Call of Duty: Black Ops

Call of Duty: Black Ops review: For most gamers, any discussion about Call of Duty starts and ends with multiplayer, but Black Ops features a surprisingly competent single-player campaign

Activision Call of Duty: Black Ops
  • Activision Call of Duty: Black Ops
  • Activision Call of Duty: Black Ops
  • Activision Call of Duty: Black Ops
  • Expert Rating

    5.00 / 5

Pros

  • A polished refinement of the Call of Duty formula, offers a bevy of content that covers almost every expected base, single-player campaign is satisfying, multiplayer has enough depth to keep fans engaged for a long time

Cons

  • The single-player plot can be clumsy at times and they still haven't completely eliminated those taxing moments where you have to throw lives away just to reach a specific checkpoint (they are relatively rare this time around though)

Bottom Line

It's difficult not to call Black Ops the 'best Call of Duty ever' simply because it's the ultimate refinement of the franchise formula. With an interesting single-player narrative and a multiplayer component brimming over with content, it's an easy recommendation for a fanbase looking for the next big thing.

Would you buy this?

Then there are the unlockable extras that Treyarch hid throughout the game; I won't discuss them in detail here because I don't want to ruin the surprise, but let's just say that there are clever little extras that add a genuine sense of value. That, by the way, is Black Ops' true strength: it offers up so many things to do that you can't help feel as if you're getting your money's worth.

But as was the case when I reviewed Modern Warfare 2, I played the game under ideal circumstances, so it'll be interesting to not only see how the community reacts to the game, but how I'll feel about it after investing multiple hours into the multiplayer. There are valid questions I just can't answer at this point, such as will gamers embrace the currency system or reject it, and what sorts of idiotic and game breaking behaviour will the community come up with--snipers camping Domination maps to get nukes in MW2 ruined many a match for me, for example.

And yet, despite those misgivings, I also can't deny the level of polish and value inherent in Black Ops. It's an all-encompassing package that is easy to recommend to fans of the series. Besides, console shooter fans will no doubt flock to it in droves as it's already breaking pre-order records, so you almost have to buy it if you regularly play online because it's the game most of your friends will no doubt be playing. The good news is that the game is absolutely worth the investment, and even if you find yourself disagreeing with some of the changes Treyarch instituted or you run into a bunch of morons who are hell bent on ruining a particular mode for you, you have plenty of other options to keep you engaged for a good long time.

In the interest of full disclosure, I wanted to describe the conditions under which I reviewed Black Ops. Two weeks before the game's launch, I was flown from San Francisco to LAX; from there, I was driven to Santa Monica airport where I was given a flight helmet customised with my gamertag. I was then put into a helicopter and flown to Ojai, California, a small town about two hours north of Los Angeles. After landing in a field, I was driven to the Ojai Valley Inn and Spa, where I was given a posh suite to stay in for three days. The suite contained a big screen Samsung 3D HDTV, a 5.1 surround sound system, and an Xbox 360 console. I was also given a Mad Catz Call of Duty Black Ops branded headset. A ballroom equipped with 30 or so stations was also made available for multiplayer sessions. At the end of the trip, I was allowed to keep the flight helmet and the Mad Catz headset. All travel and accomodations, including food, were covered by Activision.

I was given access to Black Op's 3D mode and found the effect to be fairly impressive. The level of depth does add positively to the overall experience, but it doesn't impart any tactical advantage, at least from what I could tell. I will note that it did cause noticeable eye strain as well as some discomfort (I wear prescription specs, so wearing glasses on top of glasses is not fun at all), but that's not something I can fault Treyarch for—it's my own fault for having defective eyes, after all—and they clearly went through a lot of trouble to make sure the mode works—I was told that they went out and bought a 3D set from every major manufacturer just to ensure maximum compatibility. While I'm not completely sold on the technology just yet, Black Ops and 3D compatible titles like the upcoming Killzone 3 represent a major leap of progress for 3D becoming an established standard, and it certainly does bear watching in the near future. And hey, if you have the necessary hardware, it's a nice bonus to have.

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