Call of Duty: Black Ops (Xbox 360)

Review – Call of Duty: Black Ops

1st Person Shooter





“As sure as day follows night, as sure as eggs is eggs and as sure every odd-numbered Star Trek movie is shit…”
– Simon Pegg

Very true words from the Peggster there but on a personal note I’d like to add: “Like every Treyarch Call of Duty game is an overhyped disappointment once again proving them the Danny Minogue of videogame developers…” A little overlong and clunky maybe, but never the less just as true in these days where brand reconviction is more important than innovation or originality.

White Ops *sigh*

You see, for those of you who don’t know for the last few years the Call of Duty franchise has been developed in tandem by two different dev teams. There’s Infinity Ward who made the original Call of Duty, Call of Duty 2, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare and Modern Warfare 2 and Treyarch who did a bunch of console ports like Call of Duty: Big Red One along with Call of Duty 3 and Call of Duty: World at War. Now if you know anything about videogames you’ll notice a distinct trend here with Infinity Ward making the “good” CoD games and Treyarch making the “bad” games, not that you’d know it from the sales figures as it seems putting the Call of Duty licence on a dead cat is enough to sell it thanks to Actingthecuntohvision and Bobby Kockend.

Many (myself included I’m sorry to admit) have given Treyarch a bit of an easy ride in the past eager as we where to play any new CoD game from ANY developer such was our appetite for it’s mix of high drama, frantic shooting and bombastic action. Well now with the implosion of Infinity Ward and Activisions shameless whoring of the whole franchise the spell has been broken and rather than spend hundreds of hours playing Black Ops like I have with CoD games in the past I was glad when the single player story was over in barely five hours and neither the bullshit zombie mode or broken multiplayer could hold my attention past the twelve hour mark. I’m sorry to say but it looks like Treyarch have put the last nail if the coffin for my love of Call of Duty. So what makes it so bad? Well let’s break it down…

A turret section by any other name.

The Vietnam conflict (I’m hesitant to use the word “war” as it was never declared much like the “wars” of today) as a historical setting hasn’t been mined as deeply as say WW2 as it lacks the clear cut moral motivations we had then. Sure there’s been the odd Battlefield or Shellshock game but everybody knows a Nazi ain’t got no humanity and has to die while most people would be happy to forget all those years spent in the jungles of South East Asia and pictures of napalmed children ever happened.

Black Ops sidesteps this by being set in that late 60’s era but rather than get caught up in all the tricky morality of that conflict they use a series of flashbacks that picks and chooses key moments like the Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba, ’68 Tet Offensive and the Battle of Khe Sahn mixed with it’s own classified (read: bullshit) missions involving a Russian villain hell-bent on using nerve gas on American soil.

All it really breaks down to is the same mix of shooting and badly written dialogue as usual with the “plot” being a blunt, crude device that herds you from set piece to set piece with little or no thought given to motivations or character. You’re told by JFK no less that the guy is evil and Russian and that is meant to be enough motivation and enough if an excuse to shoot almost anything that moves in the game including using heavy weapons on peasant villages during one of the many turret sections.



Secondary Review

All of Duty Black Ops (or CODBLOPS as some people call it!) kind of took me by surprise. I thought I was actually done with the CoD series for a little while. That’s the problem with releasing multiple yet very similar instalments to a well loved franchise is eventually the dreaded “franchise fatigue” will kick in, just ask any sports game fan about that.

Modern Warfare 2 was a loveable game but it had some serious problems with balancing and cheaters which may of gotten fixed if it where not for the unfortunate circumstances surrounding the game’s developers at the time. Black Ops seems to have taken on board what people want from a CoD and it appears that Treyarch have gone out of their way to make their newest instalment worth checking out be it crazy zombie filled mini games or the tweaked multiplayer experience.

As for the campaign, I actually enjoyed it a lot, a lot more than Modern Warfare 2’s now thinking about it. The story itself is more of a Sci-Fi thriller than a Military Novel this time and some of the set pieces are very memorable. If you are going to buy this on the strength of the single player please not it’s about six to eight hours and is what you can expect from a standard CoD campaign.

My only hope now is that Activision allow the developers for the new CoD games some creative license to help inject the next couple of games with new ideas otherwise this game will be heading for retirement quicker than you might imagine. I say this because when you are getting your new ideas from the Counter Strike modding community then you are in trouble and that is my only other minor niggle not that much has been done to expand the multiplayer experience other than a few tweaks and new maps.

Overall I feel that I enjoyed my time with Black Ops but I can not help but feel the game still has a couple of problems especially with host migration, player rank/skill matching and parties joining the same game. After playing Halo Reach I expect a game of this calibre to be able to get such standard thing like this for the gender right especially since they release these games on a yearly basis.

Secondary Score: 8/10

Now there’s always been the odd turret section in FPS’s but Black Ops has them in spades, they might be disguised as flying sections where you’re marginally in control of a Russian Hind-D, American gunboat or mounted machine-gun but at the end of the day they’re still just turret sections that come in two flavours: the reaction test or brainless shooting gallery varieties both kinds are high on frustration and low on fun and are most likely included as good time fillers to help the already anorexic running time.

The biggest problem is the whole game’s lack of flow, from the single player story with it’s fragmented and lazy story to the multiplayer modes that are plagued with glitches, bugs and just plain bad coding. World at War was notorious for it’s broken maps that let players glitch into the scenery or up flagpoles but the biggest problem was the spawn system that would on smaller, more frantic maps spawn you into the game literally in front of the enemy team or even the player that just killed you.

Just like before the spawn system in Black Ops is totally broken, some maps like Nuketown become unplayable as enemy team members spawn in behind you within seconds of the game starting turning whole rounds into tit for tat killing matches rather than the usual fun and frantic shooting we’re used to. Treyarch do disserve some credit for removing broken perks like Commando, Stopping Power and Juggernaught while nerfing others like Slight of Hand but making you play certain game modes like Capture the Flag or Demolition to upgrade your perks is a total cunt move indicative of the lack of thought spent on some aspects of the game. Note to Treyarch: next time spend less creative energy on bullshit zombie modes and more time making sure the core mechanics of your game work.

The aforementioned zombie mode is meant to be a substitute for the lack of proper co-op missions and frankly it’s not. Sure it’s funny to hear JFK and Nixon making quips while shooting the undead… at first but like anything funny repetition will turn that humour to annoyance to hate in a very short space of time. Which is a real shame as I guarantee the zombie mode will get all kinds of attention and DLC lavished on it while the multiplayer modes will stay the same broken mess it is now.

So it’s a bad story with wasted voice work, too much FMV and power point style presentation that ruins the flow of the action bundled in with broken multiplayer modes and repetitive co-op that wont hold the attention of anybody save for hardcore CoD fans (read: foul mouthed pre-teens) or achievement whores for an inflated RRP that’ll have DLC up the arse for the next year until Actingthecuntohvision do it all over again next year. Fuck that, speak with your wallet and spend your shekels on a game with soul, not this hallow cooperate shit that’s undeserving of your time.

Rating: ★★★★★★☆☆☆☆


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