By Sam Coles:
2010 was a great year for gaming as we got the superb Red Dead Redemption, but it was good year to be a Call of Duty fan as we got the excellent Call of Duty Black Ops. The game strayed away from the contemporary setting and instead told a story in the height of the Cold War during the 1960’s. It explores some controversial events from that era, such as The Bay of Pigs Invasion to the Vietnam War which isn’t explored often due to the unethical nature, but Treyarch don’t pull any punches with the subjects as it is a deep look into mind control and PTSD.
Call of Duty Black Ops takes place during the 1960’s at the height of the Cold War, where you play as Alex Mason who is in the SOG unit under the command of Frank Woods. Mason is being questioned by the CIA due to a string of mysterious numbers Mason keeps hearing inside his head, Mason recollects his past missions to get to the bottom of the situation. The game starts in 1961 during The Bay of Pigs Invasion which was a CIA operation to go in and eliminate Castro, they end up killing a double and Mason gets capture and ends up in a Russian prison camp.
Mason ends up bumping into an old man and if you have played World at War you’ll know Reznov. Reznov devises a plan to escape and Mason is successful but Reznov is not and is sent back to the prison camp or so you we think. In 1968 Mason is transferred to Vietnam with his best friend and commanding officer Frank Woods where they are investigating Soviet activity in Laos and Cambodia. They end up finding the Soviets and everything goes to hell. What I like about the story is that it doesn’t shy away from the subject matter, it goes really dark with torture, political conspiracies, mind control and just gory images as you go through the rat tunnels of Vietnam.
Gameplay is what you would expect from a Call of Duty game you point and you shoot, but it takes a raw and guerrilla approach with the warfare because it’s all about deniability, so you’ll be using different weapons like tomahawks, ballistic knives and my favourite explosive tipped crossbows. It feels excellent when you nail a direct hit with the crossbow because you start to see the enemy panic as the beeps get faster and more intense until it explodes and you see body parts fly everywhere. There are different vehicle sections in this campaign where you take control of a boat with machine guns on it, a Hind Helicopter with missiles and minigun and an SR-71 Blackbird where you command a platoon of soldiers in extreme weather conditions. It keeps the game fresh and breaks up the monotony of the shooting galleries.
Multiplayer was a big shift after the mess that was Modern Warfare 2, for starters they got rid of all the broken perks such Stopping Power as well as getting rid of the stupid deathstreaks. You could also customise your characters at your own pace as you could spend points on weapons and attachments with COD points. How you earned COD points is by doing challenges, or the more fun way is to play Wager Matches this is a lot of fun as you could double down your bet and there was actually something on the line rather than just a match loss.
Presentation is something you can’t complain about when it comes to the Call of Duty series as they seem to hit out of the park every time and this game is no exception. The detail in this game is fantastic with beautiful animations from faces and movement from each main character, the animation is superb for a game that came out in 2010 this felt like developers from this point had a good grip with what they could do with the 360 and PS3. Environments look amazing from the frost laden mountains of Russia to the muggy and sweltering jungles of Vietnam with mud soaked with blood from the previous battle.
Call of Duty Black Ops is a great game and kicked off an excellent trilogy, you should pick this up it is fairly cheap although the 360 version is slightly more expensive due to the fact it is playable on Xbox One via backwards compatibility. If you have the chance pick this game up for the campaign alone as it is a deep psychological thriller that will mess with your mind.