Game review: Call of Duty: Black Ops (XBOX 360)

Call of Duty: Black Ops, by Treyarch (XBOX 360)

Okay. This is one of the hottest games out there. It beat a lot of release records, and has sold millions of copies. People have strong opinions about the game—they either love it or hate it. There’s not much ambivalence here. A game like this is difficult to review, but I’m doing it. In the following review, I’ll break the game down piece by piece and let you know my opinion of the game. At the end of the review is also an ADHD Factor– things to consider if you’re ADHD, from a fellow distracted gamer. So crack open a can of Amp (the purple flavor, ‘cause it’s awesome) and enjoy!

Synopsis: FIRST PERSON SHOOTER. Set during the Cold War/Vietnam era, this seventh installment of the Call of Duty series is set mainly in the mind of an interrogated soldier, Mason, who keeps hearing numbers in his head. You play the flashbacks he keeps experiencing while he is being intensely interrogated. Occasionally, you also play as other characters within the storyline. What is really going on? Who is interrogating Mason? And what are those numbers you keep hearing?

Features: There’s a single-player campaign, an extensive multiplayer playground, zombies levels, and some little bonus side-games such as Zork and Dead Ops Arcade that are semi-hidden Easter Eggs. The multiplayer game features your traditional TDM, Free-for-all, Sabotage, etc., as well as wager matches, where you can bet your earned COD points that you will place in the top three of several different types of games (I personally recommend Gun Game and One in the Chamber!). There is a multitude of customization available as well, from your gun (camo, reticle shape and color, scratching your clan tag into the side of it, etc.) to your playercard (how your name appears in-game—backgrounds and customizable picture) to your person (outfits and face paint).

Pros: Campaign: Great suspenseful story, deep character development, decent length, good replay value (degrees of difficulty, achievements that encourage different playing, etc.).

Multiplayer: Amazing wealth of customization tools, addition of wager matches, very large community of players, a pretty decent balance of smaller maps and huge maps, the RC-XD self-guided exploding car (best. killstreak. ever), and other self-directed killstreaks such as the chopper gunner.

Other. The Zork and Dead Ops Arcade mini-games are actually pretty awesome. Zork is very frustrating and I succumbed to using a walkthrough in order to figure out what was going on (I know, I know), but it was still fun. (Look online for how to find these games if you’re confused.)

Cons: The campaign probably isn’t for the younger crowd, as there’s a LOT of strong language and violence and gore, as well as (duh, it’s a war game) very violent themes and such. I have to complain about the zombie games as well, although I admit I haven’t played them that much. They seem more difficult than the World at War levels (although some players may enjoy this more). They’re not for me, though. I also wish there was a better way of selecting hosts, since the game glitches a little more frequently than I would like it to.

(These scores are out of 10)

Graphics: 9 Maybe I’m biased because my first real FPS was Call of Duty 4, but I almost always prefer the COD graphics over other games. It just seems much easier to distinguish people from background in these games. I also enjoy the way this game immerses you in that era and right into the middle of the settings, whether it’s the gritty interrogation room or the snowy Soviet settings or the lush jungles.

Storyline: 8 The storyline, to me, was a liiittle confusing at times, with the way it jumped around, but I think it really tried hard to tell a good story. And it did. The whole game is sort of a “what’s going on??” kind of storyline, where you’re trying to figure out what those numbers are, but when the answers start coming, it’s pretty shocking and kind of awesome. I also enjoyed the side characters, who– while admittedly not as developed as in games like Battlefield: Bad Company, but who is?)—made me feel sympathetic and actually care what happened to them, especially Woods for some reason. Probably his awesome bandana.

Gameplay: 9 Through the storyline, you get to visit a lot of different settings and situations. This keeps the gameplay feeling fresh and different. The multiplayer part also has nice gameplay—the maps are extremely varied (tiny, cramped Nuketown versus huge maps like Radiation and Cracked).

Controls: 9 A very familiar layout from the other Call of Duty games, the controls felt comfortable and natural. You can, of course, change them in the Options setting if you prefer a different layout. Like I said earlier, controlling the RC-XD car and other killstreak rewards is so awesome. Driving that little tiny car is probably my favorite part of the game!

Replayability: 10 As with a lot of these multiplayer games, the replay value is high. The campaign itself is good for maybe a few playthroughs, especially if you like to try all levels on Veteran, and/or if you are collecting all the achievements. The multiplayer game, however, has high replay value. With all the customization tools available, you’ll have a lot of fun trying out different guns, and there’s no shortage of people online at any given time, so you shouldn’t have a hard time getting into a match any time you want.

TOTAL SCORE: 45/50= 90 (A-minus)

The ADHD Factor: Keeping up with the storyline in the campaign was a little difficult at times, since I tended to stop paying attention during a few of the cutscenes (i.e. “bathroom breaks”). The mystery factor was good enough to keep me somewhat engaged, however. Because of the way array or features available in the multiplayer part, I would say ADHD gamers will not get bored during this game (unless people in your lobby KEEP voting for Firing Range…).

Reminds me of: the other Call of Duty games.