REVIEW: Call of Duty: Black Ops

One year since the release of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 and Activision decides to release a 7th installment in the Call of Duty series. Call of Duty was always about those intense moments in Single Player but now they slowly evolved in also providing us with a satisfying Multiplayer formula that just works. Treyarch, The developers of Call of Duty: World at War decided to take another shot on another Call of Duty Title. With the success of Modern Warfare 2, this was the must buy Title in 2010 and is expected to be just as good as Modern Warfare 2. After completing the Campaign, killing zombies as JFK and spending at least 24 in-game hours into multiplayer, this Call of Duty Title still maintains the thing we love about this franchise and improved it for the better.

Call of Duty: Black Ops

Developer: Treyarch

Publisher: Activision

Platform: PS3, Xbox 360, Wii, DS, PC

Rating: MA 15+(PS3, Xbox 360, PC) M(Wii and DS version

Release: 11/9/10

Story and Presentation

Black Ops provides us with 3 modes to play around with. Single Player, the famous Multiplayer and Zombies. With just these 3 modes and some Easter eggs to find, this title delivers a huge package for players.I’ll say this right off the bat. Compared to all Call of Duty Single Player Campaigns, Black Ops Campaign is the best in series. While the intense moments that Call of Duty is famous for is still intact, with intense gun fights, cool breeching scenarios and the most brutal Call of Duty Title yet, everything was led by a great story. Throughout the campaign you mostly control Alex Mason. Alex wakes up and finds that he is strapped into a chair and is being constantly asked about past operations that he was in and the purpose of a series of numbers. Most of the missions are flashbacks of past Operations. Not only do you relive past Missions of Mason but you also relive certain Operations of different individuals that have a part in uncovering the truth.

Having Alex Mason being the center of the whole story gives a different feel compared to other Call of Duty franchise which I appreciate.  Each mission is completely different that keeps the pace fresh. From the war in Vietnam, exploring an abandoned ship in Russia, to the roofs of Hong Kong, you’re always dumped into fresh environments that keep you interested.  As I said, the story is top-notch. And at first it may seem confusing but everything comes together in unison that leaves you jaw dropped in the end.

Treyarch retained the reason why the Call of Duty Franchise is a success and made it their own by providing elements not seen before in the past Titles. World at War was their last Call of Duty game and they made a huge leap with Black Ops showing people that they are still around and better than before. With titles like these, because of multiplayer, Single Player gets overshadowed instantly.  Treyarch created a Single Player Experience that won’t make you feel like you want to just jump back into the multiplayer action but rather to know what happens next in the story. It’s hard to pull that off nowadays but Black Ops Single Player proves that it can still be done with a deep multiplayer in the mix.

There’s more to it than twenty against one gun fights in Black Ops. The Single Player provides a lot of scenarios that you get to experience. From rappelling and breaching through the windows, flying an apache through the Vietnam jungle, alerting your squad in a SR -71 Blackbird if danger is near, there’s a lot of instances like those to keep you at the edge of your seat. The fact that the story revolves around one man rather than a squad or an organization feels like events were ripped out of an action movie.

Aside from the impressive Single Player mode, we have mode called Zombies. It’s the replacement of Modern Warfare’s Co-op Spec ops missions. It’s pretty much you and 3 other friends surviving a zombie apocalypse. If you remember the Nazi Zombies mode then you will feel right at home here. As you try to survive,  the Character you are using usually make comments that are hilarious, especially what JFK says when fighting the undead. You are placed in an area to hold waves of zombies as long as you can. You earn Money by killing zombies and rebuilding Barricades, and can use those funds to buy weapons, ammo, and buffs.  You also have to use your money to access other rooms of the stage that provide better weapons and traps to prolong the inevitable. It’s a great mode to take a break and enjoy some zombie killing fun with some friends.

Gameplay Graphics and sound

Call of Duty has this similar formula when it comes to their Gameplay. In Black Ops, they retain the same mechanics which die-hard fans love so dearly. Even the HUD is exactly the same.  It may be similar to previous Call of Duty games, but who’s complaining? I’m not. For me, their gameplay just works. The guns feel great too. Each gun has a different feel when fired. You can feel the accuracy or rate of fire of each gun that you can easily tell if that certain gun is right for you or not. Gun sounds and explosion were also well done that might just satisfy a gun enthusiasts but I doubt it. As long as it doesn't sound like pee shooters and sounds close to the real thing I’ll be happy.

In Single Player, each level you have a starting primary and secondary weapon. Usually there’s enough ammo for you to retain the same guns from the start but there are so many guns lying around with different attachment that it’s a trip looking around to find guns like an AK-47 with a Flamethrower attachment. Some Guns are always seen placed conveniently for the player to see as if they are giving you a hint on what’s to come. Throughout the course of my play through I was using different kinds of guns found in the mission that proved effective.

AI could have been better, but it felt similar to Modern Warfare 2 AI. There’s no random AI standing in the open, but you still have those weird AI where they don’t get the memo that the player has flanked him. Even after a few hits, the AI still doesn't adjust.

The Graphics were great but there’s only slight improvement in detail if you compare it with the last Call of Duty title. Map Designs have more detail and lighting, and character models in single player were well designed in detail showing decent emotions. Single Player is where you can see the improvement in graphics. The multiplayer on the other hand is exactly the same as Modern Warfare 2. Map Design and Character design in terms of detail are exactly the same. There's n


Now that everything else is out of the way. It’s time to talk Multiplayer. The Multiplayer experience that makes players spends 80+ hours online reaching that 6th or 8th prestige. Fear not. Everything is intact with changes for the better.

One thing to take note right away is that now there’s an economy system. Aside from earning experience, you earn COD points. These points are spent to get everything the Multiplayer has to offer. From Kill streaks, Weapons, Weapon attachments, perks, equipment, everything. If you have enough money, you can get it. It lessens the grind to get that specific load out. Any perk can be bought at any time just like attachments. Buying attachments was a relief in Black Ops. The constant grind to unlock a specific attachment in Modern Warfare 2 was a chore. The economy system is a great addition to multiplayer, giving players better control on his/her progression as they level up.

The unlock system is still around. You unlock new guns, buy you don’t have access to them yet, you still need to buy it to be accessible. Aside from unlocking guns, you unlock other features in Multiplayer. Besides the usual unlocking custom classes, You can customize your character and your gun in many ways now. Gun Camo, face camo, and changing their Red dot reticle shape and color. You can also place your logo into your gun and clan name, which by the way is hard to notice on certain guns. These features will be unlocked as you progress in level.

You can be a little creative too in Black Ops. which has an option to create your own logo. You are given shapes to buy to make your own logo. You also buy layers so you may put more shapes to create a cool looking logo that represents you. There’s a series of shapes and images you can purchase to create your own logo. It’s a cool feature to further customize in the game.

If I have to describe Black Ops multiplayer in one word, it would be “balanced”. All the problems and exploits in Modern Warfare 2 are addressed in this title. You won’t have some kid running around with a knife knifing people, stacking up kills with kill streaks  and getting 30 -8 K/D anymore. I really hated that style. With Black Ops, the feel is more of what the multiplayer felt like in the first Modern Warfare. Perks are still around and finally feels like a bonus instead of an exploit waiting to happen. Right off the bat Black Ops has a total of 14 maps to play in. Each map is well designed, making you change your style of play depending on the map and mode.

Kill streaks are of course are back with many changes. They also feel balanced. Kill streak rewards don’t stack up your kill streaks anymore so achieving them is rewarding again. When you see someone unleash attack dogs, it’s either he was lucky with the Care Package drop(kill streak reward that rewards a random killstreak) or he literally got 11 kills in a row. This is how the Killstreaks should be; it should feel like an award for your success in the match. And I just want to say it, the RC- XD kill streak is just fun!

There’s a new feature in Call of Duty: Black Ops called Contracts. Think of them as mini goals during a match. You spend COD points to buy these contracts. When you complete the contract you earn more than the amount of COD points spent. Some contracts also reward XP along with COD points. You can buy 3 contracts in total. The goals of these contracts are usually for example kill 25 people with a silencer or be the top player in 2 domination matches.

The contracts available for purchase changes every 8 hours and contracts already finished may be repurchasing a few hours later if available after the 8 hours cycle. This is a great way to earn quick COD points and level up faster and it gives you something else to aim for during a match. Contracts don’t stay forever until finished, most contracts have the duration of an hour or 30 mins so if not successful the money spent on the contracts will be wasted. These small additions can make a difference into making matches very interesting and different. With the contracts you see players using different kinds of guns, kill streaks or attachment in attempt to complete the contract.

The usual game modes are still around but Black Ops has introduced something new that’s a good addition to their multiplayer. Wager matches are matches that make u place an ante at the lobby. At the end of the match, the top 3 players will be what Treyarch calls “ in the money” and will earn COD points depending if their 1st, 2nd or 3rd. There are five wager match modes to choose from.

One in the Chamber, Sticks and Stones, Sharpshooter and Gun game.  Each of these modes is really fun and unique to play with friends or be competitive with other players. There are 3 levels of ante’s to choose from. First one makes you bet a small amount while the next 2 makes you cough up a lot of dough. Playing the higher ante’s can provide a lot of pressure when playing the match. Risk 1,000 COD to earn more COD points? It all depends if you want to take the gamble.

Treyarch has also provided a Combat training mode in multiplayer. Yes you can practice! You can set up a match to practice with a bunch of AI if you don’t feel confident yet or you want to work on something specific. You can level up and earn XP and COD points for practice but the points and XP don’t carry on your actual account. Pretty neat if you ask me, a way to practice with unfamiliar load outs without hurting your stats.

Aside from Combat Mode you have Theatre mode, the last 10 games will be recorded and you have the choice to replay certain matches to get info if you choose. Aside from that you can save specific replays to share with your friends and the community. Got a 5 kill with one grenade??? Or a random tomahawk throw kill? You can view that replay and record that specific part of the replay into a new file. You can then upload it and share it.

With all these modes added in, Treyarch finally has given an option to play split screen online. A feature long overdue, you get to play online and level with a buddy in one console. Sadly, and I don’t know why it’s different, only the Xbox version allows you to do online splitscreen with 2 different profiles leveling up differently while the PS3 version you’re not allowed to do so. In the PS3 version your buddy will have to work with whatever you have unlocked and pick from whatever load out you have made. Why that is feature exclusive to Xbox?? Ask Activision and get back to me on that one because id like to know as well.


Now this Title is a PACKAGE. You have a robust Single Player Campaign that hooks you in for 10 hours. A co-op zombie mode that makes you either go split screen or tackle the zombie apocalypse with 3 other friends online. And of course the famous COD multiplayer mode that everybody loves and adores. It’s worth every penny. Treyarch should be proud of this Title. If you like First Person Shooters, this game is for you. Black Ops has something to offer for any First Person Shooter fan and should not be ignored. Finally we have a game that was hyped up so much and didn’t disappoint.

Score: 95/100

Customization Trailer