Call of Duty: Black Ops

Review

posted 11/29/2010 by John Yan
other articles by John Yan
One Page Platforms: 360
Treyarch’s got some big shoes to fill. They’re no stranger to the Call of Duty franchise, but the pressure is on them now that they seem to be the primary developers of the series unless Activision somehow revives Infinity Ward with an infusion of talent. Activision’s really putting on the advertising blitz with Black Ops so now that it’s out, does it have the goods to make it a worthy entry in the Call of Duty franchise?

For the single player portion of Black Ops, you’re in the familiar scenerio of taking on various characters during the Cold War. As the title suggests, these are going to be missions that are highly secretive. You’ll be presented with many wild scripted events that Modern Warfare is known for and the story spans many years through various locales.


Now, I thought the story in Modern Warfare wasn’t bad but I thought the plot in Modern Warfare 2 was just horrible. There’re absurd elements in the Modern Warfare storyline but Modern Warfare 2 takes it to a whole new level. I didn’t mind the "No Russian" mission but man, I was just shaking my head throughout the entire game as the story unfolded.

Black Ops’ narrative is so much better than the previous two, and I thoroughly enjoyed most of my time throughout the single player campaign. It does get a little muddled in the middle, but the game does a great job at tying everything together at the end. It’s got a nice little mystery feel to it as you are trying to figure out what really happened in the missions you partake as Alex Mason. Then, there’s the numbers that Mason can’t get out of his head, which reminded me of the numbers in Lost. What do they mean? Mason’s interrogation leads you throughout the past missions he’s gone through as well as CIA agent Jason Hudson and Russian soldier Reznov’s experiences as well. Thankfully, Treyarch did not include the overly used mechanic of dying as the character you played like in the previous Call of Duty game. I do question the final mission as would Mason be in good enough shape to even partake in it so quickly.


The missions are diverse and offer up some nice mixed gameplay modes. Yes, the motorcycle chase that’s part of your escape from a prison feels very similar to the snow mobile chase in Modern Warfare 2, but the rest of the vehicle levels are pretty new. I was pleasantly surprised at how easy and fun it was to pilot the helicopter missions. By taking away the need to monitor the height of the helicopter and just concentrate on the forward, back, and sideways movement of the vehicle, you get a nice fast paced action sequence that’s low on the frustration aspect and more on fun. I can’t tell you how satisfying it is to rain down on a bunker with missiles and machine gun fire. There’s also a nice little sequence where you control a squad in a RTS-like view, directing them to certain points on a map from overhead. What’s cool is that you’ll actually play some of the sequence as a first person shooter and it will switch back and forth a few times. Treyarch did a good job here at providing a fun and different mission experience as you play through the single player campaign.

There are some problems I had with the single player experience, of course. The AI doesn’t really scream "intelligent" as I’ve seen mishaps a-plenty by both the enemy and my squadmates. I’ve had my buddies just shoot at walls for no reason and the enemy stand out in the open without a care in the world. The missions also feature too many times when you are disoriented from a blast and struggle to get to your feet. In Medal of Honor, I got a little annoyed at the amount of times the sequence of someone pulling me up to the next area got used. The same can be said here for the the disoriented sequence as it just seemed too much. It seemed this happened every 10 minutes of the 5.5 hour campaign.
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