Call of Duty needs some new life. Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare burst out of the gates firing with it's revolutionary multiplayer and World at War brought us back to World War II and let us put an end to the war in spectacular fashion. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 brought us nothing but a new, full-priced map pack and was unnecessary. Now, Treyarch, the team behind World at War, are back to make Black Ops. Black Ops puts more focus on tweaks, small multiplayer innovations and, most surprisingly, a story. Is this really a step in the right direction? Or should Call of Duty be laid to rest?
You play as Alex Mason during the Veitnam War. He is tasked with assassinating Fidel Castro with his team Frank Woods and Bowman. The mission goes wrong and Alex is left in enemy hands. He winds up in Vorkuta, a large prison in Russia and meets Vicktor Reznov, a character from World at War, and they start an escape plan. They start the escape and only Alex escapes, seemingly leaving Reznov to die. Alex makes his way back to his team and is sent out to fight again. In between missions, Alex is in an interrogation chamber and the interrogator is asking for the numbers. Alex is relaying everything that happened from this room and the events that take place are quite interesting.
The numbers are the key to the story so saying anymore will spoil everything and there are plenty of awesome twists and turns and it's incredibly riviting for a Call of Duty storyline. Treyarch has put some effort into the campaign and it pays off.
The game plays the exact same as in the previous games. You run through the linear stages and shoot everyone in your path. There are a few times where you control a vehicle, but it's either linear or a turret section. The gameplay remains a smooth 60 frames and the multiplayer remains enjoyable, but it's starting to seem the same now. Treyarch has done some improvements to the multiplayer, you can do timed challenges, make and emblem for people to see and you can add multiple attachments to your guns. It's nothing mind-blowing, the clear focus here was the story and the gameplay remains fun enough to carry this game well enough.
The main frustrations haven't been fixed either. There is still no sophisticated way of taking cover, grenades are still a little too common and it's still really easy to die without knowing how you died. Still, the older guns and new feel are enough to keep you happy. If you are into co-op, the small bonus from World at War returns in grand fashion; Zombies. Zombies is a full-blown mode with a small story, multiple maps and humorous characters. The mode can get quite hard and is really entertaining with multiple people.
The music is good but very forgettable. The sound effects are good as well, but the voice work is excellent. Alex and his team sound great and one of them is voiced by Ice Cube. It's nothing special, overall, but the voice work goes a long way.
The visuals are also similar and getting stale. The don't look bad, but they lag behind some of the other AAA games on the market, of course this game is a solid 60 frames a second. The character models look decent, but the environments are just average though this fact is covered up by the bright colors of the jungles. The jungle environments look great and everything else just looks okay. This is the next area to work on Treyarch.
- Interesting story full of twists and turns
- Alex Mason is actually a character
- Gameplay is still solid and enjoyable
- Voice work is good
- Zombies is a fantastic addition
- Character models are distinct and good
- Visuals lag behind every other AAA game
- Gameplay has only been tweaked, not improved
- Old frustrations are back
- Still as linear as a ruler
Overall, Call of Duty: Black Ops is the best Call of Duty game thanks to the slight improvements to the gameplay and multiplayer and the fact that there is a fascinating story. Sure, it's starting to get stale, but Treyarch proved that they know what's up and I'm hopeful for more Call of Duty games from them.