Last year, when Activision announced another Call of Duty
game would be released, even the most hardcore gamer might wonder if it was too soon. Modern Warfare 2
, the latest COD release, had just swarmed consoles worldwide and gamers were still having fun with the tagteam and live modes.
But video game developers know a storied franchise when they see one. Activision was wise to release Black Ops
close to the Christmas shopping season, because it deserves to be one a gamer's most wanted list.
worldwide sales records for the first five days of release, Black Ops returns to form with stellar action and smooth gameplay. You play various factors, but primarily control Mason, a CIA-backed operative who works with his team to infiltrate Cold War enemies behind enemy lines. Mason attacks Castro and his Cuban cohorts, but primarily is assigned to kill Russian masterminds who want to create nuclear weapons to unleash on the U.S.
The battle scenes are often memories recounted by Mason, who is strapped in an interrogation room as a mysterious voice asks him where the nuclear weapons might be. Without giving too much away, Mason knows a series of numbers that could hold the key to finding this doomsday arsenal.
As COD often does, the action comes fast and furious. Enemies are wise enough to hide behind cover and snipe-shoot you when you least expect it. Black Ops takes patience and strategy. You can't just use your automatic weapons, for instance, but instead rely on all the weapons available to you, including hand grenades, flash bombs and even your handy knife.
One of the most enjoyable attacks in Black Ops comes when Mason controls Hind Helicopters or battleships. Firing missiles and machine guns is slightly difficult at first -- aiming takes time -- but once you get the hang of it, you never want it to stop. The explosions are particularly well rendered.
In fact, almost every scene is gorgeous (yes, even the violent kills). Trenches in Vietnam look torn out of history books, the skies bleed red when helicopters battle each other and even the faces of enemies are contorted in a wild rage. It's also ridiculously fun to win a level without falling prey to heavy gunfire, which happens all too often for unprepared gamers.
Although celeb voices don't usually elevate a game to the next level, it's icing on the cake to hear some notable actors lend their larynx to Black Ops: Sam Worthington (Avatar
), Ice Cube, Ed Harris and Topher Grace (That 70s Show
What casual gamers might find intriguing are the many plot twists that slide in and out of Black Ops. Let's just say the story is fascinating, with a hint of critique levelled at the U.S. government during the Cold War crisis. The ending is one of the best in the COD franchise, so make sure you let the scenes roll right to the credits.
Like in past COD games, you can also take advantage of multiplayer mode and Zombies campaign. And in a real WTF moment, you can play as JFK shooting the heads off zombies in the White House, in case you always wanted to play president-soldier.