Call of Duty: Black Ops – Xbox 360 Review


Game Name: Call of Duty: Black Ops
Platforms: Xbox 360, PS3, PC
Publisher(s): Activision
Developer(s): Treyarch
Genre(s): Shooter
Release Date: 10/12/2010
ESRB Rating: M (Mature)
Price: $59.99 (USD)

“Go deep behind enemy lines in Call of Duty: Black Ops, and engage in covert warfare and classified operations across the globe.” [Via]

That description is literally all that can be told about the story of Call of Duty: Black Ops without giving too much away. In my opinion, this story is the best one out of all the recent Call of Duty games. The game starts off with the main character being interrogated and you play the entire game through a series of flash backs that come up in the interrogation. As you progress through the flash backs more of the story is revealed, until you reach the epic climax right near the end when everything suddenly makes sense.

Gameplay Singleplayer
The singleplayer experience is great, and holds some of the best moments in this game. Sadly, in order to enjoy the full experience it is probably best to start off on an easier difficulty and then replay it on a harder setting. The reason for this is quite simple. If you start off on the hardest setting, it will take a while to progress through the game and the intricate story is deluded by having to do the same part of a mission over and over again. While key moments are still highlighted nicely, some of the dull moments  in the game are quickly forgotten and they create blank spots within the overall story.

Since this game takes place around the time of the Vietnam war, most of the weapons are modern enough to feel awesome while still fitting into the time period. During Treyarch’s last game, I just couldn’t enjoy myself while using the ancient weapons that were supplied to you. Another key feature is that this game may take place during Vietnam, but it follows a covert group of soldiers who were told to do stuff in the background that the world never knew about. This feature lets Treyarch have fun with their game, while not worrying about staying historically accurate and also create an incredible story.

Infinite spawning enemies and a gameplay mechanic that is constantly pushing a player through the game ruins some of the fun within the singleplayer experience. While it is hardly noticeable on easier settings, the harder settings are full of these moments. The rushed feeling simply creates an experience that seems too quick and doesn’t let the player fully grasp where they are. This keeps the action constantly flowing, but also doesn’t give the player any breathing room.

Gameplay Multiplayer
The multiplayer has been simplified and geared towards all players. While newcomers may have trouble jumping in at first, they can soon be on par with the higher level players. Everything is balanced pretty well, and the perk system has been redone in order to remove the overpowered perks. On the other hand, other aspects of multiplayer have been dulled down.

Everything costs money now. The money if Black Ops are called COD points, and are required to buy new weapons, new equipment, new perks, and basically everything else. Pretty much everything is available to you right in the beginning and you have to collect COD points by playing games in order to buy more stuff. There is a good and bad side to this. On the good side, you don’t have to wait for your favorite perk or equipment type and everyone can be on even ground but on the bad side nothing is unique. The reason nothing is unique is because everything is purchased, including the callsign designs and emblems. Certain things still require certain levels but a majority of it have been opened up and made available to everyone as long as they have the points to buy it. There is no longer a need to complete challenges, other than gaining bonus EXP.

Gambling is a new fun way to make points and experience. With wager matches and contracts, you can spend your own points in order for a chance to win larger amounts. Wager matches are little minigame type gametypes that don’t play like the normal multiplayer matches and have a certain special feature that makes them unique. These matches are fun and if you win you are able to receive a major payout that enables you to buy even more stuff. Contracts are small challenges that you buy. If you complete the contract you get bonus points and experience, but if you fail you lose the money you spent on the contract and don’t get anything out of it.

Black Ops has changed a lot of aspects online, and the sound has been dulled down as well. Nothing is hectic anymore and everything seems quite docile. As always camping is normal and actually made easier by some of the equipment, but the multiplayer still plays like a normal Call of Duty Multiplayer; except this time with a few more character customization options as well as new maps.

Gameplay Extras
Black Ops has two extra game modes to offer. Zombie mode and Dead Ops Arcade. Both of these game modes are completely extra and have almost absolutely nothing to do with the actual game. Both also have you killing waves of zombies while staying alive, the only main difference is how you play them.

In the Zombie mode, you are thrown into a level by yourself or with up to 3 other friends and are tasked with surviving as many waves of zombies as possible. As you kill zombies you gain money, which lets you buy new weapons or open more of each level. The mode starts out slow, but as you advance in waves the zombies get increasingly harder and come in much larger ammounts. According to a few friends of mine, Zombie mode in Black Ops is much harder than the previous installment. The mode is fun and lets players get away from killing people online or being slaughtered a whole bunch in singleplayer.

The second mode is Dead Ops Arcade. This is a top down, dual stick shooter that tasks you with killing tons of zombies. You start out with a basic weapon, and as you progress through zombie waves you will get new weapons and upgrades that will help you kill more zombies. Between waves you travel to different zones and can sometimes stumble upon bonus rooms that have tons of gold and can raise your score greatly. The game is simple, yet enjoyable and acts as a special little hidden bonus mode that you have to unlock. The way you unlock it is hidden though, but it really isn’t that hard to discover. Along with this mode is a Text Based Adventure under the code name “Zork”, but I’m not exactly sure how that one works precisely.

Audio & Graphics
The audio for some reason dies down and becomes dull when you venture into online multiplayer, but during the singleplayer experience the audio is spot on. For some reason, the audio doesn’t work properly in multiplayer and everything seems hushed and silenced. This is particularly noticeable while using the Ninja Perk. The perk is supposed to increase the volume of enemy footsteps but it doesn’t work properly. Other aspects of multiplayer simply don’t seem hectic enough, there is supposed to be 12 to 16 players but it just sounds like 1 or 2 fighting it out. Singleplayer on the other hand, has tons of explosions and the firefights sound epic and intense. On the other hand, if you die regularly you will end up hearing the same lines over and over again which gets incredibly annoying.

The graphics are split between Singleplayer and Multiplayer. Multiplayer has more graphical issues, but the reasons for it are pretty obvious. In order to keep lagg down, they have to reduce the detail in everything and that creates lousy textures and some pretty lame explosions. Singleplayer on the other hand, looks great and has tons of color in it to make it look good no matter where you are located at on the globe. While the graphical Issues are pretty minor, they are still present and at first seem odd until you get used to them. There is also severe lagg occasionally both online and offline when things become too hectic for the game to keep up.

The achievement list is a nice list that rewards hard work and has you doing every part of the game. There are achievements for beating the singleplayer experience as well as beating the singleplayer experience on the hardest difficulty. There are also achievements for zombie mode, and then a few achievements that unlock by finding the secret extras in the game. The achievement list is nice, and rewards both casual players and completionists. There are now 45 intel, which is increased amount from earlier CoD variations. Overall, the achievement list is set at a nice difficulty and none of them are extremely difficult. Based on skill, the full points should be obtainable within a week or two (unless of course you get distracted by the multiplayer). The list is a pretty basic Call of Duty achievement list.

While Call of Duty: Black Ops has a great story and a bunch of extras, the entire game feels dumbed down. The singleplayer AI are completely stupid, Infinite Enemy spawns and rushed moments hurt the singleplayer experience as a whole. The multiplayer also feels like it is missing something. Since everything is unlocked by reaching a specific level and then buying it with your cash, nothing feels unique. Everyone can get anything simply by reaching a specific level and then buying the item. Overall Black Ops feels like 4 different games packed into one, which creates something for everyone. Singleplayer is available for people who want a good solo experience, multiplayer is available for people who want to compete and play with friends, Zombie Mode is available for people who want to enjoy some good old fashioned zombie killing with friends, and Dead Ops Arcade is available for people who want a top down shooter experience without dropping the extra cash for one. There is tons to do, and all of them have their own strong points and their own weaknesses. While Treyarch still has a ways to go before they finally perfect a Call of Duty game, Black Ops is easily their best attempt yet.
I give Call of Duty: Black Ops


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