Monday, November 15, 2010

Does Black Ops Answer the Call?

NOTE: This review is for the Xbox 360 version.

From the jungles of Vietnam to JFK fighting off hordes of zombies; Call of Duty: Black Ops is out but does it answer the call?

After a year of playing Modern Warfare 2 we are now given a whole new Call of Duty game that is different in some ways and similar and others. There has been a lot of talk against Black Ops so let’s really get into it as I discuss the pros and cons.

Let’s start with the campaign. I read a lot of other reviews who felt that the story fell short but I have to disagree. I thought that the story was fine, even if I did see the twist coming a mile away.

The story wasn’t perfect by any means but I thought it was better than Modern Warfare 2. I liked how they really kept you with one main character for the majority of the campaign, allowing you to get to know him, which is also a plus. In Modern Warfare 2 I felt you moved around from protagonist to protagonist not allowing you to get to know them enough which led me not to really care what happened in the story. Yet, it was still fun to play through.

One of the few problems I had with the campaign were some of the levels. They weren’t bad in terms of design, just annoying. The first one was when you were breaking the siege in the battle of Khe Sanh and the other is when you were in a hazmat suit. I thought they were overly difficult if you are playing above normal difficulty.

The other problem I had was the AI on the enemy soldiers. In some areas they are effective and then in others they are just dumb. It doesn’t really damper the game to the point where you won’t want to play but it is definitely something they should change in future releases.

The length of the campaign is also very short; you could probably finish it in six to eight hours. I wish it was a little longer and we could have spent more time in Vietnam but I’m happy what I got out of it.

Those are my only cons when it comes to the campaign. Yeah the graphics could be better but its all about gameplay for me and Black Ops has some great gameplay.

Now, let’s face it, everyone really picked up this game for its multiplayer. Yes, the multiplayer takes some great ideas from Modern Warfare and then adds its own twists on things, which either you’ll love or hate.

COD credits are new and weren’t necessarily my favorite thing when I first started playing but now I’m loving it. These credits are gained by playing multiplayer matches and then can be used to purchase new weapons, attachments and so on. Unlocking weapons is no longer tied to leveling up, which causes you to level up quicker in Black Ops.

The great thing about these credits is that it really forces you to find out what weapons work for you and then customize that weapon. My suggestion is that you play campaign first so you can test out all the weapons for free, so you don’t end up spending all your points on stuff you’ll never use.

There is also a lot of cool new stuff that can be used on the battlefield, like the camera spike, which is a camera you can setup on the battlefield. Once you set it up it will replace your radar with footage the camera is recording so you can watch certain areas of the map when you need to. I found this to be very effective in game types like Capture the Flag or any battles where you’re holding down a room or defending something.

Another cool gadget is the RC-XD, which is a small remote control car you unlock after you kill three enemies in a row. This car has explosives strapped onto it and you drive it near an enemy and detonate it to collect the kill.

Speaking of killstreaks, there is a lot of cool ones, like the napalm strike, Valkyrie Rockets, attack dogs, a gunship and the list goes on. All the killstreaks are great and fun to use.

The game launched with 14 maps on disc, which is a great number of maps. Most of them are great, like Nuketown, but some I can’t stand. The ones that I don’t like are Launch, Villa, WMD and Havana is on the fence for me. The maps that I really enjoy are Nuketown, Radiation, Summit, Hanoi and Array. All the other maps are good, but just not my favorite. I will say this though, I like some of these maps a lot better than some of Modern Warfare 2’s maps but I still believe that Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare had the best maps.

The multiplayer has been designed to be played forever and it’s definitely a fun experience but there are some problems I have with it.

The first con when it comes to multiplayer is the matchmaking; it’s slow and sometimes can take forever to get into a match. I heard that they are going to fix this and hopefully they do it soon.

Next up is being dropped from games. I had this happened only a handful of times but it’s still something that should be looked at. Also lag happens.

Then we get to the menus. I’m not a big fan of Black Ops multiplayer menu system. It took me awhile to find the things I was looking for and I just don’t think it’s as organized as it could be. Especially after playing with Halo: Reach’s well designed menus for over a month.

This next thing kind of ties into every mode in the game, but you might notice it more in multiplayer, since that’s the mode most people play on a regular basis. The problem is the sound effects I have to say I think Modern Warfare 2 had the better sound effects, but I also believe that both these games are trumped by the sound effects in Battlefield: Bad Company 2.

Those were the biggest flaws for me when it came to multiplayer, but I still enjoy it. Actually I like it a lot and let’s face it people were complaining a lot about Modern Warfare 2 and I think Modern Warfare 2 had a lot more frustrating and annoying moments during multiplayer.

Moving on, it’s time to talk about the zombie mode. Call of Duty: World at War started the Nazi zombies and this game brings it back with some famous political leaders fighting off the horde.

You’ll have JFK and even Castro as playable characters as you fight your way through round after round of flesh eating zombies. This is a great and fun mode that really should be included in every Call of Duty game.

Summing it up Black Ops is a good game with some problems, but it’s still a very good game. I feel that the multiplayer is not a step back but well balanced and the maps are well designed. The campaign is fun and the story is decent, even if it is short. I recommend it to everyone but if you’re on the fence about it just rent it and see if you like it.

8 out of 10

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