Review: Call of Duty: Black Ops

Publisher: Activision
Console: Xbox 360

So how do you try and trump one of the biggest selling games on the planet? Especially when you’re the company that published the aforementioned game? Quite simply, you don’t. You just repeat the success of the previous iteration, which as it turns out, is both good and bad.

Black Ops is the seventh instalment in the Call of Duty franchise. The sixth version – Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare 2 – had some impressive numbers in terms of units sold including 4.7 million in its first 24 hours on sale.

With that in mind, it’s no wonder that Activision decided to serve up more of the same. The battleground(s) may have changed, and the storyline is different, but at the end of the day, it’s a similar tune to one that’s been played before.

In the campaign version you play both Alex Mason and Jason Hudson who are undercover agents for the US in the heat of the Cold War. At the start of game play Mason is tied to a chair and being interrogated over the loud speaker by person or persons unknown. All around you there are television screens flashing numbers.

Told in flashback while being interrogated, you find out that Mason has been instrumental in many covert operations including the attempted assassination of Fidel Castro during the Bay of Pigs, as well as one of the biggest battles during Vietnam, Khe Sahn.  As you go through the game you meet up with Viktor Reznov (who was in Call of Duty: World At War) and find that you are on the hunt for a former Nazi scientist and a couple of rogue Soviet high ranking soldiers. Suffice to say you visit several more hotspots around the globe trying to track them down.

Gameplay: Well, what can I say, but as mentioned, I’ve seen it all before in Modern Warfare 2. And while initially this was disappointing – pick up AK47 from dead soldier and shoot bad guys, pick up M16 from dead soldier shoot bad guys etc, etc, etc – it was still exciting to play. While I might be whinging a little about the repetitiveness, there are a still some bright spots like having to blow up a Soviet missile that has just been launched, as well as speeding through rivers in Laos attacking gun boats and plenty of other action. I got caught on one particular part of the Khe Sahn level, which I thought I would never get through, but finally managed it, so it is all not plain sailing – well for this gamer anyway.

Graphics are pretty standard and on a par with the Modern Warfare 2, and there seems little or no advancement, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing as they pretty good last time around. I still believe that these guys are setting the standard as far as first person shooter games go, and having recently played Medal of Honor, stand by the assertion.

Here’s hoping Activision sorts out the legal issues it is having with Call of Duty creators Jason West and Vince Zampella who were fired by the publisher early this year, which is leading to delays of the Modern Warfare 3.

$89-$118 (depending on retailer)

Pros: Great story, fast-paced, good weaponry.
Cons: Get unnecessarily bogged down in some places, can sometimes feel repetitive

4.2 Shacks out of 5