False advertising! You do not—I repeat—DO NOT play as a jive-talkin-afro-flauntin composite of blaxploitation stereotypes. My expectations of this first-person shootyfest dropped and shattered like Mum’s Swarovski train set (sorry) when I realised that this game does not feature Black Dynamite or the Jewellery Man. However, there are many reasons why said expectations rose up from my crotch and skyrocketed to the clouds—speaking of rockets there is this sweet level where you guide a Valkyrie rocket and slam it into bigger, and much more phallic, rocket as it launches from its rocket silo … Did I mention rockets?
COD veterans and wary consumers might believe that Infinity Ward’s [edit: ahem, no you fool it’s actually Treyarch’s and Activision’s] latest offering is just MW2 repackaged. Well, it is. Sort of. Multiplayer is almost the same: you create your class, tinker with perks and strangle your mouse when your frame-rate ruins your potential headshot and you find yourself watching the kill cam. Oh, and there are attack dogs and RC bombs now! Yeah. Both of these killstreak rewards (I presume) took me by surprise. Hilarious stuff. Ha ha.
And there’s plenty to laugh about too. I’ll talk more about the zombies soon. If you’ve read and/or seen the movie Fight Club then you’ll be able to guess most of the plot in Black Ops. We are introduced to the story through Captain Mason’s trippy point-of-view; he’s strapped to a chair and is being interrogated by a Darth Vader impersonator. As the interrogator presses Mason he occasionally triggers a flashback of a military operation from his past. The campaign comprises a series of these missions all linked by a conspiracy that starts with a string of numbers. Typical Cold War shizz or is it? Purchase your copy today and find out.
As always, the action is intense and some levels can leave you wanting more. By this I mean that sometimes you may want to do more than just spray rooms with bullets. With Black Ops as a title I was expecting more secret agent type stuff. The pew-pew process gets a little tedious this time around and reminds me of how other FPS titles livened things up with a little innovation (Half-Life 2) and how more interesting objectives—like in the original Medal of Honour for example—put gameplay over appearances. Black Ops is a good shooter but it’s always kill, kill, kill. Ah who cares, I’ll frag me another ten of those soldier look-alikes because the Western world is on the brink of annihilation.
After two days of gaming I clocked the campaign on ‘regular’. There were some scripted sequences that shot plausibility in the face, but isn’t that what COD is all about?
I thoroughly enjoyed each level for its artistic merit as well as the intended bang-bang. There are several theatres of war to experience, that help keep the colour palette fresh, from urban warzones to ice wastelands to green jungles and damn: those guys at IW [edit: pay attention it’s Treyarch and Activision … *facepalm*] know how to do slick cutscenes (Pentagon stuff, fantastic).
It’s difficult to pick a favourite level because they’re all great but I thought the ‘Numbers’ level was one of the most atmospheric, engaging and exciting of them all because it had plenty of frantic shoot-outs in the rain. I even slipped on a tin roof and the game slowed intentionally—bullet-time—to accentuate that holy-shit-I’m-falling-and-there-are-baddies-who-are-about-to-kill-me moment. Also ‘Project Nova’ is memorable: British commandos crash the betrayal party on a ship stuck in the ice … very nice. Oooh and then there’s the Vietnam missions: iconic music and access to driveable boats and choppers to blow stuff up—‘it’s fuckin beautiful’ … to quote Mr Sheen in Platoon.
Ok, I mentioned zombies earlier. When I bought the game it wasn’t until I was on the train home that I noticed that Black Ops features ‘4-player co-op zombies’. Cool. And Cool it is. You can play solo or with friends online though I tried to play with some randoms earlier but the server kept kicking me. Boo.
Popping zombies is a fun diversion to the campaign and multiplayer. The novelty wears off quickly when you’re fragging alone because you’ll survive 5 rounds—if you’re lucky—and then you’ll yearn for some backup. You earn points by killing and reinforcing entry points that those mort buggers persist in breaking out of. See those gun shapes marked in white on the walls? Approach them and you can spend your points on buying weapons. Boom, boom, click, click—ARRRRGH!
After the end credits—after you’ve completed the campaign—you witness a short clip featuring JFK, Castro, MacNamara and Tricky Dicky. Yep, these guys are all in the same room. They exchange banter in the Pentagon bunker only to be confronted by those pesky deadites. I laughed and laughed and then played the level and laughed even more when I realised that JFK is a playable character and he even says the occasional one-liner. Brilliant.
I HOPE YOU DIDN’T JUST SKIP TO THE END?
Black Ops is your typical COD shooter: polished and entertaining. It should endure on the multiplayer scene, especially with the co-op zombie mode. I wonder where the COD franchise will go next? Perhaps they’ll experiment with a SF concept where a space marine by the name of Dick Justice or Rod On rides a space ship to the Moon and single-handedly fights Corporate America with a cigar laser and explosive bling to free his slave-brothers …