Call of Duty: Black Ops

Call of Duty: Black Ops bears the series' standard superbly, delivering an engrossing campaign and exciting competitive multiplayer.

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When a franchise consistently delivers massively popular, high-quality games, each new entry in the series comes laden with expectation. Call of Duty: Black Ops has some big shoes to fill, but it does so admirably. The engrossing campaign is chock-full of exciting, varied gameplay and drips with intrigue and intensity. The excellent multiplayer boasts some invigorating new features and the new combat training mode finally gives novices a way to enjoy the competitive action without suffering the slings and arrows of outrageously skilled veterans. Cooperative zombie killing and video editing tools help make Black Ops the most robustly featured game in the franchise and though you may have expected it to be the case, this is undoubtedly one of the best shooters of the year.

The single-player campaign is set largely during the 1960s and takes you to Cold War hot spots like Cuba, Russia and Vietnam. You are an elite covert operative and your globe-trotting adventures form pieces of a puzzle — a puzzle that your mysterious captors are trying to put together by interrogating you. Each excursion into the field is a memory and these missions slowly come together to build momentum as each interrogation cutscene puts another piece of the puzzle in place. It's not a very original mechanic, but it gives a coherent context to the action and a few strong characters and dramatic moments give the story some genuine intrigue. The blurry edges of your consciousness conceal information that must come to light and the erratic visual effects and eerie audio echoes that accompany your interrogations sometimes bleed into your mission memories, which creates a great tone of uncertainty that plays out in surprising and satisfying ways.

Your interrogation-fuelled flashbacks are not beholden to the linear flow of time, allowing your missions cover a wide variety of geography and gameplay. A dramatic breakout from a brutal Soviet prison is one early highlight and later missions feature frontline conflicts, urban firefights and mountainous incursions. The environments are richly detailed and though the campaign is not without a few technical hiccups (like occasionally problematic checkpoint markers and the odd teleporting ally), these moments aren't likely to hinder your enjoyment. In addition to the on-foot action, you use a number of vehicles to achieve your objectives. Some put you in the gunner's seat while others put you behind the wheel, and though the vehicle handling is unremarkable, the thrill of blowing stuff up and speeding through hostile terrain is undeniable. The core running-and-gunning mechanics remain as exciting as ever and the gameplay variety throughout the campaign keeps the action moving at a great clip.

You're gonna need a bigger knife. (Credit: GameSpot)

Though the campaign is a rip-roaring good time, it clocks in at a mere six hours long. The mode that will likely keep you coming back to Black Ops for months to come is, unsurprisingly, the competitive multiplayer. 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 customise your loadouts. New weapons and maps freshen things up and one of the new killstreak rewards — an explosive-laden remote-control car &mdash is a delightfully 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 pony up the points to put one in your loadout. Customisation options like face paint, player card backgrounds and the new create-your-own-icon tool are all accessed by spending points. Having to pay your way gives you more loadout options at lower required levels than in previous Call of Duty games and the fact that points are so crucial to improving your arsenal makes them just as sublimely satisfying to earn as experience points.

Call of Duty points also enable two cool new mechanics, the first of which is contracts. These are like the many multiplayer challenges that reward you with experience points for completing combat goals, only you have to pay to complete them. If you do so within the allotted time period, you receive a tidy payout. For example, if you pay 50 points for the stab-a-guy-in-the-back contract and make good, you'll earn 100 points for your troubles. If time expires before you get stabby, you're out 50 points. Tougher contracts cost more, but they also have bigger payouts (get five headshots without dying, cost: 250 points; payout: 3500 points and 3500 experience). You can have up to three contracts active at a time across three different categories and the available contracts change regularly, potentially ensuring a good amount of variety as the weeks pass. Contracts offer a nice incentive version of challenges and can give you something fun to strive for if you get in a rut, but don't expect these small gambles to make you rich.

If contracts are gambling against the house, then wager matches are gambling against other players. In these matches, you pay an entrance fee of 10, 1000 or 10,000 points, depending on how deep your pockets are and then you get to play the most unique game modes that Black Ops has to offer. One mode gives you progressively better weapons for each kill you tally, while another gives you a pistol with one bullet and only three lives to live. At the end of the match, the pot is split proportionally among the top three finishers and everyone else comes away empty handed. Wager matches are as exotic as Call of Duty multiplayer gets and they offer a great change of pace to the familiar frantic firefights.

And for those who hanker for something completely different, the popular four-player cooperative zombie-killing mode that debuted in Call of Duty: World at War has returned. The fight to stay alive against wave after wave of shambling undead is still a tense and bizarre endeavour and new maps and playable characters take the oddball humour of the situation to a whole new level. Nevertheless, at its core, this is the same frenzied action as found in its predecessor and each play-through quickly begins to feel much like the last. This is the only proper cooperative mode in Call of Duty: Black Ops, supporting four players online.

There are two new modes that help make Black Ops the most fully featured Call of Duty game yet. Combat Training simulates a competitive multiplayer environment with AI opponents and allows you to set the enemy difficulty to match your skill level. You gain experience and unlock gear in the same way and though this progress only applies within Combat Training, it's a great way to get the excitement and challenge of competitive multiplayer without submitting to the vicious predations of actual humans. The other new mode is the Theater, which lets you view replays of your games, take screenshots and edit clips to share with the community. You can string together a number of different segments from a given game and even render a video lasting up to 30 seconds for upload to the web, though the rendering feature is not fully functional at launch. Reliving moments — both glorious and shameful — is a lot of fun, and the community has already started cranking out content for your viewing pleasure. And though it may only apply to a small percentage of the population at this point, you can also play Call of Duty: Black Ops in stereoscopic 3D, providing you have the proper cables, required glasses and a compatible monitor. The effect is novel and fairly intriguing, though it takes a significant mental adjustment and may not be comfortable for many players.

Causing mayhem with a mini-gun is marvellous. (Credit: GameSpot)

While it may not take the signature Call of Duty action to dizzying new heights, Black Ops is a thoroughly excellent game. New modes and mechanics give a jolt of energy to the lively competitive multiplayer and the engrossing new campaign develops into one of the best in the series. Combat training allows anyone to enjoy the thrills of arena combat and the satisfaction of levelling up and the opportunities for cooperative play, local competition and community video creation provide even more outlets for entertainment. Call of Duty: Black Ops lives up to the top-notch pedigree that the series has earned, giving players an awesome new shooter to enjoy just in time for the holidays.

Via GameSpot

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capsized posted a review   

The Good:passes the time

The Bad:confused campaign. Online laggy.

There is nothing special about this game. New online play is interesting but laggy as hell. The campaign is a bit messy and lacks the drama of other FPS. Medal of Honor had a much better single player campaign that resonates given how current it is. Treyarch did a poor job at World at War - BLOPS is no exception. Nobody does COD like infinity Ward.


Daniel posted a review   

The Good:Campaign, deep immersive multiplayer, customization

The Bad:short campaign

by far the most deepest, immersive cod yet. I love the depth of the customization in multiplayer. and the campaign is one of the best yet. Earns my vote as best call of duty made to date


colster posted a comment   

The Good:Same old Gun Play , Some good levels

The Bad:Some blah graphics , needs new blood.

Whilst this is ok to play all the way through it doesnt have the WOW FACTOR that COD MW2 had in my personal opinion.I am surprised i got through it quite quickly , i thought oh thats it.
Wasnt overly fussed with the zombie section or the JFK aka Mayor Quimby voice impersonation.I think its time for a major rethink to the series if thats possible.


pixie posted a comment   

The Good:everything

The Bad:nothing

I played many FPS and thats one of the best, I'll compare this to MW2, no more cheaters and boosters now, and we remember how many there were, no more tubers with 1 man army and claymors everywhere, wasnt sure bout the graphics in the beginning but its not bad at all, wasnt sure bout the guns but you get use to it, the whole new system of buying what you need to create your custom class against the higher levels, instead of leveling up slowly just to get a perk. the balance is restored in this game if you really like a good FPS multiplayer thats THE game. P.S. no more 1 burst kills with M16 unless its a head shot.


cod4life posted a review   

The Good:zombies

The Bad:short campaign

ive had it for a couple of days and i have found it to be realllllly good game. Its good to have a change in storyline

Black Patriot

Black Patriot posted a review   

The Good:Excellent story, solid campaign

The Bad:Stupid friendly AI

Overall I'd give the game an 8, there's not enough innovation to really set it apart from the previous COD games, gameplay wise, but I do think it has the strongest story, a far cry from the plot hole ridden mess that was MW2. The other major problem I have with the game is the sheer incompetence of the friendly AI. There were several occasions where I'd get killed by an enemy that had walked straight past my own guys, without even getting a second look from them, and shoot me in the back. The games reliance on infinitely spawning enemies is also pretty disappointing, although if the friendly AI had provided more support then it would have been manageable, even on Veteran.

Overall a solid COD game, with enough refinements and adjustments to the multiplayer to make it a good online game, and a well written and paced story for the single player mode.


dj posted a comment   

Its a rush job , second rate graphics , bad online play .. a huge let down and over priced. Never again buying a game from em .


andessen007 posted a review   

The Good:Compelling Story, Chnage from orginial multiplayer, Zombies

The Bad:Short Campaign

The campaign was short like every other COD game but at least this had a decent story. The multiplayer is a nice change earning COD points to buy your guns, attachments etc. Customizing player i reckon is a plus. Zombies is a plus wen playing with mates. Overall: don't expect anything overly new

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User Reviews / Comments  Call of Duty: Black Ops

  • capsized



    "There is nothing special about this game. New online play is interesting but laggy as hell. The campaign is a bit messy and lacks the drama of other FPS. Medal of Honor had a much better single pla..."

  • Daniel



    "by far the most deepest, immersive cod yet. I love the depth of the customization in multiplayer. and the campaign is one of the best yet. Earns my vote as best call of duty made to date"

  • colster


    "Whilst this is ok to play all the way through it doesnt have the WOW FACTOR that COD MW2 had in my personal opinion.I am surprised i got through it quite quickly , i thought oh thats it.

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