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Call of Duty: Black Ops

02/20/2011
Call of Duty: Black Ops

Call of Duty: Black Ops

I mentioned in a previous blog post that there were two games I’ve beaten recently, Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood and Call of Duty: Black Ops. I wrote previously about Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood, and now I’ll write about Call of Duty: Black Ops.

Call of Duty: Black Ops is the most recent entry in the Call of Duty series published by Activision, with this particular game being developed by the once called “B-Team” of Treyarch, as the Call of Duty franchise was started by the developer Infinity Ward. My first exposure to Call of Duty as a series was probably in the pages of PC Gamer, where reviewers were saying that Call of Duty has breathed new life into the stagnant World War II shooter series. Specifically, the Call of Duty games were lauded for having incredibly sound quality, and oftentimes the game was used to promote SoundBlaster Audigy and other dedicated sound cards in computers. My first playing experience with Call of Duty was probably Call of Duty 2 on the Xbox 360 standing in Best Buy or some other store, and I remember buying Call of Duty 3 for the Wii when the Wii first came out, but I never truly got the hang of the controls and ended up selling the game after probably only playing a level or two.

However, when the Game of the Year Edition of Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare came out on Xbox 360, I picked it up and was instantly hooked. To me, it was a revolution in shooters, although perhaps a different flavor would be a more apt analogy, since I’ve never felt shooters needed a revolution, as twitch based shooters like Quake, Serious Sam, and Unreal Tournament can coexist quite peacefully with shooters like Halo, Call of Duty, and Borderlands. But in terms of console shooters, this was something new and unique. A robust multiplayer with lite RPG leveling elements coupled with an engaging single player campaign that was worth paying full price for alone.

Call of Duty 4 was an amazing game, one that will live forever in the gaming subconscious. Infinity Ward had brought Call of Duty into the 21st century. The single player did things and had moments that no one else had ever done, and absolutely blew gamers away. Don’t believe me? May I present to you the level “All Ghillied Up”, which has you using stealth to sneak into Chernobyl only to fire one bullet.

The level is immediately followed by another level where for 20 minutes you have to stand your ground and survive until your ride comes. Intense doesn’t begin to describe it. In another level, you in the midst of a harrowing escape from a battlefield, when all of a sudden a nuke goes off near your chopper, sending you crashing to the ground. Waking up, you stumble out of the helicopter, mushroom cloud in the distance, as your vision slowly clouds up and you fall to the ground, dead. That’s first person storytelling at a whole new level, all thanks to Infinity Ward’s reinventing of their World War II franchise into modern warfare.

Call of Duty 4 was a high point in the series, both single player and multiplayer. The followup game, Call of Duty: World At War, developed by Treyarch, took place once again during World War II, yet on multiple fronts, most notably Japan and an assault on Moscow itself. And yet in many ways the game was a step back from Call of Duty 4; the multiplayer was no where near as catchy, and the single player, while full of good set pieces such as driving a tank and the aforementioned assault on Moscow, just didn’t have the catch the previous game had. Yet Call of Duty: World at War introduced a new gamemode which proved amazingly popular: Nazi Zombies. You are surviving waves and waves of Zombies in Nazi uniforms, guarding rooms, boarding up windows, fighting back constantly, all knowing that you have no hope of survival. It’s just an endless grind into death, and gamers loved it.

Infinity Ward the following year released Modern Warfare 2, dropping the Call of Duty name almost completely. At first, Modern Warfare 2 was a great game; everyone had to own it, it was the hottest property, I even sold a bunch of games so I could pick it up cheap. And for the first month it was out, the game was awesome. I enjoyed the single player, even if it felt kinda scattershot and frankly insane (Russians invade the US, and you fight in a bombed out D.C. for a lot of the game), but in a good way like a really crappy blockbuster movie like the recent Transformers. The multiplayer was fun too…for a while. Til players learned it was broken. And abused it. Horribly, horribly abused it. The term “Dog Rapists” now exists permanently in the gamer lexicon to describe players who use overpowered dual wielded weapons while running as fast as they can; you have no hope of surviving except playing by their twisted tactics. I don’t think I have ever turned so quickly on a game as I did Modern Warfare 2, and gladly sold it off when Infinity Ward, in the midst of a lawsuit and the leaving of some key developers, didn’t appear to want to bother to fix a horribly broken game.

Which is a shame, since some of the multiplayer levels are actually well designed. Just broken.

Call of Duty: Black Ops is Treyarch’s most recent attempt to fix the Call of Duty series, and succeeds in creating a game that arguably has a better multiplayer than Call of Duty 4, but doesn’t quite hit the same level of greatness with the singleplayer. I’ve been playing the multiplayer since Black Ops came out, currently at Level 44 (no prestige; I’m borrowing the game), and haven’t gotten tired of it yet. They’ve fixed the weapon balance, are actively working on squashing any bugs that crop up, have wisely implemented a cash based system for upgrading weapons, and in general have crafted a well rounded multiplayer. There just aren’t any good shotgun only levels, but that’s a minor complaint, as there are no decent sniper levels, of which I am VERY thankful for. Snipers suck.

The singleplayer, I thought, was also well done if more low key. The storyline is more personal than previous Call of Duty games, but feels very Manchurian Candidate at times, which isn’t a bad thing. You get to meet JFK, Fidel Castro, and other notable historical figures, and hopping around the globe on missions is always fun. And after the singleplayer concludes, Treyarch brought back the Nazi Zombies gameplay mode, which one variant allowing you to be JFK, Nixon, Castro, and JFK’s advisor against the horde. Fun stuff.

Call of Duty: Black Ops is one of the best games of 2010, largely due to its sustainability with the multiplayer. In terms of bang for your buck, this is one of the best deals on any system, right up there with The Orange Box by Valve. Highly recommended.

TRIVIA!…the highest number of visitors I’ve gotten on this blog on one day is 168, and I’m averaging around 120 daily.

Jesus Juke! “Well, with that big of an audience, why aren’t you using this blog to promote Christ then, are you ashamed of Him?”

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