Why Aren't There Any Call Of Duty Reviews?

Plenty of gamers stayed up until the witching hour last night to go and pick up their copy of Call of Duty: Black Ops at midnight, so why are we still waiting on reviews of the game?

Well, it turns out the answer is relatively mundane - there's a global embargo in place which expires at exactly 6.01pm AEDT whioch applies to all gaming press worldwide, to coincide with the US release of the game.

Which is pretty painful if you're an Australian consumer waiting for reviews.

But why no long lead reviews? Well, speaking to an Activision rep locally today, it's just a "Call of Duty thing" - to "make sure everyone falls in line with global." If we remember correctly there was a similar delay for reviews with Modern Warfare 2 last year.

It's not quite an ideal situation, particularly for Treyarch themselves who, according to Military Advisor Hank Keirsey (who we spoke to today - full interview soon) put an incredible amount of work into Black Ops and are extremely excited to see the press reaction to their baby.

So it makes us wonder who this embargo is benefitting? Not the consumer waiting for reviews, not the publisher who'll reap the benefit of the top scores you'd expect Call of Duty: Black Ops to receive, and not Treyarch who see the game as a real coming out party for the studio - a testament to the high quality they can produce when they're focused on one single title exclusively.

Maybe we'll throw it out to you guys instead. Anyone played through Call of Duty: Black Ops yet? What's your verdict?


    While it's not a very strong point, but I'm guessing it would secure last minute US consumers who are unsure of if they want to buy the game. A US consumer could read a (possibly) bad review of the game from another part of the world, which may cause them to think twice about their purchase.

    Just a possibility, but I think that's the main benefit for Activision. With eager consumers waiting to read the first reviews of the game, (especially before 6AM AEDT, in the lead up to the midnight launch in the US where gamers are getting hyped about the game and looking it up on the net) if a few reviews sneak out early, those would most definitely get read by people around the world. Also another benefit of letting the flood of reviews loose at 6AM, any negative reviews will probably be drowned out by the positive ones.

    Of course I'm not saying this is correct, but it's just a theory.

    the reviewers are too busy playing to care about reviewing it xD

    @ Zazmoro. they would have got pre-release review copies

    Wait, there's an EMBARGO on when reviews can be written, placed on the press by a publisher?? What the? That sickens and saddens me. What times we live in that a publishing company gets to decide when its 'ok' for people to write what they think about their stuff...

      You didn't know about them? Pretty much every major release gets them. Kinect, Halo, CoD, etc. The publisher says "you can't print reviews early or you're not going to get invited to review our next game" etc.

      Of course the only people to benefit are the publishers, because it stops negative press from getting out before the game is released, since the vast majority of game sales happen in the first week or so.

      The main reason no-one ever score a game below 50%, cos then they won't get the next one free...

        @Waffles and Jimu, I guess I underestimate the importance of that first week... I really couldn't care less about 99.9% of release dates to that degree. I'm also really tired of all the preview information we get drip-fed, so I guess not being invited to the pre-release press release parties wouldn't really bother me. I just feel like if there's someone telling me what to write, there's no point in writing it. I'll just let them do it.

          Aren't there also embargo's on bad reviews? Or are these just suspected?

          I'm sure I've heard of reports of publishers telling review sites/publications things along the lines of 'if your score is over 8 then you can release the review now, if it's below you have to wait until after release date'

            Pretty much every game has an embargo. Publishers have no way of knowing what score a media outlet will give a game so they can't exactly say 'okay, you, you and you release your scores' because then those are the only ones that would get released and they'd try and stop the others from being published. All they can do is guess which outlets will give them good reviews and so they give their games exclusively to these companies for review. Sonic Free Riders comes to mind- it only went to a couple companies, IGN being one of them, with IGN giving it a 7.5. After public release, it was panned by most other critics.

            Often games journalists (at least from what I can glean from the Giant Bombcast) will meet up at game events and talk about who has gotten what title before a release and what hasn't- Kinect comes to mind, with only a small collection of outlets getting the device weeks beforehand. Big outlets like IGN and 1UP will almost always get pre-release copies- smaller ones like Giant Bomb occasionally miss out (Red Dead Redemption comes to mind). Publishers try to tailor their Metacritic as much as humanly possible, but if they outright said "ALRIGHT, YOU GIVING ME A GOOD SCORE? GREAT, YOU CAN PUBLISH. ALL THE REST OF YOU, FUCK OFF" I get the feeling every self-respecting journo would laugh and hit submit on their review anyway.

      If a journalist is under an embargo, it is because they chose to.

      However if they didn't agree to Activision's embargo, they wouldn't get a pre-release copy of the game to base the review on, and would have to purchase their copy on release day like everyone else. This would either lead to a rushed review or a late review.

      My understanding was that embargoes for big titles are partially to give the publisher enough time to distribute the game to reviewers, then give everybody a fair amount of time to produce their reviews.

      If they didn't do this, you'd surely have sites competing to have "World first review!!!!!" for games that are guaranteed to drive traffic, without bothering to play the game properly first (or at all!).

      Although this doesn't explain why some embargoes expire on the day of release, rather than a couple of days before. That's where all the other conspiracy theories come in :)

    I wonder if this is reason the Home Avatar code won't work from my Prestige edition for PS3?

      I would imagine that the codes won't work until the store updates have gone live.

      Generally most games will be released on Thur/Fri, all the DLC/Day 1 extras are usually loaded with the store update Wed night.

      Give it a go on Thursday and it should work.

    I have no intention to get Black Ops unless i see lots of reviews, both professional and from friends, that point it out as being better then CoD MW2.

    Who does this embargo benefit?
    Well if the game is terrible, not a big step up from CoDMW2 or just a clone and this is known to consumers before launch date then surely a lot less people are going to go out and get it straight away, if at all.

    I myself can speak in saying that i was a big fan of CoD4 and was super psyched on getting CoD5 WaW but after reading reviews prior to its release I thought i'd wait it out, my friends started getting it their reviews weren't the best either so I didnt bother getting it.
    I eventually borrowed it off a mate and i definitely made the right choice.

    The iniial wave of purchasers, the ones who line up outside retailers waiting to lay their sweaty palms on the latest copy of their individual holy grail de jour are an excitable bunch. They are charged up on being "the first one" to play a game, and reviews put a damper on that experience.

    Activision probably feels, in the case of big releases, the drive to be among the first to break the game's virginity and the blind faith they put in the name must be preserved as long as possible.

    If anything other than glowing reviews start surfacing before the drooling horde shivering at 11.55pm in front of their chosen retailer have claimed their game, that excitement and blind obedience starts to fade, leaving behind an informed consumer thinking twice about purchasing a game fresh from the developer that is starting to lose it's lustre.

    “make sure everyone falls in line with global.”

    falls in line with America thanks.....

    A group of us made a very late dinner outing out of the launch events (JB had the game running on a demo unit for a few hours prior, which I don't know if they were meant to be doing) and followed up watching one guy play the first few missions and some of the zombie mode until around 2:30am.

    This is the first CoD game I've actually had any interest in and followed prior to its release, and I must say it looks to have shaped up quite nicely!

    It seems to resemble Bayonetta so far in that the narrative is intriguingly nonsensical and the gameplay consists almost entirely of madcap action setpieces constantly trying to outdo each other and generally succeeding (including one of the craziest prison escapes since Kane & Lynch)

    We shall see how it pans out after we get through the campaign and try the splitscreen/online multiplayer, but first impressions are pretty good.

    also; realistic shotguns! they can actually be used at sensible ranges!

    "It’s just a “Call of Duty thing” – to “make sure everyone falls in line with global."

    That's some pretty arrogant nonsensical shit right there from Activision.

    I find Activision to be fascinating. If ever a disgruntled employee turned whistleblower left the company and laid out all their history of marketing strategies, it would be incredible/fac-meltingly-awful to read.

    I would love to see review sites,mags etc boycott the games that have such a stupid embargo. Let Activisions or any other company's metacritic scores not qualify at all because not enough reviews are in. I am pretty sure they would soon change their tune and it would also become very obvious the sites that pander to these companies that put reviews up.

    I emailed Kotaku's tips address earlier today linking to a Stesm Forum thread, to report that the PC version has really, really bad resource usage patterns. The game lagged badly on systems that could run the previous CoDs just fine on High or Very High (I am talking about the singleplayer campaign here). For some people the issue was mostly resolved by killing the steam.exe process after starting Black Ops, but even after doing that, the game is still hit with semi-regular CPU lag spikes which often disable your ability to, you know, fire your weapon for a short time.

      I can't speak for the consoles but the PC version is ridicolously broken. The multiplayer just doesn't work it's plagued with disconnects, system lag and random freezes.

      I played through the singleplayer campaign which was alright but not as entertaining as IW's efforts and it crashed twice, I once got a weird bug which fucked my resolution and two or three times NPC's just didn't move on to the next objective forcing a reload. Throw in the fact that check points were badly placed and a lot of the mini games were tedious and this game becomes criminally bad.

      I don't understand how a game with such a big budget can be such a huge piece of shit. The paranoid part of me wonders if Activision orchestrated this to drive players onto consoles.

      Anyway was really looking forward to Black ops and now I just want to flush it.

    The game has a lot of great moments and the storytelling is top-notch. Too bad the PC version suffers from a bit of "Console-Port Syndrome".

    It has some terrible frame rate problems that need fixing quick!

    Oh if only there was a large gaming press outlet with dignity and respect for their readers. Imagine if a few gaming media sites banded together to release reviews early, what's Activision going to do, shun all of them? But alas these sites care more about the advertising money coming in from these companies then the product they are reviewing.

    I'll write a review for you.

    You play as 'Voiceless Solider' who shoots his way though elaborate corridors. From there, you move from one exotic location to another, shooting your way through hundreds of faceless drones.

    Done. Now Pay me.

      He talks in this one, actually. =D Otherwise, your review is entirely accurate.

    I thought that if you could buy something you could review it, Aus sites such as kotaku.com.au should be able to review it if they've bought it?

    How can they tell you to wait til 18 hours after the release?


    Picked up my preorder today and started playing. The game is riddled with lag on every server even in the game menus when not connected to a server!

    This is a big disappointment. I feel like I just paid to become a BETA tester.

    Watch the modern warfare 2 review the games exactly the freaking same so why do another review for the same game LOL!

    boring simplistic fps hurry up and die already

    play a real FPS like battlefield BC 2 or Halo Reach or even MAG

    It's now well past midnight in New York and still no reviews.

    Apparently the planet-wide embargo coincides with California time.

    One site broke the embargo and gave it a 70/100. If others are similar, it could have slightly dampened first day sales I suppose.

    Black Ops Multiplayer so far:

    Just got to level 8 this morning and I found it surprisingly better than I expected.

    I was worried about how minimal the Nuketown map looked in previews posted last night around the net. But most of the maps are surprisingly robust with several levels and entrances the player can get to, campers will find a hard time covering their side and back when picking a spot which isn't the corner of the map.

    Kill streaks haven't changed from Modern Warfare 2 and World at War besides a few new extras like the RC car. And it isn't as powerful as shown in previews.

    Since the game has only been out for a day, most players are pretty much competing on the same level. The starting weapons are unsurprisingly weak, taking more bullets to kill someone than I was comfortable with, especially when extra bullets are spent on fallen players going into "last stand" mode.

    After leaving Modern Warfare 2, unlocking weapons in Black Ops feels like a step backwards for the series. You'll have to level up in order to unlock weapons like in MW2, but you'll then have to spend money in order to use em. I personally would like to have an entire category of weapons unlocked instead of certain weapons.

    I'm all for unlocking only the weapons I want, but the unlocking system feels like a double edged sword. I'm worried for new players coming into it in a month time with the default set of weapons against vets who spent all their CoD points on their specialised weapons.

    And why do players need to play 5 matches before they can even see the leaderboards? And the hype behind the facepaint and customisability won't be unlocked until a fare amount of levels is accumulated.

    Movement in-game feels a lot weightier than in Modern Warfare 2. The developers had nerfed the Marathon and lightweight combination, which will not make stab-happy players in MW2 happy. You won't be blitzing around the map to get kills anymore. Speed and movement hasn't increased substantially like in MW2, and the unlimited sprint ability isn't unlocked until Marathon pro is unlocked. Despite the slower speed, it still feels tolerable and makes escapes and confrontations intense.

    For me, multiplayer has been enjoyable. It is much slower than I was used to, but it is a fare trade off with diverse maps and the addictive gameplay CoD always had.


    Ausgamers have their review out.

    I seriously wonder if they (Publishers/Developers) only give early access to reviewers in exchange for a positive review.

    Are there any REAL gameplay changes in Black Ops? Or is it the same CoD, only with new features and gametypes.

    If not, I'll be waiting until this does happen. Because all I've seen is the same simplistic run, spray and prey gameplay, with some sparkly new guns, killstreaks, perks, within some, I must admit, interesting wager match gametypes.


    Seems the reviews are up and about.. Still wont be buying it.

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