Tag: Black Ops
It’s that special ChrisKwazaukkah time of year, and that means that Activision has a shiny new Call of Duty game on shelves, and a bevvy of extra content to sell you as well. I for one, am thankful every holiday season for the Christmas noobs, who typically will add a tenth of a point or two to my KDR when they get out from under their stepmother’s Christmas tree.
I realize that it came out a month ago, but a cracker’s got shit to do with his life, so lay the fuck up off me, bro. Besides, reviews are simply opinions, which are supposed to differ between independent minded people. Furthermore, I like to give my opinion after I’ve had my way with the game at my leisure…which typically leads to a more enjoyable gaming exprience for me. Some nametag however had to punch in at 6am the day before launch and have their copy played through and written up before 10 that night, and really who is going to have a pleasant gaming experience when they’re on that kind of deadline??
So where to start? First of all, I’d like to say that even if Jason West and Vince Zampanella hadn’t been illegally removed from their positions at IW, and even if they hadn’t subsequently poached every dev and coder worth their salt to join them at EA in Respawn, and even if Robert Bowling…well, that guy was just the community manager, so whatevs.
Anywho, after playing Black Ops II, I’d like to offer that even if you go back to the heyday of Infinity Ward’s creativity in working on CoD, Treyarch is the best developer to have worked on a CoD game…and really has been since Black Ops…period. With Black Ops II, Treyarch continued their commitment to more than just CoD’s competitive multiplayer. For all the crap the CoD franchise gets for being a multiplayer first game…anyone taking a realistic look at the situation should see that’s something that IW cultivated with their petulantly minimalist half-game Modern Warfare 2 and it’s gimped yet very fun, half-game sequel, Modern Warfare 3. Don’t get me wrong…I loved the stories to both of them, but really only if you put the two games’ single player campaigns together do you have a proper sequel to the original Modern Warfare.
Treyarch’s CoD entries however, have no such issues. While World At War’s storyline was the typical CoD hodgepodge of standard FPS missions, with the jumping back and forth between marauding through the South Pacific Keifer Sutherland as Roebuck to skullduggering your way from Stalingrad to Berlin with Gary Oldman as Reznov, you felt connected to the game and the situation.
Then of course, Black Ops famously threw the ridiculous narrative style of the previous CoD games out the window and focused on one person, Alex Mason. The result was the first truly cinematic Call of Duty in the series. The single player campaign was absolutely sodden with Cold War awesomeness, mixing some elements of the Manchurian Candidate and conspiracy theory into a twist-filled, bullet-ridden tear through Vietnam, China and the tundra of Mother Russia. The campaign still jumped from location to location, but the perspective was that of Alex Mason the whole time, which fleshed out the story and made the campaign more than an amalgamation of missions with a cutscene at the end.
Treyarch have also proven themselves the kings of production value. While IW will hire any schlep off the street to voice the main protagonist of their games, Treyarch always rounds up top notch Hollywood talent. Sutherland, Oldman, Ed Harris, Sam Worthington, Michael Rooker, Michael Keaton, Sarah Michelle Gellar…for fuck’s sake…ICE CUBE!! You could argue that the difference between a Hollywood guy and an industry guy is only in the dollar signs, but it’s still a nice, classy touch to bring out recognizable talent for your AAA game that will probably bring in more money this month than the government of Mexico will.
SINGLE PLAYER CAMPAIGN
Black Ops II continues its predecessor’s excellence of narrative, it continues to bring the high spectacle, high tension moments as well as awesome rides in current and future vehicles and weapons tech. At the same time, Treyarch also adds a richness in soundtrack and ambiance that they’ve really perfected since W@W, creating some of the best atmosphere in gaming. As a teenager, I owed more than a few nights of drunk, wild sex to the song Closer, so naturally I was thrilled by the soundtrack. Trent Reznor’s score goes from eerie to sublime throughout the game and shows his evolution as an artist, at times almost channelling Roger Waters and at others hearkening back to Pretty Hate Machine and The Downward Spiral.
And as stated, Treyarch absolutely kills it with the voice acting talent. Manuel Noriega has some significant screentime, and while Manny was a little too dead to do his voiceover, having both Lt. Col. Oliver North and Gen. David Petraeus make cameos as themselves is pretty insane. Petraeus in particular has a few scenes, and actually shows a little dramatic flair. Sam Worthington returns as Alex Mason, and while Ed Harris wasn’t apparently available to reprise his role as Mason’s CIA handler Hudson, no less than Michael fucking Keaton was brought in to fill his shoes. Also along for the ride are The Walking Dead‘s Michael Rooker, Big Trouble In Little China‘s James Hong (FUCKING ICON, bee tee dubz) as well as pop ups from Jimmy Kimmel and the guys from Avenged Sevenfold.
The campaign of BO2 does jump between playable characters quite a bit, so it is a departure from BO in that respect, however it does this to several different ends. The main story is a story of revenge, but it’s a revenge plot that plays out over the course of about forty freaking years. You play as Mason, his son David, his teammate Frank Woods, and a few of their associates, as well as one segment as the antagonist playing out his decades long thirst for retribution. You almost start to wonder how one person can remain angry at someone for so long.
Well, I’ve beat around the bush for long enough, I should get into talking about the bad guy whose face is so desperately in need of your bullets. The gentleman we’re talking about is a South American militant named Raul Menedez, who you may or may not have seen in the trailers, looking like he’s straight from a Miami Vice episode.
This is where BO2 creates its own niche, because traditionally, Treyarch has developed very solid protagonists. Sutherland’s Roebuck, Worthington’s Mason and of course and especially Oldman’s Reznov are protagonists that have resonated with those who’ve played the games. In BO2, Menendez is the dramatic center. He’s a great villain, both loathsome and pathetic. As the game progresses, I came to see Menendez’s motivations, I began to see his personal situations, and in many ways, he endeared himself to me.
Rooker’s character plays a support role, albeit a fairly indespensible one. Rooker aquits himself with dignity and honor, making his character a rather likeable and capable sidekick. It’s odd because Rooker’s lines are such that taken by themselves, you would think they were written for your typical, machismo ridden dudebro Space Marine who rocks out with his cock out…but Rooker’s delivery suggests that dudebro has thought about his position and has a logical argument to back it up. Furthermore, being that his voice is also the voice of Merle Dixon, Rooker’s character Harper comes off as an “Approach with caution” kinda guy.
As a character, Mason’s son David is probably the one that is playable the most, and he’s depicted in a quite bland manner. Similar to the OpsCom in Zipper Interactive’s ill fated SOCOM 4, David Mason isn’t a deep character, and mainly exists to provide exposition and transition points in the story by stating the obvious in case the players didn’t get the visual depictions for what they are. There are times when emotional range is actually used and you actually feel empathy for David, but that’s like…twice in the beginning and almost not at all after the halfway point. He certainly doesn’t take any spotlight away from Menendez, who again should be noted is an excellently portrayed villain, even if he is a tad dramatic…tho it’s an endearing act.
Not so much that I ended up rooting for Menendez, absolutely not. His actions are deplorable and reprehensible, and before the game is over he will have manipulated the players into doing things he or she will not be proud of. Throughout the course of the game, the player is given several situations that can be handled differently, some well or bad, some bad or worse. There will be moral decisions to make…and sometimes logic would have the player take a slightly less human path.
There are multiple endings to the game, and the one I got was semi good, semi bad and SERIOUSLY melodramatic. As I understand it there are “better” and “worse” endings, and while those are based on certain player decisions as well as certain scenario results, and while this will drive many to replay the campaign (or at least it should), I want to replay it for slightly different reasons. Sure, I’d like to see all the endings, especially the Happily-Ever-After ending, however some situations evolve in such a way that you feel a need to replay the sequence or the game to get a different result. I’m not sure if this is curiosity or guilt, but I do have a want to go back and fix some things: and it’s not simply the times where there is a clear decision (like Gears of War’s “Press LT to go left or RT to go right”) to be made, but the triggers often lie in how gracefully you complete the missions.
Saying more would be a spoiler, so I’ll keep that down. Of course, as you play you get the feeling that the twist is coming, we all know it is, and it’s not long after the first couple of missions that the twist begins to telegraph itself. It’s not technically a spoiler to mention this, since Activision advised gaming journalists of the plot device of turning America’s military drones against itself, but there’s a couple of issues with this. First of all, it takes forever to set up, and once you finally get there, it doesn’t significantly add to the campaign. I geared up over the summer and autumn, thinking I was going to spend 4 to 5 hours doing battle with the allegory of America’s Drones Gone Wild, but most of the game built to that and really there weren’t enough missions that were carried out against the drone backdrop for it to be as effective a literary device as it should’ve been.
Not to get on a soapbox here, but you may or may not be aware that America is (actually, no shit, real life) currently carrying out a number of drone strike campaigns in both Pakistan and Afghanistan, which have killed MANY non combatant civiliains, including scores of women and children. This may be confusing to some people who thought that since the apprehension and termination of Osama bin Laden in May 2011, American military forces really had no good reason to remain in the region, let alone actively carrying out missions with innocent civilians making up collateral damage, but…surprise!!
Seriously…someone fucking tell Obama to get our soldiers out of there. With ACTUAL issues in Syria, Iran and maybe even Russia brewing, our military is spread far too thin in areas where we have no business spreading it. We need our men and women out of unnecessary harm’s way, and as far as I’m concerned, that starts by getting them out of any place that’s name ends with “-stan.” Rant over.
Well, not quite. See one of the few but very much the main problems with the story come from the fact that it doesn’t do enough. At one point, Hunter Killer drones are shown flying over Los Angeles, New York City and Washington DC as well as places like Bejing and Moscow. Visually, this was probably as powerful as a CoD game has gotten…beyond of course the nuclear detonation in Modern Warfare, which went from shocking turn of events to dime a dozen plot device by the time MW2 came around, but we don’t want to digress too far. This image is incredibly powerful, and while the game could take the opportunity to explain that THAT is what Americans are doing to major cities in Pakistan and Afghanistan, it kind of glosses over this…to the game’s overall detriment. It’s mentioned as one of Menendez’s motivations…but it’s not exploited further as a real life issue that demands the attention of the general public…and I think it is and should’ve been. There. Rant REALLY over.
It kind of just goes away, though…without divulging too much, the artistic/political/social statement that could’ve been the sharpest and most controversial thing a Call of Duty game has included (including the “No Russian” sequence in MW2) simply didn’t flesh itself out well enough for my liking. For what it is, however, BO2′s drone storyline is a good if largely underplayed statement on the subject. The only shame is that because it’s not as controversial as it could’ve/should’ve been, the drone allegory will be forgotten by reviewers and likely completely lost upon the ignorant rabble who no doubt played through the scenarios without so much as a second or even a first thought to the drone campaigns currently going on in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Without becoming too self important, I’d like to go back to the review if that’s okay. The campaign itself is shorter than typical Treyarch standard; I didn’t have a timer but if I had to guess I’d say it’s maybe 30 min to an hour or so longer than Modern Warfare 3 was…if that. There are also Strike Missions, which are ancillary mini missions that are playable between main missions. They dovetail with the narrative, however they’re only available at certain points of the campaign, so gamers may want to play them through as they come up to make sure they avoid missing some. They aren’t necessary to the development of the plot, but they’re smaller points of a larger story that often involve vehicles and/or tech that isn’t necessarily available in the main missions and some of it is actually pretty fun to try out.
You can also customize your loadout for single player missions, but the first go round you are restricted to only the weapons you’ve unlocked up to the time you play the mission, which does put a damper on the freedom of mission specific, user chosen loadouts. It is worth noting however, that some missions go easier if you bring the equipment that is recommended. I found this out the hard way on a mission where I substituted the recommended EMP grenades with Concussion canisters, only to find out halfway through that EMP grenades would’ve made the mission about a hundred times easier.
Treyarch’s Call of Duty games are perhaps just as responsible for the Zombie Renaissance as game franchises like Resident Evil and shows like The Walking Dead have been, and Zombies returns in a more varied and fleshed out form. The core zombie experience is Tranzit, which features a bus that the playable characters fortify and use to travel between different areas for zombie splattering fun. Tranzit has the four players “working for” Zombie progenitor Maxis in retaliation for the acts of deranged Nazi scientist Dr. Edward Richtofen in Black Ops. For those who don’t know: Richtofen manipulated events throughout the Nazi Zombies campaigns of W@W and BO so that he would end up on the Moon base with Samantha.
However Richtofen and Samantha switch souls and Maxis then leads Samantha and Richtofen’s crew of Takeo, Nikolai and Dempsey through the steps necessary to launch nuclear missles at the Earth from the Moon base…which is where we pick up in BO2. You have to watch out for lava, as the world has been ravaged by Maxis/Richtofen’s cataclysm and there are open fissures with game ending lava EVERYWHERE. You build turbines and fans and ride the bus from a 50s era bus station to a deserted town, to a farm and to a central underground military hub (that looks like something Assassin’s Creed’s Abstergo would build). I haven’t wrapped up any easter eggs just yet, but there’s some serious shit going on here, and by the time the DLC parade is over, BO2′s zombie mode could end up being even crazier than BO’s zombies experience was…and that was fucking epic.
There’s also Survival Mode, where players only play on one map for the duration, and there’s also difficulty settings now for those who simply found previous zombie modes to be a little too tough. Let’s face it, once you get to round 15 in Black Ops zombies, the wheat seperates itself from the chaff. Now there’s an easy mode so the chaff can enjoy plugging zombies into deep rounds just like the rest of us who just happen to be legit. Easter Eggs and fun abound for all, and this time around it’s even easy for the n00bs to have fun.
For those who want a competitive zombie game and were grossly disappointed by Slant Six’s Operation Raccoon City, there is Grief mode, where teams are divvied up between the CDC and CIA. Players don’t attempt to kill players from other teams, but you don’t do the other team any favors and if you can get yourself out of a sticky situation by taking a course of action that with ends with zombies swarming a member of the opposing team…then all the better for you and your team. Grief and Survival are fun, but once you’ve made a run into the deep rounds on Tranzit, those two modes become less satisfying to play.
And finally, we come to multiplayer. The reason for the season, the value that drives the price of admission, the wind beneath Bobby Kotick’s accountant’s wings…Call of Duty’s online multiplayer component is the driving force behind it’s industry leading sales, marketing and popularity. Easily the most purchased franchise in console gaming history, I can talk up campaign and zombies all I want, but the dudes who wear flak jackets to midnight releases and consider Doritos and Mountain Dew to be sources of fuel…those guys break out their stepmother’s credit card for the multiplayer, and it’s just as good as ever.
Treyarch changed the loadout system up this year with their Pick 10 system, where you can pick up to ten weapons, attachments, perks or wildcards to outfit your merc with before launching into the chaotic abandon of CoD online. Reading reviews of the game, most critics have gone on record as being fairly unimpressed by the Pick 10 system implementation, and I’d suggest that they’re all just being a bunch of nitpicking ninnies. Of course, every time there’s a sequel, gaming journalists and pundits demand improvements to the gameplay, typically in the form of added mechanics and/or useful items that help the games fluency and make it more fun to play than its predecessor.
The problem being that Call of Duty is very much the Gold Standard of online FPSes. The formula they have in place is the one that’s most popular in the genre, and it works. Proof can easily be found in the fact that Black Ops 2 sold more games faster than any game ever has at launch, decimating the sales records set by Modern Warfare 3 and selling exponentially more than its actual progenitor, Black Ops. So then the issue becomes “What to do you improve upon in a game that gets everything so right?”
Clearly, CoD developers have to bring something new to the table without fucking up the reason so many people buy the game in the first place, and unlike every critic who couldn’t see past their own nose, I rather enjoy the Pick 10 system and think it’s a great innovation for the series. For one thing, you never see the same loadouts on multiple players from one game to the next. In MW3, most games will feature people using MP7s and ACRs and very little in between for their primaries. In Black Ops, most players will be using an AK-74u or a FAMAS…bet money on it, although you will run into the occasional AUG H-bar. In MW2, you’d have to be an idiot or one of those people who rejects simple solutions to not carry around Akimbo 1887s as your secondary.
In Black Ops 2, the sky is the limit. There’s no one weapon that is most prolific, there’s no one set of perks that is most common. There’s a lot of mixing and matching going on out there, and it pays to experiment. I personally recommend the FAL (with Select Fire attached) as the primary and Akimbo B23Rs as your secondary, but the beauty of the system is that you can (and often do) try a multitude of weapons and perks with each other. You can forego primary and/or secondary weapons all together in favor of more perks, equipment and/or wildcards. It’s actually very empowering for gamers to truly create their own classes and to stack their loadout in different wasy that capitalize on different aspects of their game.
Personally, I have one class that only has Akimbo B23Rs as my weapon, but has loads of perks like Lightweight, Extreme Conditioning, Flak Jacket, Tactical Mask, and Fast Hands. I don’t recommend an Akimbo handgun setup on the bigger maps with more wide open areas, but on maps where you’re running from cover to cover or on the smaller, more hectic maps like Hijacked, I can flat out dominate that way.
Also I should mention the kill mic. Some of you may have noticed last year that when you killed someone who had a mic on, you could hear them whine about it. Apparently now, when you kill someone you can hear them and they can hear you. I found this out on Standoff when I had my Akimbo B23Rs out, I was shooting with this guy and I got him. As I had been shooting, I was saying into my mic, “Yeah, that’s right…come get your ass whippin.” When he died, I kept talking and this is what I heard from my vic: “Oh that’s bullshh–HEY FUCK YO–” and then it cut off. It’s always fun to hear my vics cry about getting pwned…now I can share my trash talking too. MARVELOUS.
The maps are great again…which is a Treyarch deal through and through. I realized with MW3′s disappointing launch maps just how great Treyarch is at crafting fun maps for online gameplay, and they’re back at it in Black Ops 2. There are maps with long views, sniper alleys, close quarter areas, debris good for camping and all other kinds of fun. My favorite map so far is Hijacked, which is a depiction of a Yacht on the high seas, but locations such as the Port of Singapore, wealthy Indian shopping areas as well as bombed out versions of Los Angeles and military installations make for cool and exciting backdrops.
There is a LOT of camping in this game, but the many different modes available for gameplay should help with that. Party games are back, which you may remember as Wager games from Black Ops. Sticks and Stones returns in that format, so I’m very very pleased. Nuketown also received an update and in addition to being “turned on” for “events” that Treyarch will have online over the next year, the Chaos mode has been added, which is supposed to be a randomized mashup of all smaller maps and varying game modes, but it features Nuketown 2025 fairly prominently in the randomization.
Overall, I’d have to say that this is a great fucking game. My friends and I are going to have great fun on both zombies and multiplayer over the course of the next year or two, and I can replay the campaign a couple of different times and different ways to see how many different endings I can come up with. The game’s narrative is at times powerful, and at other times not nearly as powerful as it should be, but in staying mild, the game never gets preachy or too judgemental. The twists are telegraphed, some incredibly so, some not so much, but overall the narrative is interesting and fun, and the decisions and methods you use have a real impact on the game that will give different users different experiences.
In the end, the single player is never too tough to beat, but it’s never a walk in the park, either. The campaign is somewhat short, but the dramatic and emotional content make it one of the most memorable of the entire CoD franchise. The online is back with a vengance, and the customizability that comes with Treyarch’s new Pick 10 system puts the game up there with the best online shooter experiences available to console gamers today. Zombies mode brings the pain as well as adding a new wrinkle of its own to the tale of the war between Richtofen and Maxis, and set amidst this manmade apocalypse, Tranzit helps take the zombies mode into what should turn out to be a completely awesome new direction.
The game isn’t perfect, but I must reiterate that it IS fucking great and has probably the best single player campaign in the Call of Duty franchise yet. However, there isn’t enough of the campaign for my taste and while the Tranzit/zombies mode offers enough story and easter egg goodness for people who are willing to look the info up and move with it, the mode isn’t accessible enough for the casual zombie shooting fanatic to ever get the same kind of entertainment value out of it that the Easter Egg Hunters will.
Call of Duty Black Ops 2 gets an 8 out of 10. Please understand, though…I don’t do that 8.5 shit, I typically round down to avoid sounding like a fanboy…but this is a great game, and three to five more missions against the backdrop of the hijacked drones would’ve made this game an easy 9 out of 10 and legit Game of the Year contender. Treyarch continues to kill it with their entries into the Call of Duty franchise, while truly telling the CoD story with their own unique voice…both with the campaign and the zombies mode. If you’re an FPS fan or a fan of military shooters, this needs to eventually find its way into your library.
On Tuesday, Treyarch released their most recent ploy for mine and your hard earned money, the Escalation map pack for Call Of Duty: Black Ops. Priced at $14.99, the Escalation Pack includes 4 all new multiplayer maps and a new zombie map as well.
New for multiplayer are the maps Zoo, Convoy, Hotel and Stockpile. These maps will work in any and all modes available for competitive multiplayer. The new zombie map is named Call Of The Dead, and since that map is the most different from it’s forebears, I guess that’s the best place to start a review.
Call of the Dead is a more cinematic approach to zombies mode. Rather than a comic strip, it opens with an actual cutscene, which isn’t too involved, but I won’t spoil it for you.
Basically you are cast as one of four potential players. You can be either Danny Trejo (in full Machete gear), Sarah Michelle Gellar (in leather pants…not sure if that’s what “Buffy” wore or not), Robert Englund (not dressed as Freddy Krueger, unfortunately), and/or Michael Rooker (actor from a bunch of movies you may or may not know, playing the role of a poor man’s Woody “Tallahassee” Harrelson).
The round starts with you and any other players spawning in an Arctic looking hillside. For some unspecified reason, the Godfather of Zombies, George Romero, rises out of a nearly frozen lake with an electified hammer or truncheon or some shit. Before we go any further, I just want to share a spoiler for people who want to know how to start off as best as possible…
Don’t attack George at all. Don’t shoot him, don’t knife him, don’t even go near him. As near as I can tell, he’s indestructible, but leaves you alone if you leave him alone…kinda like a bee.
Anywho, the mode then plays out similarly to other zombie maps, although the difficulty does ramp up immediately. There’s no 4 rounds of pussy zombies to frolic through…you’re fighting for your life against strong zombies from the start, and you need to upgrade your weapons sooner rather than later.
The rest of the map plays out pretty much as zombies normally does…or at least as far as I’ve gotten, it does. It’s definitely harder than all the other zombie maps from Black Ops OR World At War, and if you want to know what helpless frustration is like, try to kill Romero. Oops, that’s another spoiler…ah shit.
Moving forward, the four multiplayer maps keep with the game’s Cold War Era feel. Hotel is by far the largest map, and as such, it’s the most disappointing. You basically have two multifloor, large hotels on either end of the map, with a few buildings, topiaries and obstacles in between. I spent most of the time searching for someone to kill.
This is probably the best sniper board in the series since Modern Warfare, if you ask me…if for no other reason than there’s just sooooo much dead space. If you’re a good camper, you can get over 20 kills a match on this one. If you’re a good run n’ gunner, you can hope for 20…but there’s just so much space that it’s not easy to meet up with enemies on the reg.
The trailer hints at elevators and rigging them with explosives for surprise Claymore kills…yeah, that’s a joke. The elevators are absolutely useless. There’s no reason to even stand near enough to the elevator door that you’d even get caught with a Claymore, much less actually use the damn things. If you had up to 32 players on this map, it’d be a totally different and probably better experience, but with only up to 12, this map is pretty worthless.
Zoo is an old Russian Zoo…duh. It’s a pretty symmetrical map, but it has different features here and there that make it stand out. It feels like a sequel to MW2′s Resurgence Pack map Carnival. It’s bright and vivid and there’s a monorail for a little vertical gameplay.
There’s lots of different ways to get around the outskirts of the map, there’s plenty of buildings for cover and there’s also long, end to end sightlines for you snipers out there. Overall it’s a pretty good map, offering a little something for everyone and it definitely rewards exploration with new and interesting vantage points.
Stockpile is a camper’s wet dream. Lots of buildings with multiple floors and windows. There’s a huge building in the middle, you may have seen the trailer where the guys run to the building because the garage doors being shut to close off the rear entrance. Yeah, it’s not that big a deal to the gameplay.
Basically, every inch of open road can be sniped at from any one of several buildings, and doing well is finding the balance between camping and moving, or working with your team to secure the middle building, which is probably the most difficult but direct path to success on this map. This one mixes it up inside the buildings but for the most part is a campfest. Good map, but not the best.
Convoy is a big map that plays small. A freeway runs down the middle with overpasses for snipers, and on the sides are a gas station, travel lodge motel, school and a few other buildings. Running down the middle of the freeway isn’t a good idea. The freeway is hit from either end spawns as well as two side access points in the middle. All the while it’s covered by two overpass bridges that always have campers on them.
The key to surviving on this map is moving quickly from building to building and staying out of the campers’ crosshairs. Sometimes the gameplay can bunch up into certain areas and be somewhat frenetic, but for the most part it’s a pretty even map. Not my favorite, but it’s workable.
Graded the way I grade full games, this map pack gets a 6 out of 10. Other than Call of the Dead, these maps don’t really bring anything that’s overwhelmingly good or exciting to the table…honestly even Call of the Dead eventually goes back to being just another zombies map. Not that that’s bad, but the maps aren’t at all anything special, either.
Well, I shouldn’t say that…Hotel is a legitimately bad map for the 12 player rooms. Too much dead space and not enough elevated camping positions. This is a map fit for Resistance 2 with it’s 60 person rooms. It’s not as big as some of them are, but it’s at least as big as the Chicago map…but the point is that it’s simply far too large for only 12 players.
If you’re a casual Black Ops player, then you probably have better things to spend $15 on…like a half a tank of gas. It’s not integral to the experience to have the MP maps and the zombified coolness of Trejo, Gellar, Englund and Rooker wears off as soon as you go into First Person view.
Now…if you’re a regular, hardcore or addicted Black Ops player, then this doesn’t matter because if you don’t already own it now, it’s only because you’re waiting till next month to own it on PSN…if PSN is still around by then, that is. If you Black Ops on the reg, then you’re pretty much going to need the mappack to keep from getting dropped out of lobbies once Escalation maps come up.
It’s not like these are the MW2 mappacks…these are all new maps and are worthy of $15 for a purchase, but really only if you play Black Ops on the reg. 6 out of 10. Good, worth it, but not really “inspired.”
First and foremost, before I begin I’d just like to emphasize that like anything else one plays on their PS3, PSP or 360, Call Of Duty Black Ops is primarily a GAME, and should be a vehicle of entertaining diversion for us as gamers.
For those of you out there who take this game and what happens while you’re logged in online too seriously, please understand: This isn’t anyone’s “job.” You’re not being paid to finish in the top 3. You’re Kill To Death Ratio is NOT going to get you laid.
That being said, there is still a certain level of etiquette to be observed, and there are several tips to be had that might not make you 1337, but can at least help you bring yourself out of the n00b pool.
I’m not consistently dominant enough to be 1337, but I’m certainly legit and I’d like to share with the less fortunate of the CoD community some tips for success in Black Ops, both socially and on the scoreboard. I thought I’d share a little, simply because that’s just the kind of suave motherfucker I am. I’m a giver.
Let’s start with etiquette. Simple courtesies of the game…these will not only help you manage your activities better, but they’ll help you seem like less of a douche to your teammates.
FIRST AND FOREMOST: if you are in an area that only one, maybe one and a half persons can occupy at a time, DO…NOT…LINGER. Mainly because you’re a sitting duck for roving gunmen, as well as anyone who might be behind you, trying to get past your dumb ass.
Seriously…don’t stand still in a fucking doorway. Don’t go prone on a busy catwalk. Don’t snipe from the stairs. It’ll get you killed, it’ll get your teammates killed and pissed off at you. Just don’t do it.
As a tie in, if you find a small area of cover, feel free to linger until you’ve killed someone or enough time passes to merit moving on…but don’t camp. Camping is for bitches, first and foremost, but let’s face it…the more people you kill from a camping spot, the more people are going to converge on and merc your ass. Keep it moving.
Maybe you couldn’t tell by the previous comments, but I’m a run and gunner. Well, honestly I prefer to walk rather than running…you can’t aim while you’re running. Of course to run n’ gun successfully you’ve got to keep your head on a swivel, know your surroundings and be prepared for anything, but the biggest thing is to aim high.
It’s no secret that shots to the upper torso and head do more damage, so make sure you’re making like the Air Force and Aim High. If there’s cover ahead like a barrel or box, keep the horizontal lines of your reticle slightly above them so you can shoot any bitches who might be hiding behind them.
On the other side of that equation is using cover effectively. Black Ops contains lots and lots of cover. Get behind it, crouch, go prone, set a claymore, whatever you have to do…use it to your advantage, it’ll prolong your life. Weave in and out of cover. Change direction often. Anticipate what your enemy will do based on their previous movements…it’ll help you step your game up.
If you do elect to camp, I recommend finding places that aren’t easy to get to and that you wouldn’t normally see someone camping in on that particular map. Sometimes this requires creativity…sometimes it requires balls of steel. But if you’re going to camp…it’s best to do it where they’re not expecting it.
Speaking of doing the unexpected…do yourself a favor and go around behind your enemies. If you know where they are and you and your team are meeting them head on, then go ahead and assume that they’re ready for you at that position. Stick to the outer perimeter of the map, and go around behind your enemies.
You’ll have to be careful to pick off any stragglers that diverge from the pack, but if your enemy is concentrating their effort to the north, they won’t see or be able to repel your attack from the south. Stealth like.
Other things to bear in mind are that in Team games, it’s actually not always a good idea to run around with more than one guy. Stay away from your teammates, as you don’t want to offer bunched up targets for your enemies to mow down. If you must roll with a crew, just roll with one other person, and make sure you have some way to communicate with the guy while you’re doing it…a mic being the preferred medium.
Basically, the main ingredients to success in Black Ops or any online shooter really are knowing your weapons and knowing your maps. Know which weapons and which setups are your best, or work more to your strengths and tendencies. This will help you maximize your efficiency.
Most of all, tho…you have to know the maps. Generally, this comes only through experience and the pain of trial and pwnage. However I find that when acquainting myself with new maps, the best way to work is from the outside in.
Try to stay on the perimeter to get a feel for the overall terrain. You’ll usually find the best concealed or low traffic ways around the map that way. Getting to know the meat of the map is nothing that comes instantly of course, but sticking to the perimeters and keeping your back to the wall is the best way to do that without looking like someone’s bitch.
I’m hoping to have more tips and vids illustrating them later down the line and for other hotly anticipated competitive releases like Killzone 3, SOCOM 4 and Uncharted 3. In the meantime, I will leave you with one very…very hot button topic in etiquette.
Last Stand or Second Chance…the perk where instead of dying when you get merc’d, you fall to the ground and pull out a handgun.
This. Is. For. Bitches.
If you use this perk intentionally…in MW2 or in BO…you are a bitch. A worthless, punkass, pantywaist bitch. If your dad caught you playing a game that way, he’d be disappointed. If your mom knew what a douchebag you are, she’d cry into her apron. Your ancestors are weeping tears of shame in the afterlife.
Don’t do it. Don’t be a bitch. Don’t use Last Stand or Second Chance. Play the game like you’ve got a fucking cock, already.
The Call Of Duty franchise is the gaming world’s equivalent of the 1986 Mets. Setting records, beating other games and even gamers into submission, all while the most interesting things were happening behind the scenes.
You had Infinity Ward (officially not intentionally) ruining Modern Warfare with its limited PC features, cheap perks, glitches, laggers and total lack of dedicated servers or any kind of quality server architecture at all (which wasn’t at all an attempt at lashing out at their publishing partner Activison, allegedly)…all while the studio heads were allegedly brokering their next publishing deal with Activision’s main rival, EA.
Then of course there was Activision, charging $15.00 for $6.00 worth of downloadable content and bringing in a bunch of Jersey Shore bouncers to sweat down and eventually coerce signed confessions from….ERRRRRRRRRRRRRR…fire IW studio heads Jason West and Vince Zampella, which was of course followed by the resignation of every lead and quality developer employed by a studio is now for some reason still called “Infinity Ward,” to join West and Zampella in their new development team, Respawn Entertainment.
…which of course just signed a nice fatty contract with EA.
Through all this, some of us railed against Modern Warfare 2 and more specifically the draconian and frankly insulting business model put forth by Activision’s CEO…The Lord Of The Flies, The Spoiler Of Virgins, The Master Of Abortions, Lucifer himself, Bobby Kotick.
Concerns of cookie cutter banality abounded at the announcement that Treyarch would have CoD: Black Ops available less than a year after MW2 launched…and that Activision would be releasing more overpriced DLC and repeating the cycle with a “new” CoD game every fiscal year…oh and then there was the announcement that CoD could become a subscription based service in the future, similar to another Activision cash cow, World Of Warcraft.
By the way, Bobby Kotick…fuck you and fuck everyone who lives in your house.
Anyway, despite the fact that Call Of Duty: Black Ops is the product of The Devil Himself and as a result, all who handle it are likely to spend the afterlife frying in eternal flames while drowning in the river of blood for the rest of time…credit has to be given where it’s due. This game fucking kicks ass.
Black Ops starts out in 1961, just prior to the Bay of Pigs. You play Mason, a soldier sent into Cuba to assassinate one Fidel Castro. In case you’re wondering, it’s hellabadass. From there the game bounds into and through the Vietnam era, and as the playable character you find yourself rubbing elbows with guys like Castro, Robert McNamara and even Marilyn Monroe’s most famous john…John F. Kennedy.
Unlike the disjointed garble that was Modern Warfare 2’s campaign, you pretty much are on a linear course throughout Black Ops. There is the token “shocking” scene, and honestly it’s not that big. I wouldn’t have known it was “The Scene” if Yahtzee hadn’t already spoiled it for me by the time I got there. It’s certainly not something you’d want your kid playing through, but I didn’t feel nearly as dirty about it as I did watching Makarov and his goons gun down every civilian in that airport last year, either.
The story is great. Again, if you appreciate Cold War era History…this game’s got a lot of treats for you, both big and small. Much the same way World At War had little bits of coolness for WWII History buffs out there, too.
Treyarch brings it hard with the voice acting talent, Ed Harris voices Mason’s CIA handler, Ice Cube voices teammate CPO Bowman as well as the SOG voice in multiplayer, the excellent Gary Oldman returns as Reznov, the Red Army zealot you may remember from W@W, and some guy named Sam Worthington voices Mason…but I don’t really know who he is.
The single player campaign is very good. Honestly, it’s the best CoD single player experience yet, and that’s mainly because instead of presenting missions and “cutscenes” in bullet point fashion, it actually builds a story, builds characters and then crashes the two together like runaway freight trains. That being said, the main thing EVERYONE is looking for with Black Ops is the multiplayer, and I must say that this could possibly be the best multiplayer for a shooter out there.
Before we get into competitive online, let’s really quick talk zombies. Unlocking the maps takes a little doing, but for the curious who find a way, there are three maps or modes I guess. The first is your standard house with boarded up windows in which one to four players fend off hordes of Undead Nazis and their dogs. Yes, their dogs.
The map is much bigger than the previous version, and now you have the issue of turning on the power, finding the Magic Box, keeping to your partners in the rooms they go to and hitting quick and smart weapon upgrades.
The other traditional Zombie mode features as main players former Defense Secretary Robert McNamara, former President John F Kennedy, former President Richard M Nixon and El Jefe himself…Fidel Castro. These four oddballs have to defend the Pentagon from the now time traveling Nazi Zombie Horde. It’s nothing if not pretty surreal.
Finally there’s Dead Ops Arcade mode, which hosts up to four players. This is a top down arcade zombie shooter, employing the left analog to move the character and the right analog to determine where they fire their weapon. Upgrades and reward pop up in big lit up arcade bubbles and you basically have to shoot your way through a fair number of the Hungry Undead.
I’m not thinking that this mode’s inclusion will stop me from buying Dead Nation next month, but it’s a pretty fun mode that plays a lot like Super Stardust HD does. It’s not particularly deep (as opposed to the other modes which I think would go on into perpetuity if anyone was good enough), but it’s quick and fun and if you’ve got friends over, it’s easy to pick up and play.
As for the Competitive Multiplayer, Treyarch hit a home run. They tightened up most of the things that made Modern Warfare 2 such a mess and they boosted up the things that made it also so fun and addicting to play. They added a few new modes and even a nifty little Theater mode that allows you to create clips of your gameplay and uploads it directly to Youtube through the CoD website.
It’s clearly nothing more than cheap filler, but it provides some nice bragging points. For example, my Facebook page has four of my Chopper Gunner videos posted to it, as well as a couple of fantastic runs from One In The Chamber. Now of course those vids mean nothing to the people who don’t bother with games and such, but for those that do, they’re able to recognize the legititude…and bragging’s always a little fun, even if we do look like douches doing it.
Now being such a high profile release and having all the modes available that Black Ops’ multiplayer has, fans of other games will no doubt point at certain modes, features, bells and whistles and complain that “their game” (as if they developed it or something) did it first.
Well I’ll tellya what…for my money, the last “original” shooter was Quake. Since then, there have been ideas floated throughout the genre. Some sucked and were never seen again. Some caught on and became staples throughout the genre and the industry.
Yeah, yeah…”your game” came up with some new type of filler earlier. Hooray for you. Go buy yourself a cookie, or better yet, buy some stock in that developer that has no doubt come to count on you and your ilk for your parents’ money and all your inexplicable free advertising. Then maybe your continuous nut swinging won’t seem so pathetic.
Anywho, the additions to the multiplayer for Black Ops are legion and they all work excellently. The maps are all pretty much awesome, although new addition “Nuketown” makes Rust look like a vast Nebraska horizon. You of course have your typical competitive CoD MP options, Team Deathmatch, Free For All, Domination, Capture The Flag and Headquarters, as well as your Hardcore and Bare Bones modes.
Thankfully, someone at Treyarch must’ve played MW2 and realized that something had to be done about the ridiculous n00b t00bs and quickscoping and all the worthless little bitches that run around doing those things. Quickscoping (also known as Ultimate Aim Assist) has apparently been eliminated (or “fixed” if you’re like me and you happen to have a cock) and rocket and grenade launchers have been toned down.
The tubes are more cumbersome and require greater accuracy as the overall damage and (most importantly) the blast radius have been reduced significantly. That’s right…no longer can some halfwit blow an RPG into a wall 10 feet away from you and kill you. There’s fewer tube users as a result, and quite honestly the game is a LOT better for it.
A small but very noteworthy addition is the RC-XD Killstreak reward. Basically you get to control an RC car rigged to blow. You only get so long to drive around before it blows up, but it’s all kinds of fun just rolling up on someone and blasting them to hell, especially if you can roll up on a group of three or four enemies. That’s probably where it got its name from.
In addition to earning experience or XP for performance, you’ll also earn CoD Points, which factor into EVERYTHING…from your Playertag (Emblem and Callsign) to Weapon Upgrades to Attachments to Killstreaks. Even though you have to level up to get the better weapons, once you unlock a weapon, you can buy any attachment you want so long as you have the CoD Points. Grenade Launcher, ACOG Scope, Suppressor, it’s all available immediately.
Again, there’s still leveling up required, but the ability to create your own loadout almost from the get go is nice. Of course it bears repeating that games like SOCOM make multiple attachments available at the outset, but certainly the leveling up and earning of the ability to buy new weapons is a hallmark in the CoD “Addiction” marketing strategy, and it all blends fairly seamlessly.
There’s a couple of new weapons, too. The Tomahawk replaces the Throwing Knife, but that’s pretty much all it is. The Crossbow, on the other hand…is awesome. You get three explosive tipped darts that go off about 2 seconds after the arrow impacts. Anyone nearby the arrow when it blows gets blown up, but the money shot is when you stick someone. There’s no way to get unstuck, so they just have to wait to blow up. Sticking a person is pretty challenging and honestly it’s so awesome that it’s its own reward.
The Ballistic Knife is a reloadable…knife…that shoots a knife at whatever’s in your reticle. Your melee stroke is sped up kinda like the Tac Knife attachment from MW2, but since you’re holding the knife it works and isn’t cheap. The knife that gets shot out is a one hit kill (if you can manage a hit with it), and it’s straight up NEEZASTY. Seriously…I saw some cat get fucking fishhooked for the Game Winner last night…that shit’s just wrong in slow mo.
Those additions aren’t all that add shine to CoD’s ridiculously popular competitive multiplayer component, though. The addition of the Wager Matches is just simply too awesome to comprehend. In these matches you’re Wagering your CoD points in with 5 other players. In a variation of a Free For All format on drastically shortened versions of the regular multiplayer maps, each player competes in matches with game changing stipulations. If you finish in the top 3, you’re in the money and will win back your wagered points plus a position-pro rated bonus.
The first game shown is One In The Chamber. This is a One Shot Kill game. In this match each player is allowed one handgun with one bullet. For each player you kill, you gain another bullet. If you die, you go back to the default one bullet loadout. Each player has three lives and the game goes until one person remains. These games are quick and frantic, and basically creates showdowns on the fly, where players have one shot to win.
The second game available is Sticks And Stones. Each player is given a Crossbow, Tomahawk and Ballistic Knife, and must play the Free For All format to completion. As you rack up kills and survive other people being killed, you’ll bank points. If you get killed by a Tomahawk, you go bankrupt…so it’s not always, in fact it’s not even most of the time that the person with the best Kill to Death ratio wins. This makes playing from behind super tactical in being that you’re looking specifically for the leaders and you want to kill them with the Tomahawk.
The third game available is Gun Game. In this game, each player starts with a pistol. As you kill other players, you upgrade your weapons. From a pistol, you’ll upgrade to dual wielding pistols, then shotguns, then assault rifles and so on and so forth. If you’re killed by your own weapon or if you’re knifed, you’ll suffer a humiliation and your weapon will be downgraded one level. This game creates tension because at first all players are hindered by the weapons available to them, but as the game goes on and the cream rises and separates itself, things get really hairy.
The final game available is Sharpshooter. In this game, each player has the same weapon. The weapons cycle randomly every minute or so, but since everyone has the same weapon, no one can cry about being overpowered by some douche running around with an RPG…because he’s got one, too. From there, the players play through the Free For All format to completion, with kills made with the match’s “Final Weapon” scoring more points. This game isn’t really as awesome as the other three, but it’s still a cool mode that everyone should try at least once.
These modes are awesome and a great changeup from the standard TDM, CTF, Base, Bomb type missions in MP. It should go without saying that they are a lot better than the Hardcore and Barebones modes, which are really just campfests, anyways.
The only thing I wish were different would be the betting levels. Your first level buy in is 10 CoD points, but your second level jumps up to a buy in of 1000 CoD points. The high roller buy in is 10,000 CoD points and honestly that represents the bounty from four or five really, REALLY good games on Domination and/or Team Deathmatch. It would just be nice to have a “Middle Class” option where people could bet 100 CoD points.
I enjoy playing at the 10 point level, but at the end of the day you play that for an hour and you really haven’t earned that much extra. However jumping up to the 1000 buy in, I’m not able to continue playing if I’m not In The Money the first match. I need my CoD points to upgrade weapons and camo and shit. I can’t piss it all away in a couple of Wager Matches, but at the 1000 buy in level, that’s exactly what you could end up doing…and the 10k buy in?? That’s for people who are afraid to Prestige.
However that’s one small problem in the sea of awesome that is the Wager Matches. These games are fun, tense and perhaps best of all, very very quick, so the pull to play and bet again comes in and adds a nice touch…but honestly they would stand on their own merit as game modes even without the Wager. Adding the ability to wager however was brilliant, and at the higher betting levels, it amps up the competition that much more, because you know that if you win…somebody else is hurtin.
The emphasis from a gameplay perspective in these games is of course accuracy and keeping your head on a swivel. I don’t recommend running at all unless you’re chasing someone from behind. The little tweaks to the scoring like the Tomahawk and Melee Knife Humiliations give a nice little spin on what could’ve been just three odd Free For All modes…and they are done well enough to stand on their own as fun and enjoyable game modes. They certainly won’t fully replace Domination and Team Deathmatch for me as far as volume of games played, but they’re a lot of fun and I like to play Wagers at least two or three times whenever I turn the game on.
Sure, the graphics weren’t up to snuff even compared to last year’s Modern Warfare 2, sure, the servers are still that P2P nonsense…but other than that, this game surpasses all of its predecessors in every way. This is the most engaging CoD storyline yet, and the online modes are deep, robust and most of all very, very fun. Everything that was cheap about MW2 has been fixed and everything that worked has been improved.
This game gets a 9 out of 10. It’s not perfect, and I know a lot of critics have crapped out 8.5s and 7.1s and the like…but I don’t do that decimal point bullshit, and I’m not so hamstrung by some archaic formula that I feel I have to show the math for why I rate it as I have. This game proved my preconceived notions about cookie cutter quality to be totally wrong and honestly it’s rarely so good to be so wrong. Black Ops is a great game and one of the best multiplayer FPSes today. Treyarch has acquitted themselves with grace under pressure, and IMO they’ve shown that they’re ready to carry the torch going forward.
Call Of Duty: Black Ops rates a 9 out of 10, my opinion being that it is an incredible game and pretty much a must buy for anyone who enjoys shooters.