Review: Call of Duty: Black Ops (Campaign)

Call of Duty Black Ops

Another “Call of Duty Year” has passed and right on time too.  Activision’s highly anticipated sequel developed by Treyarch is selling off the shelves again for the franchise’s second year in a row.  Black Ops day one sales were $360 million and sold 5.6 million copies.  But unlike their first Call of Duty release, Call of Duty: World at War, Call of Duty: Black Ops has high expectations following the huge success of Modern Warfare 2.  The question will be, “Can Black Ops match-up to Modern Warfare 2?”

The single player campaign tells an engaging story that involves the invasion of Cuba, the Cold War, and Vietnam.  You will primarily assume the role of Alex Mason but will also cycle through other characters to depict another angle on the story.  Much like previous Call of Duty’s, your objectives are straightforward and your mission are predetermined.  Selection of a mission is not possible, instead you will follow a linear path throughout the campaign. Now that we introduced you to COD, are you ready to read on? Good.

To the “Bay of Pigs”. One of your first missions takes you to Cuba in search of the self proclaimed President, Fidel Castro.  Your mission is based on actual events, or so its said, which is to assassinate Fidel Castro.  The mission at hand sounds very intriguing I know, but don’t get your hopes up especially if you know your history on the invasion.  Onto Cuba… The sounds and visuals of Cuba are amazing and quite accurate.  If you pass by some venues you will hear none other than Celia Cruz’s songs playing over speaker.  It’s doesn’t get more genuine than including Celia Cruz’s “Quimbara” in both the Black Ops single player and multiplayer. That minor but accurate detail by Treyarch exemplifies what it’s like to be in Cuba and I’m glad they did it.  The buildings are bright and colorful and the classic cars that still exist on the island even today replicate “The Pearl of the Antilles”, Cuba, to a “T”.

Imprisonment within. You may have noticed the main title screen shows a TV monitor and what looks like a prisoner in a torture chair. This game is a series of flashbacks and you’ll make plenty of trips through Mason’s mind all the while during this interrogation process. While these trips through memory lane are non playable, I posted some Easter Eggs that you may find useful before you even begin the campaign.

Intelligent Artificial Intelligence?. I’m not going to solely blame the help that is needed in Black Ops when it comes A.I. Modern Warfare 2 also suffered the same issue which is — too dumb and too smart. In some of the Mexican standoff type battles, the A.I. should have shot the closest target and not have allowed the enemy to pass them by and unload a round on me kneeling behind a barrel. I saw my ally A.I. several times not assisting me when I was taking fire. When it came to avoiding the enemy A.I.’s firing rounds, I couldn’t. They continuously focused all their effort on me even when I was the furthest back in the squad. Again, this issue is ongoing in the Call of Duty franchise so no real foul here.

Planes, Boats and Automobiles. I appreciated the introduction of “new” vehicles especially since it fits the game nicely. Once you arrive to the Beale Air Force Base, you will man one of the coolest planes in the game — the S-71 Blackbird — where you will guide your on-land troops from the high-altitude plane up above. As you direct the troops where to position themselves you will switch back and forth between the spy craft and the squad below. In Vietnam you will experience the ride on sea and in the air as well. Traveling through the rivers you will go up against the Vietcong on a ding.  You can’t forget the hind. You will also fly a helicopter and take down other attack helicopters as well as points of interest and more Vietcong.

Memorable moments. Alex Mason will get the opportunity to meet President John F. Kennedy while briefed of what his future is and what the country is asking of him. The voice acting was done perfectly, recreating that Massachusetts accent of the former President. Another scene to note was when you are captured and forced to play Russian Roulette in front of the Vietcong. Similar to the movie starring Christopher Walken, The Deer Hunter. It’s a dramatic scene to watch but surely you know the outcome.

Final Thought: Activision has their work cut out for them. Treyarch has been tasked with making success out of this cash cow. If you brand the title “Call of Duty” on it, it’s guaranteed to sell millions. Nevertheless, the Call of Duty: Black Ops storyline is the strongest in their entire series. They went to some lengths to recreate U.S. history — sort of — and made it entertaining. The graphics, sound and voice acting were all above their previous game, World at War.  For the campaigner, you’ll enjoy this brief but exciting first-person shooter.

But now I have a question for Activision. When, or should I ask “Who” will make the next Call of Duty? Let’s hope Modern Warfare 3 is already in the works, because Activision has set November as an expiration date for their previous Call of Duty games.

8.5/10

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