As with most Call of Duty games, Black Ops consists of two, very different games: The single-player missions, and the almost RPG-like multiplayer. I feel that each aspect of the game deserves its own review because it is unfair to hold one aspect of the game against the other. Here’s my review of Call of Duty: Black Ops Single-Player.
Call of Duty: Black Ops is the seventh installment of the Call of Duty series and the third game to be developed by Treyarch. Black Ops is the sequel to Treyarch’s previous title in the series, Call of Duty: World at War. Black Ops is also the first game in the series to take place in the Cold War era.
In Call of Duty: Black Ops, you assume the role of Alex Mason, a Special Forces agent and member of the Studies and Objectives Group. The campaign takes you through Mason’s past chasing a Soviet chemical weapon known as “Nova-6.” The storyline takes players to a variety of different environments including Vietnam, Cuba, and Russia. Viktor Reznov and Dimitri Petrenko from Call of Duty: World at War are also present in the game.
As soon as the game started, I felt right at home with the familiar Call of Duty control scheme. The first mission sent me to Cuba on a mission to assassinate Fidel Castro. After infiltrating the Cuban base, my team and I found ourselves fighting hundreds of Cuban soldiers in true Call of Duty fashion. After a very dramatic and movie-like escape, it was apparent that Black Ops would stay true to the formula that has made the Call of Duty series so popular. For players who are unfamiliar with the Call of Duty franchise, the games have been known to have very dramatic qualities that are sometimes compared to scenes out of movies. This may include using a machine gun against a seemingly endless onslaught of enemies to hold a fortified position, to dramatic stealth missions where you take on an entire army base with an AI-controlled partner.
The weapon inventory layout is very familiar to the Call of Duty games. The single-player campaign offers a wide variety of weapons to achieve your objectives. You start most missions with a blinged-out primary weapon and a secondary pistol, either of which can be traded for the weapons of your dead enemies at any time. The range in weapons is refreshing and there are often checkpoints in missions with weapons caches that allow players to switch up their gun combinations.
The Call of Duty series has been known to feature special events in the single-player campaign. The AC-130 level in Call of Duty 4, the PBY-Catalina plane event in World at War, and the memorable boat chase finale in Modern Warfare 2 are all prime examples of the diverse gameplay that keeps the Call of Duty single-player campaigns fresh and exciting. It is fair to say that Black Ops definitely has its fair share of surprises and epic moments without spoiling anything.
The single-player campaign will keep players busy for hours with its deep storyline and action-packed gameplay. However, there is little incentive for gamers to play through it again. There are packages of intel that players can hunt down in every mission, but the rewards for tracking down these pieces of intel are limited. After completing a mission, you can select ‘intel’ on the main menu. Each level has its own folder and briefing. Collecting intel simply removes the black censor bars covering the briefing text. So unless you are a lore fan, collector, or completionist, the Black Ops single-player campaign offers little in terms of re-playability.
If you aren’t interested in tracking down intel, Black Ops does offer another game mode that adds to single-player re-playability: Nazi Zombies! Originating from Call of Duty: World at War, the Nazi Zombies game mode brings a fun mini-game to the table. The premise is simple: survive the endless zombie onslaught for as long as possible. You can either choose to fly solo or team up with friends for co-op mode. Players start with 500 credits and a pistol. Zombies will break through doors, walls, roofs, and windows in waves. Players can board up the zombie entrances and kill zombies for extra credits. Credits are spent on buying new guns, activating traps, buying upgrades and power-ups, and opening new doors to new areas. Strategy is the name of the game here. Do you buy that shiny new shotgun on the wall or open up a new door and hope for a better weapon spawn and a better choke point? The Nazi Zombies game mode is addicting to say the least and will occupy gamers for hours.
Treyarch really takes the franchise to a whole new level with Call of Duty: Black Ops. The same formula that has made the Call of Duty series so popular is here, but Treyarch does a great job of enticing players and keeping the gameplay fresh. The single-player campaign is filled with twists and turns that will keep gamers wanting more. Nazi Zombies is a great change of pace and a nice alternative if the campaign mode isn’t for you. Some gamers may be turned off by the fact that the series has had multiple developers, but it’s interesting to see how the two developers interpret the series. It’s hard and even unfair to compare Black Ops to Modern Warfare 2 because of the developer differences, but Black Ops is nothing but a step in the right direction for the franchise.
I know that to many gamers, the single-player campaign is a minor component, but the single-player experience is really something to be admired. Few games can captivate me like the Call of Duty campaigns do. I will be doing a review on the multiplayer aspect of the game as soon as I can log some decent hours playing it, so be sure to look out for that!