Friday, 7 January 2011

Ten Video Games 2010: Call of Duty: Black Ops

It would be gross hypocrisy not to include Call of Duty: Black Ops. Although in many ways a disappointment, like past installments it continues to swamp free time. If nothing else, it's a one-stop spot for online enabled friends to meet up and eviscerate each other. As a package, Black Ops is lopsided. The single-player peaks very early with a Soviet space program sabotage, only ever returning to such pulpy delights when it flashbacks to a post-war trip to The Artic Circle to exterminate shivering science Nazis. The rest of the campaign is an ignorant limp through death corridors, staffed by poor people, whom you exterminate with million dollar prototype weapons. Although the actual title suggested promise, Treyarch have failed to fully engage with the isolationist psychosis that drove America's wet work industry. Everything is reduced to a one-note holy crusade against Godless communists. Gameplay rarely dips below fun, but the agenda leaves a sour taste.

Black Ops makes the list thanks to its multiplayer. Treyarch have tweaked Infinity Ward's Modern Warfare 2 model, reigning in the madness to bring the series back in-line with the meat and potatoes suite of Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. Their work isn't perfect; pro perks are hassle to chase, the economy system is fussy, and the net coding can do an excellent impression of useless. The fact remains though, Treyarch have inherited an almost peerless multiplayer platform. Very few other franchises gift their weapons with such finely tuned heft and feedback; firing any gun in any Call of Duty feels satisfying. Treyarch's changes are mostly balance related, whiffing the easily abused, and forcing focus back onto gametype objectives, rather than killstreaking. Their additions show consideration too. Wager Matches are fun, with low-bet lobbies tailor-made for chaser action for partied up pals. Treyarch have maintained.

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