Call of Duty: Black Ops
Format Reviewed: Xbox 360
Black Ops was released late last year. Its now March, and i’m sitting down to write a review. Why? Well, basically i’d actually forgotten i’d even played the game. Then i realised i hadn’t written a review in a while and thought, “Hey, didn’t i play some game where you traverse the globe making people eat glass and then punching them in the face?” This is the sort of lasting impression you can expect from Black Ops.
It’s honestly hard to remember a time when the Call of Duty brand wasn’t synonymous with greedy corporations milking cash cows like a porn star delivering a rather over eager handjob. But with Activisions other money printing franchises Guitar Hero and Tony Hawk well and truly raped into the grave, dug up, raped again, violated with large plastic guitar/skateboard controllers, and finally laid to rest, the last remaining series Activision have that can be whored out on a yearly basis is now CoD. 2009 saw Modern Warfare 2, 2010 saw BLOPS and 2011 will no doubt see Call of Duty: global extermination of the chinks or something. (well they’ve probably killed enough darkies in the desert and have already gone to war with the Russians, so moving on to killing the Red Chinese is probably an evolution of the series by Activision standards).
You’d generally expect this to lead to an overall demise in the quality of the series, but with CoD, this isn’t the case. It’s roughly maintaining the same level of shittiness it’s had since Modern warfare 1.
So once again you’re off on a globe trotting adventure which sees you assasinating Castro, escaping from a Gulag using a portable hand carried gatling gun (cause they had invented those in the 60’s, but just didnt show anyone until Predator in 1986), flying an SR71 blackbird, and infiltrating a commie missile base with Ice Cube. And thats not even the most outlandish shit in Black Ops.
The story sees an American, or possibly Australian (he seems to switch accents on the fly) soldier being interrogated by shadowy unseen government types who unless you’re completely brain dead, you’ll realise its Ed Harris within 2 minutes as it sounds like hes talking to you through one of those pound shop Darth Vader voice changers. Anyway, Ed Vader want’s you to explain to him what THE NUMBERS mean. Obviously you dont know what THE FUCKING NUMBERS mean otherwise you wouldn’t be sitting here with a car battery wired up to your groin.
Thus begins a series of playable flashbacks, each one more outlandish than the last, each one like Michael Bay masturbating to Platoon.
The story itself, isn’t particularly bad. I mean, put it this way, it’s Ice Cube’s best performance since Are we there yet 2: No we’re not fucking there yet. It manages the impossible task of creating a CoD game whose story is actually followable from beginning to end. Granted, it’s like following the plot to MacGyver from beginning to end, but its certainly an accomplishment given how relentlessly fuckassed the story in any other Cod game is.
After you assassinate Castro, it turns out its just Castro’s double. Then you’re sent to a gulag, where you befriend someone doing a really bad Russian accent called Viktor Reznov. You’d be forgiven for thinking “thats someone doing a shitty impression of Gary Oldman doing a shitty Russian accent”. You’d only be half right. The accent is shitty, but that’s actually Gary Oldman at the helm. Gary helps you escape by giving you a gatling gun, making slingshots out of underwear elastic, driving the worlds fastest motorbike down a slalom course, and naturally, jumping from a truck onto a moving train. Just like in real life.
Youll then head off to Vietnam to singlehandedly re-write history and win the war for the US, change the outcome of the seige of Khe Sahn, Blow up the Soviets shuttle launch at Baikinour, before eventually saving the world from the evil commies in what must rank as possibly the most nausea inducing display of American patriotism since the end scene of the Deer Hunter.
Skip to 1:50 and try not to vomit blood as you see the stars and stripes flying proudly as a fleet of Jets do a fly by to celebrate you choking a Russian to death.
Honestly if i was to point out all the over the top ridiculous shit in Black Ops id be still typing when Call of Duty: Future Modern space soldier warfare comes out.
If the gameplay was as wildly over the top and ridiculous as it’s story, Treyarch would have had entire cities named after them, blowjob models would’ve been queueing around the corner to pleasure the level designer, and game development would stop dead as everyone realised that Treyarch have made the perfect game which will never be topped so everyone would just give up trying and get in line to suck Treyarch’s collective dicks.
Sadly for Treyarch, their cocks remain un-blown (or maybe one or two of them has been blown since, it has been 5 months after all, im not really up on how successful the sex lives of Treyarches employees are, but im guessing ‘not very’ unless you count getting fucked by Activision) and their gameplay remains about as exciting as a Mormon Stag party. You start at point A. Your objective is to reach point B by following a straight path with no scope for deviation. Along the way you will exterminate roughly the entire population of Vietnam. Upon reaching point B you will then watch a cut scene or witness an exciting setpeice. Repeat til finsih. Hell if you wanted to, you could do it without even firing a gun:
The biggest problem with Blops is that it’s so preoccupied with putting you in as many outlandish and unbelieveable setpeices as physically possible to fit on a DVD, that after a while you’re practically bored by yet another space launch or assault on an icy mountaintop fortress or fleet of huey gunships blowing up half the fucking ocean. When theres absolutely no let up in the amount of bombastic setpeices, the bombast just becomes commonplace, like how soldiers in WW1 eventually became desensitied to artillery explosions as they were happening every 2 seconds. Its all about as subtle as being cockslapped.
Treyarch seem to think that making a better game means flinging more shit at the player per second than an afternoon spent in the chimp enclosure at the Zoo. Sadly they’ve totally neglected the actual gamplay, which is literally not changed a bit since CoD 1, in 2003. The one attempt to mix the gameplay up into some sort of an RTS is about as successful as the post 1993 career of 2Unlimited.
The big problem with Black Ops, is that for a game based around shooting people, the shooting aspect of it is surprisingly shitty. The weapons sound like a bicycle with playing cards stuck in the spokes, and theres so little recoil you may as well be shooting puffs of smoke at the enemy. And speaking of the enemies, they all react to being shot about as noticeably as they might react to being caught in a light drizzle of rain. Theres no discernible effect at all, the Vietcong will keep running at you until they’ve been filled with the prerequisite amount of lead to cause death. In comparison to say, Killzone 3, it’s pretty shocking to see an entire magazine full of ammo have sod all effect on a poor Vietcong villager wearing nothing but a straw hat and a loincloth, when a game like KZ3 whice does gunplay correctly, has rather vicious recoil, bullets will stagger your enemies, and the sound of a rifle is almost enough to pop your bloody eardrums.
Black ops, as a game, is an FPS that needs complete and utter shitcanning. It’s archaic, it’s unimaginative, it’s gunplay is weedy an ineffective, and all its best ideas are lifted wholesale from films. They need to just take Sgt. Frank Woods who is about the games only saving grace, and make a game somewhat like the film Taken, only with Frank Woods in place of Liam Neeson being an extreme badass who just goes around fucking up people who get in his way.
As a spectacle, its like the greatest performance of Ice Cubes acting career meets the disgusting ultra-patriotism of the tea party in a shooting gallery. So if that sounds like something that appeals to you, you’ll fucking love Black Ops.