Call of Duty is the Goliath of the video game world. The series has sold millions of copies and catapulted itself from a solid World War II shooter to the sprawling multiplayer playground and Hollywood-style campaign that we know today. Call of Duty: Black Ops takes much of what made Modern Warfare 2 great and slightly expands and modifies it. That’s not to say that there aren’t mistakes to be found within Black Ops, but I think Call of Duty fans are going to be happy with Treyarch’s latest effort.
You begin the game as Alex Mason, a soldier being interrogated for information that he can’t remember. You play through Mason’s memories in search for information. Each memory he recalls plays out as a mission. The levels in campaign mode are quite broad and take you to Russia, Vietnam, Cuba and beyond. The gameplay in the campaign is much the same as Modern Warfare 2 where the lazy amongst us (me included) take great advantage of the auto-aim features to deal with the hundreds of faceless enemies just to get through the various checkpoints that progress the story.
Where Black Ops overtakes Modern Warfare 2’s campaign is in the larger amount of opportunities to use vehicles. You can pilot a helicopter gunship raining down bullets and missiles on a Vietnam village. I’m personally not a huge fan of campaign mode in the Call of Duty games because I believe once you get a taste of killing human enemies in the online multiplayer mode, killing said faceless AI enemies just doesn’t cut the mustard.
It is the multiplayer feature that, in my opinion, gives this game unlimited replay value. At its core, this is the familiar top-notch Call of Duty action that players have been enjoying for years. You earn experience for doing well in battle and, as you level up, you gain access to new and powerful ways to customize your loadouts. New weapons and maps freshen things up, and one of the new Killstreak rewards—a remote-control car packed with explosives, provided me with great kicks; it’s a deadly device that embodies the frantic, slightly goofy side of virtual online combat.
The key new element, however, is currency. In addition to earning experience for your battlefield performance, you earn Call of Duty points, which you can then spend in a variety of ways. Most perks, weapon attachments, Killstreaks, and equipment items are available early on, providing you shell out the points to equip them. Guns are still unlocked as you level up, but again, you have to spend the points to put one in your classes.
The new maps are quite good, based on the fact that I find myself less frequently being killed by some douchebag sitting in a corner with a shotgun, as was the trend in MW2. It seems to me that the maps in Black Ops were tested extensively with things like campers and chokepoints in mind, which to a regular online gamer like myself is extremely refreshing.
Money also allows for the clever new Wager Matches that have everyone anteing up some CoD points and divvying them up among the top three players. Sticks and Stones was probably our favorite in the group of people I played with – it gives you a crossbow (with a sticky explosive bolt) and a tomahawk that bankrupts anyone you hit it with. One in the Chamber was another favorite, giving everyone one bullet in a gun, leaving you to use your knife if you miss that first shot.
Now, if the bog standard military shoot’em up doesn’t appeal to you, I only have one word… ZOMBIES! Yeah I said it. The third game mode in Black Ops is a survival horror mode where you can join up with friends to tackle hoards of Nazi zombies (did I forget to mention they’re also Nazis?). Just incase you felt bad shooting Zombies, the Nazi part should remove any last shred of guilt. Between the campaign, multiplayer and zombie modes, I think Black Ops has something to offer every type of first-person shooter fan. Given the improved multiplayer gameplay and the addition of the new wager matches, Treyarch have done quite well with the task of following Infinity Ward’s Modern Warfare 2.