War: What's it Good For?

User Rating: 7 | Call of Duty: Black Ops WII
I've had the Wii version of Black Ops since pretty much its release, but I wanted to give Treyarch some time to do their thing before weighing in on the game. They've since released a patch for the game (yes, for the Wii version), and I believe there's already another patch in the works -- go figure. So, looks like skies are blue, and I can walk off the battlefield for a moment to tell you what I think. I'm not going to offer detail about the content, really, as most of you probably already know what you need to know about this game and the Call of Duty series in general. I'll simply make some comparisons, throw out a few criticisms, and wrap this thing up.

Story mode: Decent, surprisingly consistent with the HD versions of the game, and definitely worth a playthrough, even if the multiplayer is your main attraction to the game. If nothing else, the single-player portion of Black Ops will get you up to speed with most of the gameplay mechanics, and the writing isn't half bad.

Online multiplayer was pretty sketchy the first couple of weeks, and to be honest, I'm still experiencing a few issues here and there. Lag isn't as bad as it was when the game initially released, but it still presents problems for the host. Oddly enough, the laggers in this game are rewarded for lagging. You would think a good connection would ensure you hit your targets, but it's the opposite with Black Ops on Wii. Laggy players can withstand two 45-bullet clips from a FAMAS (an assault rifle, for those not in the know), yet that same player can zip a single burst fire into you for a guaranteed kill -- good stuff!

See, the problem is (and this isn't exclusive to Wii), online multiplayer is peer to peer. There are no dedicated servers hosting games, and players are merely piggybacking on one another for each and every match. Now, I'm no programmer, but I know lag when I see it. Sometimes, it's not a huge issue; other times, players are teleporting all over the map. Since the patch, the lag has gotten better, and issues with games abruptly coming to a halt have also mostly been fixed. All and all, Black Ops online is playable, though the netcode could certainly stand to be improved.

In any case, I personally don't think Wii controls work all that well for competitive multiplayer. To be clear, I loved Metroid Prime: Corruption, and I felt the controls were sublime. I wanted every first-person game to play like that, or so I thought. In competitive play, with no lock-on features, accuracy is paramount, and with human hands that shake or bobble, it's just hard to get comfortable. The game does support the Classic Controller (though not GCN controllers), but I don't own one, and therefore can't comment on that.

I won't say too much about the production values, outside of saying they're "good for Wii." Considering the system limitations, the animations are satisfying, but as a whole, the game is a disappointing step back from the HD versions (of which I'll be playing the PS3 version from here on out). Sound effects are fitting, and aside from a few weird glitches here and there, Treyarch did an admirable job with the visuals and audio for the game. I personally would have preferred a "from the ground up for Wii" version, with a presentation more fitting for the system.

Black Ops is really well-balanced, it has awesome weapons, perks, extras, and a leveling system that makes it addictive as hell. That being said, I just have a lot of trouble getting used to playing it on Wii, mostly because of the controls. If you don't mind using the Wii Remote and Nunchuk or own a Classic Controller, you should have fun with the game. The features are incredibly robust, and the foundation is pretty solid. If you're like me, however, and require more accuracy and structure from your controls, you might find the whole affair to be quite awkward -- I did. Either way, give it a try before you buy.