Call of Duty Black Ops is the latest offering from the now familiar gaming giant Treyarch. It is the spiritual successor to the other highly popular Call of Duty games and seems particularly similar to Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2. This game certainly contains some features of obvious similarity with this predecessor, much of the weaponry, game-play modes and ideas have been plucked from that source. It is however a dis-service to suggest Black ops is simply a new chapter in a popular franchise, quite the opposite in fact. Having played through this game back to front, inside and out and from just about every other conceivable angle, I can assure both hardcore fans of the game and those who are new to the Call of Duty series, this is a game not to be missed.
Let's start with the campaign mode. This is really well done and right from the start we are thrown into the action. Whether it's from the huge, Hollywood style explosions, to the high speed thrill of a desperate escape attempt, you are quickly going to feel that you are on the front lines. The enemy AI seem to work fairly intelligently and this certainly racks up the exertion level if you are willing to try a higher level of campaign difficulty. The main problem I found with the campaign is that the story is told like a narrative, with your character being questioned about different events during the Cold War. This in itself is by no means a problem, but it does mean that there are certainly too many long, drawn out, cut scenes. These are not necessarily always exciting either and at times I found my mind wandering, wishing that the next mission would start.
The next feature worth discussing is the totally gripping multi-player mode. This is where I feel Black Ops most impresses and Treyarch displays it's real talent for quality gaming. Pre-game the matchmaking system is quick and generally balanced and rarely did I find myself on grossly unbalanced teams. There's also a huge choice of different game modes to satisfy the modern gamer, from the stalwarts of team death-match, capture the flag etc to newer game types for the more adventurous amongst you. What is really important in any multi-player game though is whether it makes you want to keep coming back for more and black ops doesn't disappoint. I was impressed with how many different strategies could be employed in this mode and after many hours of play was still undecided as to my favourite guns, perks etc. There are less of the weapon unbalances that were seen in Modern Warfare 2, with certain guns being slightly powered down to ensure fairness. Treyarch also introduces us to a new Wager Mode, whereby players can gamble a stake of Cod points against other players, in order to gain big rewards. This really ramps up the competitive edge for people who want that extra challenging multi-player experience. There are still a few problems with modders, cheats and boosters, (who break the rules of the game in order to rank up quickly) but when I played these incidents were extremely rare and in no way were able to detract from what is an excellently balanced gaming experience.
The final mode worth briefly discussing is the appropriately named Zombies Mode, which follows the attempts of four people to kill as many waves of zombies as possible. This game type brought about a mixed reaction for me. On the one hand it is fairly good fun and I really liked that as we got more kills we were able to unlock new places, weapons and special traps to deal with the Zombie horde. It was a mode however, that felt a little underdeveloped and for lovers of the zombie survival genre it's no Left 4 Dead. In essence it served as an enjoyable little side game when I grew tired of owning my friends on multi-player and the campaign was completed. At least you can play it through co-op with a friend or join a matchmaking lobby of three other gamers.
In conclusion therefore Call of Duty Black Ops really warrants it's record as the highest earning entertainment launch. The campaign is well written, extremely engrossing and keep ups the action packed story from start to finish. Multi-player mode maintains the fun parts of Modern Warfare 2, but learns from the predecessor's mistakes and the improvements made to weapons, perks etc really help to push the game into the top gear of quality gaming. Zombie mode serves as a nice distraction and am sure there will be plenty of gamers who really enjoy it. Call of Duty's action packed formula continues to cash in on a well established rote, the game play is fun and the game well finished and presented, it can't fail to do well.