Call Of Duty: Black Ops
Posted on Monday September 6, 2010, 15:59 by Sam Toy in Infinite Lives
A few days ago I played Call Of Duty: Black Ops. The new, much-anticipated multiplayer bits. Excuse me a moment, while I bask in the glow of that memory... Right, enough gloating. I’ll disclose upfront that I am crap at Call Of Duty. My ineptitude for the game is savant-like. Dying by my own hand, a resolute failure to learn new tricks - or even to learn from previous failures; I can do it all. If I had to hone down my talents to a single speciality, I’d say it’d be having my ass handed to me by a seemingly endless parade of 10 year-old little shits on X-box Live.
But you see, I have the addict’s paradox: I love the game, and I’ll never leave it. I’ve spent weeks playing its various incarnations, and despite the pain, the humiliation, the rage-quits, I always come back. And I have no intention of leaving. If that all makes me sound like some sort of CoD Moony, fear not: I do have a few ongoing quibbles and qualms with the game, so I’ll try to be as reasoned and objective about the new features as I can, but the great news is that there’s barely anything that detracts from the game’s current/ ongoing awesomeness.
Played out in front of an IMAX sized screen, I (and a few hundred other journalists, but mostly me) watched an opening spiel and demonstration from a few of the high-ups at designing studio Treyarch (more on that later). Then we got to go next door and play.
The big new thing in Black Ops, presumably driven by the mercenary title, is the introduction of currency to the game. Don’t worry: it has no value outside of the game, and it’s not a lure to get you spending real cash on upgrades. Rather it’s a flexible, player-choice driven system of unlocks and challenges, called CoD Points, which run alongside the existing, traditional weapons and skills unlocks. The more you play, the more CoD Points you earn, and rather than having to wait for a certain level of XP to unlock a weapon or feature, you can buy it once you have enough in the bank.
Of course, there’s always a way to earn points more quickly. First, you can accept a contract. Contracts are simple challenges – usually time-sensitive, which are like standard XP challenges from previous CoD versions, only here they have to be pre-bought with CoD Points. Think you can get 10 grenade kills in 20 minutes? Buy the contract for 50 CoD Points: if you win, you earn 250; lose, and you’re out of pocket.
The other way to earn CoD points – and this for me is the highlight of the new stuff – is to accept a Wager. Within Wager mode, there are four new match styles, all of them match free-for-all games.
Gun Game: Each player starts on a tiny pistol, and with each kill, progresses to a new gun. Every time you are killed, you drop back to the previous weapon. First to get through all twenty weapons wins the wager.
Sharp Shooter: Every player has the same weapon, but every 30 seconds, that weapon changes. Randomly.
Sticks & Stones: Each player is armed with three of the new weapons from the game: A ballistic knife, an exploding-tip crossbow, and a tomahawk. If memory serves, the rules of this one are that you have to kill someone from behind – once you do that, you ‘humiliate’ and bankrupt them. I didn’t spend a lot of time on this one though, because I was too busy becoming addicted to...
One In The Chamber: Each player starts with only a pistol, with a single bullet. Kill an opponent, and you get one more bullet. Miss, and you’re down to just a knife. Simple and brilliant.
According to the opening spiel from Daniel Suarez, head honcho at Treyarch, they wanted to expand the multiplayer aspect of the game in two directions – to offer not only a large array of new details, stats and customisation for diehard fans (and the levels of customisation for are huge, right down to forging your own emblem with vast amounts of design freedom), but also to try and win over the buyers who haven’t previously been engaging much with CoD’s online aspect – a figure which he quoted as an astonishing 30-40 percent. As many players will sympathise, getting pwned by that vast army of pre-pubescent little bastards the moment you step into the CoD online universe is a massively frustrating experience, so to that end, Treyarch have done their best to soften the blow with Combat Training. The fundamentals of this are that you play maps with a bunch of combat drones (all named Larry, apparently), which allows players to get the feel of maps and weapons with a softer entry than some little tyke you can’t even see repeatedly blowing you head off the moment you spawn.
Another notable change is to care packages – they now also contain unique weapons. I managed to earn precisely none of these as I played, but on the demo at the beginning of the evening I saw the Death Machine (not dissimilar to Blaine’s mini-gun in Predator), a remote control car with an explosive device attached, a rocket launcher aptly named The Grim Reaper, and a guided missile with an in-built camera. That last one got a cheer. Apparently there are also mortar and napalm strikes, and the flamethrower attachment to guns is present and accounted for.
We also got a look at Theater mode. Activision have, in the past, used YouTube videos to police cheats and glitches within the game, and this is kind of an extension of that, allowing players to look at recent games (and save a selection to a library) from any point on the map, at any speed. The idea is that players can then study other (better?) players’ strategies, habits and general game styles. Probably though, it’ll be used to keep your greatest hits, and a hall of shame for your mates’ most humiliating moments.
The only thing I took an instant objection to was one of the tiny modifications. If you go from sprint, straight to lying prone, you now jump before you do it – a lesson I learned by effectively face-planting myself off of a roof. It’ll take some getting used to. Also, my other big gripe of CoD – the inept matchmaking software (the one that always pits me against a roomful of 8 times prestige players) – was inconclusively covered, so we’ll just have to wait and see how it works. And, in all likelihood, be pwned in the face in the meantime by someone who was born after the Iraq War started.
Generally speaking though, we have everything to look forward to. Roll on November 11!
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Posted on Monday September 6, 2010, 17:52
The problem is Sam, every Treyarch entry to the series is shit. This jumping to stand malarkey sounds typical of them ruining a good licence. Infinity Ward should just be allowed two years to push out each iteration. They are SO much better. I bet this feels plasticy and light, and lacks the involvement of MW2.
Posted on Monday September 6, 2010, 18:05
You guys seem to be ignoring the fact that reach is on the way... bizarre. and it will be a better game than Black Ops, at pretty much every turn. I'm not saying that Black Ops is bad, quite the opposite in fact. If they include Zombies it's gonna be the best CoD ever. But Reach has more features, more polish, more customisation, better writing and a better fun-quotient.
Posted on Monday September 6, 2010, 18:47
Expect to see lots of victims being 'tea bagged' in theatre mode on Youtube!
Posted on Monday September 6, 2010, 21:49
The other problem is that Battlefield: Bad Company 2 simply wanks all over CoD. MW2 has quite simply one of the most unbalanced multiplayer modes ever. Sam, play BC2 and learn what proper online warfare is. Massive maps, almost no abuse from other players, and superior visuals and sound design and most importantly, it's far more satisfying and fun.
Precisely why I can't wait for Medal Of Honor. DICE are working on the multiplayer so bring it on I say!
Posted on Monday September 6, 2010, 23:01
Sam, stop playing on Xbox Live. If you really want to get good at getting good, go for the PC version.
Posted on Tuesday September 7, 2010, 13:50
If those involved want to tempt me back online with CoD then the single most important thing they can do is start banning cheats with modded consoles running aimbots and various other hacks. Yes, at the end of the day they are less skilled players than I am, but the knowledge that it's actually forcing me to play better is a bitter pill to swallow when I've been impossibly head-shotted from afar for the tenth time in a match.
To say the Treyarch titles are "shit" seems a bit harsh. Also, unfortunately for you, giving Infinity Ward the reins doesn't count for anything these days as most of the keystone staff left after MW2 following allegations of their treatment by Activision.
An informed opinion indeed considering you can't have played any of the games mentioned.
Posted on Wednesday September 8, 2010, 17:29
I'd be more interested in hearing the impressions of someone who is not a COD fan (not slagging it, just recognising that there are 2 very divided communities on what constitutes a decent FPS multi-player experience).
Chances are anyone who likes MW2 will probably like this. What about those of us who fall into the Bad Company 2 camp? will we like it?
Posted on Wednesday September 8, 2010, 22:48
I'm actually pretty nerdy about finding out about games before I've played them. I've read all of Bungie's weekly updates on Reach and there's no way they'd let us down with their track record. Acti's been less forthcoming with Black Ops but from what I've seen it's not looking as good as Halo