Call of Duty: Black Ops

November 23rd, 2010

It’s not been a good year for getting games finished. I’ve  started many more than I’ve got to the end of.

I’ve been playing Call of Duty since the first one came out in 2003 and have always had a bit of a tradition of playing through the single player campaign in one sitting. Calling that a tradition is probably overstating it a little, it’s not the equivalent of eating turkey for Christmas, it’s just playing a game.

I think I mentioned before that Call of Duty is a game I’ve invested a lot of time in, in fact most of my time from 2004 to 2005 in fact. There was a group of us that rented a server and hosted our own maps. It’s strange that I’ve never really found anything approaching the online multiplayer experience of the original Call of Duty.

Consequently I think the Call of Duty series has been going down hill for the last seven years.

The latest iteration is not a bad game, it’s fun in its own way. The story hangs together better than most I’ve played recently. Obviously it is just hamming it up, from one set piece to the next chasing some unidentified Russian. I have a feeling that is the set template for most games these days.

It just doesn’t deserve the hype that has been lumped on it and the fact that it will hoover up the Christmas cash can only be a very unhealthy thing from the point of view of a sustainable game industry.

One odd thing I noticed relates to the media nonsense attached to the recent Medal of Honor release. Liam fox calling for Medal of Honor to be banned was quite amusing because it was based on stunning ignorance. Ignorant of how multiplayer games  work but also ignorant that the UK troops he was so concerned about were not even in the game in the first place. Call of Duty on the other hand actively requires you to shoot UK troops. There is some vague context for it but no media outcry.

I am not suggesting this should be banned. That would be stupid.

The campaign leaves you with the same empty feeling inside you get when you watch a Michael Bay film. It looks very pretty but is ultimately vacuous. In itself there isn’t anything wrong with that, it just doesn’t seem to be very good value for money considering how much has been spent on developing it.

Oh, and whilst talking about value for money it is worth mentioning that the bloke who plays JFK does the worst JFK impression I’ve ever heard.

I have given it a bit of time to see whether or not I like the online element before I bothered to write this.

Unfortunately I’ve been spoilt by the genius that is Battlefield Bad Company 2 multiplayer. Whilst BFBC2 encourages team play and tactics, Call of Duty encourages running around like a nutter. It has some beautifully crafted levels but misses the essential gameplay.

So in summary, I think Call of Duty: Black Ops would probably be the greatest thing in the world if you are 10 (though legally not allowed to play it) but falls just short of being anything special.

I reckon it’s worth about £20.

Theoretically the BFBC2 Vietnam expansion pack is imminent and that will hopefully demonstrate how this should have been done. I realise I’m laying a ridiculous level of expectation on something I know virtually nothing about.

[Edit]I can’t believe I forgot to mention this. Call of Duty: Black Ops is also the first game I have completed in 3D.

3D is apparently the future though I’m not overly sure if I’m convinced yet. The first session I played was about five hours and it is fair to say it gave me a cracking head ache.

The effect itself is very good. It’s also subtle to the point that after a few minutes you begin to stop noticing it. I’m not sure if that is a good or bad thing. I think, probably good.

The one issue I had with the campaign is that 3D was clearly an after thought. With some cut scenes people had their shadows sort of attached to their limbs producing a very weird effect.

For the multiplayer it is effectively useless. You need more time to aim and compensate for distance. Other people don’t, and consequently shoot you dead.

I think it is something that is almost there but not quite yet. [/Edit]


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