All must die
Call of Duty: Black Ops is the seventh core Call of Duty game to be released in the past eight years, making it one of modern gaming’s most consistent franchises. And while each entry is generally solid, that ridiculously frequent release pattern is starting to dilute the overall product. Black Ops is a perfectly fine shooter, and an equally fine entry into this blockbuster series. But it also does so little that hasn’t been done to death already, making it increasingly hard to jump on the bandwagon year after year.
First and foremost, Black Ops is best described as “another Call of Duty game”. That means this is a multiplayer focused first person shooter, and all of the things you have come to know and love about the franchise’s multiplayer are present and accounted for. Incredibly tight controls? Non-stop action at 60 frames per second? Persistent online leveling and highly customizable load-outs? It’s all there, and it’s all pretty great. Getting together a group of friends to run around some well designed maps, using all sorts of crazy guns and kill streaks, and just generally pressing “left trigger then right trigger” over and over again remains satisfying at its core. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again- this is one of the few franchises that seems to really get the importance of tight controls and 60 frames per second. The result is a high octane multiplayer shooter that’s frequently exciting, and certainly worth a look from fans.
That being said, there are certain things about Call of Duty that I’ve never really cared for, and Black Ops doesn’t show any inclination of fixing any of it. With regards to the multiplayer, that would be the broken care packages, horrible spawning, and connection issues that mess with hit detection. These things just add too many random elements to what is otherwise a balanced competitive arena. In addition, the game is marred with a slew of technical issues, most notably in the matchmaking department. Such issues carry over to the single player portion as well, with clipping, invisible walls, pathfinding bugs, and horrible AI pervading the whole experience. In fact, my biggest gripe with Black Ops (and the franchise as a whole) is the single player campaign. Put bluntly, I don’t enjoy this style of game in the slightest. It’s a highly scripted affair, one that punishes you for not sticking closely to the rote script of “stop and pop” shooting. You generally die or fail the mission outright if you’re not standing in the right spot at the right time, which is incredibly frustrating for someone who (like me) wants to do more than simply follow instructions. Even worse is when the instructions aren’t properly communicated, causing you to fail for ambiguous reasons. That’s something Black Ops does worse than ever, making it one of my least favorite Call of Duty campaigns.
A lackluster campaign and a few wonky multiplayer quirks are things I’ve lived with for years, and it can be easy enough to overlook these things in favor of Black Op’s compelling online play. But it’s precisely the fact that I have lived with these conditions year after year that makes this game feel unimpressive on the whole. Call of Duty is a franchise in dire need of a fairly major overhaul, and Black Ops is far from it.
For additional information on my review style and scoring system, click here.