Call Of Duty: Black Ops
But, while most players will spend the 7 or so hours it takes to beat the campaign, it’s the other modes where the meat is to be found.
Zombies mode is back, and it’s improved and refined. Personally, I don’t happen to care for this mode very much (I prefer Infinity Ward’s “extra” gameplay tier of Spec Ops), but it you liked it last time round, you’ll get more zombie goodness to sink your teeth into here.
Now, let’s talk about what really matters: the multiplayer.
I must have sunk months of my life in this series’ multiplayer, and I’ve played a good solid chunk of the multiplayer in Black Ops, nearing the first prestige.
Right out the gate, this is probably the most balanced Call Of Duty ever. I know it’s dangerous making statements like that, since glitches tend to get discovered later in a games life-span, and abused classes come to the fore.
But in general, Black Ops guns feel right (there is no Call of Duty 4 M16 or World At War MP40 here), and the killstreaks don’t build on each other, so gunplay is more of a factor.
If you found yourself dying to Chopper Gunners, noob tubes and commando knife lunges in Modern Warfare 2, rest assured that Black Ops is a far less frustrating game.
However, having said all that, let me move on to some negatives.
Black Ops uses Treyarch’s older World At War engine, and the graphics in the game are a step down from Modern Warfare 2. The textures are muddier and the gun models don’t look as good. The campaign itself doesn’t suffer too much and actually looks quite nice in parts, but the multiplayer really does suffer. Some may enjoy the dirtier, grittier feel of the graphics, but I found myself longing for the crisper, more colourful graphics of Modern Warfare 2.
And then there are the things which come down to personal preference.
Personally, I do not like the changes Treyarch have made to the levelling system. You still level up and gain rank, but now there is an economy system as well. No longer do you have to perform headshots to unlock things like gun camos. Now you can simply buy them when you reach the appropriate level and earn enough cash (which isn’t hard to do).
For me, this takes away a lot of the motivation to keep ploughing through the levels. It’s a strange system which manages to feel quite stale once you reach the middle of the level progression.
Also, I am not a huge fan of the maps here. Most are serviceable, but none really jump out as favourites.
There is no doubt that Modern Warfare 2 was a mixed bag. It had significant multiplayer frustrations, and the campaign was nonsensical. Ironically, Black Ops’ problem is the opposite. It’s so staid and inoffensive, that it seems a bit vanilla. There just doesn’t seem to be that same wild (if sometimes misplaced) ambition here that Infinity Ward bring to their games. So, while I was never overly frustrated playing Black Ops, I was never really wildly excited either. And after a week or so of playing multiplayer, I don’t find myself longing to play endlessly.
Of course, some people will love the changes that Treyarch have made. There is no doubt that this is their best Call Of Duty game by a country mile. It fixes many of the problems that have hounded multiplayer in the past and it all feels suitably fair and balanced.
In fact, it plays it so safe, that it ends up feeling like the plaid jersey and corduroy pants wearing cousin to Modern Warfare 2’s wild, partying bogan.