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Before I get into this review, I’m going to share what I feel is perhaps one of the best game advertisements of the year with you all. I’m sure that most have seen it now, but it’s always good to watch.

 

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, on with the show.

Call of Duty: Blacks Op or Call of Duty 7 (whichever you want to call it) is the newest first person shooter from the Call of Duty franchise, of which this one in particular was developed by Treyarch (Makers of World at War). The game is set in the Cold and Vietnam war periods and like Infinity Ward’s Modern Warfare 2, Black Ops doesn’t shirk away from the controversy.

Like all First Person Shooters these days, Single Player campaigns take a back seat and this is shown in Black Ops by the length of the campaign. Depending on the difficulty setting you select, a 6 hour romp through it is certainly achievable. It is however, one of the best campaigns I’ve played through on a FPS for a very long time.

The environs are stunning at times and the plot was well written. The missions that took place in Vietnam left me with a pleasant impression. I’ve heard a few stories of what it was like back then and I think Black Ops (for better or worse) managed to capture this in places. The biggest criticism I can muster forth the campaign however is the movie feel to it. There were parts where you could complete the mission you were on without doing anything, simply because characters important to the story did not die.

So with patience you can let your indestructible allies do all the work. A simple game over screen if one of my allies died would have sufficed to wisk that point away. Live and learn eh?

The next major thing to talk about is the return of the Zombie game mode. Out of the box, Black Ops comes with three Zombie stages, one of which is set in the Pentagon and offers up Robert McNamara, John F Kennedy, Fidel Castro and Richard Nixon as playable characters. It’s more of the same if you’ve played the DLC Zombie maps for World at War, but with slightly more modern weaponry as well as some new ones.

Probably the coolest thing about Zombies this time round is Dead Ops Arcade, which is a Zombie stage but a throw back to the top down arcade games of way back when. Grab 3 friends and fight your way through stages of zombies in an effort to take down the Silverback (a Gorilla). Dead Ops Arcade has some interesting power ups to collect, one of the best in my opinion is the tank. Just what you need for the higher levels in Dead Ops Arcade.

Moving on to what most people play First Person Shooters for and that’s the online multiplayer aspect. One of the things I think has become synonymous with Call of Duty players is that in general, they are a competitive bunch and there tends to be quite a lot of trash talking that can occur during gameplay. This can be some what off putting especially for new players who are training to learn to play the game.

This is just my thoughts on the matter, but I don’t need to be called a n00b when I’m learning to play a game. (n00b being relatively mild) Anyway, that leads on to one talking point about Black Ops multiplayer and that is combat training. As the name suggests, this mode is a practice mode to help ease new players to the Call of Duty series into online play. You can mess around with a whole host of settings (game type, maps, etc, etc) and set the difficulty of the bots (computer controlled enemies or allies) that will be fighting in the game alongside or against you. Everything you can do in the “real deal” can be done in combat training.

Rank up, prestige, spend COD points, unleash the kill streaks. You can even invite your friends in if you so choose. Just be aware that anything you achieve in combat training, only stays in combat training and doesn’t translate to regular multiplayer.

The second key talking about Black Ops multiplayer is customisation. Yes, the C word. Like Halo Reach which offered the ability to mix and match armor pieces, Black Ops gives players the ability to apply facepaint, camo to their guns as well as your clan tag and the like. Red Dot and Reflex Sight attachments can also be customised in regards to the colour of the lens and the shape of the dot and it’s colour.

Unlike previous games, ranking up doesn’t hand you new guns and completing gun challenges don’t unlock their attachments, instead Black Ops employs a currency system called Call of Duty points (COD points for short). This means that you have to earn these COD points to purchase weapons, attachments, perks and the various customisation options. Certain options cannot be purchased until you reach the required level, however.

And with currency comes gambling. Yes, you heard right. The simplest form are contracts which are, when you get down to it, challenges that you purchase with COD points. Completing these challenges within the specified time limit will reward you with more COD points and possibly experience for ranking up as well.

For those looking for a bit more excitement, that’s where Wager Matches come into play. Wager Matches include several game types, where the basics involve players betting a specified amount of COD points (with the option to ante up at times) and compete with players doing like wise to win the “pot”. It’s competitive and certainly allows for a lot of boasting if you take home the bank. If you’re not into this aspect heavily, it’s worth a quick shot at the different types of games Wager matches as what offer aren’t really available in regular multiplayer.

In terms of gameplay in regular multiplayer, there isn’t a whole lot of “new”. It comes off as more balanced to me compared to Modern Warfare 2 which had me shaking my head in disbelief one or two times. Quick scoping is harder but not impossible, noob tubing is also harder but still there. Not being able to refill your grenade launcher ammo helps with that.

One of the things that Treyarch have done and I really, really, hope they expand on when the inevitable DLC map packs start hitting the online shelves, is interactive multiplayer maps. What do I mean by this? Well, quite simply, the ability to interact with certain parts of the map. An example for this would be the Radiation map. There’s two control panels that the player can use to open or shut a massive metal hatch, that provides easy access to an under ground tunnel.

While not quite the same thing, on Launch, after a certain amount of time a massive rocket will take off and if you find yourself within the blast radius you’ll be regretting it. So, if Treyarch can develop on this aspect of the game, then I’ve no doubt plenty of people are going to be playing it for a loooooong time to come.

Before I give my rating, I’m going to mention that this review is strictly for the console version (Xbox 360 being the console I’ve played it on). Why do I mention this? Well, the PC version of Black Ops has caused quite a far amount of grief for those who choose to do their gaming on that platform. So while I haven’t really touched on much with regards to platform specifics in this review, keep this in mind if you’re looking at buying this for the PC (A Google search to see if the issues plaguing it have been fixed or not might be a worthy endeavour.

Now, onto the most (or least) important part of the review, the rating! I’m going to give it the stellar rating of 9 out of 10.

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