By Sam Coles:
Criterion Games are mostly known for the Burnout series and superb Need for Speed Most Wanted 2012, but they threw their hat in the first person shooter ring with a little gem called Black. Black was released on the PS2 and Xbox back in 2005 when the 360 came out but curiously never got a 360 release. This game really pushed those systems to their limits with the visuals and effects. Why do we not hear people talk about this game? I don’t know but it is a game you must have in your collection
Black is about a soldier who is in custody and is being interviewed about events that transpired months ago and if this plot sounds familiar then you have played the Battlefield 3 campaign as the setup is exactly the same. Cutscenes are real FMV footage with real actors and the acting is okay it can come off as a bit ham fisted with corny lines but I wasn’t expecting a fantastic performance from a game that was released on the PS2.
The gameplay is a first person shooter although Halo came along and showed that FPS’s could be done on consoles, they were still finding their footing at this time. Black does a decent job of being a console shooter from that era with good and responsive controls although the can feel a bit clunky when you’re trying to pull off precise shots. The action is intense with explosions everywhere and gunfire constantly rattling in the back and foreground.
You have a variety of weapons from pistols which are about as effective as using harsh language to my favourite the Spas 12 which shakes the screen every time you pull the trigger. There are times where you’re given suppressed weapons but it will quickly go wrong and you’ll end up going loud.
Considering I’m playing this game on the PS2 this game really pushes the hardware to its limits with particle effects I thought that were not possible on the system. There is so much going on in each situation I’m surprised that the game does not slow down more often and yes it does drop frames here and there but not often. The only aspect that really annoys me about the visuals is the depth of field effect when you reload as it is a pretentious effect showing off their weapon models and you can’t see where the enemy is when you’re reloading. The other problem I have with the visuals is that the game can be too dark in places especially during a segment where you’re avoiding mines on the ground which you can barely see.
Black is a fantastic shooter and has surprisingly aged well with visuals that push the sixth generation of consoles to their limits and fun over top gameplay that will have you grinning ear to ear from start to finish.