Call of Duty: Black Ops

Post-Modern Warfare

Aram Lecis and Parjanya Holtz discuss Treyarch's Call of Duty: Black Ops in one hell of a collective effort.
Author: TPS Staff
Published: November 17, 2010
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Parjanya Holtz, Senior Editor: Call of Duty: Black Ops is the first game in the series to be released since the Infinity Ward/Activision scandal happened which is why I was quite worried about its quality when they first showed off that cheesy trailer earlier this year. And while World at War was a capable game, I thought it was nowhere near the quality of the first Modern Warfare. Now that Black Ops is out, I'm happy to be able to say that I think Treyarch has not only made a great Call of Duty game, but they've actually created one of the best single player experiences of the year. And that's saying something when you keep in mind that Halo: Reach and Medal of Honor came out just a few weeks ago.

Aram Lecis, Senior Editor: Are we talking just about FPS games here? If not, I think Red Dead Redemption would give it a pretty good run for its money, and for that matter, so would Costume Quest and a dozen other games I could name. Blops is exactly like the giant blockbuster Jerry Bruckheimer film that comes out every summer. It's big, it's flashy, it's over-the-top action packed suspension-of-disbelief storytelling that's also derivative of better works. The good news is that is pretty much what you want in a video game. I'm not sure any Call of Duty game story game has ever gripped me like the original (the Russian campaign was brilliant), but I did find this iteration more memorable than Modern Warfare 2, to be sure.

So is the gameplay equally derivative? Well, yes, of course. The FPS world has become a bipartisan world of cover and non-cover based shooters, and within those walls there is not a lot of variation, even less so within the Call of Duty series itself. Blops plays like every other Call of Duty game this generation, which means pretty tight control and not much to the gameplay beyond shooting the next wave of baddies (or in the case of several areas, moving forward past the infinite spawns). There are a few spots sprinkled throughout the campaign where you shoot stuff on rails in various vehicles to break up the monotony, but for the most part your mission is to kill guys and get to the next cutscene. While I might yearn for a little more depth to the gameplay, there is no denying that if you want a murder simulator, Blops is among the best.

Obviously a key component then becomes what weapons are available. A wide variety of real world guns is the hallmark of the series, and Blops delivers a solid set of hardware from the entire cold war period, ranging from WW2-era weapons up to M16s and other almost modern guns. Sure, there are dozens of guns, but in the end I can't really tell the difference beyond "this one fires a lot faster" and "that one has a nice scope". Ultimately, guns are guns, you know what I mean? Something a little more exotic would have been nice, but of course this game tries to focus on realism (cough) so they wouldn't make sense given the fiction.
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