Another year, another CoD.
superfatdad wrote this review on .
First, the positives. The singleplayer is solidly put together, and mildly entertaining, while it lasts. In it, we assume the role of several characters, the main two of which are Alex Mason of the SAD/SOG special forces, and Jason Hudson of the CIA. As with all Call of Dutys post CoD 4, our point of view switches multiple times during the campaign, seeing us control fan favourite Reznov, a SR-71 Blackbird pilot, as well as both the main characters. The campaign revolves mostly around an experimental chemical weapon called 'Nova-6', which is being used to threaten American cities. The plot unfolds as we experience playable flashbacks to the Cold War era through the eyes of Mason, who, in the "present", is seen tied to a chair whilst interrogated by two mysterious shadowy men with funny voices. The story is almost complete tripe, and is effectively an excuse for us to run around shooting nasty men, but when compared with MW2's hideous, incomprehensible and ridiculously unrealistic excuse for a narrative, it is actually palatable and comes to a satisfying conclusion for those bothered, or bored enough to follow its twists and turns.
The real meat in all next gen Call of Duty games, however, is the multiplayer mode. For those uninitiated, the player is tasked with killing lots of other real people whilst either performing objectives (planting or defusing a bomb, capturing a flag, etc.), for which he or she receives experience points which are used to progress through the game's ranking system and unlock yet more weapons to turn on your fellow man. The major addition this time are the so-called 'Cod points' which are used like the game's monetary system to purchase shiny new guns, kills streak rewards, gadgets and outfitting for your man and your emblem displayed to the CoD world. This is a worthwhile addition to the semi-tired Call of Duty multiplayer cash cow, and adds some welcome depth to an experience that is about as deep as a garden pond. Otherwise, there are few updates save a dive-to-prone feature, a training mode for new players and a novelty emblem customization menu, but little more can be expected from a franchise that spews out its games every year in order to maximise profit margins for its publishers.
This lack of originality is highly irritating, and cannot be seen than anything other than laziness on the developer's part, and greed on the publisher's. Instead of actually creating a new game, it appears they have 'played it safe'; Just like World at war before it, Black ops is simply a flimsy, plastic copy of the proven Call of Duty 4 recipe, albeit with some new guns, more prestiges and some novelty customization fluff.
I challenge you to think back, for two minutes. If you haven't played CoD 4, and you're new to the CoD franchise, take this opportunity to go out and buy the thing. Go on. It's a fantastic game, by far the best of the series. If you have played 4, I'd like you to think back to it, and think about what exactly made it good.
Was it the endless waves of killstreak variations? No, there were only three, and they worked just fine. Was it the massive amount of guns? No, I remember there weren't that many. Was it the mind-numbingly large quantities of customization you could add to your avatar, to your emblem, to your weapon? No, there were a few camouflages, but that was it.
What made that game what it is?
I'll tell you what made that game arguably the greatest shooter of all time.
There weren't thousands of camouflages for your guns, there weren't stupid amounts of killstreak rewards to encourage the campers to sit in a corner with their tents and burnt marshmallows, there weren't rows upon rows of silly, childish little customization options for your delectation, or otherwise. And why was this?
Because IW knew that it didn't matter.
They knew it was all negligible to the overall experience. They knew it was fluff. What mattered to them was getting the gameplay right. They tried something experimental, something they didn't know for sure would work. They gambled. They took a risk with it. But most importantly, they knew that they had to get the core gameplay absolutely spot on in order to achieve success. And guess what? Their gamble paid off.
Now bring yourself back to here, to Treyarch, and even to MW2 with Infinity Ward to some extent. What haven't they done since 2008 when World At War was released? That's right, they haven't gambled. They haven't taken any risks. They know the gameplay is there, and they know they can play it safe, copy CoD 4 and sell millions instantly upon release. For God's sake, they haven't even changed the sound effects. I point you towards their main rival here, Battlefield, for a class on how to do weapon sound effects properly. For nigh on four years straight, the game has not changed. It's the same thing every year. But what do they do to make it palatable to their target market (most of whom by now probably consist of people with the intelligence of sea-urchins if they haven't realised they're being scammed out of their money by lazy developers)?
They add rubbish. They take away the simplicity of 4. Instead of the sweet spot of three killstreaks, they decide to clutter the battle with ridiculously powerful rewards for people who sit in a corner and wait for other players to run by. I ask you, is that fun?
They add pointless, novelty features as a poor excuse for original design. I ask you, is this keeping you engaged as players?
They don't reward good play, or clever play. They give you camouflage to simply 'buy' from their equivalent of a market stall. I ask you, is that rewarding? What happened to earning camouflages that you could show off to your friends? What happened to a simple, fun Call of Duty experience?
Herein lies my problem with Black Ops. It's not a bad game; far from it. It's most enjoyable, most of the time. I just think that developers and publishers should not be rewarded our hard earned money for simply rehashing an idea that has been knocking around since 2007. I for one will not buy the next game unless it adds something worthwhile, something unique, something original, to the Call of Duty experience. Greed does not a good game make.