‘Black Ops’ builds on ‘Call of Duty’ fame

Justin Law

Upon its midnight release on Tuesday, November 9, “Call of Duty: Black Ops” had already generated 4.5 million preorder sales according to techfreqnews.com.  This long-anticipated next segment in the Call of Duty collection hit stores just in time to make your Christmas list.  The game is priced almost universally at $60 and is almost guaranteed not to go down before Christmas so break into your piggy banks if you think this is the game for you.
The campaign earns the title of “Black Ops” because it keeps you in the dark to what’s going on right until the very end.  You play as three characters throughout the game as you try to assassinate villains, uncover secret Intel and save humanity from certain destruction.  The main character Hudson wakes up strapped to an interrogation chair, undergoing electric shock torture.  Your captors are trying to figure out “what the numbers mean!”, which is something you’d love to tell them if you could only find it out for yourself.  Meanwhile random trippy hallucinogenic numbers burn their way into your brain right out of thin air.
Almost the entire game is played out through flashbacks from the interrogation.  You relive secret missions as you try to figure out what’s going on.  Meanwhile your interrogator demands and whines the same questions over and over during every cutscene, and that gets old very quickly.

The game is like a cross between “COD World at War” and “COD Modern Warfare.”  There are times when you’re running through the jungles of Vietnam with a flamethrower and it seems like you’re back in some “World at War” map and then others when you’re guiding a remote-controlled missile that’s faintly reminiscent of the predator drone in “Modern Warfare.”  The action is nonstop but so is the nauseating spinning, shaking and rolling.  If you have a weak stomach, play the campaign in small doses, or when you find yourself on a helicopter spinning out of control, you may unintentionally paint your television screen.  Before you throw up and quit, make sure you play the epic missions where you’re using the new crossbow for silent takedowns, engaging in midair helicopter dogfights, riding a motorcycle while firing the 1887 ten-gauge shotgun and breaking out of a Russian prison using a minigun to fire 50 rounds per second into crowds of enemies.  It’s moments like these that make all the dizziness worth it.

“Black Ops” doesn’t have quite the visual detail or beauty of “Modern Warfare.”  If you’re coming to “Black Ops” immediately after playing “Modern Warfare” you tend to notice 2D textures painted on the sides of buildings and on the streets.  It doesn’t look bad, but it doesn’t look like the impressive graphic quality expected of the most recently-released games.

All true “COD” fans know that the campaign is just weapons practice for the real competition.  The online multiplayer maps and customizations definitely take the cake with “Black Ops.”  The killstreak reward “attack dogs” is back along with “Sam turret,” “mortar strikes” and the “chopper gunner.”  However, the max killstreak reward caps at 11, a slight disappointment for players used to a “Modern Warfare” cap of 25 kills.  One of the fun new killstreaks involves a RC car strapped with explosives.  Steer your RC around the map at high speeds until you find an enemy then pull your trigger near them to detonate the explosive.  

A definite upside is the map selection.  The new “Black Ops” maps are large and intricate enough that you don’t easily tire of them.  Each time you play, you discover new tunnels to crawl through, towers to climb and shadows to melt into that help give you the edge over some newbie.  The zombie maps are also excitingly fun.  One map unlocked by beating the campaign takes place in the Pentagon with President Kennedy as your character.  Listening to his Boston accent and commentary is hilarious as you fend off waves of incoming zombies.

New weapons added to the arsenal include the crossbow and the ballistics knife.  The crossbow fires regular bolts as well as timed, explosive bolts.  You can pick off enemies through the scope for a silent takedown or stick an enemy in a group with an explosive bolt to take out more than one enemy.  The ballistics knife works as a knife as well as a projectile.  Stab an enemy in the back or shoot them in the chest with this new weapon.
Customization allows you to design your lobby tag with almost a dozen different layers.  You can choose from pages and pages of symbols, customize colors and even put your design on your weapons.  You can choose what your soldier looks like from a few pre-made templates such as Spetsnaz or Guerilla style fighters.

Overall, the game play is smooth and intense.  The campaign is easy to complete and the online multiplayer features are new and cool enough to keep players entertained for weeks.  “Call of Duty: Black Ops” is certainly worthy to be the next installment in the “COD” collection and would be a great Christmas present to give yourself.  If you’re into first person shooters and you aren’t going to be doing homework over Thanksgiving break, then go out and buy “Black Ops” today.