Some may forget but it wasn’t all that long ago that Call of Duty held about as much wait as your average WWII FPS in the gaming market. When the first few Call of Duty titles released there was fan support but it truly dwarfs in comparison to what the series has become since the release of Call of Duty 4 in late 2007. Since then the series has been on a rampage with Treyarch and Infinity Ward switching off years to release games using the series name. This year the development went back to Treyarch who is putting out Call of Duty: Black Ops. Can this game possibly continue to extreme success of the series? Read our full review to find out!
What is incredible about how Activision has laid out the development of Call of Duty games is that we as gamers get a full fledged Call of Duty game each year. I for one do worry about the saturation of the brand, but there is no denying that with over 5 million sold on day 1 of the games release in the US/UK this is a force to be reckoned with. What surprised me even more however about Call of Duty: Black Ops is that for the first time I actually prefer the Treyarch brand of Call of Duty over the Infinity Ward, which even to me is shocking.
The first thing that you will notice right after booting up Call of Duty: Black Ops is that this is a much darker game, especially in the single player. You play as Alex Mason who wakes up to find himself being interrogated and literally the game takes place with you going back into memories of his past. This was a very clever way for Treyarch to have the single player span several big historical events and works quite well. The story which was a joke in Modern Warfare 2 actually is quite entertaining and although a bit short on details manages to keep you entertained. Did I mention that this game is a much darker Call of Duty experience? Because there is no doubt that some of the cut scenes and Gameplay sequences get extremely intense.
One thing I will say in the negative on the single player is that it holds true to the Call of Duty formula. You have a very set path that you must stay off and straying from that will wind up either getting you killed or having to backtrack to move the story forward. I would have liked to have seen Treyarch take a bit more liberty with the formula to change it up a bit, but if you are wanting a Call of Duty single player experience this is it, and it’s by far my favorite one to date. One final thing I want to mention on the single player is that it’s also far more difficult then any Call of Duty game before it. Although the AI is still lacking any sort of intelligence, there seems to be less room for error even on the normal difficulty setting.
So of course the single player is only one portion of this massive game. Unlike Modern Warfare 2 which had the Spec Ops Mode (my favorite mode to play) for cooperative Gameplay, Black Ops has zombie mode which offers up a taste of cooperative play. To me the zombie mode is passable, entertaining at times, but nothing to really write home about. I know there is a big population out there that really enjoys it but for me I could live without it.
And of course I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about the multiplayer which is probably the #1 grab for fans of the series. For those that have enjoyed the past couple of Call of Duty titles, you will feel right at home with this game. There is a good selection of modes, maps, and perks to keep even the die hard fans fully engaged in the multiplayer. You now can earn points that buy you upgrades and also can be wagered on in a mode to try and earn more. This of course is always something missing in any game and that is something to loose and this accomplishes that need.
For me multiplayer in Call of Duty has always been hit or miss. You have to deal with the known issues of Xbox Live communications, and the fact that if you’re not a veteran player of the series you can expect a long road ahead. I play my fair share of Call of Duty and literally on the games release day I found myself scratching my head on how I could barely move a few steps without being taken out. For those die hards that have lived and breathed Call of Duty over the years, Treyarch does an outstanding job of continuing the deep online experience and one that you will be coming back to for a long time.
The one thing that stood out to me visually was how much smoother Black Ops felt over Modern Warfare 2. The Call of Duty franchise is known for a smooth frame-rate but from my experience Treyarch has seemed to push the envelope even further. One of the other big improvements is the explosion and blood effects which are much better defined in the game and really bring the experience together. What really impressed me was the single player and the scripted events which were just so over the top but so visually appealing that it was hard to take a breath. Overall Black Ops continues to be an amazing looking game and one that Treyarch has done a solid job to continue to push the franchise forward.
One thing is for sure if you enjoy Call of Duty games you’re going to really enjoy Black Ops. For me the tone, the presentation, and the story really put the right foot forward for this game. At first I was skeptical, but within a few minutes of sitting down with Black Ops I was convinced that this was not developed by the Call of Duty “B” team but instead by a very competent group that really put out a great game of Call of Duty. The Gameplay is smoother, the story actually makes sense, and the action is fantastic.
Although Call of Duty: Black Ops may have a lot familiar to fans of the series, Treyarch has pushed a lot of the right buttons and has made the best Call of Duty game to date.