44 Reviews

Call of Duty: Black Ops

Triggers with attitude

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That must have taken some guts - but not quite as much as you'll see in-game. The SOG team's brutal first-person killing moves and limb-flinging levels of gore wouldn't look out of place in Manhunt. They're that extreme.

Unless you opt out in a pre-campaign menu option, you'll see throats slit, hatchets clumped in faces, hooks stabbed into the nape of necks and people beaten to death with an iron pole until their eyes roll back. Sound grisly? Imagine it in in super-detailed first-person view. That's what you'll be contending with - because most of the time, you're the one executing the brutality.

Even for a hardened FPS freak, it's occasionally shocking stuff, but it fits in with the no-holds-barred, any-measure-necessary attitude the Black Ops soldiers need to stay alive behind enemy lines. (That won't keep the game out of the newspapers of course, but at least there's a warning message at the start of the game - and a huge 18 sticker on the box.)

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Back Flops
Disappointingly, the single-player campaign is beset by the exact same problem we complained about in the previous three Call of Duty instalments; namely, unspectacular enemy AI.

Just like in Modern Warfare and, perhaps worse so, World at War, you'll often feel like you're fighting against sheer numbers rather than actual intelligent opponents.

Foes will infinitely spew from every window, doorway and rooftop - often running straight towards you, guns blazing - until you activate whichever trigger point that stops them appearing in their droves, whether it be an objective or proximity point to a building.

The spawning issue is far more tactically damaging than the intelligence of the enemy forces themselves - though it ultimately doesn't ruin the experience.

We're still desperate to see one of the CoD devs take the Halo approach; sticking you in a courtyard with a set number of clever, defined opponents, and then letting you pick your tactics. Looks like we're going to be kept waiting on that one...

Black Jack
But we know the sole selling point of Black Ops for the majority of fans is multiplayer. So we're delighted to inform you that it's an absolute blast to play online.

We put countless hours in to the various competitive and co-operative game modes with everything unlocked - and it's clear that naysayers will struggle to be disappointed by Trearch's online offering. (Unless you're the most picky of all deathmatchers. Or we've missed some massive exploits.)

Plenty of decent maps and an arsenal of meaty and powerful Modern Warfare-esque weapons (the Dragon's Breath shotgun scares us) ensure that the core Black Ops modes feel very familiar to Infinity Ward's game.

But the real attraction is the new Wager game modes, which could potentially shape the whole future of the franchise. The gambling-inspired game types herald the introduction of CoD Points, a new in-game currency accumulated by levelling up your profile, completing various Contract challenges and putting them on the line in the excellent Wager game types.

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CoD Points are likely to have a huge impact on the way you and all your mates approach the game online. Instead of racking up XP the normal way and climbing through the ranks to earn upgrades, you can now use CoD Points (which are earned alongside vanilla XP points) to immediately purchase that killstreak or perk you wouldn't have otherwise unlocked until level 30.

At level 10 you could already have a top-tier killstreak reward and one of the most powerful perks available (although those can of course be upgraded with gameplay time). Fingers itching yet?

The setup is a complex one (why Treyarch couldn't just have you gamble XP we don't know), and will take a bit of studying. Its made even muddier by the fact there are special rules for weapons. You need CoD Points to unlock a gun AND to purchase it - so they're one of the few goodies in the multiplayer game you can't leapfrog to the top.

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