Call of Duty a blockbuster that delivers
If there is a games equivalent to a high octane, big budget summer blockbuster, it would have to be the Call of Duty series. Take that compliment forward or backward. Activision’s money factory shooter franchise continually delivers explosive and engaging single-player campaigns and (usually) solid multiplayer that – considering the record shattering sales figures – will have no end of match-ups. It’s definitely not high art but it’s a damn good time.
Treyarch’s second go round under the Call of Duty umbrella is no exception. Set throughout the Cold War, Black Ops’ single-player campaign starts off in Cuba during the infamous Bay of Pigs “invasion” and doesn’t stop as it carries the player through a roller coaster ride of action set pieces, intrigue and somewhat telegraphed – though no less cool – twists that make it one of the best of the series. The same ante-upping escalation of OMG moments that made Infinity Ward’s Call of Duty: Modern Warfare a classic is employed flawlessly here by Treyarch, who show they can build on what worked in their last CoD outing (2008’s World at War) and improve on what didn’t.
Whether you’re fighting your way out of a Soviet gulag, caught in two of the most infamous battles of the Vietnam War or stealthily taking out hostiles with a crossbow, Black Ops is a feast of first person shooter glory – even though the game keeps telling you how bad war is. As anti-war statements go, Black Ops is no Dr. Strangelove – but whatever, it’s got zombie mode! It also serves up the tight controls, solid maps and tight pacing that are franchise trademarks.
Some may complain that the series’ once higher degree of “realism” has been sacrificed in favor of cinematic action and more ‘splosions, making Black Ops feel like an on-rails shooter at times, but the all out and unapologetic bombast of it all is undeniable and the tight plot sews it all together nicely. Even the sometimes laugh-out-loud terrible AI can’t derail the thrill ride. Throw in Treyarch’s aforementioned (and now signature) zombie mode – where you can play as an undead snuffing JFK – and you can see the developers are having as much fun with the game as you will.
Call of Duty: Black Ops
Rating: 8.5 out of 10
Played on: Xbox 360
Call of Duty: Black Ops is available for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Microsoft Windows, Wii and Nintendo DS