Call of Duty: Black Ops - Review

The Call of Duty franchise is by far the biggest ego-shooter brand out there. Mainly because of it's excellent overall game design and because of it's mainstream popularity. Not many would have thought that the incredible success of Modern Warfare 2 could be topped. The newest entry in the franchise "Call of Duty: Black Ops" is developed by Studio Treyarch (due to the fact that Infinity Ward had some serious problems with publisher Activision). Treyarch previously developed the fifth game in the franchise "Call of Duty: World at War" which was a superb game. Since November 9th we all now know that Black Ops succeeded in topping MW2. Black Ops is officially the game with the most successful launch ever. But seriously, who would have thought Black Ops wouldn't? I mean it's the next Call of Duty game after MW2 (the most hyped game ever).


On February 25, 1968, SOG operative Alex Mason is strapped to a chair in an interrogation room. Unaware of his whereabouts, he is bombarded with questions by his unseen captors about the location of a numbers station. Most of the missions in the game are presented as flashbacks between 1961 and 1968.

It's really hard to talk about the plot/story of the game without giving away any spoiler details. The game does great in telling the story. It's the first time that the story is not told in the presence or in realtime but almost completely in flashbacks, which slowly uncover the truth about Mason's past. It's not only a more interesting way of telling the story but also a welcome fresh addition to the COD franchise. But don't worry, the game is still told through various perspectives. Mostly through Hudson's and Mason's. Oh and the ending, well...the twist right before the last mission is a very cool one. It completely puts your view at each mission upside down and makes you see the game's story in a completely new way. It's easily one of the biggest surprises in the entire franchise (others being the nuke in COD4 and probably the betrayal in MW2). The story puts you into mission in various great locations during the cold war. Including cuba, vietnam and the arctic circle. Next to COD4's story i would say that Black Ops has the best story so far of the entire franchise. And of course the best told and surprising one.


The graphics of Black Ops are almost the same as the ones in MW2 or World at War (also Treyarch). Also the graphics may be the main reason why Black Ops got censored in various countries (including Germany - where i live). But don't worry i got myself the completely uncut US-Version, so i talk about the uncut experience (remember: only the UK and US Version are uncut). Black Ops is by far the most brutal and violent COD game to date. The only thing that may be at the same brutality level would be the airport killing spree in MW2. Limbs get ripped off if an enemy is hit by an explosion or a bullet with a big caliber and especially the silent knife kills are some of the most gruesome depictions of video game violence i have seen so far. But don't get me wrong, i liked it. It shows that the franchise is nothing for kids and that it wants to give adult audience a very real look at the story and gameplay. Another thing that really stuck out to me was the motion capturing. The motion capture acting for the characters look very real and credible. So do the facial movements. There is much going on in Black Ops. Especially during the fight in Khe Sanh you will notice how much madness goes on in one screen. Wave after wave of vietcong bash onto you without any occurence of the framerate slowing down. Oh and one last thing: Black Ops has probably the best explosions i have seen in a video game so far.


The voice acting is extraordinarily great. The interrogation scenes are the best moments of voice acting in the game. The voice cast consists of big popular names including Sam Worthington, Ed Harris and Gary Oldman (AWESOME!). Those big hollywood actors show their superb acting skills in this game. The gun sounds are greatly done. But it's nothing special du to the fact that you don't expect anything else but the best from the COD franchise.


The game is completely like in previous COD games...Button for button. It plays just as smoothly as in MW2, with the only exception that there are other weapons. There are some great additions to the weapons arsenal, including the tactical crossbow which can shoot explosive arrows as well as usual ones. Although i thought that there could be a bit more weapons to choose from (comparing it to MW2) but that is only a minor complain regarding the awesomeness of the exotic weapons that you probably never saw before. The game's mission always throw something new at you. Almost each mission is set in another country, resulting in a wide variety of mission locations and types. Some might say that the action in Black Ops is a bit too overwhelming like in a Michael Bay movie. But come on what did you expect from a COD game. It's like an interactive action flick. A good one. And not like in Medal of Honor in which you fall asleep during the 4 hour campaign. Black Ops kept me excited the entire game through. At some moments you even get to control various vehicles including, motorcycles, a blackbird, combat boat and even a hind helicopter. Those driving stage moments are a welcome twist in the usual shooter gameplay but i felt like the controls of the vehicles were not the best. But they serve their job in giving you something new so it's ok. Except the blackbird mission: In one mission you get to be the pilot of a blackbird commanding Hudson's team to various points, avoiding the enemie's troops. I felt like that mission was too short to really give you a good impression but also it felt like a cheap strategy game. That was probably the only mission i felt a bit bored. But as i said it's a pretty short mission so it's nothing to worry about. The gameplay of COD Black Ops is everything that you expect from a great COD game and nothing less. Also Black Ops features some great cinematic moments. At least one great cinematic moment per mission. Oh and i should add that, while MW2 was a piece of cake to play through the campaign on veteran,..Black Ops will kick your ass on veteran. It is way harder than in MW2 and giving you much more things to do when you are done with the campaign on normal.


But what would a COD game be without a great multiplayer? The multiplayer is almost 100% like MW2's multiplayer. With the only difference that now you have the abilty to really customize your player model. Now you can earn COD Points which work like virtual COD money. With this money you can buy stuff to customize your player skins, your weapons and other things. The multiplayer in Black Ops holds a huge variety and possibilites to customize almost every bit of the weapons and your skin. The rest of the multplayer experience works like in MW2. Completely from the killstreaks to the leveling up system. I don't want to get into detail now about the MW2 multiplayer system because then i would be talking about it forever due to its complexity. But another thing Black Ops invented, are new multiplayer modes. And they are pretty cool and mostly something you haven't seen yet. For example "one in the chamber", "gun game" etc. It's awesome and fun.

Another big part of the game is the Zombie Mode. Mainly it's the same game mode like the zombie mode from World at War, with the only exception that now you get to play it as either JFK, Fidel Castro and Nixon, who fight alongside each other. By the way, that would be a great plot for a cult horror movie  ^^

The Verdict

All in all, COD Black Ops is an awesome new entry in the COD franchise. It gives you everything you expect from a big budget game like this. Black Ops gives COD fans a new style of story telling with a great ending twist and more explosions, cinematic moments and action to count. Additionally it holds a great complex multiplayer to increase the fun, AND it has a cool zombie mode. How much more could you ask for?? Well, it has some things that i thought could be improved a bit like a tiny bit larger weapons variety or a bit better controls during the vehicle control moments, but those are really minor complaints regarding the wonderful overall package. As long as you buy the uncut version (US or UK) and make use of the zombie and multiplayer mode, every cent you spend on the game is worth it.

Final Verdict: 9 out of 10

Status: Great!


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