Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Trilogy Retrospective : Black Ops.

By Sam Coles:

I know what you’re thinking “Another Call of Duty trilogy”? Yes because I’m on a high at the moment and the Black Ops games are really good because Treyarch have always put a lot of effort with their campaigns. So let’s go through the trilogy even the most recent game that came out a few months ago.

Black Ops (2010):

After the lukewarm views of World at War this game basically came out of nowhere because we were expecting Treyarch to copy Infinity Ward with a counter argument with Modern Warfare, but no they did some unique and different.

Black Ops takes place during the 60’s in the height of the Cold War, so you’ll go through war zones and operations like the Bay of Pigs invasion and the Vietnam War. You play as Alex Mason who works for the CIA and serves in the SOG unit in the military, during the Bay of Pigs invasion he is captured by Castro and then handed over to the Soviets.

Mason is then sent to a work camp where he meets a familiar face if you played World at War, Reznov who was a former captain in the Red Army befriends Mason, Mason is then brain washed by the Russians as an assassin to try and kill the president. However Reznov takes advantage of this and uses him to kill the men who betrayed him. The story sees Mason spiral into madness as you journey further into the campaign as he starts talking to himself in the tunnels in Vietnam to thinking that he is Reznov, it’s an interesting story that I didn’t expect from a Call of Duty game with its deep psychological horror.

Black Ops brought something new and interesting to the table in terms of the multiplayer to try differ itself from the Modern Warfare games. It introduced the COD points system which was weirdly never used again, what this means is that you could unlock weapons and equipment at your own pace. You can earn points by doing challenges in matches or you can participate in wager matches where you put down bets of COD points which are in different categories where you can bet small amounts to large amounts. I liked this system because it wasn’t just about earning experience because you had something to lose when you lost a wager match.

Black Ops II (2012):

The sequel to Black Ops takes place in the not so distant future of the year 2025 where the human race is relying heavily on autonomous technology such as drones etc. Unfortunately a man named Raul Menéndez has found a loop hole where he can control the entire United States drone fleet which leaves the country in chaos.

The story is split into two time periods the first is set in 1986 where you once again take control of the brain washed maniac Alex Mason and in 2025 where you play as Alex’s son David. The parts in the 80’s shows why Raul has a passionate rage for the US as well as the Mason family, the reason why he hates both Masons is because Alex shoots him in the eye in the first mission. What’s unique about this campaign is that it’s not set on a linear path with the outcome because there are different paths and ending which leads to replay value and it confuses me why didn’t do the same thing with the third game.

Multiplayer gameplay was mostly left unchanged in terms of movement where you run around and point and shoot at anything that moves. However they introduced the “Pick 10” system where you had 10 slots you could fill up in your loadout, this could make your loadouts more flexible with what you want your play style to be and it would carry over into non Treyarch games.

Zombies mode makes a comeback again which gain popularity in World at War but to tell the truth by the time of this game’s release I was bored of the whole zombie nonsense because in my opinion it’s the white noise of creativity.

Black Ops III (2015):

So here we are the conclusion of the Trilogy of the Black Ops series and the most recent entry in the franchise to be on the 8th generation of consoles. The story takes place in the 2060’s where the world has been plunged into chaos after the drone attacks of 2025 and all militaries have to abide by the rules of drone usage so another event like that doesn’t happen.

You are a part of the Winslow Accord where you go behind the scenes and sort everything out in war torn countries. On one of your missions you’re left fight for your life as an autonomous robot tears you apart limb by limb (yes really). You’re on your death bed, but you’re saved by a soldier John Tailor who then gets medical attention for you. You now have a cybernetic body with a DNI, which lets you communicate with your fellow soldiers with your mind and also means you can hack things with your mind as well. The game does go into the ethics of augmenting soldiers with the fact that they are using mind control by building chips into their mind and I like this story it’s a mix of Dues Ex, Ghost in the Shell and Blade Runner.

The gameplay was interesting in the campaign because it wasn’t just about shooting, you have these abilities called “Cybercores” and these add a bit of variety to fire fights. These can range from cyber flies swarming to set soldiers on fire, mass shutdown which can shut down robots, drones and weapons or my favourite where you can make people vomit to death.  These can be upgraded to do more damage or take control of bigger drones which is good, although it can break the game once you’re fully upgraded because you can end gun battles almost immediately which makes playing the game on the hardest setting a breeze.

The multiplayer actually got a bit of boost in this game in terms of its mobility and features. You now have a distinct character you play as called “Specialist” where they different traits and abilities they can use from ground pounding gravity spikes to a one shot kill revolver, it keeps it fresh and encourages you to change each match. The mobility has been upgrade as you can now run on walls and boost jump, this makes it easier for you to get out of bad situations if things aren’t going your way, it reminds me of the old shooters like Quake and Doom with its fast paced action which require quick reflexes.

The Black Ops trilogy are a great set of games which strive to show that singleplayer campaigns are important by introducing you to a dark, twisted and interesting story with mind control and revenge. You should definitely play these games the first two games are cheap these days, but you’ll have to pay a bit more for the third game as it only came out two months ago.

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