# GIGANTIC SPOILERS # Talking about the CoD Black Ops campaign.

So I finished playing the Call of Duty Black Ops campagn a few days ago and I've allowed a couple of days for me to think about it. Before starting the campaign I understood what I was getting into from previous Call of Duty games, 6-hours of constant action and craziness. I felt this game just never let up. it just constantly bombarded me with explosions and didn't feature many moments, only towards the end of the game, to let me catch my breath. The levels are set up as gun fight after gunfight that after completing the game in one sitting left me pretty mentally exhausted from all the flying bullets and all grenades I was being barraged with. In terms of level design the game similar to the other games in the franchise, it takes the player on a linear path, this allows the game designers to set up many set pieces along this path to dazzle the player. As some may prefer this style of level design as it may feel to them that they are taking part in a summer blockbuster others may find that the game is holding their hand too much, especially when playing Black Ops the player is constantly reminded which character they are meant to following with an icon on screen.
 I found this game to be the first in the Call of Duty franchise to do something interesting with the narrative. That is why I have chosen to mostly talk about the campaign. The game is based around Alex Mason who was involved in many black operations for the US government. The game starts with the player seeing from Mason's perspective tied to in an intergeneration chair with a shadow of a man in a booth opposite attempting to extract information about numbers from him. Each mission is then a flash back to a certain mission that unlocks another piece of information in Mason's head. Some missions of the campaign the player assumes the role a CIA agent named Jason Hudson. This approach to the campaign with all the missions being recalled from the protagonist's past, is quite an interesting way of progression through the story although it does present some problems. Personally I found the skipping from mission to mission the changing of setting for the Hudson missions then skipping back to the setting of Mason's last mission rather confusing. I also found the job of exposition, as the player is told what the numbers are actually used for, some what perplexing. The 'cut scene' which informs the player on what the numbers are actually for, moves too fast, call me slow but after finishing the game I think the numbers were a broadcast signal that would set of a whole nation wide attack of a deadly toxin called 'Nova 6' and in order to stop it they had to go to an underwater areal and destroy the transmitter giving out the signal, also is it just me or did the numbers even mean anything in the end because in order to find the areal Mason just recalls a sight he saw on the first mission of the game. One thing that I thought the game did well as the whole twist of Mason's split personalty. I have to admit that by the late Vietnam missions I had figured out that Reznov was imaginary but I thought Treyarch did a great of making the player question the character of Mason's sanity. Although I have to say the whole brainwashing and implanting of knowledge by an old Nazi scientist was a little bit cheesy.
In terms of shooting mechanics they're still solid as ever with each gun feeling very different in it's amount recoil and fire rate. Each shot the player takes feels like it really packs a punch and could cause damage, although one problem I found in the Vietnam mission when the base is being attacked, when shooting at enemies who were running by the trenches they would not react at all to being shot. Although this could just be the fact that the M16 just sprays allot or they were just not scripted to be killable. In this blog I didn't think I would go that deep into the multiplayer side of the game even though that is really the meat of Call of Duty games at this point but I have noticed one problem whilst playing online and it is bad texture pop-in. When I first got the game I hopped into online as my friends were pestering me, so I just played it of the disk, and whilst playing I noticed when running up on to a gas tanker and other objects as well as character models, it would take a good 3 seconds for the more detailed texture to pop-in. After installing the game to the hard drive I didn't notice it as much although I may have just grown to be used to it.
Well I think think Black Ops is one of my favorite Call Of Duty campaigns just because of the very different narrative approach Treyarch took with this game. I was reluctant to buy this game after Activision's treatment of the 'A-Team' developer of Call of Duty, Infinity Ward, but after playing Black Ops there still is hope that new and innovative things can be done with the franchise. Although that may not happen and Activision could just run it into the ground like most of it's franchises.
EDIT: I forgot to talk about the whole brainwashing to kill JFK part of the story, I felt it was a little tacked on and it was just another conspiracy thrown in there for good measure.


This is my first blog post about games. Talking about Fable III

So I've been thinking lately I need a place to write about what I think about games I've recently played and what better place to do than Giant Bomb. So to start I'm going to talk about a game that I would have enjoyed if it wasn't for some very poor design decisions. I am of course talking about Fable III.  

In this I will be making comparisons to Fable II as I believe it is the far superior game. Fable II did a great job of simplifying usual RPG mechanics without making them idiotic, the game featured the ability to upgrade weapons and let the player see their character grow in age, physique and appearance decided on the players moral standings and upgraded abilities. In Fable III your character doesn't look that much different at the end from when you started the game. One of the biggest mistakes made in the game's design is the implementation of 'The Sanctuary' which replaces the traditional pause menu and inventory system found in Fable II. When playing the game I found it frustrating to equip weapons, in order to change my gun or magic gauntlets I had to be transported to a room then walk into another room then walk up to the part of the wall with the gun or sword  I wanted to select and then press A and then press A again to equip it. This simplification of  the menu system ends up making the process longer and in some cases even more complected. For example me and a friend were playing co-op and once I decided I wanted to leave the game we could not figure out how to do so, we went into each room  of the sanctuary trying to figure out how to leave in the end my friend had to exit to the Xbox dashboard, Lionhead's attempt of simplifying the menus caused simple tasks that could be solved within seconds with a traditional menu. Another problem the menu system suffers from is the player is unable to view what items and loot they have such as presents and health potions, when playing the game I was unable to see how many health potions or food I had until I was in a fight.
In terms of narrative the game seems to build up and build up then just fizzes out once the character has reached his goal of becoming king or queen. The last part of the game seems rushed and just becomes monotonous to the player as they just make decision after decision whilst sitting in the throne room in order to prepare Albion for an impending attack from an  enemy just labeled as 'The Darkness'. The enemy is never really explained to the player, all the player knows is after a short story quest is that it makes people blind, talks in a strange voice and puts black inky stuff everywhere. The lack of a fleshed out villain doesn't really give the player any idea what kind of threat their facing and why it is such a big deal. Once the player is king/queen they are told the darkness will attack in 365 days and with every decision made either takes or puts money in the treasury in order to fund Albion's army. At this point with every group of decision's made the day timer seems to be going down at a steady pace and then all of a sudden without warning the timer skips forward about a hundred and fifty days and launches the player into the endgame. By the time I entered the endgame I was completely unprepared and most of the people of Albion died. The game's ending was also an anti-climax with the end boss being unimaginative and incredibly easy to beat.
The level design in Fable III was similar to that of Fable II with small contained environments the player could explore. As the environments are quite concentrated and separated into different segments the player does not feel over whelmed and unsure where to go. I liked this as it allows the player to feel they are adventuring although they are being guided by the environment and the 'Bread-crumb trail'. 
So thats what I think about Fable III, it's not a terrible game it's just Fable II is so much better. I think where Fable III went wrong was it's simplification of mechanics found in the last game which where simple enough already.