I have seen within a video game. The iconic Banzai charge stands out in particular, where the enemies would draw swords or bayonets and charge towards the player, overwhelming them with sheer numbers alone. This sense of realistic AI seems to have carried into Black Ops, with the VC setting up ambushes and fighting with dirty guerilla tactics in order to defeat their technologically advanced enemies. Admittedly a lot of these scenarios will probably be scripted cinematic sequences, but it goes to show that Treyarch has thought long and hard about the setting and has put a real effort into making the game as engrossing as possible. This distinct change in enemy tactics from the well trained and organized Russian invasion forces that the player faced within Modern Warfare 2 will hopefully put a new spin on the game, forcing the player to keep on their toes as they skulk through the jungles and villages of Vietnam.
War Is Hell
While a lot of the single player experience has been kept under wraps in order to avoid any possible spoilers, the multiplayer details seem to come pouring in every week. Lets start with the basics: it’s still Call of Duty at its core. You run, shoot and bunny hop your way to victory over a wide selection of maps with all the classic game types such as Capture the Flag and Team Deathmatch, but Treyarch has ramped up the multiplayer all the way to 11 has proven that even the critically acclaimed multiplayer format that Modern Warfare 2 has created can be improved upon, with the inclusion of the much wanted dedicated servers that fans have been shouting for since MW 2’s release.
One of the major features to hit the online community when Black Ops is released this November is the inclusion of currency, gambling and increased customization within the game’s multiplayer. The currency system is Treyarch’s addition to Modern Warfare 2’s leveling system. From now on players will be able to effectively buy weapons, nametags, kill and death streaks, characters and perks instead of earning them through levels.