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Friday, March 18, 2011

The Vault - Entry 13 - Call of Duty: Black Ops Review

Fallout Online nerds, attention:

Under Masthead's approval, I've been allowed to give out info for Fallout Online. Now I think I've extended the boundaries a little. I'm going to have to take a break from it and just kick back and talk about whatever. Don't expect anything truly juicy for the next couple of days (hell, maybe even the next couple weeks, gotta work on the game, it's exhausting).

And I know I'm pretty late when I review games, but come on, the TF141 Media crew's got a fuck of a lot of work to do.


Title: Call of Duty - Black Ops (Better known as just Black Ops)
Release Date: November 9th, 2010
ESRB: M for Mature (18 for the UK)
Format: 1080i, Online Capabilities, Subtitled, NTSC (PAL import available)
Developer / Publisher: Treyarch / Activision

I don't think I've seen a game in the last decade as ambitious as Black Ops. Treyarch promised to improve on everything Modern Warfare 2 had: the diversity, the hours of gameplay, and the action-packed storyline. They said that all the MW2 fans would throw the game away in the litterbox and come running towards Black Ops. And MW2 was the best-selling game in the United Kingdom of all time, the second-best in the US. How could anybody build up on that kind of success? Black Ops sets high expectations, and it meets them with a blast of violent, rewarding, and altogether brilliant nature to it.

I'll be honest. There's been a lot of games that set expectations AND ambitions. For example: Starcraft II. That was said to become the single greatest RTS (real-time strategy) of all time. Halo Reach was the grand finale of Bungie's magnificent run through the Halo games, and fans expected to lash out a finale that would leave the crowd speechless. Mass Effect 2, Fallout 3, Grand Theft Auto IV, all of these games had high expectations and truly met them. But considering how damned groundbreaking MW2 was, Black Ops had to be the biggest.

Black Ops takes place during the Cold War. As with the last Call of Duty games, like COD4 and World at War, you primarily switch between characters, but you mainly play as Mason, an S.O.G. soldier (who, in a later plot twist that would impress M. Night Shymalan, is turned out to be mentally unstable) who has also helped out Viktor Reznov during time in Vorkuta prison, who was in World at War, who has appeared to survive the later battles that came after the Fall of Berlin in the last game. As soon as you complete the first mission, set in the Bay of Pigs at the Cuba Invasion, you've already got three enemies: Dragovich, Lev Krevchenko, Freidrich Steiner. You begin the game with in an interrogation room, strapped in a chair, asked questions about a station with "The Numbers". Most of the game is Mason recounting his memories until the last two missions of the game.

Unlike the last couple of Call of Duty games, where the storytelling felt weak and somewhat confusing, Black Ops is able to focus on the great scriptwriting, and manages to tell the tale with a matter of action and focus, enough to make even the most complex of stories / twists understandable. How Mason's story progresses is interesting enough, and goes beyond the usual war flick (soldiers capture this standpoint and hold off x amount of enemies, secure perimeter, you win). Not to say they're all bad, but Black Ops has a little more story-wise.

And the intensity is purely epic. From massive, on-the-ground gunfights with an AK47, to escaping an entire prison camp with just an SMG, to a dogfight in a Helicopter, or even riding boats down a river, Black Ops has it all. Treyarch has upped the ante and made Black Ops the most insanely exciting game so far. Let me tell you: the very last mission could be the single most memorable COD moment. Ever. Even the majorly silent moments slitting throats, or sneaking around the Yamantau Mountains with a crossbow, it's intense. You even run from an avalanche and escape from a nuclear ship with 3 minutes to go. It's wicked stuff, and it's very much worth the price alone.

But the multiplayer, as usual, is top-notch. Unlike Modern Warfare 2, where everything started to get repetitive after a while and had way too many problems with other players and lagging, Black Ops' system is fantastic. The new maps are also noteworthy (my personal favorite is Nuketown, so small and fast-paced), and unique in their own way, from the prison camp in the game's 2nd mission to a large, lush forest, there's a lot of diversity.

Modes include the standard Team Deathmatch, Free-For-All, Capture the Flag, Demolition, Domination, and Search and Destroy. For those who are COD players, you should be familiar with these game modes.

Newly introduced is the customization system. Here, you have to buy weapons using COD points you earn from playing several games. Earn enough COD points and level up enough, and you may buy a weapon. Any weapon you have, you can customize the sights on the weapon, change camouflage, give it varied attachments such as a flamethrower, extended magazine, or an ACOG sight. The infamous prestiege mode is still here, so expect major COD fanatics to reminiscence all over again, and experience the same amazement that COD4 possessed in every element.

Also included are "Wager Matches". Gun Game is a ranking-up mode. You kill one opponent with your weapon, you'll change to a better weapon. Keep on killing, keep on scoring weapons, until you finally reach the 20th mark. Sticks and Stones is where you have a crossbow, tomahawk, and ballistic knife, and it's a more fast-paced deathmatch. You can be "bankrupt" if you're hit by a tomahawk (lose current score), and whoever keeps their score the longest and the highest wins. "One In The Chamber" is my personal favorite. You have one bullet. If you kill a player with a bullet, your bullet is replaced with theirs. Melee them, and you've got two bullets (unless you already wasted yours) with three lives to spare. "Sharpshooter" is like Gun Game, but weapons will only switch every fourty-five seconds.

For those World at War players, Nazi Zombies returns. Here, there are two new maps and new characters to bat up. In the Kino Der Toten map, you're in a large asylum-like area, constantly decaying but the electricity runs strong. In the Pentagon map, you get to see what's inside the military base of the United States (and see what 9/11 destroyed of it, har har) and even played as JFK and Richard Nixon. Awesome, right? It even has an elevator to go to several different floors. The zombies are a lot tougher this time, faster, but more rewarding. The random boxes containing weapons are still here, you still have to repair barriers, and expect hellhounds again. It's Nazi Zombies, but with a more improved nature.

So expect Black Ops to entertain you for months on end. Years, maybe. There's so much to do in Black Ops. I haven't even mentioned the hooking Dead Ops Arcade, the Combat Training mode, or the likable characters. Go to the store, slap down $60 on the counter, and spit it out right into the cashier's face: "GET ME BLACK OPS!" You need to OWN this piece of beauty. Highly recommended.

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