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Call of Duty: Black Ops (PlayStation 3)

87
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100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
3.8
MobyScore
5 point score based on user ratings.
Written by  :  Lawnmower Man (140)
Written on  :  Dec 17, 2011
Platform  :  PlayStation 3
Rating  :  3.57 Stars3.57 Stars3.57 Stars3.57 Stars3.57 Stars

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Summary

Hello Vietnam

The Good

Call of Duty Black Ops is unique in that it is the first game in the Call of Duty franchise to take place during the Vietnam War. Following a unique story worthy of a novelization, Call of Duty follows CPT Mason, who goes on covert assignments with the CIA in an attempt to prevent the Cold War from going hot. During the game, players will traverse locations all over Russia and Southeast Asia, exploring launch sites, dense Jungles, and even undersea stations.

The standard gameplay mechanics ensure that COD veterans can grab their trusty firearms and take off without much in the way of learning the controls again. New comers will also be able to essentially pick up the game and play without having to consult the manual too much. Add in some on rails segments (with a little bit of freedom to control the vehicles themselves in some cases) and COD Black Ops becomes easily one of the easiest games to use, allowing players to focus on some epic set pieces.

COD Black Ops features some of the most epic moments in gaming. The icing on the cake comes from some of the missions in Vietnam and Laos, thanks in part to songs that set the tone, with the defining moment being a riverboat assault featuring "Sympathy for the Devil" by the Rolling Stones. These particular scenes standout quiet well and really work to put the player into the time period in which the game was set.

The Bad

Call of Duty Black Ops, while containing memorable moments, falls rather shallow on the single player end. The single player campaign takes less than two days to play from start to finish, and the missions are generally fairly short. And while the game is easy to control, the game offers very little control over what you are doing.

The game, while beautiful and lush, almost feels more like a guided tour than being in charge of a covert operation. Through out the entire game, object arrows guide you where to go, and objectives don't change beyond "follow so and so", and the frustration gets worse when your allies refuse to pick up an object to destroy a helicopter but insist that YOU do it instead. Progressing faster than the computer allies will result in waiting for them to open a specific door (some doors you can open, others you can't, and its never clear which ones are which) to the next stage or getting ambushed by other enemies. While this teaches players to work as a team (which is essential for co op play online), it doesn't change the fact that the game makes you play it its pace, not your own.

And while the story is worthy of becoming a novel, that doesn't mean it would be the best one on the shelf. About half way through, most people will be able to put all the pieces together and already have the game's twists figured out, ruining the surprises the game tries to throw at you. And even though the dialogue is well written, it still doesn't change the fact that you are still Fighting the same communists you have been fighting for years (and a flashback levels even brings back the over used Nazis again).

The Bottom Line

Call of Duty Black Ops is well designed game with great graphics, solid controls, and a tried and true story. Everything functions as intended the game is largely free of glitches or problems. Its primary downfall is that the game is almost literally holding your hand the entire time, can respawn you in the middle of a firefight, and becomes fairly predictable near the middle. And while the primary draw is online play, for those without that option, Call of Duty Black Ops is less of a must have item and more of a 'if you already bought these other games, give this a go" item.