by Bane Williams, reviewed on
Call in the Black Ops
Call of Duty: Black Ops is the latest entry in what is perhaps the biggest FPS series of all time. While the Activision produced series has had many hands making the individual games, this time it is developer Treyarch who is to step up to the mark and hit a home run - a difficult task, considering Modern Warfare 2's début as the most successful entertainment release of all time.
Pushing the Boundaries
Creating a Single Player campaign capable of astonishing gamers old and young is not easy, especially when your game is part of such a notorious series that graces shop shelves every year without fail. While it might have stirred less controversy than its direct predecessor, make no mistake, Black Ops is here to rock you from start to finish. Even from the opening menu, the players are given a small glimpse of what is to come, by being greeted as the 'client' in an interrogation room.
Treyarch have avoided simply cutting and pasting the previous Infinity Ward creation. In addition to actually putting players in the chair during a torture sequence (a first for the series), the game ties in with real historical events in such a perfect way that it is possible to confuse fact and fiction. While attentive players can figure out a decent amount of the story earlier than it is explained, the ending is still a treasure to behold, and like the rest of the game, makes a strong connection to the events throughout the Cold War.
The strength of the game is realized through its intricately designed and completely believable levels, absolutely gob stopping visuals, and fitting music that enhances the whole experience. These elements combine to create such a perfect experience, it could almost be described as ambrosia sent down from the gods. Make no mistake, as far as single player experiences go, Black Ops sets the bar higher than anything that has come before it.
Upon starting the Campaign you are greeted by the main character's backstory. While most of the entries in the Call of Duty saga have you working through the perspective of many characters, Black Ops almost solely focuses on Alex Mason, a CIA operative who is currently under interrogation by an unknown group. This group forces Mason to relive several of the missions he performed for the CIA. While in some games this might leave you feeling impartial to the consequences of these sections (Assassin's Creed, Prince of Persia), here the action is so thick and intense that you want to push forward at all costs.
As the story continues, you are introduced to one of the weightiest plots delivered in an FPS yet. Before beginning an attempt to assassinate Fidel Castro during the Bay of Pigs Invasion of 1961, you meet Mason's compatriots, Frank and Woods. The action starts at a slow boil designed to get players used to how the game handles and to acclimate themselves to the games style. Black Ops advances at all times, often yanking players through sections, quickly changing pace from tight indoor battles to long distance outdoor ones, and it is not long before you are introduced to some of the game's many vehicles.
Infinity Ward never really allowed players to control vehicles, preferring players to be passengers on a heavily scripted stage. With Black Ops, Treyarch gives the player free reign over numerous vehicles offering a truly interactive experience from start to finish. Forced vehicle sections are something that many people hate due to sluggish controls or obscene difficulty levels, but not once do any of these sections feel pushed upon the player, and they always control responsively.
Great story full of twists and turns, fight Zombies as JFK, a mostly balanced multiplayer
Some basic multiplayer design issues keep this from being as perfect a game as this could be