Call of Duty: Black Ops ReviewDecember 1, 2010 0
Following in the footsteps of Infinity Ward's colossal hit Modern Warfare 2, Call of Duty: Black Ops has had the ability to sail on the wave of success surrounding the Call of Duty franchise. With this positive aura also comes expectations from the gaming community to release a game that would address some of the issues found in Modern Warfare 2 while also creating a refreshing experience specific to Treyarch's new title. Having to overcome the recent drama surrounding Activision and previous developer Infinity Ward, was Treyarch able to meet these expectations?
Not only does Black Ops refine the mechanics of the multiplayer FPS, but it has brought with it an intense and gritty single player experience that fans of the recent Modern Warfare titles will be pleasantly itching to gun their ways through. The exceptional presentation begins as soon as the main menu appears with a first person perspective of the main character, Alex Mason, strapped to a chair with a spotlight beaming down onto him. Starting a new game transforms the menu space into the beginning of the game, introducing the player to a "Deep Throat" sounding interrogator who accompanies Mason in narrating the plot.
The gameplay of the single player campaign is reminiscent of previous Call of Duty titles with the player being forced to push past endless waves of enemies until reaching a point that halts the spawning until the next wave. The level progression is very much linear, also a common feature of the Call of Duty franchise. Where Black Ops really shines is in the immersive atmosphere crafted within the levels themselves. First person, story-driven breaks from gameplay are abundant throughout each level with drastic twists in the plot keeping the player thoroughly engaged through this 4-8 hour campaign. The single player mode is also somewhat on the short side, but no moment is wasted on filler content as the action is nonstop.
While the single player is akin to watching a great movie, short yet satisfying, the multiplayer is really the meat and bones of Black Ops. Treyarch has been known to make their multiplayer experiences feel strangely different than most other Call of Duty games. For Call of Duty 2, Treyarch introduced drivable vehicles, and for Call of Duty 3, they incorporated classes rather than weapon selection. While innovative, these decisions have been seen by many as counterproductive to developing a proper Call of Duty multiplayer experience. Treyarch avoided taking risks with this installment and instead listened to the community for feedback on what the players liked and didn't like about previous titles, specifically Modern Warfare 2. This method helped them to craft what we have now, what I will consider to be the most balanced and interactive Call of Duty multiplayer experience thus far.
Treyarch used the same gameplay formula as Modern Warfare 2 by including the same game modes, but they revamped the particulars of the game itself. Killstreaks have been altered to deter "boosters" from exploiting the game to achieve higher ranks. Precious time has been taken to balance the weapons to not have that one, all-powerful "noobtube". Even the maps have been crafted to create a balanced playing field. If I could harp on one issue I have with the multiplayer it would be the awful spawn system that is currently in place. You may have just died and, when you spawn again, you may be unlucky enough to have an enemy spawn right behind you depending on the ratio of friendly players to enemy players on that specific side of the map. This issue is slight though as Treyarch has already promised to continue to refine the subtleties of the multiplayer to fully accommodate the needs of the players.
Treyarch has exceeded the expectations placed on them to create an extremely solid title. They have managed to create their own vision while retaining the subtle nuances that make the Call of Duty franchise recognizable from the moment you fire your first bullet. From the single player rollercoaster to the somewhat addictive multiplayer, Black Ops is a juggernaut in the gaming world right now and with this momentum I'm sure we'll be seeing the next installment in the Call of Duty franchise sooner than later.