Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Call of Duty: Black Ops Review

Platform: PC
Genre: FPS

“The deadliest weapon in the world is a Marine and his rifle!” [General John J. Pershing]

In 2003 while I was experiencing first year of high-school one of my new class-mates convinced me to play Call of Duty. I was getting bored of World War 2 shooters but I tried it. And I'm not sorry I did. It had a very realistic battle feel to it ... enemies respawning giving it a feel of a actual battle between two armies. Also I really liked that it wasn't so focused on one-man-bring-down-an-entire-something-rambo-thingy and you always had a lot of people around you ... some named (probably to make you sympathise with them).
Then it got an expansion, a Call of duty 2 came and so on. The series changed a bit with Modern Warfare, the 4th instalment in the series. It gave up the World War 2 setting for a more modern army_vs._ terrorist one. It was brilliant, but it was ... different (not just the setting). It focused on giving a more cinematic experience of the conflict with intense cutscenes taken from the players point of view. since then we got a return to the old seconcd World War with Call of Duty: World at War and a second Modern Warfare.

Now, Infinity Ward has stepped on a new ground ... the Cold War. You start the game with a assault on Fidel Castro's villa and end up killing him. WTF ? Anyway ... you find out that the one you killed was a clone and the story develops from there on. If you like conspiracy theoryes and stuff of the sort ... this right here might be your Mecca. During the game, you shake hands with Kennedy, play on a shipwreck full of chemical bombs, through Vietnam or go underwater on a station that reminds me of the one from The Abyss movie. This might be something worth mentioning. Sometimes durring the story you might have a "I've seen this before" feeling. So, in some spots the game seems to deliver scenes from movies like "The Great escape (1963)" or "A beautiful mind (2001)". Without spoiling too much the story evolves around Mason (the main character) who is strapped onto a chair and interogated about some numbers which he (apparently) knows nothing about and the search through his memories to find out the true meaning.

Unlike it's predecesors, in Call of Duty Black Ops you usually fight with one-or-more of your teammates instead of huge squadrons of useless-stupid-3d-models. But this being the Cold War it is understandable. Theyr AI is almost but not quite. They give some cover or help during fights but many times I have had the feeling that the enemy was only targeting me and completely ignoring my squad of Man in Tights.

The levels (as stated above) are pretty diverse, from Hong-Kong rooftops, to a street shoot-down in Havana, from Vietnam to Siberia. The story is linked with intense-cinematics and from time to time the game slows-down allowing you too see a airplane crashing and missing you by a inch. Of course a lot of them seem exaggerated and are closer to Chuck Norris movies than to the first Call of Duty game but they are visually delicious so we might excuse them.

Of course I find the Vietnam level awesome for more than one reason. You have to fly a helicopter and shoot stuff, ninja-kill some Vietnamese dudes while they sleep or drag them underwater from their boats. But the most awesome part while you are controlling a boat. Let me explain this. While on the boat you shoot enemies, buildings, towers, helicopters ... there's fire, chaos, stuff flying around and then you hear a musical tune which transforms into Rolling Stone's song "Sympathy for the devil". In this brief moment the game feels awesome.

As all Call of Duty's this one was pretty short (took me about 5-6 hours to complete) but it compensates with great multyplayer and Zombies). Of course there is zombie mode in which you have to survive as many zombie-waves as you can as either JFK, Castro, Nixon oranother guy. I have to give credit to JFK's voice impersonator on doing a great job.

the bad: seems to copy some movies key moments, too linear
the good: Rolling Stones, some "special" levels, zombies, presentation (audio + graphics)

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