posted 3/22/2006 by Shawn Kendrick
other articles by Shawn Kendrick
Platforms: PS2

The latest entry to throw its hat into the FPS ring is Black from Electronic Arts. This title also came to fruition from the hard work of the good people from Criterion Games. Criterion are the same folks that brought us the Burnout series.

The central character is a soldier named Keller. The story line of this game is focused on events that took place and are now being discussed in an interrogation sequence. At every cut scene the player goes back to this interrogation to learn a little more about the story line. Actually the player learns very little more because every thing is very clandestine. Also once the story is divulged, there is actually very little to it.

The Burnout lineage is evident, almost as soon as I hit the start button on my controller. As is the case with the Burnout series, Black is at its best when things are exploding. Let me tell you in the beginning this game has more explosions than a Kiss concert. Mayhem prevails from the minute the game starts. . I think if the game could have kept the pace of the first few levels this game could have been one of the best out there today. Unfortunately that was not the case, the pace settled way down very soon, and eventually lulled me to sleep. Actually, most of the game consists of attacks that are stealthy in nature. For me, that type of game play can be fun for a change of pace within a game but this title relies to heavily on it, in my opinion. Also, the AI in this game is very weak. Essentially, the only difficulties it poses, are at very close range where soldiers can swarm you. Even then, most of the opposition is pretty pathetic. Also, the culmination of the game comes too quickly and is a huge let down. Even if the games AI were more formidable, this game is way to short.

The graphics and sound of the game are both excellent. Again the strong point here is the huge explosions. These explosions grabbed my attention both visually and audibly speaking. The cut scenes were decent but I don’t think they achieved the feel that they were going for. I didn’t feel the intensity of the interrogation, these scenes simply came across as a poor excuse to line up some battle scenes. It added absolutely no emotion to the game.

In conclusion, Black does a good job of offering us a chance to have a short little fling in between more serious gaming. This title offers up some short - lived fun with out too much depth or involvement.  Sure, you’ll have a blast, but you’ll also quickly move on. Much like a fling, this game has limited replay value despite being entertaining. This game does nothing to add to the FPS genre other than a good time.

If only the developers could have capitalized on such a strong start, this game could’ve have been a great one. Hopefully next time, Criterion Games can build a better story and game play around their savant like aptitude for spectacular explosions.

Black starts out as one of the most promising and fun games of recent memory, only to let us down with a thin story line and so-so game play.

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