Call of Duty: Black Ops Updated Impressions

Our latest look at Treyarch's Cold War spin on the Call of Duty series takes us underwater and up in the air.

The new demo of Call of Duty: Black Ops that Activision is showing here at Gamescom 2010 doesn't quite start off with a bang. In fact, it's more of that gurgling sound you hear when certain objects start sinking underwater. That's not a bad thing, because we're not talking in metaphors here--you literally start the level trapped inside a downed helicopter sinking to the bottom of the Huong River. It's a tense sequence that sees you making a desperate escape while swimming through murky water with more than a few dead bodies in it.

If the sight of those bodies sinking to the bottom of the river while you're trying to swim to the top of it doesn't grab you, then the level's roller-coaster pacing will. The whole level, dubbed Victor Charlie, is one great big crescendo that starts off slow and methodical, explodes in the middle, and then slows back down for a bit toward the end. To give you an idea of how it builds up, let's go back to the beginning. Once you get out of that river, you make your way through some waterfront huts and meet up with your squadmates, those grizzled deniable ops supersoldiers who operate with vicious efficiency and sport some pretty awesome tattoos to boot. With them at your side you slowly and silently creep into an enemy hut while one of the bad guys, asleep on the job, is taking a nap.

What happens next isn't for the faint of heart, but the gist is that you cover his mouth and sink your knife quickly and silently into his throat in a grim scene of surgical violence. OK, so maybe that's not so much the gist as precisely what happens. At any rate, you continue along at a similar pace to get through this dangerous area unseen while dispatching a few more foes and taking another dip or two into the river (complete with first-person swimming) before getting to a village a bit farther inland. And that, well, that's when things get really hot. The mission requires you to plant some C4 on a target building, and that explosion obviously attracts a lot of attention. The transition from all that sneaking about to this swarming bee's nest of a shoot-out is something else and definitely seems like it will keep a lot of players on their toes.

The firefight is a bit more of that classic Call of Duty, with fast-paced gun combat and more than a few explosions. A few of the highlights we noticed were the ways those wooden houses explode in a flurry of debris when you hit them with your M16's underslung grenade launcher, and those handful of desperate enemies who come charging out of nowhere with a clear desire to skill you not with a gun, but with a gentlemanly knife to the chest. After that you hop into a dim, claustrophobic tunnel in a sequence that has you crawling through some pretty creepy scenery while encountering a few grim surprises along the way.

After Victor Charlie wrapped up, we had the chance to see the helicopter level that Treyarch demoed during Microsoft's E3 2010 press conference a couple of months ago. Named Payback, this level takes the aircraft sequences we've seen from time to time in previous Call of Duty games and lets you actually pilot the thing (while still operating the guns, of course). After sneaking up on a group of soldiers guarding a Russian Hind helicopter and taking them out, you hop into the attack chopper and fly through a river canyon shooting down on-foot enemies, armored trucks, helicopters, and entire bridges. You can read our initial impressions from the press conference demo for more details, but suffice it to say that this level managed to put a new spin on the type of vehicle moments the Call of Duty series has previously been known for.

All told, Call of Duty: Black Ops is looking quite good. That's not exactly a surprise for a series that has garnered plenty of glowing reviews over the years, but it's good to see that Treyarch has been able to jump into a new timeline--Cold War-era conflicts--without missing a step. Expect to see more coverage on Black Ops before the game is released on November 9.

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Discussion

406 comments
shabulia
shabulia

I'm not getting this only because I hate Bobby Kotick. That bastard will never see a single dime of money. I refuse to buy any Activision products simply because of his arrogant ways (and for how he screwed Infinity Ward). I don't care if he ends up owning Sony, Nintendo, and Microsoft in the future... i'll ban all video games if it comes to that! He may get richer and more powerful, but it won't be because of me and my dime!

elagricola
elagricola

@Anarchist93 apparently MoH is a disappointment....

Anarchist93
Anarchist93

i dont think the story or gameplay will match that of medal of honor. but a little biased for medal of honor cuz its releasing two days before my birthday.

alberts9
alberts9

Interested in seeing the gameplay, however anything is hard up to beat battlefield bad company 2, in that bfbc2 has all sorts of vehicles to drive and destructive environments, which in my opinion beats any COD that may come out until they match the physics of bfbc2.

gashoe13
gashoe13

Another CoD game, eh? I have nothing against CoD. In fact I love it, but it's just that... don't you think that we're going a bit overboard here by releasing pretty much one CoD game every year? I really do like it, but the gameplay is getting a little old, now...

Anatomimesteren
Anatomimesteren

@kikosurf99 "a BIG debut"... eh, in what way? Cold war-ish?

kikosurf99
kikosurf99

Call of Duty Black Ops will be a BIG debut. The graphics are very good, I've had watching the gameplay demo, and the trailer online and it seems to be very very cool. @ Kikosurf99 Thanks for reading

YamiDawn
YamiDawn

@Mr_Manikin52 I wouldn't be suprised seeing as it was a major conflict between two powers, both toting ICBM's, ready to launch. And seeing what it "could have" done, if Cuba decided to retaliate, I'm sure we can see some action as, perhaps one of the trained Cuban guerillas that was sent in. Probably will end up as one of the, "this is whats going on over here," characters that die eventually, such as Jackson from MW, or Alan (the guy from the infamous airport scene in MW2... thats his name right?) in MW2. Good for backstory, then discarded to focus on the main character. As for the Battle of Dien Bein Phu, it really isn't as reknown to most Americans as The Bay of Pigs Invasion, so I can't be certain. But, hey, what do I know? Heres hoping...

Snoopydadog
Snoopydadog

Treyarch and Infinity Ward share the franchise so IWs stuff will be in there too like the multiplayer which has taken off from MW2.. Treyarch are piloting the COD series now because of the small issue of the collapse of Infinity Ward and the new developer Respawn forming from the ashes. Let's just hope that Black Ops is good enough to keep me occupied while i wait for when (or rather "if") MW3 is released...

Mr_Manikin52
Mr_Manikin52

Will it have the Battle of Dien Bein Phu and Bay of Pigs?

Fusionmix
Fusionmix

This is the first CoD I've actually been sort of interested in...

Adema83
Adema83

The COD franchise died the second MW2 came out for me.. Sorry Treyarch but IW ruined the party for you..

dimitris1999
dimitris1999

this is awsome but lets remember that corporations show only the good things of a game or generally any product in any market so we shoulden't be convinsed so easily about a commercial product however i believe more in treyarch because mw2 killed the idea of infinity ward make better games in my personal opinion but i believe that if not all of us at the least beat the majority agrees in the fact that all popular game franchises tend to be repetitive after a great succes or a some time but i have great faith that treyarch and cod black ops will be able to make a change and if not make it at least thank a for trying to get away from a standard pattern and trying to stoop the noobs even trought noobs always find a way to be evven bigger noobs to all you guys at treyarch and gampsopt,gamescom and to all you gamers out tere you have done great job and good luck and finally the quality of a product depens on not only the kind of company but on the type and quality of the fans and croud too. ; )

furryfrump
furryfrump

@Walters47 while it makes them loads of money, milking an idea always ends up with the idea becoming rubbish e.g the simpsons. Black ops is doing nothing special just recycling ideas and covering them in pixy dust. An example of a cash cow improving and becoming fresh is Assassins creed brotherhood which takes the creed universe but adds unique multiplayer, building an army of assassins and way improved combat, In other words improving and shaking up the game, while cod 7 is just modern warfare in the cold war. They hype about being able to move a helicopter from side to side or the player having their own voice, and how its a first in a cod game to do so. And nothing new in so many other games. Cod used to be fresh, the difference between cod 1, 2, 3 and 4 has huge, the new games are all too similar.

steelhorse02
steelhorse02

woot...looks excatly like mw2 execpt with new guns.. real good.. lolz

walters47
walters47

@furryfrump first and foremost, they're a business. So if they do develop a cash cow, the obvious thing for them to do is exploit it, because people will always buy the games, and so it makes them money to continue releasing them, which is the goal of any business, regardless of market.

Baronx10
Baronx10

@MdN09graduate i do know that iw had some issues and was giving up on the mw series ,but later it was confirmed by activision that a mw3 is in development. well thats what i last remember ,but its still in development and will take a while to reveal anything.

Lewk-07
Lewk-07

@-Deimos- Actually Infinity Ward reinvented the series with a brand new graphics engine, New killstreak setup (aka more unlocakbles in general) , better host selction, different weapon layouts, streaming levels, and they built the engine that made the series popular. Sorry they didn't have zombies ima fan, but sitting in a corner for an hour and a half gets old fast.

Lewk-07
Lewk-07

If respawn entertainment wins it's lawsuit you won't be able to play online.

Gantrathor
Gantrathor

Am I the only one that thinks this looks exactly like Modern Warfare 2? And Modern Warfare 2 is exactly the same as Modern Warfare 1. Am I the only one who can see a pattern of recycled games? C'mon, guys. Make something new for once.

GSgirl
GSgirl

It looks a little recycle now

-Deimos-
-Deimos-

I stopped liking Infinity ward after MW2. At least Treyarch adds something new to the series.

HarassMe
HarassMe

The Modern Warfare games are a huge pile of fail anyways, hopefully they will do something to make it more than various flavors of the same old, busted deathmatches that the current ones have. Objective based missions is where they SHOULD be heading but not as long as the sheeple are content with playing the dull setup modern warfare brings to the table now.

Dominus-Nox
Dominus-Nox

He said "pick up the controller", proof that they hate PC games now

grey_fox1984
grey_fox1984

I've never been into the Treyarch Call of Duty games, but this one seems like its turning out really well. I think it might be the subliminal effect of having the Big Boss-looking dude with the bandana in all the screenshots, coupled with the Cold War setting and my love for Peacewalker.

Ezmai_RauteZ
Ezmai_RauteZ

If it aint broken, why fix it??? Honestly I cannot understand why soo many people are complaining? I have had a load of fun playing MW2, practically the only game I play online (BBC2), and although the LAG was an issue from time to time, it was still a solid shooter compared with unlockables galore... Some of you guys take too many things for granted, be thankful they HAVE made one similar to the MW2 style. Plenty of other shooters out there if you wanted REALISM!!!

darkPSPfan
darkPSPfan

that looks like a best COD i have played :D

Timzor
Timzor

I cant get over how much the main character (?) looks like Chuck Norris... He looks exactly like that in the "missing in action"-films!

capitalism25
capitalism25

Can I play as Russians?Ive grown tired of killing Russians in MW :(

GeNeRaL_205
GeNeRaL_205

I hope the kill streaks are little same .It will be great ^_* Waiting for this game it is awasome

furryfrump
furryfrump

Cod is past its sell by date... it needs to be fresher and stop re using ideas, its just turned into a giant cash cow. Whats needed is a brand new non cod game that would show off what Treyarch can do

moathfaleh_94
moathfaleh_94

ooooooooooooooooooooooooooo mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm gggggggggg

moathfaleh_94
moathfaleh_94

omgomg omg omg omg omg omg omg omg omg omg omg omg

peanut-butter
peanut-butter

@ Tarfang2 What realism? Call of Duty is one of the most unrealistic shooters ever made next to Medal of Honor.

KING01JV
KING01JV

Yea now you f@gs complaining are just plain old gay This game has alot of effort put into it. So did Modern Warefare, World at War, and MW2. Gameplay is awesome and smooth and has good animations with a few that are a little off but not bad. Graphics are great and story is as well. Sure it might be the same a little but i mean come on. War won't change. It doesn't matter what you do to change the way war looks cuz it all comes to the same thing. Kill or get killed.

Velvet-Valentin
Velvet-Valentin

hey guys is this really a historic shooter? the trailer says its a modern . I would be more pleased if infinity was producing this or at least they have a cooperation. Ilike to try it but i'm notsure if its as good as MW , MW 2 & WORLD AT WAR

Jman4444
Jman4444

i wish infinity ward was making this not treyarch

Ninthjr
Ninthjr

@luffy11234 a sequel to the COD series none of the games were linked except the MWs

BloomerNYC
BloomerNYC

and @Count...poor graphics? What are you smoking?

BloomerNYC
BloomerNYC

So everyone is complaining. I don't understand what most of you expect. Do you guys want them to work on better games or do you want them to make the COD franchise better? I would love to know how you can make a pretty linear genre of game different than other war FPS's.

hotrob2020
hotrob2020

@ elmoro47 I say wait but i played mw2 and u didn't so I cant say anything(go with your gut man)

hotrob2020
hotrob2020

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MooseMeatDC
MooseMeatDC

Ugh, after mw and mw2 I'm not getting this one, I'm not gonna spend 60 bucks on a game I'm gonna rage quit over and over again until I finally bash it into the wall after 2 months.

the2gamer
the2gamer

It's funny how Infinity Ward skyrocketed CoD into the fame it has now with Modern Warfare... and now Infinity Ward is pretty much gone... smart move Activision. Money hungry bastards...

MdN09graduate
MdN09graduate

@Baronx10 Do you remember what has happened to Infinity Ward? ...MW3? Not too sure about it, but it better be good.