Call of Duty: Black Ops Update - 3D Support and New Level Details

Like any good CIA operative, we don a pair of 3D glasses before witnessing the disposal of threats to national security.


Sony may be the publisher making the single biggest splash in the burgeoning 3D market--which makes sense given its unique stake in both games and television hardware--but there are a number of third-party publishers out there who are testing the waters of this new technology as well. Perhaps the biggest is Activision, whose Treyarch studio has worked 3D support into the upcoming Call of Duty: Black Ops. To see how that feature is coming along, Activision and Treyarch recently offered us a chance to sit down, put on a pair of shutter glasses, and see it in action.

In Soviet Russia, snow falls on the ground! Wait, did we do that right?
In Soviet Russia, snow falls on the ground! Wait, did we do that right?

The bulk of the demo came in the form of a pair of different campaign levels. The first was called WMD, a level we previously covered in late May just prior to the Electronic Entertainment Expo. The content of the level remained largely unchanged from what we saw then, so for the full rundown, be sure to have a look at our initial impressions. The quick and dirty summary is that you hop on board an SR-71 Blackbird aircraft somewhere in California and then zoom across the world to an altitude high above the mountains of Russia where CIA operatives below are attempting to infiltrate a snowy Russian military compound. You start as the pilot, switch perspectives with the ground troops a few times, and then stick with the latter through the end of the mission.

Compared to other upcoming first-person shooters we've seen running in 3D (such as Sony's Killzone 3), the 3D effect in Black Ops is noticeably subtler. The heads-up display elements seem to be situated on the same plane as the gun you hold right in front of you, with the background elements residing farther in the distance. As a result, nothing really "pops" from the TV--you've just got the gun at screen level and other objects deeper into the distance. According to Treyarch senior manager Jay Puryear, Treyarch wanted to make sure that your eyes "aren't fighting the screen to process that visual information." Given the frenetic pacing and delightful sense of chaos that the Call of Duty series has become known for throughout the years, Treyarch wants to keep the 3D in check. In fact, you can even turn off the targeting reticle if it makes you dizzy.

The 3D stands out the most during those sequences that already have a strong sense of depth to them. Any time you want, you can always pull up your gun and take a look down the iron or red-dot sights to get a quick, noticeable burst of 3D. But then, there are the big set pieces that rely on a sense of scale to intimidate the player, like when you go rappelling down the side of a giant cliff just prior to infiltrating the aforementioned Russian military base. Looking downward, you see your character's legs maneuvering down the cliff face, while far below, you see trees, swirling clouds, and the faint outlines of a building. This sequence is one of the more impressive ones when playing in 2D, but in 3D, the sense of altitude is that much more pronounced. And that seems to be how the tech works in Black Ops: 3D isn't a dominating force in the action but more of a complement during those moments that already rely on a strong sense of depth.

After a lengthy look at WMD, we saw a few quick minutes of a new level called Numbers. This one is set in nighttime Kowloon City, Hong Kong. It begins with you and a partner interrogating a man tied to a chair next to a window where a rain storm sets the tone for what's to come. After a few moments and little cooperation from the man being interrogated, let's just say that something grim happens, which involves blood and the glass from a broken window. Shortly afterward, a chase breaks out that begins with a gun fight and ends with a mad dash across the slick rooftops of the city that echoes a scene from Modern Warfare 2 set above a Brazilian slum. We didn't get to see much of this level, but what little we saw reinforced the notion that Treyarch is really aiming for extreme variety in both pacing and settings.

3D will work in all multiplayer modes, as well.
3D will work in all multiplayer modes, as well.

Call of Duty: Black Ops is scheduled to arrive on November 9. The game will offer optional 3D support in both the single-player campaign and online multiplayer, and will feature in the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC versions of the game.

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