Frankenreview: Call Of Duty: Black Ops

An elite force of soldiers that operates beyond the boundaries of any law. They are shadows, waiting for the perfect time to strike. They are the assembled video game critics, and this is the Call of Duty: Black Ops Frankenreview.

There's a new Call of Duty game in stores, and regardless of what the critics say it will sell ridiculously well. As a sporadic video game critic myself, I would have taken this opportunity to write a review made up of random nonsensical phrases. For instance, "Call of Duty: Black Ops' main problem is a giraffe ordering a soy latte." That's probably why I didn't wind up reviewing Call of Duty: Black Ops, and these folks did.

Eurogamer

"Remember, no Russian." When the dust settled, Modern Warfare 2 took as much of a shoeing from critics as it did from politicians for its controversial terrorist smashup in an airport terminal, but while Call of Duty: Black Ops has the potential to cause even more offence – blending real and fictional events during the Cold War, even impersonating JFK and Robert McNamara to add gravitas – the closest it comes is during a pre-credits cut-scene revelation that is more "gotcha!" than grisly.

IGN

You begin the game as Alex Mason, a soldier being interrogated for information that he can't remember. You play through Mason's memories in search for information. Sam Worthington, Ed Harris, and Gary Oldman deliver expert performances and really nail their respective characters. There are twists, some of which work better than others, and the plot seems to get bogged down and slightly disjointed towards the middle. But unlike Modern Warfare 2, Black Ops does a wonderful job of cleaning everything up for the finale.

TeamXbox

As you work your way through fifteen levels, there are several points where both the objective and placement of the enemies can only be categorised as unfair. One section in Vietnam in particular puts you in a difficult spot as the enemies infinitely respawn until you finally figure out what needs to happen. Unfortunately, your HUD doesn't tell you what to do and unless you're watching your AI counterparts very closely, you're going to get stuck. I died countless times trying to work my way down this particular hillside and grew increasingly frustrated as the objective just wasn't clear. Even after I arrived on the checkpoint marked on the map, nothing happened and I was left in the open to die in front of my friends.

Computer and Video Games (CVG)

But we know the sole selling point of Black Ops for the majority of fans is multiplayer. So we're delighted to inform you that it's an absolute blast to play online. We put countless hours in to the various competitive and co-operative game modes with everything unlocked - and it's clear that naysayers will struggle to be disappointed by Trearch's online offering. (Unless you're the most picky of all deathmatchers. Or we've missed some massive exploits.) Plenty of decent maps and an arsenal of meaty and powerful Modern Warfare-esque weapons (the Dragon's Breath shotgun scares us) ensure that the core Black Ops modes feel very familiar to Infinity Ward's game.

GamePro

The new Wager Matches are an interesting twist as well, letting you bet credits against your own performance; rank in the top three and you earn credits, rank anywhere else and you lose credits. These matches will no doubt be dominated by high level players the way poker games are usually dominated by card sharks, but even amateur gamblers can have fun thanks to the three tiers of betting. The lowest tier, Ante Up, only requires a 10 credit buy in, which is a modest enough entry fee to entice anyone to give it a try; the modes themselves are fun, with One in the Chamber and Gun Game topping my own personal list, and even though I never felt particularly thrilled by the gambling aspect, ending a round ‘in the money' does lend a nice element of accomplishment to the experience.

Kotaku

Call of Duty: Black Ops is a powerful story. The game's missions explore a fascinating time in history, take us to places we've likely never been and put us in situations unusual and captivating, even for a video game. But what it does best, through both narrative and gameplay, is tell a story. As the game progressed I found myself anticipating the cut-scenes as much as I did the tightly crafted levels. Thinking back, I can easily forget whether the last absorbing moments of the game were played by me or for me. This is what video games should be, a confusion of interaction and story-telling, of graphics and camera movement, of play and parable.

Can the series get any better at this point?


Comments

    100? Nice to see Activision is getting the reviews it paid for

    "Call of Duty: Black Ops is a powerful story."

    Really? C'mon Kotaku. What would be absolute D grade trash for any other media gets lauded in the gaming world as 'powerful' story telling.

      I agree with this. I like the game, but bloody Castro as a panto villain? Just didn't work for me!

      I also concur. I couldn't tell you a single video game story that I would hold up alongside any decent movie (which is one reason, among many, that VG movies really tend to suck).

      *Maybe* the review means comparitively powerful for video games, which is the most logical yardstick for it, but then doesn't say so much.

      This is a phenomenon not limited to video games. I speak from experience when I say that when my prose writing isn't powerful enough, I say "Screw it, I'm going to make it a graphic novel instead!"

        Uncharted/Uncharted 2 perhaps?

          I dunno, I didn't mind the stories for those games (in the context of them being games), but I am honest-to-God certain that they would make quite uninteresting movies, just another half-assed Indiana Jones clone.

          I guess when limited by control schemes and game engines, when you can only present a character with a problem they can shoot or climb over, that's going to have story implications.

          I actually preferred the Metal Gear Solid stories, but they all share the same problem: they are exciting and well-integreated, but at the end of the day (argh, that phrase :P) ordinary action stories.

          In terms of true character depth, the only game I can think of with real substance is Heavy Rain, and that had huge plot issues.

    "One section in Vietnam in particular puts you in a difficult spot as the enemies infinitely respawn until you finally figure out what needs to happen. Unfortunately, your HUD doesn’t tell you what to do and unless you’re watching your AI counterparts very closely, you’re going to get stuck. I died countless times trying to work my way down this particular hillside and grew increasingly frustrated as the objective just wasn’t clear. Even after I arrived on the checkpoint marked on the map, nothing happened and I was left in the open to die in front of my friends."

    Oh I know that part sooooo well...it also took me many many attempts to pass this section, thee really is not good indicator as what to do. I stayed up on the hill one time till I ran out of ammo, trying to work out what the hell I was supposed to do.

    The storyline and kept me glued in front of the screen for hours. The middle does get a big grey and certain levels of the game really didn't feel like they worked for me (the story) but all in all I thoroughly enjoyed SP campaign.

    I don't think any of the big review sites even mentioned the myriad of issues facing multiplayer at the moment, especially on PS3 and PC.

    I'm using the PS3 version the best way to describe it is 'rough'. Juttering frame rate, lots of connection issues, bullet collision issues, it seems like a very 'rough' experience compared to Modern Warfare which online was quite smooth.

    I'm not impressed so far.

      I'd say the issues are related to the PS3 and PC servers not any issues with the game itself.

      My experience has been pretty good on the 360 with only a couple of instances of lag. Haven't had a game drop out yet.

      I've got a PS3 also and have never had good online experience with the PS3.

    After reading the start a what IGN said, reminded me of a game I played back in the PS2 glory days called BLACK, anyone else remember this game?

      I remember it was another overhyped FPS, i played it and it was as generic as they come shooter wise.

        i didn't mind the gameplay but Black's cut scenes were really bad and you couldn't skip them.

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