Call of Duty: Black Ops is the seventh installment in the Call of Duty series. The original Call of Duty was critically-acclaimed for its amazing graphics and original multiplayer. In fact, the first-person shooter won four game of the year awards, four sound design commendations, and nominations for numerous other accomplishments. Many would say that the newest title in the series, Black Ops, is better and brings something new to the table where the other games in the series fell short. In this article, I highlight three key aspects which Call of Duty: Black Ops has perfected. After reading these three improvements, you should have no doubt in your mind as to which Call of Duty game to buy.
1) The Single-Player Campaign
The eerie opening scene where unknown interrogators torture Alex Mason, the main character, sets an enticing tone for the rest of the campaign. The mysterious journey holds your attention up to the action-packed finale. The initial question of “What do the numbers mean?” plays a provocative role in the underlying theme of the plot and gives you more than enough incentive to keep holding the controller. Though interesting plot lines are nothing new to the Call of Duty franchise, Black Ops stands out from the herd because the story has a greater fictional spin than other installments. In comparison, the story of the prior iteration, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, does not weave the historical fantasy that the writers at Treyarch accomplish. The seamless melding of real events and imaginary tales makes the campaign of Black Ops stand out from today’s crowd of simplistic “Kill, Kill, Kill” plot lines.
Aside from an enthralling story, Black Ops’ campaign is superior because of its perfect pacing and cinematic action. Although previous games in the Call of Duty series allow players to use vehicles, Black Ops takes this gameplay to another level. Often, like in previous titles such as Call of Duty 3, World at War, and Modern Warfare 2, vehicle sequences add variety to consecutive gun-play scenarios to quell the player’s boredom. Black Ops, however, intersperses the vehicle sequences in just the right places, so that you welcome the steering wheel’s change of pace but still itch to get back on foot with a rifle in hand. In Modern Warfare 2, for example, you took the wheel of a snowmobile and hovered down a linear, tree-populated winter hill; that was the extent of driving sequences. In Black Ops, however, you ride a sedan through congested Cuban villas, mount a motorcycle through open Russian country-sides, and pilot a helicopter through tropical Vietnamese villages. The story may be a little short, but it raps up just before you get bored of the experience. This Call of Duty takes quality over quantity rather than its predecessors which neglect change and over-load the player with as many on-foot levels as they could program.
2) The Online Multiplayer Experience
Infinity Ward’s Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare revolutionized the multiplayer experience. By the time its sequel hit the shelves, however, Modern Warfare 2’s “Me Too” multiplayer left players with bitter tastes in their mouths. Adding a rancid odor to unpleasant food, numerous bugs, unbalanced perks, crushing kill streaks, and overpowered weapons spoiled the gaming meal. Exacerbating buyer’s remorse, the experience screamed imitation and whispered innovation. Plagued by super-guns, previous Call of Duty games fell short of the coveted equal playing field. Suffering countless “cheap” kills, players most vocally complained about the following two overpowered weapons: the M16 assault rifle in Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare and the MP-40 sub-machine gun in Call of Duty 5: World at War. After the train wreck of the previous installments, how can Black Ops add new features yet preserve the core formula fans love?
Offering the best multiplayer of the Call of Duty series, Black Ops fixes deplored balancing issues, brings a revolutionary currency system, and adds new game modes. Instead of rewarding cheap tactics, Black Ops tests real skill. Choosing your weapon and perk layout, adjusting to the map, and adapting to the current game mode are imperative to success. In Black Ops, there is no super-class that trumps all battlefield situations. This outstanding level of balance is the first of its kind.
The new currency mode is one of the top contributors to the equal playing field of Black Ops’ multiplayer. Through this comprehensive system, players are awarded in-game money called “COD Points” which they can spend to unlock limitless online items. A player’s experience level still matters because it determines what guns he can buy, but the online progression is not as reliant on this number as previous COD installments which have all completely used the experience level to unlock everything including weapons, perks, and equipment. With the new points system, players can buy what they want when they want it. As an added feature, currency dictates what attachments and camouflages players can equip on their weapons meaning that the head shot number and attachment kill number- which are used in prior games to unlock items- are no longer factors that limit players’ equipment choices. Black Ops’ in-depth currency system gives players more freedom to play the way they want to.
Improving on the game’s multiplayer, the COD points introduce unique currency-specific game types which place Black Ops above all previous iterations. In addition to standard game modes, the multiplayer experience is revolutionized by currency game modes and wager matches because they offer the winner in-game currency as opposed to conventional experience points used for level advancement. In the four game types based on COD points, players can tweak how much currency they bet before starting a match. This value can range from several meager points to entire unlocks-worth of money. These four modes include the following: “Gun Game”, “Sticks and Stones”, “One in the Chamber”, and “Sharpshooter”. In Gun Game, all players begin with a pistol and attempt to get kills with their current weapon to advance a weapon tier which grants them with a new weapon. If a player gets one kill with their current weapon, he advances a tier. If a player gets knifed, he is demoted a tier. If a player is the first to advance through the tiers and get a kill with all 20 weapons, then he is crowned the winner. In Sticks and Stones, players are armed with crossbows, ballistic knives, and tomahawks. A kill with a crossbow rewards the player with 100 points, the knife gives players 25 points, and the tomahawk awards 10 points plus a bankrupt for the unfortunate player hit by it. The player with the most score once the time runs out wins. One in the Chamber starts each player with three lives, a pistol with a single bullet, and a knife. A kill awards that player with another bullet for his gun, and the last man standing with the most score wins. Finally, Sharpshooter cycles players’ weapons every 45 seconds which grants them with a random weapon with random attachments every time. The player with the most score wins. These game types are all “Every Man for Himself,” and each permits six players to play in a single match. These modes greatly add to the replay value of the online in Black Ops and bring something new to the standard game modes that so many Call of Duty players are used to. These modes, coupled with an unprecedented sense of balance and a unique currency system, make the multiplayer offerings of Call of Duty: Black Ops superior to previous titles in the series.
3) Theater Mode and Customization
Black Ops is the first Call of Duty game to give players the entertaining theater mode. This feature allows players to go back and watch matches that they played online from any perspective. Players can not only marvel at the detailed environments and graphics, but also learn from past mistakes and plot strategies to hone their skills. On top of this, theater mode allows players to capture and upload small pieces of gameplay to the internet for an added social experience.
Furthermore, Black Ops offers players a deep and unparalleled customization feature online. Previously, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 allowed players to put images together to create original call signs with pre-made emblems and backgrounds. Black Ops takes this feature to the extreme and gives players the freedom to create unlimited possibilities. Now you are able to make your own fully-customized emblems as opposed to simply layering pre-made ones. Choosing from a gallery of 480 images, players can stack, color, move, rotate, and resize up to 12 images simultaneously to create their own personalized icon. Offering players truly unique experiences, Black Ops sucks you into a world of creativity before stepping one foot into the online battlefield.
Lastly, the engrossing modification freedom of Black Ops is seen in the weapon customization which offers players the following choices: interchangeable sights, nearly twice as many weapon camouflages as its predecessor, and the ability to put your clan tag or emblem on the guns you shoot. The sights on virtually any weapon can be tweaked from displaying just the default red dot to nearly any colored icon you can imagine. Using the in-game currency, icons can now be purchased to replace the red dot sight for players who want to even further modify their weapons. These icons can also have their color changed by the player. Deepening the degree of customization, a wide selection of camouflages can be used to change the entire color or texture of the weapons players use. If the player desires, he can add his clan tag or highly-customized icon to the weapons he uses. If you are killed in-game and another player scavenges your customized weapon, he will see the unique changes you made and will forever remember your deadly encounter.
In conclusion, Call of Duty: Black Ops offers a fresh experience never before seen in the series. The riveting singleplayer campaign, balanced multiplayer online, entertaining theater mode, and deep player customization crown Black Ops the new king of the Call of Duty franchise. Although seemingly slight, these changes are necessary to reinvigorate the franchise name and offer a must-play experience for all gamers.
I take no credit for the review. I felt like it was a good review and wanted to pass it on to readers.