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Review – Call of Duty: Black Ops | Level Up News

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Review – Call of Duty: Black Ops


Publisher: Activision
Developer: Treyarch
Platform(s): Xbox 360, Playstation 3, PC
Genre: First-person Shooter
ESRB Rating: Rated M for Mature
ESRB Descriptors: Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Strong Language
Players: 1-4 Co-op and 1-18 Multiplayer (Online)
Get It Now: Amazon.com GameStop

*While this game is available for multiple platforms this review is based on the Xbox 360 versions. Some differences may apply.*

The Scoop: The seventh entry in the popular first-person shooter franchise, Call of Duty: Black Ops, brings you into the shadows of top secret missions, classified operations, and the covert affairs of the Cold War. While trying to solve a mystery and stop a global catastrophe you must assume the mantel of special forces operative Alex Mason, fighting tooth and nail through ridiculous odds to save the fate of the world, and history as we know it.

The Setup: We begin this new iteration of the CoD franchise with a new character, a new time period, and a new theme. The game actually starts you off as newcomer Alex Mason right from the menu. You wake up in an interrogation room…CIA style, not the kind where you were taken to when you were hit with those public urination charges. After being “questioned” you are warped into a flashback. This is where most of the game takes place, in Mason’s past. You will go through the scenic Cold War tours, Cuba, Vietnam, and Russia among them. As the shadowy figures push for more information you flashback to different points trying to figure out what the hell you did, or for that matter what the hell is going on. Flipping from memory to memory you slowly piece things together leading to the climax. Oh and there’s shooting and stuff…and throat cutting, mustn’t forget the throat cutting.

What’s Hot: This is definitely my favorite CoD in the series thus far. Why, pray tell? Is it all the shooting? Is it the explosions? Is it even the coveted throat cutting? Or perhaps better yet, the realistic black ops Cold War action? Nope. You ready for this. It’s going to be mind blowing! Drum roll, please. *insert the sound of a drum roll here* STORY!!!! Yes that’s right! A genuine, bona-fide storyline, worth its weight in bullets! It takes *GASP!* cinematic skills and applies them to a good plot. Don’t get me wrong here, previous CoDs did in fact have them, they just sucked. I tend to be interested in a story when I know whose mercenaries I’m killing and for what reason. You know, other than that whole “they’re shooting at us!” thing. This game was leaps and bounds above the previous titles. A little predictable with their rendition of an “M.Night” script, but hey, I’m not asking for Oscar quality here.

I have to mention the level designs for Kowloon and the Vietnam tunnels; they were definitely my favorites of the locales you “visit” (read as “blow up”). The action is always at a good pace, picking up and slowing down dependant on how the story progresses; going from subtle stealth to full on helicopter warfare. It’s always a good level when the objective is to blow the living tar out of all that stands in between you and then next checkpoint.

The level of weapons to choose from is great, as it is a staple of the series; the crossbow, with explosive heads, being a particularly fun one. I thoroughly enjoyed shooting enemies in the foot and then laughing hysterically when the rest of them went flying after they figured it was just a flesh wound.

There are plenty of other attributes which really make this one shine. Such as presidential cameos, excellent voice acting, and…well gosh darn it! I just can’t get over that throat slicing! Fun times. Fun times.

What’s Not: Two words, “Error Message”. I’m not talking about a frozen screen and a reboot, or even the disc read error. I’m talking about an honest to G.O.D., pop up on the screen, “WHAT THE F*** IS THAT!!!” error message. I was attempting Hardened level, which is ridiculously hard in Black Ops. Naturally that means lots of funerals for the Mason family back home. At one point while storming out of a mansion in sunny Cuba (pronounced “Coo Ba” here) I was once more sent to the great beyond. At which point I was not greeted with the normal reboot, but the pleasant error below. To make matters even more attractive to the average consumer, it decided to lose all my progress for that level. I then switched back to Normal. Ok, so the explanation was more then two words. You get the point.

Final Verdict: A new level of quality for the Call of Duty franchise. Black Ops excels where its predecessors could not, in the field of storytelling. This is something vital to almost all forms of entertainment. While buggy at times and perhaps a tiny bit too hard, Black Ops still delivers quality and more. I hope to see more out of the next game. With any luck this is a turn for the better and we shall see more from the script and story department to raise the bar even higher. Maybe even some more of those “stabby, stabby, slice, slice” scenes, eh?

Review - Call of Duty: Black Ops, 3.0 out of 5 based on 2 ratings

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