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Old 01-15-2011, 07:17 AM   #4
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Re: Please rate this review: Call of Duty: Black Ops

made some changes:

Review: Call of Duty - Black Ops

Now I wanna be your dog.

High: Ich bin ein Berliner.
Low: endless respawning enemies that turn the whole game into a high-tech whack-a-mole
WTF: I torture a guy and seconds after he is on my side?

Sometimes when walking through the park and seeing dog owners with their pets, I wonder how dogs feel when they are being walked. Restricted by a leash which is sometimes shorter, sometimes longer and disappears for a while at certain occasions the owner sees fit. Luckily I now know how it feels. This is thanks to the latest and greatest first-person shooter extravaganza Call of Duty: Black Ops. Black Ops follows the story of a handful of operatives during the cold war era. The player assumes control over different soldiers, mostly Captain Alex Mason. He remains pale as a character, similar to the other people involved, despite the voice talent that has been hired. Only Gary Oldman as Reznov is able to shine with his performance. However: in the shooter-genre, a genre that seems riddled by fan-fiction written by paranoid NRA-members, the overarching story can be considered well above average.

Alex Mason mainly follows orders. That is where the dog-simulator comes into play. Alex is getting ordered around constantly and never allowed to walk astray from his handler at any given time. Most of the game is spent running around a character sporting a yellow dot with the caption ‘Follow’ and do whatever they say. The experience is streamlined to convert the whole world one endless seeming corridor, entrenched by invisible walls and scripted sequences. To prevent the dog (player) from noticing his limited options, the game throws around sticks in form of explosions and vehicle sections with outlandish controls. No wonder almost no helicopter manages to land intact during the campaign. In the course of the game I can only recall one helicopter on either side of the conflict to perform anything else then a crash landing. Controls for other vehicles are also of questionable quality, but they fare much better than the more frequent helicopter sequences. The stream of explosions, gunfire, smoke, blood and missing limbs never really stops and hardly ever ceases. Because of this all those effects loose their effect pretty quickly. It is difficult to feel awe when crashing with yet another helicopter. Most games have deliberate downtimes, where the action comes to a halt. Not so Black Ops, where even the loading screens are a cacophony of pictures, sounds and video clips that never allow the eye or mind to rest and reflect on the things that just happened. This makes it difficult to even remember afterwards where the action took place and in which sequence the missions were. Only close to the end of the single-player campaign I noticed some sections that were slower paced.

At the point where my mind was able to fade out all the explosions and dismemberment, the game allowed me to actually enjoy myself. Running, aiming, shooting and reloading feel natural and the controls never obstruct the enjoyment. I still wonder why in times of analogue sticks a button for sprinting is necessary but this would be nitpicking. Obstructions that break the little bit of immersion there is come from other sources. Frequently I was pulled out of the experience because of invisible walls or the endless stream of identical enemies. It adds a comedic element to shoot at wave after wave of soldiers that look absolutely identical. One might imagine a factory for those clone troopers just across the hill, beyond the invisible walls. Factories that suddenly stop working, as soon as I reached a certain spot that triggered the next event. A certain level of frustration comes from badly distributed checkpoints in combination with the endless respawning enemies. A lot of scripting and endless waves of enemies were always part of the Call of Duty-franchise. After seven years of sequels this approach to level design is becoming archaic. The mission objectives are usually simple, however: at times it isn’t really clear what Alex Mason is supposed to do. This is especially nerve-wracking in combination with aforementioned, endless respawning enemies.

These criticisms do not apply to multiplayer, where black ops truly shines. Unfortunately I don’t play much multiplayer. But even I found myself enjoying to browse through the sheer number of different multiplayer modes. For fans of multiplayer Black Ops is a good option to spend some time with, but there are better ones out there. I find it hard to recommend for its singleplayer campaign alone, which is infuriating at times due to aforementioned problems. This installment of the Call of Duty-series is, as usual, a well made shooter with high production values. What it is lacking is progress. It feels like the same game I played the last two years already.


Disclosures: This game was obtained via [retail store] and reviewed on the [PlayStation 3]. Approximately 6 hours of play was devoted to single-player modes (completed 1 time) and 2 hours of play to multiplayer modes.

Parents: Extremely graphic violence including dismemberment, one interactive torture scene and regular use of profanities. This game does not belong in the hands of children.

Deaf and Hard of Hearing: The game has subtitles for all dialogue.
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