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Call of Duty: Black Ops Member Review for the Xbox360

TheDiesel By:
PLAYERS 1- 18 
PUBLISHER Activision 
M Contains Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Strong Language

What do these ratings mean?

Call of Duty: Black Ops Review

Whether people like to believe it or not, Call of Duty has become one of video games' highest selling franchises in history, bringing in compelling multiplayer on what would call some average joe single-player tacked on when it was the single-player campaign that first introduced audiences to the original World War II trilogy.  As with every year for the past four years, the newest Call of Duty, subtitled Black Ops, hit shelves with developer Treyarch's overlook of the Cold War, Vietnam, and other aspects of the times.  With the newest games in the franchise, Activision try to keep audience members satisfied with updates to the tried-and-true game play while still finding ways to wow gamers who feel the franchise has cycled into a "been there, done that" stable.  For Treyarch and CoD: Black Ops, they take to the challenge with their shoulders high and deliver what might be the best Call of Duty in recent years.

Black Ops takes time back before the setting of Modern Warfare and Modern Warfare 2 to the Cold War era, concerning the Cuban Missile Crisis and Race to Space between the USA and Russia.  You are Sergeant Mason, a soldier who's being held against his will by unknown interrogators to reveal what happened behind the lines during his multiple stays across the world in war-torn areas.  Mason and his team's main objective is to investigate the Nova 6, a deadly neuron-toxin that is said to kill recipients before they can hit the ground, and stop it from being used.  Black Ops' campaign is told through series of flashbacks with Mason regarding the memories of his past missions, with its transitions between cut-scenes and campaign filled with subtle clues intertwined within the secrets and lies within Black Ops' characters and set pieces.  The campaign's flashbacks deviate from the Cold War era, to World War II, back to Black Ops' present time, to back into Mason's interrogation. These little clues keep players guessing throughout what is an actual psychologically interesting plot, especially for what game this is for.  Since Call of Duty in recent years has been more about wow-ing consumers with trademark war sequences in artistically astounding areas, seeing Black Ops put more into delivering a stellar story made the Campaign one of the more enjoyable pieces of this year's title instead of it painting itself as an after-thought and back-burner to the multiplayer section.

It's still a shame that the campaign runs short.  With a run time of just under six hours, you'll feel a bit cut short on the campaign, no matter how good the pacing helps run the story along.  But thankfully the six hours are packed with an amazing campaign that really is worth saying twice.  The amount of time and effort actually put into the campaign really is a refreshing feeling in the franchise, and I hope future developers for Call of Duty take notes and know that the campaign still matters to consumers and was the initial reason for my purchase of Black Ops.  I certainly wasn't disappointed this year.

For most of the people, Call of Duty has been benchmarked for its multiplayer aspect since Modern Warfare as the main attraction of the consumer's sixty dollars.  With its deep leveling system and addictive game play, Treyarch one ups every multiplayer before it by adding even more customization to the multiplayer, putting more hours up at stake by adding even more unlocks and new game modes to the equation.  The biggest change isn't a change, but more of an addition: CoDPoints.  Whenever you gain a level, complete an objective, or continue to rack up the Kill/Death Ratio: you gain CoDPoints, the currency of Black Ops.  Here you can buy almost anything: perks, equipment, and weapons.  Though with weapons you still have to unlock them in order to buy them, Black Ops and the concept of CoDPoints gives a more accessible multiplayer for starters and for experts who want to remake their favorite build.

Level up enough and you'll unlock the new Player Card: Treyarch's personal customization zone.  Here you can purchase background tiles for your player card, and make your own icon with 12 layers and over 500 icons to choose from.  With the ability to scale, rotate, and invert every icon available: no icon is the same and really gives a specific feeling to what you are and how you are portrayed.  The player card also gains access to challenges: extra objectives which include specific numbers of head shots to time played to how well you use your perks.  The player card houses the new combat record, which shows off your career statistics to lifetime CoDPoints earnings to how many kill streaks used.  While Black Ops has the standard leaderboards, with its own Prestige leaderboards for the truly talented, Treyarch taps from Bungie's Halo franchise by adding a Theater system and File Share to show your friends your kill-streaks and crazy screen shots taken from the game.

Black Ops gives more ways to build up experience and CoDPoints via the new Contract system.  Here you can purchase up to three contracts that span from killing a specific amount of enemies without dying, to getting head shots with a specific weapon.  All contracts have a time limit to how long you can complete the objective, so it gives great secondary objectives to your multiplayer matches that help you speed through the levels and put some quick CoDPoints in your virtual pocket.  For those with a good amount of Points and like the risk factor comes the new Wager Matches, which give players 5 new modes to play to bet up to 10,000 Points on one match with the possibility to triple their money and take bragging rights by taking other players' Points.  All the new modes are all fun and enjoyably tense to enhance the feeling of putting money on the line, plus one can't go wrong with having Counterstrike's classic Gun Game to put the Call of Duty flavor on a timeless FPS mode.

But Call of Duty would not be fully Treyarch without the popular Zombies mode the developer is known for.  Originating from World at War, Zombies pits up to four players in an abandoned, boarded up house fending off endless zombies that break through the houses' multiple barriers to try and pick off the players one by one.  Killing zombies and rebuilding barriers accumulate points that can be used to access better weapons, to opening blocked parts of the house, to purchasing revives.  Treyarch did an excellent continuing the enjoyment of the Zombies mode, including a special presidential twist to the mode, that will keep defense-happy gamers something to swarm over.

With Infinity Ward going through a shaky divorce, Activision is out to find different developers to continue the annual release of Call of Duty.  To future developers, take note: Treyarch has shown how to make a title that is sure to consume gamers for months to years with a wild amount of content, stellar multiplayer, and a single-player campaign that is worth talking about and is sure to wow skeptics.  Move over Bungie and Dice: Treyarch's Black Ops is the king of First Person Shooters, and easily one of the best games of 2010.
  • + Psychologically Thrilling Campaign...
  • -...That still feels a bit short.
  • + Stellar Multiplayer
  • + Limitless Customization
  • + Wager Mode [Mostly Gun Game Though!]
  • + Presidential Zombies!
  • + Possibly CoD's Perfect Package

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