As a recovering Modern Warfare 2 addict, I initially viewed the new Call of Duty title with some trepidation. Never have I played a game that caused so much joy and fun, while at the same time summoning enough rage that I wanted to throw my controller through my TV. Not simply into the TV, but throughit and into the wall behind. This was Modern Warfare 2. The saving grace of Black Ops was that it was developed by Treyarch, the force behind Call of Duty: World at War. While frustrating at times, World at War never summoned the demon of rage from my soul quite like Modern Warfare 2. In the end, it didn't matter, because like the true addict I am, this dissembling on whether I would play it or not was purely academic. The decision was already made.
The one-player campaign is actually fun. Unlike Modern Warfare 2, there are not hordes of, presumably, poorly trained militia who can fire from the hip and miraculously hit you with every single round fired. That's not to say the AI are all drooling idiots. They are just not the unbelievably good marksmen which seemed to mar Modern Warfare 2 by turning your screen red through most of the campaign. As with any Call of Duty game, whether it be by Treyarch or Infinity Ward, the graphics are beautiful and the sound, if produced through something expensive, makes you feel as if you really are on the battlefield. And as I mentioned, the bad guys here are dirty Reds! That's right, the poor terrorists are given a rest for once. It's the middle of the Cold War and you play as special forces operatives involved in, you guessed it, black ops! Assassinate Castro during the Bay of Pigs, fight in the siege of Khe Sanh, fight your way out of a Russian gulag: these are only some of the missions waiting for you in the campaign.
Multiplayer. The main reason most gamers will purchase Black Ops. The gameplay from previous games remains mostly the same, with a few minor tweaks. The main changes center on unlocking weapons, attatchments, and what not. Black Ops utilizes a credit system. Playing matches earns you experience points, for leveling your soldier, but also credits, which can be used to purchase a number of things like perks, equipment, and even face paint. In addition, you can also change your soldiers appearance depending on which perk you fit in slot number one. The level of customization is pretty cool, since you are able to change the camo on your weapon, as well as the color and shape of the targeting reticle in your red dot scope. The best part is that you now can purchase your upgrades in any order you choose. This means that in no time you will have you favorite gun tricked out with only the atachements you need, and none of the ones you will never use. Genius!
But how is the gameplay, you say? Well, it is a Call of Duty game, so if you've played any of the last three installments, you know what to expect. Close, intense, in-your-face action. Period. This is a game of reflexes and luck. Essentially, a glorified Counter Strike with killstreak rewards and respawns, although there is a game mode with respawns turned off. Most of the ridiculously overpowered killstreaks rewards from Modern Warfare 2 are gone, with the most powerful being piloting a gunship or a pack of dogs(very similar to World at War, except more dogs...a lot more). Expect there to be discrepencies between what you see on your screen and what you see on the killcam of the asshole who just shot you. Expect the number of bullets it takes to kill one guy differ from the next, sometimes seemingly regardless of where you hit him or whether he was already damaged. Expect your knife-lunge to not work about half the time, leaving you to swing through empty air while the other guy fills you with holes or even just knifes you back. Expect to yell "bullshit" a lot. But despite all I have just said, expect to love every minute of it. And expect to want more and more, regardless of whether you already spent six hours non-stop on Demolition. Like any addiction, there is no such thing as enough. You have been warned.