It’s hard to play a Call of Duty game anymore without comparing it to previous COD titles. And coming out only a year before Black Ops was the wildly successful Modern Warfare 2. I feel like Black Ops failed to live up to the standard for a COD title that MW2 brought to the table. Below I will review the PC version of Call of Duty: Black Ops.
Story – 8 / 10
Black Ops focuses on a Special Forces soldier caught in-between the Vietnam War and the Cold war. You are initially strapped to a chair with a shadowy figure pressuring you to remember some set of numbers. You spend the whole (well, almost) single player campaign in this chair, reliving memories about the life of a SOG solder in Russia, Vietnam, Cuba and other locations.
The story is not a bad story by any means. It is a save the world type of story which is sadly riddled with many clichés. The actions taken within the story sometimes left me feeling dirty. There is one scene in particular where you are prompted to press a key in order to beat someone up in an effort to get info outta them. I wish this type of situation was presented as a choice, rather than a necessity to move the story along.
Like I said, the story is not bad, but feels too “standard” and is lacking any real innovation. Also the conclusion of the story is pretty lame I would say. I don’t want to give away a spoiler, but it is basically saying, “America, F*** Yea”.
Ohh, and the campaign took me 8 hours to beat on medium difficulty.
The game play is nothing too surprising for a COD game. They basically all play the same. And that is not a bad thing. Game play is one thing they have come very close to perfecting.
The field of view, ease with weapons and grenades and smooth mechanics of navigating on foot, plane or jeep all very good and feel natural. The interesting liberty that Treyarch took with game play this time around is they gave gamers the ability to fly an attack helicopter, which is quite satisfying.
Black Ops does not implement DX11 like Battlefield Bad Co. 2. And the difference is noticeable. Here are the minimum system requirements, my specs and how my computer handled BLOPS.
Minimum system requirements:
OS: Windows XP / Vista / 7
CPU: Intel Core 2 Duo E6600 or AMD Phenom X3 8750 or better
HD: 12GB of Free Space
GPU: Shader 3.0 or better 256MB Nvidia GeForce 8600 GT/ ATI Radeon X1950 Pro or better
OS: Windows 7 64 Bit
CPU: AMD Quad Core 3.2 GHz
GPU: ATI Radeon 5770 HD
The game looks good, very good with my setup. I played at 1600 x 1200 resolution and max settings, including max AA and field of view. I never noticed one frame rate issue during any of the single player campaign, meaning that the frame rate never dropped to below 35-40 fps (frames per second). Anything below that is easily noticeable by me when gaming.
So overall, the graphics looked good and there were not too many bugs within the textures or animation to make the game un-believable. However during multiplayer no matter how much I mess with my graphic settings I cannot seem to get rid of a shadow issue. Especially when playing Jungle in multiplayer the trees look normal, and then they will look extra light, then extra dark. I’m not sure why the tree textures in Jungle do this as tree and other “green” textures within multiplayer has no problems at all.
Sound — 8.5 / 10
It sounds like war, and it should. At times some weapons seem too quiet, other time a bit too loud. Overall the sound quality is top notch. The voice acting is great too; there wasn’t a time I found the voiceovers unbelievable or cheesy.
The only problems I noticed with the sound in Black Ops is when someone is talking to you or to another person and you are walking with them, if you decided to run ahead and check things out or are lagging behind a bit, they still sound like they are 2 feet away from you. I found myself even looking around to see who was standing next to me talking. And there was no one there, and then a few seconds later 2 fellows walked up talking to each other, it was them.
The enemy AI is not as noticeably bad as in Modern Warfare 2, but is still bad. But I have yet to play a “newer” FPS that has somewhat intelligent/believable AI (Artificial Intelligence). Enemies will routinely duck for cover, only to poke their heads out in the same spot multiple times until someone shots them in their face. Also, at time they will rush you, which is not bad, but quite unlikely.
The friendly AI is even worse. They don’t help much, which is mostly good, because I don’t want them stealing all my kills, but when they run for cover 10 feet ahead of me and watch an enemy run past them and hit me in the head with a rifle butt, it gets annoying pretty fast. It would be nice if they could actually try to cover me when someone is shooting at me, rather than looking at me like an idiot.
So the AI in general leaves much to be desired.
Multiplayer – 9 / 10
Not a huge surprise here, but Multiplayer is where it’s at with Black Ops. In some ways Black Ops is improved over MW2, in others it seems a bit worse.
The killstreak rewards, level unlocks and weapon/perk unlocks are not nearly as rewarding in Black Ops as they are in MW2, but there are more weapon customization options. Some character animations (death animations) seem too fake, like getting hit from an explosion in one direction and having a rag doll effect that even a 10 year old could recognize as physically impossible.
Even though there are some annoying features within multiplayer there is one huge plus.
Dedicated servers. This fact alone puts Black Ops above and beyond MW2. With dedicated servers you can join a math or leave a match without affecting other players on the server. Also you can save your favorite servers for future use. Dedicated servers are a must for me, and the lack of dedicated servers for MW2 was its downfall.
The game is flawed, but damn fun. Even though BLOPS does not stand out on its own as a great single player experience, the multiplayer more than makes up for the less than compelling single player missions. However, replay value on this baby is very high. Mostly because of what is offered with the multiplayer experience. Ohh, did I mention the zombies. The zombie mod adds another layer to an already great multiplayer experience.