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Call of Duty: Black Ops – The Gradual Evolution of FPS…

November 13, 2010

I was a fan of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 – really well made game and a great example of how evolving a game system builds towards making a better experience. So now Black Ops is out – am I going to buy? (I didn’t pay for the multiplayer add on maps for MW2)…

Call of Duty: Black Ops quite probably represents the pinnacle of the linear military shooter experience – and you wonder where the sub-genre can go from here. Treyarch’s game is exhilarating and beautifully orchestrated, but it feels like a full-stop, it needs to be a full-stop, because toward the end of the campaign, bombardment fatigue begins to set in. As CoD players we have travelled the world, killing people, following orders, hunting down madmen … many of us have had enough. Call of Duty should go out on a high, or at least come back totally re-invented. Perhaps that’s what we’ll get with Modern Warfare 3. But for now, and for the next two-years of multiplayer engagement, revel in this game’s mastery of its well-trodden domain.

I think that was an er… yes. So I’ve been playing it for a couple of days now and it’s good.  But here comes the ‘but’.  Before I start on a few minor points it is worth saying that this game is great, the production is high, the standard is high and there are lots of things to like about it.  It’s well worth playing.  So temper my points with that….

But… there is something a little less visceral about the shooting.  It’s subtle but until I got the M60, most weapons did not feel like they had the right level of punch.  (The G11 felt right, but you don’t get it till later and lots of the mainstay weapons; M16s, AK47s could do with a bit more meat on the bone.) Not sure what it is, possibly sound levels, possibly controller shock effect, possibly the damage each unit takes before it dies. Some of the gameplay is a little too linear; too many enemy units spawning to trot into the same place as where I mowed down several of their colleagues a moment before.

Also the ‘communists=evil’ thing they’ve got going on in the plot is a little tired.  Trying to do the same WWII plots where you transpose the Nazis in 1940 for the Cuban Commies in 1960 just does not work.  Stalin I can see this with and mean Castro is no saint, far far from it, but then nor was what he replaced. My point is that the politics was a little greyer than depicted in Back Ops, certainly in the earlier levels and it’s a shame that they did not work into this more as the gameplay. (Looks like this annoyed the Cuban’s too!)

Also no campaign style coop missions.  The 2 player co-op in MW2 was one of the best bits.  I know it has Zombies, and that is fun, but a bit more 2 player is what I’d have liked.

Still I am having fun and will continue to play, so respect to the hard work I know the developers would have done to complete the game. (And love the redaction graphics over the introductory text to each mission!)

(Interesting that the sales projection for Black Ops is 20% less than MW2?!)

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