Call of Duty : Black Ops Reviewed – Trey Magnifique 
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Geoffrey Tim
November 9, 2010 at 10:01 am

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Have you ever had an establishment’s burger – the world’s most perfect food – so delicious it bordered on life-changing, and then returned later only to be fed a dry, tasteless slab of meat; limp, soggy lettuce sandwiched by stale bread? For many – justified or not – this was the experience of playing Treyarch’s biennial Call of Duty games after those by principal developer, Infinity Ward.

Another year, another Call of Duty – and once again Treyarch are at the grill. Developed parallel to Infinity Ward’s Modern Warfare 2, Black Ops is the result of the team’s last two years of work – and is the first game where the studio’s entire staff has been engaged on a single project. Is it another short-order, greasy take out meal – or have Treyarch stepped out from behind head chef Infinity Ward’s shadow, to produce an epicurean delight?

It’s the first time that Treyarch have moved on from the once ubiquitous World War II setting,  to a more modern universe. Unlike the near-future world of Modern Warfare though, they’ve still stuck to a historical period, this time focusing largely on the Cold War battle against communism and socialism. Set between 1961 and 1968, Black Ops puts you in the well-worn shoes of Alex Mason, an operative in the secret Studies and Observations Group, SOG, an elite military unit comprised of the best from more acknowledged military branches; The Air Force, The Green Berets, Navy Seals, The CIA et al that conducted covert operations prior to, and during the war in Vietnam.

The game is presented through a series of flashbacks. Mason, the main protagonist is bound to a chair, being tortured and interrogated by a mysterious unseen captor – and forced to relate and relive past military activities. No longer a silent cipher, your loquacious character sports a voice – excellently provided by Avatar’s Sam Worthington – and it’s this emotionally-connective characterisation, and the relationships between Mason and the game’s cast that make this the most narrative-driven Call of Duty yet. Not entirely too surprising; story development and script writing support was provided by David S. Goyer, who co-wrote the screenplay for Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight.

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Gameplay kicks off with the attempted assassination of Cuban Revolution icon Fidel Castro during the famous, ultimately unsuccessful Bay of Pigs invasion. Assisted by fellow SOG cohorts Woods and Bowman (voiced by, and with an uncanny resemblance to rapper-turned-actor Ice Cube), the operation appears to have been a success – but the reappearance of Castro reveals it to be a ruse, masterminded by Russian Forces leader Nikita Dragovich and his general, Kravtchenkov. What follows is the Call of Duty standard of tracking down and killing the main protagonists to prevent an orchestrated national catastrophe.

In the succeeding time-hopping flashbacks you’ll be taken on an action-packed thrill ride through a variety of beautifully presented scenarios in assorted exciting locales; city streets, the beautifully foliaged jungles of Vietnam and Laos, the gratuitous inhospitable snowy Arctic Circle and the surprise inclusion of an exhilarating chase on the ramshackle rooftops of Kowloon, Hong Kong.

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I'm old, grumpy and more than just a little cynical. One day, I found myself in possession of a NES, and a copy of Super Mario Bros 3. It was that game that made me realise that games were more than just toys to idly while away time - they were capable of being masterpieces. I'm here now, looking for more of those masterpieces.
  • Steve Hofmeyr

    Sweet. Getting this tonight.

  • MieLLiePaP

    Cool Review :cool:

  • piV787

    Agghh wish kalahari.net would deliver already.

    DAmn :za: but i still :heart: it here.This game is :sick: even the :alien: thought so people are going :w00t: for it.

  • koldFU5iON

    Good review Geoff lovely use of the English language ;) now get online so I can pwn your bad self!

  • R and L

    cod black ops is a awsme game get it dumass

  • Dark

    Played first mission so far and I like it a lot :)

  • Moody

    Awesome review G.

  • eXp

    I’m going to buy 3 copies and not play it, just to sp… wait… wrong page.

    Looks awesome!

  • Adriaan

    So did you get an advanced copy of the game? If not, I don’t think it’s entirely fair putting a “review” out just yet. I’d rather you have played the game more first and put out a proper review, because this seems more like a preview based on pre-release info.

    I understand with a high profile title like this Megarom may not be able to give you the ability to review the game properly prior to its street date, but in the future I’d like to see reviews written based on enough game play by the reviewer.

  • http://www.lazygamer.co.za Geoffrey Tim

    You didn’t read the disclosure? I played and finished the game last week, and spent quite some time on the multiplayer.

    Disclosure: The review was conducted over a three-day period at a review event outside of London. The single player review was conducted on an Xbox 360 at my own pace in my hotel room with no intervention from PR or the game’s developers. The game was played to completion on regular, and took in the region of 8 hours. The multiplayer component was played in a specified room with other media representatives. As multiplayer information is verified online, the multiplayer sessions were conducted over Xbox Live, although certain modes were tested using system link.

  • http://www.lazygamer.co Gavin Mannion

    lol reading fail… Thankfully Megarom gave Geoff the full ability to review this game in it’s entirety.

    as the disclosure explains quite well.

  • TheBeasht

    Haha… troll comment fail. You’re a funny, funny guy! hey lazy! can we keep him? :biggrin:

  • Adriaan

    Good deal. No, I didn’t see any disclosure in the review. Unless you meant the first paragraph, that if I read it again, based on the info from your comment, hints at the exclusive event.

  • http://www.lazygamer.co Gavin Mannion

    The disclosure is on page 4 just before the conclusion

    “Disclosure: The review was conducted over a three-day period at a review event outside of London. The single player review was conducted on an Xbox 360 at my own pace in my hotel room with no intervention from PR or the game’s developers. The game was played to completion on regular, and took in the region of 8 hours. The multiplayer component was played in a specified room with other media representatives. As multiplayer information is verified online, the multiplayer sessions were conducted over Xbox Live, although certain modes were tested using system link.”

  • http://www.lazygamer.co.za Geoffrey Tim

    The disclosure was at the end, before the score.

  • http://www.designwave.co.za Nick de Bruyne

    Haha!

  • NiteFenix

    Hot Hot Hot! Getting this as soon as I get the money together.

    Thanks for the review Geoff. You are a gentleman and a scholar (albeit a hairy one).

  • Cloud Strife

    @exp im going to buy 15 copies of Forza 3 and donate it the ANC youth league

  • Bobby Kotick for Dummies

    I like Adriaan more than Aussious. Can we get rid of Aussious please? He’s not funny and he tries to hard. :(

    As for the topic at hand: Very nice review Geoff, you’ve gotten me excited for a CoD game. Gavin give this man a raise.

  • Cloud Strife

    Im sure each room was filled with complementary champagne and strippers lol!

    @Geoff did you have fun playing the game in those conditions? seems a bit unnatural and restricted, did bobby kotick give you a visit?

  • dylbobjohnjoe

    I think I just wet myself in anticipation :ermm:

  • V@mp

    Good to know. Popping this in right now.
    Goodbye sleep :smile:

  • http://www.designwave.co.za Nick de Bruyne

    Feeling very left out right now without my own copy of Black Ops, all my friends are playing it online :cwy:

  • Cloud Strife

    @Nick wtf!
    Why don’t you open the prestige edition cod you guys are hording , finish the game, then put it back in the case, i doubt anyone would notice ‘wink’, if i win i wont be mad.

    its all about calculated risk man

  • http://www.designwave.co.za Nick de Bruyne

    Dude, if I had the Prestige Edition here by me, I would have quit and skipped the country already. Sadly, I am not the one holding onto it. :sad:

  • Cloud Strife

    lol the world is cruel, i bought black ops today and im only playing it on sunday cause of course exams im doing.

    so the world is cruel lol
    well if u moping about you can always look at the intro for gt5 which was leaked, but i won’t link it cause its a massive spoiler-thon.

  • http://www.designwave.co.za Nick de Bruyne

    I will have your Black Ops back to you by Sunday :whistle:

  • al360

    hmmm will wait for second hand copy rather and rather get gt5 sig. :devil:

  • FSRich

    I’m on a 4mb (8 or 10mb since the upgrade) line and i still battle to connect to lobbies and games are laggy as… is that everyone’s experience? Or am i being noob about something here?

  • http://www.lazygamer.co.za Geoffrey Tim

    The lag issue is a tricky one at the moment; With Mweb cutting paid-for peering links, a lot of local traffic now gets routed overseas, increasing latency and adding lag.

    The best bet, to reduce lag, would be to play with people you know who’re South Africans on your friendslist – and provided you’re all peered, it should be lag free. Once Telkom and vodacom peer with Mweb without charging for it, local lag should be significantly reduced.

    If you’re playing internationals, lag will ALWAYS be a factor.

  • FSRich

    Thanks Geoff. *envies pc users and their local servers*

  • http://www.lazygamer.co.za Geoffrey Tim

    Don’t be too envious. The Pc version of Black Ops is completely broken. Online is pretty much *fucked* :P

  • FSRich

    Lolz, feeling better already then!

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  • piV787

    I only get 1 bar every time I play (ps3) wonder why mmmm????

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