Review: Call of Duty: Black Ops - Single Player

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The game of the year has finally arrived this week, Call of Duty: Black Ops. Developed by Treyarch, the same developers who brought you Call of Duty: World at War and Call of Duty 3 comes an all new series to the highly successful franchise.

This is the first of the series to ever take place during the Cold War era, as past versions take place in World War II in Germany, Japan and all over the world. Black Ops takes place in the 1960's in Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Cuba and the U.S.S.R. The game covers some aspects of the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Vietnam War, which stretched over two decades.

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Campaign

The campaign starts off through the perspective of a CIA agent named Alex Mason, who is strapped to a chair, surrounded by televisions and a man behind glass speaking to you. Mason is in a Saw like scenario, where he is strapped to a chair and being tortured for answers to questions.

Without giving too much away, the game reminds me of the TV show Lost, Saw and another movie that I won't say, as not to ruin the ending of the game. The game goes through a variety of characters and their perspective on aspects of the war, as Mason is trying to recall his memories in order to help save the world from terrorism.

Black Ops isn't like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 1 or 2, which were developed by Infinity Ward, but a similar single player experience as World at War. The campaigns are straight tracks, so there isn't too much to go off and discover and it's hard to find yourself way off course.

The missions are definitely bloody, almost too much. Each mission feels very much the same, running and gunning to reach the objective or checkpoint, which moves you to the next part of the game, usually back to Mason strapped in the chair.

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Every mission feels the same because you are emerged into a heavy gun fight, every single mission. There isn't really any mission that requires you to hold a certain position, but just to gun from point A to point B while killing hundreds of enemies.

This game felt very World at War-esk, without the constant grenades by your feet. If you remember how World at War played, the game is very similar, just with more enemies all the time, massive explosions, and bullets flying all over the place.

Glitches

Black Ops seems rushed, in the sense that there is numerous bugs, glitches and points in the game you're confused on what you're supposed to do.

I've seen a number of bugs, including me getting stuck on a lamp post with a motorcycle and I couldn't move in any direction, forcing me to restart from the last checkpoint.

There was other times that I noticed vehicles disappearing on me, weird character stances, even some enemies disappearing during a gun fight, one instance of a character floating dead in the air, and one strange occurrence of someone flying off the stage.

All versions of Call of Duty, at least from Call of Duty 2 all face from what I like to call "The Call of Duty glitch." This is when you run up to a certain point, usually just in front of enemy positions, they randomly disappear. You can test this for yourself, especially on one stage where a huge bay door opens up, just run to the left of the stage, as far up as you can, and all the enemies retreat. This stage should normally take you a few minutes to complete, but you can beat this in under 10 seconds.

Another stage involved me on top of a hill, and my objective was to reach the bottom. I noticed a constant loop of characters on this stage, where you can fight for hours without ever making any progress, or you can simply make a B-line for the bottom of the hill, hide somewhere, and all the enemies will disappear. This type of glitch is not only noticeable throughout the game, but all versions of Call of Duty.

This may not exactly be a glitch, but restarting from your random checkpoint near an enemy, explosion or something else can mean you're stuck in an endless loop. I found myself restarting in front of someone with a rocket launcher, a turret shooting at me, or near a barrel explosion that you need to time precisely after a few tries to just continue playing.

This is also annoying when there was a lengthy cut-scene that you can't skip, forcing you to watch a video a few times if you keep dying.

Story

The story of this game was a little confusing at first, as Alex Mason is trying to find out what a bunch of numbers mean and who is keeping you captive. Half-way through the game and you may find it's a little repetitive, but the last level and ending of this game really brings the story together and may just change your entire outlook of the story, as it did with me.

Treyarch really tried to do something new with this game, which really pays off for them, making the single player not as horrible as others may think. As you continue to play through the story, you'll unlock more of Mason's story, discovering why he's being held for questioning, and eventually what everything means.

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Gameplay

Some levels of the campaign are actually very fun, including the last two levels. Most of the gameplay feels the same, which can feel annoying when the gameplay is so repetitive. Aside from the last two levels and a few in between, there isn't very much in terms of gameplay.

As mentioned before, constantly being stuck in the middle of a firefight without any reward can become annoying. There isn't any real objective to the levels, other than shooting as many people as you can and reaching the end.

Some levels can be confusing, especially when it comes to finding out what you're supposed to do. A lot of the instructions aren't very clear, and you can find yourself walking around in circles looking for something noticeable to press, jump on, or trigger the cut-scene.

Video and Audio

This is one part of the game I really give credit to. The game brings in actors to do some of the voices, including Ice Cube, Sam Worthington, Ed Harris, Gary Oldman, Emmanuelle Chriqui and many more. The voices of this game really stand out, which gives the game a much better experience overall. There was just one voice that was way off, and that was ex-president Richard Nixon; they could have found a better voice over for him.

The cut-scenes of the game are much better than previous versions of Call of Duty, which includes history footage of ex-presidents and computer graphics. Some of the videos of the game were really interesting to watch, and the detail in them shows they actually took time to think of and create.

The soundtrack to the game was a really nice touch, using music from the Vietnam War era, including The Rolling Stones - Sympathy for the Devil and Creedence Clearwater Revival - Fortunate Son.

Conclusion

As a fan of Call of Duty, I didn't really enjoy the gameplay of Black Ops, but I did enjoy the story, videos and audio of the game. I think they did a really great job on a few missions where you can to fly a helicopter, swim or control a vehicle, but the constant run-n-gunning gameplay is a little over the top.

If Treyarch fixed the glitches, improved the aiming, hit detection and the over-the-top campaign gameplay, I would really enjoy the single player aspect of the game.

After you beat the game and skip past the credits, there is one more little surprise for gamers. this little bonus adds some humour to the game.

Pros:

  • New vehicles and creative objectives
  • Interesting story
  • Great graphics in-game and video
  • The soundtrack was amazing

Cons:

  • Too many glitches
  • Repetitive gameplay
  • Over-the-top explosions and gun battles
  • Straight-track game - isn't very much in terms of exploring to do
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