Sunday, June 30, 2013

Call of Duty: Black Ops and The Merit of the Excessive Loud Noises

     I never played Call of Duty until I borrowed Modern Warfare 2 from a friend, so I'm quite certain I missed the point when this series was respected by more than just online gamers. I feel like after MW2, the story was just tacked on to subsequent entries that focused more on the multiplayer side of things.

Black Ops doesn't have a tacked on feeling to the story, but the gameplay doesn't feel new and everything is too linear.

It has a nice polished look, satisfying sound direction, and top-notch voice acting. I mean, Gary Oldman? F*ck yeah! The soundtrack is appropriate, with plenty of loud songs to score the loud action.

I understand that volume can be used to convey the enormity of something, but does everything have to be so loud in this game?

When the game lets the atmosphere kick in, it works. The mission where you're driving a boat through a river in the dead of night, and The Rolling Stones "Sympathy for the Devil" kicks in, it felt appropriate. It fit.

I don't even like The Rolling Stones all that much, but I smiled the whole time the song was playing, though I couldn't help but feel the tiniest bit guilty as I mowed down scores of Vietnamese, blowing up their barracks, bridges and creating general mayhem.

But far too often, there is too much shooting, exploding and yelling to appreciate the atmosphere.

The gameplay isn't bad, just nothing spectacular. The selection of weapons is limited by the period, and more often than not, the attachments are more important than the actual weapons, especially when you realize there's practically no difference in the weapons other than their appearance.

Yes, smaller guns make smaller sounds, some guns fire at different rates, but when you get down to it, a shot in the face from the python works as well as a shot in the face from a distance with a Dragunov.

If you're looking for a game with guns, explosions, Ice Cube and an unimportant plot twist, CoD BlOps is the game for you!

About that plot twist...

So you spend the game controlling Alex Mason, who is being interrogated because he knows the secret to a bunch of numbers implanted in his brain that will be the key to an attack in the future, which we are ultimately led to believe may have been the Kennedy assassination.

But the plot twist is that, throughout the game, Mason fights side by side with Viktor Reznov, who played a role in the World at War entry in the CoD series.

Reznov leads a prison break with Mason and is presumably killed, but he returns later at various points to aid Mason.

Plot twist!!! Every appearance of Reznov after the prison break is a hallucination. After Mason had been brainwashed and programmed with those numbers and a mission, Reznov slipped in some programming of his own that told Mason to kill someone else.

So when Mason and Reznov stealth into the base at the end, and we see Reznov yelling at and ultimately shooting the important scientist man, it is really Mason losing his sh*t due to the effects of the brainwashing.

After the reveal, Mason is cured, set free and brought along on a mission to kill Dragovich, as Reznov had wanted. Dragovich is the one who hints that Mason was programmed to kill Kennedy, and he had a hand in it, but overshadowing that plot point with the Reznov thing dulls the ending quite a bit.

Upon completion of the campaign, you are immediately tossed into the zombie mode of the game that is difficult to handle alone, and offers next to no guidance as to how to complete the damn thing.

Long story short, solid game, nothing spectacular. It was cool to see a different take on the history of the period covered in the game, but it didn't do much to make the story memorable. I just hope I don't develop PTSD from all the Vietnamese folk I killed in cold blood... Because that would really suck.

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