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Beyond Zombies, It's Disappointing

  • Jan 7, 2011
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The overall storyline in CALL OF DUTY: BLACK OPS focus upon Alex Mason, a member of the CIA's Studies and Observation Group (SOG) or Black Ops for short. The game opens with Mason tied to a medical chair, surrounded with monitors with a non-descriptive disembodied voice asking him questions. At the same time Mason keeps hearing and seeing a list of numbers. It's unclear until about halfway through the game whether Mason has been captured and is being interrogated by an unknown enemy or if he is being questioned by a friendly force trying to extract life-saving data from him. The game progresses through a series of flashbacks that show what Mason has been through and how he came to be in the chair he is in. The flashbacks take the gamer from Cuba and the Bay of Pigs to Vietnam to a frozen wasteland near Russia and to beneath the ocean. The climax of the game leads up a climatic battle that loosely ties to actual history.

The overall graphics in the game are spectacular. There are many times that you look around and get the impression that you are playing a movie and not a video game. At certain points in the game, the images are extremely lifelike. The voice acting is strong and the music does an excellent job of accompanying what is happening during the story.

I usually don't play multi-player levels, but BLACK OPS has a special multi-player/co-op mode where you can fight a zombie horde. The "Zombies" mode is exciting and addictive. I just wish there was an end point somewhere; the zombie hordes never stop invading.

With that said, CALL OF DUTY: BLACK OPS is a disappointment. The overall storyline is short and the "reveal" at the end is disappointing. I mean, do we really need another Manchurian Candidate scenario?

The way the game operates is frustrating, too. BLACK OPS has been marketed as though it offers a more expansive and innovative gameplay, but that's just not the case. You have to complete each objective a certain way, otherwise the game doesn't progress and you are killed. The A.I. buddies that fight along your side don't do anything during actual combat and the blunt of the enemies attacks are always at your character. If you try to hide and peak a shoulder or a toe out, you're dead in a few seconds. There's no thinking outside of the box and if you try, you die. During battle sequences, if you stay in one spot it doesn't matter how good of a shot you are or how many enemies you kill because they just keep coming and coming and coming. The men at the Alamo had better odds than you do if you attempt to stay undercover and fight it out without advancing.

Beyond that, I was also disappointed by how little you actually get to play in certain environments. BLACK OPS was marketed as being a Cold War video game. For example, despite the historical negative connotations of the actual historical war, the prospect of fighting in Vietnam as a secret covert agent is exciting. You imagine all the possibilities of fighting and surviving in a jungle and think of a video-game version of Rambo. Instead, you are given a few sequences that have to be accomplished in a certain way and only about 25% of the game being spent fighting in Vietnam. It's like playing a game in the American Civil War only to find out that for over half of the game you're neither going to be a Yank or Reb but will be playing a Native American in a completely different conflict between two warring tribes out in Montana.

Overall, the graphics and voice acting are superb, but the storyline is weak and the gameplay is frustrating and non-innovative. BLACK OPS looks fun from the outside, but when it sees the light of day, it's a disappointment. The best thing about the game is the Zombie mode. Kids will probably enjoy it, but those over 16 or anyone who is a more experienced gamer will probably be disappointed by it.

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Call of Duty: Black Ops is a first-person shooter with stealth and tactical play aspect that puts players in the role of a shadow soldier fighting in a variety of historically representative fictional Black Ops missions of the Cold War era. Created with the input of actual Black Ops soldiers from the time, the game mixes traditional Call of Dutytactical shooter gameplay with new gameplay options designed to expand the players' experience. Additional features include extensive multiplayer options, along with new vehicles and explosive new weapons.

Call of Duty: Black Ops game logo Putting Out the Hotspots of the Cold War
Follow-up to 2009’s blockbuster Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2Call of Duty: Black Ops breaks new ground in the Call of Duty series and the video game industry at large by delving into the not-so cold conflicts of the Cold War.


Black Ops solidier with face in shadow from Call of Duty: Black Ops
Relive the Cold War COD style.
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Inspired by the experiences of real Black Ops soldiers of the era, the missions of Call of Duty: Black Ops take the player to a wide variety of settings, ranging from snowbound mountain strongholds in historical Soviet held territories, to the jungles and urban settings of Vietnam War era SE Asia. Throughout all, care has been taken to maintain the traditional essence of Call of Duty style combat, while also introducing new types of player action that add to the gameplay experience. Additional features include co-op, versus and team-based ...
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Number of Players: 4
Publisher: Activision
Developer: Treyarch
Console: Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii, Nintendo DS
Genre: First-Person Shooter
Release Date: November 9, 2010
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