Developed by the substitute teacher of the Call of Duty franchise, no-one was really expecting LA-based Treyarch to rewrite the rules of the franchise – and it hasn’t. But it HAS done a bery good job of delivering an explosive, interesting and inventive single-player experience, and for the first time in the series history they’ve actually given it some brains. We can't wait for Call of Duty: Modern Warefare 3.
Black Ops starts as you wake up on an interrogation chair, bright lights in your eyes and an unseen, robotic voice shouting demands at you from behind frosted glass. You’re Alex Mason, a highly skilled Studies and Observations Group operative with a mysterious past and information that someone, or something, is willing to torture for.
Over the next seven hours you’ll relive your classified, bullet-filled past as flashback scenes piece together the life-shattering reasons you’re tied up to dentists chair. You can probably tell this is already a far more interesting setup than previous Call of Duty games – and it is – and luckily the battles and scenarios you find yourself in are equally compelling.
In one of Call of Duty’s best campaigns yet, you’ll visit the jungle warfare of Vietnam, drive a motorbike in a high speed chase through a military compound, silently snipe baddies atop a snow-covered mountain and, to finish it off, hold on to the flight stick to take part in helicopter dogfights.
Call of Duty really does deliver the most thrilling, pointing-at-the-telly-with-amazement action set-pieces – and Black Ops doesn’t disappoint. But it’s the surprisingly deep, Hollywood-eseque plot that puts the explosions here above its predecessors; there are enough surprises, twists and genuinely interesting characters to fill any big-budget action flick worth its salt, and the campaign is a big reason to spend your money on Black Ops.
Call of Duty: Black Ops Multiplayer
That said, most don’t give a monkey’s about single-player and will have their eyes firmly cast towards the online side of things. Here Black Ops has the unique maps and beefy guns (which thankfully feel as satisfying as Modern Warfare’s despite being set in the 60s) to keep CoD’s rabid fanbase happy.
Black Ops’ twist is in the introduction of CoD Points, which you’ll earn alongside XP by levelling up, completing Contract challenges and most importantly, gambling. You do this via Wager matches, 6-player game modes in which you can put your CoD Points on the line and gamble you’ll finish in the top spots. Our favourite is Gun Game, in which a ladder of 20 guns cycles as you notch up kills, from a lowly pistol all the way to a gigantic rocket launcher.
Wager matches are good fun in their own right, but it’s easy to see how CoD Points could massively change the way you approach Call of Duty online. Instead of racking up XP the normal way and climbing through the ranks to earn upgrades, you can spend Points to immediately purchase that killstreak or perk you wouldn’t have otherwise unlocked until level 30. So at level 10 you could already have a top-tier killstreak reward and one of the most powerful perks available – a game-changer compared to previous instalments.
The online package is so vast and dependent on the community that it’s difficult to predict how it’ll be received after hundreds of hours play, but from what we’ve seen from our time with Black Ops it’s much more than a pretty face and could genuinely bring something new to the series – and that’s without even mentioning the JFK and Richard Nixon Zombie-killing co-op mode.
So whether you’re looking for online thrills or a immersive single-player experience, Black Ops likely won’t disappoint – and that’s something we probably couldn’t have said about the overly multiplayer-focused Modern Warfare 2.
Call of Duty: Black ops release date: out now