Friday, 12 November 2010

Call of Duty: Black ops review.

Well, it's here. The big one, le grande fromage. Call of duty: Black ops, the latest release from developers Treyarch, has already reached staggering hieghts sales wise, with reports already coming in that the game has made $360 million in North America and the United Kingdom alone in the first 24 hours of its release. So is the game a return to form for Treyarch, or is it just retreading of old ground? Let's have a look.

The plot:

Based on Black ops in and around the sixties, player take the role of Alex Mason (voiced by Sam Worthington of Avatar fame). Whilst being interrogated by an unknown group, we are sent in via flashback to certain operations that Alex was involved in, as the interrogator wishes to find out information Alex has, but he cannot remember. This takes us on missions that sees Alex and his squad take on missions in Cuba, Vietnam and other such theatres of war, while the story of political intrigue and conspiracy weave their narrative in the background.

What I liked:

Firstly, I loved the story. It's still pretty complex due to the multiple character and story threads running through it, but it made a whole lot more sense than Modern Warfare 2. The gunplay is very tight, as is usual with the Call of Duty series. Several new weapons are introduced, such as the rape-machine like minigun and a crossbow with explosive tipped arrows. Graphically I thought the game was amazing. Several levels, such as the one where you have to disrupt a missile base can be pretty much summed up as "stunning", with some gorgeous lighting and sunsets. The game mixes up the levels very well. You'll be storming a base one minute, piloting a Blackbird the next, and then steaming down a river in Vietnam with your squad in a gunboat, raining down carnage with machine guns and rocket launchers whilst the Rolling Stones play in the background, the highlight level in the game for me.

Multiplayer seems like more of the same. I have to admit i've only stuck a few hours in, but the wealth of options is impressive. All the usual modes are there, free for all, team deathmatch etc. There is also a multiplayer bot mode, where you can go and play the multiplayer maps with AI bots, so you can get used to the maps and modes without taking a battering online. Other modes, such as wager match, have you wager points on the outcome of battles, and having suceeded you're awarded with points to spend on equipment and kit outs etc. On top of all of this is the theatre mode, where you can record that killer game to show off to all of your friends. All in all, a pretty comprehensive package.

What I loathed:

Well, not a great deal. The most frustrating thing is once more the appearance of respawning enemies. There are STILL bits in the game where until you cross that invisible line in the level, the enemies keep respawning. In this day and age it's lazy and inexcusable, and puts a tarnish on the good work Treyarch has done with the game. Certain set pieces have you die again and again as it's not quite sure what you have to be doing, until the advice prompt at the top flashes up and says things like "you need to sprint to get over the gap". could have warned me BEFORE I plummeted down the ravine and smashed my face to bits on the rocks beneath. Multiplayer still has it's fair share of glitches....i've had a few games where someone had the infinate care package glitch, so the game descended into napalm strike, rocket strike and helicopter strike every two seconds. Hopefully a patch will be released to sort this out.

The verdict?

After all the problems with the death of Infinity Ward, Treyarch have stepped up and made an extremely polished and solid game. Not without it's problems in both single and multiplayer, the game still manages to shine, and throughout the single player campaign not once did I ever think about putting the controller down (and indeed I didn't, I played it through to completion). Multiplayer seens like more of the same, but since Modern warfare the COD games have almost never been out of the top three games played online, and there's a reason for that. A compelling story, sympathetic charcters with excellent voice work from the cast (including Ed Harris and Ice Cube) made this edition of Call of Duty one that you really need to play.

Rating: 8/10
(Xbox 360 version reviewed)

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