CALL OF DUTY: BLACK OPS review (single player, Xbox 360)

Infinity Ward, the creator of the CALL OF DUTY franchise, being decimated after the noisy departure of its leaders, it’s up to Treyarch to prove that they are major players to be reckoned with in the F.P.S. genre. Not just a company who creates products in a successful franchise with the tools that others have written (ie. Infinity Ward’s Modern Warfare engine).

CALL OF DUTY: WORLD AT WAR, Treyarch’s previous installment in the series was pretty good. The single player campaign was immersive, and the fact that it was co-op enabled a step forward for the series. The Nazi Zombies mode was succesful beyond all hope. The multiplayer was not so good. It felt a lot like a COD4 mod with worst maps, lousy weapons, the same lag and host problems, and some passable vehicle action in a couple of maps…

CALL OF DUTY: BLACK OPS delivers once again an excellent single player story, unfortunately not playable in co-op. Ιn this article, I will try to explain why it is a sheer success.

The mise-en-scene reminded me a lot of all-time fave BLACK: an ex-CIA operative is questionned about his past whereabouts and various assignments.

The choice of a cold war setting is a must. WWII is overdone and  Medal Of Honor’s pathetic single player take on a modern conflict (one, two) confirms even more Treyarch’s decision.

There is a lot variety in the missions. You probably know by now that you will fight in Cuba, Vietnam, Laos, Russia, etc. I didn’t like that much a couple of WWII flashback levels, but I guess they constitute a link with World At War. My favorite mission so far, is “NUMBERS” with some very intense and cinematic action happening in the rooftops of a city in Hong Kong. It reminded me a lot of the Favela action in Modern Warfare 2…

The story is good. It’s not very realistic of corpse, and features a lot of Hollywood exaggerations, but this is to be expected. There is a strong character in the story, Mason, and you’ll play most of the single player campaign as him. He’s somebody that you can get attached to, unlike COD4 and Modern Warfare 2’s distant characters. The scenario is influenced a lot by conspiracy theories, like those concerning the JFK assassination for example. It’s also referring a lot to the controversial foreign policy of the US and the usual fuck-ups. All in all and once again, it’s a lot more interesting and well written than wanna-be competitor Medal Of Honor.

The gunplay is solid as always. People who have not gone online yet, will want to. The rest, even those who have defected the series after Modern Warfare 2 like myself, will be hooked up by the new weapons and exotic locales, and will want badly to participate in the online carnage! If only they introduced dedicated servers for the console versions,  as they did for the PC (Modern Warfare 2 was heavily flamed by the PC community for dropping the dedicated PC servers).

Let’s talk about one of the highlights of the game, which is the guns!  The truth is that with the immense popularity of shooters, we often have to play with the same guns, unless we are talking about sci-fi games like Gears Of War, Halo, F.E.A.R. or more recently Singularity. BLACK OPS is happening in a relatively recent historical context, and treyarch did some pretty good research in order to propose new, unusual guns alongside the classics like Ak47, M16, M14, AK74u,etc.

As far as I can tell from the campaign, BLACK OPS has awesome assault rifles! This was not the case in Modern Warfare 2 where the best assault rifle by far was the ACR (I also liked a lot the SCAR). Here we’re talking that at least three new exciting assault rifles/carbines.

The COLT Commando,  feels a lot like the ACR in its sound and the straight shooting.

One of the weapons that attracted the most my attention is the Heckler & Koch G11. It was a prototype that has never gone into mass production. It shoots caseless ammunition and is loaded in a peculiar manner similar to the P90, by a magazine parallel with the barrel. It fires by three round burst and handles very smoothly. It also has a huge 50-round magazine: thanks  to the novelty of the squared explosive ammunition , the cartridge have a box-like shape and there’s more bullets fitting into the magazine.

And finally we have the Galil. It has a great iron sights, it is powerful and it feels somewhere between the AK-47 and the G3…

There’s several hints as per the customization of the weapons. Except the usual scopes (ACOG, red-dot, reflex) there’s extended mags, the extremely cool dual mags (faster reloading), the absolutely amazing incendiary shotgun shells and the flame thrower that can be attached to assault rifles. There’s assault grenade launchers attached to SMG’s…

Vehicle-wise there’s a couple of pretty intense helicopter sessions where are you actually driving it and not only shooting, as well as a bit of driving but not much.

The difficulty level is similar to COD4 and COD:WaW, which means that it is harder than MW2.

As far as the length of the campaign goes, depending on what difficulty you will chose and how challenging it will be for you, it will take to most players between 10 and 15 hours to complete which is pretty decent. There are some A.I. problem and some frustrating sequences with neverending enemy respawns, but overall the action is enjoyable and satisfying. I look forward to try the full multiplayer experience and hope it will not be ruined by lag and host advantage/disconnects…


  Donncha wrote @

Sounds great, but how did you get your hands on a copy of the game pre-release? Friends in the right places?

  fieldoperative wrote @

Something like that…

[…] CALL OF DUTY: BLACK OPS review (single player, Xbox 360). November 4, 2010 at 17:43 · Filed under CALL OF DUTY: BLACK OPS. Infinity Ward, the creator of the CALL OF DUTY franchise, being decimated after the noisy departure of its … See the original post: CALL OF DUTY: BLACK OPS review (single player, Xbox 360) « FIELD … […]

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