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Call of Duty: Black Ops (PS3) Review

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By now you would think we’d be tired of the Call of Duty series and their annual offerings. It seems like the franchise has become as reliable as Santa Claus at the end of the Thanksgiving Day parade and somehow Activision’s uber-popular shooter is another way we know the holidays are here. Oddly enough though, we’re not tired of waging war and somehow we’ve been wowed yet again. Sure each release on this generation of hardware has in one way or another offered something worth remembering and stories that supported solid gameplay, but Black Ops goes a step further and brings a new level of intensity to the table. That’s not something you expect, especially considering that Treyarch was considered the weaker link in the development chain of Call of Duty. Those days are long gone, as Treyarch proves they have what it takes to lead gamers into war.

The biggest thing that Call of Duty: Black Ops does right is the game’s story. Deciding to take a risk, Treyarch chose to go a different route from other shooters and avoided popular eras of combat like WWII, (thank goodness) and modern day combat as well. Instead, they opted for the often overlooked and frequently ignored Cold War period. The game takes place in the 1960s when the arms race and Cold War was really peaking. After the screw-up known as the Bay of Pigs, you’re captured by the enemy and held until being swooped up by the good old CIA and put to work in what becomes the game’s namesake – Black Ops. Without giving too much away, these operations take place in the jungles of a little country called Vietnam. You’ve probably heard of it. Your parents and grandparents definitely did. As mentioned above, the story is good and it really is hard to give an accurate review without speaking about the story. The problem is that you really want to experience it as it unfolds. You wouldn’t want to know the story of The Usual Suspects before heading to the theatre.

Up there - in the sky!

The story itself and thus the game, unfold through a series of missions. You progress through these as they’re told during a drawn out interrogation. It’s just another example of originality and depth regarding the games story. The catch to the way things play out is that you really want to play through the campaign in one sitting. That means a numb butt and about nine hours of free time because of the way things unfold. Since most gamers don’t really have this luxury, it means that the tale being woven might not come off as cool to everyone. For those who commit and play though, the reward is a surprisingly good ending.

Regarding the combat and gameplay mechanics, Black Ops succeeds, but doesn’t hit the same bull’s eye the story nails down. That’s not to say gameplay is bad by any means. It’s the opposite really. Things are good. Levels and missions flow very well and nothing is broken. It’s more or less just a case of “been there, done that”, which fans of the franchise will love. We’re not going to deduct points for a shooter having familiar controls.

Thankfully this game shoots for authenticity at every opportunity. From riding on little flat bottomed boats down the rivers of the jungle to the music in the game, you can tell that a ton of effort went into making this game as good as any period movie covering this time in American history. The action gets hot and heavy at all the right times. Sadly there are lulls in the action which while boring, seem intentional. By that I mean the goal is to get you into a place of complacency or mellowing out to the story and the action lights back up – just like in real war. At least I assume based on the movies. The pacing will feel like a slight dose of déjà vu to anyone who played World at War, which is about 99% of those reading this review. The pacing and controls are about the only similarities though.

The weapons, effects and animations are all a step up from the previous Call of Duty release from Treyarch. Fire and rain effects seem a little sharper and more realistic. There are obviously a lot more things that could be pointed out regarding the visuals, but we can’t waste three paragraphs raving about how badass the leaves and water look. The fact is this game looks great and should make the boys at Activision take notice and give their devs a little raise. There were a couple bugs here and there where at times it looked like some of the anti-aliasing might have glitched and body parts popping through walls. These issues were rare however. Treyarch’s focus on historical accuracies carry over from th story and into the visuals. The same goes for the audio in Black Ops thanks to great scripting, talented voice actors and great direction. It’s not just the voices in the game that make the audio shine. Ambient sounds and one of the best soundtracks in gaming combine with the action on screen to deliver some great action.

The single player is great, but the meat and potatoes of the Call of Duty franchise is the multiplayer. The action online is already hot and heavy in Black Ops. There is plenty of action to get mixed up in too. All of the usual modes are present and accounted for. There are fun tools of destruction to which include the remote-controlled bomb which everyone will get goofy with. A healthy dose of multiplater maps means you’ll spend hours online without getting bored too.

Call of Duty: Black Ops exceeds the expectations that many of us had set. Like I said in the beginning, you would think we’d be tired of this series by now. Activision and Treyarch both know this, which is why a huge focus was put on making sure nothing got stale here. Black Ops delivers one of the best stories available right now and slathers on a healthy dose of addictive multiplayer gameplay just to make sure you’re happy. If you haven’t already picked this one up, go out and get Call of Duty: Black Ops today.









#1 SweetJimmysplaying 2010-12-14 10:47
i hear that the online mode is awsome but the only good part is that their is the Zombie mode in Black Opps and the rest of the game stinks but i am hopeing that it is as good as Modern Warfare 2 and i am hopeing that the details are still good without a HD tv because i only have a normal T.V. and it is good that the controlls will stay close to the same because it takes a long time for me to adjust but the downs i see is that there is no more quick scopeing in Black Opps witch i could see you doin but i am realy looking forward to playing the game i am getting it for christmass and hopeing that map packs and gun packs wont cost as much as the other games (but of course they will) and i am hopeing to be a game disghiner when i grow up so you might just be takeing reveiws on my games soon. lol hope you write back .

Jimmysplaying(PS3 Name)

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