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Games Thirst Review: Call of Duty: Black Ops

It has been a year since the release of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, and that can only mean one thing. It is time for another Call of Duty. This time around, Treyarch has regained control of the reins for this year’s installment of Call of Duty. They are known for creating Call of Duty set in WWII, but this time they have moved the fight to the Cold War era.

The story is centered on the character of Alex Mason who, at the beginning, is strapped to a chair being interrogated. A series of numbers that he cannot explain haunts him, and it is these numbers that the people who are interrogating him want to know about. The story plays out through a series of flashbacks that reveal a little more about  the story each time they occur. They finally lead up to a moment in which you have to stop the release of a gas called Nova 6, which could devastate the United States.

Even though the game is set up in flashbacks, it moves pretty smoothly. It jumps around through different times and settings, but never once did the story get confusing.  There is a twist in the plot, but it was not that big of a twist. In fact, I figured it out pretty early in the game. I did feel like the single player fell off at the end though. It started with really fast paced action that really drew me in, but by the end, it really slowed down and did not have that impact like the beginning of the game.

Each setting that you play through looks great. Some of the set pieces are amazing. There are lush jungles, frozen lands, smoke filled cities, and even an underwater base. They all look great and add a lot of diversity to the game.

While the settings as a whole looked great, the game suffered in some areas in the graphical department. The characters were really detailed, and so were the weapons, but the environments could have used some work. Up close, the textures and colors were washed out and blurry, and there were some small graphical glitches as well. The game as a whole looked great, but the graphics could use some polishing. I do have to say that the smoke affects in one of the levels, and the fire and explosions all look great, and I was really impressed by them.

Now that I have the basic plot, and the graphics out of the way, I want to focus on what makes a Call of Duty game so fun, and that is its gameplay. For years now, the Call of Duty franchise has been providing us with some of the most solid gameplay out there. It is one of the main reasons why this franchise has stayed upon the stop of the totem poll for so many years. It has really set the mark for other first person war games to match. The question is though; did Treyarch continue this mark of excellence?

Well, of course they did. Treyarch was able to match this mark of excellence with no problem. The gameplay is super smooth and quick. No matter what you are doing, you move with ease, whether you are sprinting, walking, crawling or anything else, it runs great. They even added the ability to dive out of the sprint, which can be very helpful because the game can get hard at points.

The only problem I found with the gameplay was that there was not really anything new. It felt way to familiar. As I moved through the levels, and performed what the game wanted me to, it just felt like I was going through the motions. It felt like I have done this before.

Since we experience the Call of Duty franchise yearly, the game, for me, has started to become a little stale. I feel as if I have done everything before, and there is nothing that has really changed.  This is not Treyarch’s fault, but rather the fact that we get this type of game and gameplay each year, and there are only small tweaks done to the game each time.

I also found a problem with how the gunplay worked. The guns really have no recoil, well until you get shot. If I am using a high-powered machine gun, then I expect there to be some recoil, but there is barely any. Also, the weapons sounds are not that great. They just do not have that realistic feel or sound to them that I was expecting. Overall the gameplay is good though, but a little familiar.

The final, and probably one of the most important things to look at is the multiplayer. Since Call of Duty 4, this franchise has truly made a name for itself in regards to multiplayer. Year after year, the Call of Duty games are some of the most played out there. They are known for their solid and addictive gameplay that keeps people coming back for more, and Black Ops is no different.

Treyarch took the solid gameplay from the single player and transitioned it seamlessly to the multiplayer.  The multiplayer runs extremely smooth, and offers much as far as customization. In the multiplayer, you are able to unlock loads of weapons, and each of these weapons can be customized with various attachments that help improve your skills. There are also a lot of perks, kill streaks, and other things that can help improve your character.

To get these various gun attachments, perks, and kill streaks, you have to buy them with in game credits that you earn while playing. As you play, you receive both experience points to level up, and credits that you can you use to buy various things. There are also contracts that you can take to try to make more credits while playing. All of this allows you to customize your character the way you want to.

There are also some new kill streaks that you can get. The most notable, and fun is the R/C car. I have had a blast using the R/C car. It is great driving it around the map and finding a group of people to blow up. The best part about it is that it only takes a kill streak of 3 to get it. So it is the easy to get, and the most fun.

Treyarch also did a great job at balancing the game. This not to say that it is totally balanced, but it is pretty good. The biggest problem I have had with the game was when I first started playing, and I kept getting placed with really high ranked people. In fact, my first game was with a team of all 40+ level guys, and I got totally demolished.  Other than these few balancing issues, the multiplayer is really fun and works really good. Also, the zombie mode makes its return to the series, and it is as fun as ever to battle against the zombie hordes with your friends.

Some look at Treyarch as the filler company that gives players their fix until Infinity Ward can release their next Call of Duty game, but I believe Treyarch has really come into their own with Black Ops. They have created a fun game with great gameplay, and have shown that they can make just as good of a game.

Black Ops has a good story that last for about 7 hours, an addictive multiplayer, and a fun zombie mode to play with friends. If you liked the other Call of Duty games, then you will definitely like this one, and if you are on the fence about this game, it is worth playing. Treyarch really did a good job with Black Ops, and I commend them for stepping up and showing that they can make just as good of a Call of Duty game as anyone else out there.

Overall: 8.8


  1. Thu, 18th Nov 2010 at 7:56 am

    Excellent review, Josh. 8.8 is a deserving score for the game.

    Apart from the story, I like how long the game is: 7hrs for a shooter isn’t bad at all.

    Great effort by Treyarch.

  2. Thu, 18th Nov 2010 at 9:49 am

    Great review. Very in depth, informative, written with the gamer in mind and spot on…

  3. Thu, 18th Nov 2010 at 3:13 pm

    they did a good job, but i think the series is beginning to lose its sparkle. Well at least for me. Also, that was 7 hrs. on the hard difficulty, it took like 5 on normal, and watching all cutscenes. So it is still a pretty good length.

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