The Call of Duty (COD) series has had a long, and at times, chequered past. More and more people are starting to get into the series, and with the series now starting to resemble an EA Sport’s series, with yearly installations that provide minor tweaks at best; it is not illogical to assume that the trend will continue.
The main reason for the mass love of COD these days can primarily be attributed to the multiplayer section of the game. While the first COD instalment did not have a multiplayer offering of any kind, Call of Duty 2 blew the console gaming world away. Now you could actually play a decent shooter on a console, which reacted as it should, and that provided enough motivation for people to come back. The main reason for COD2’s dominance was the fact that using a bolt action sniper rifle was, for a lack of a better word, fun. Through the next four iterations, the prevalence of sniper rifles in any given game lobby, regardless of the game mode, was huge.
With the past iterations in mind, I would like to delve into the latest offering from Activision and Treyarch: COD: Black Ops. Firstly, what does Black Ops bring to the table as far as the series is concerned?
For a start, it has removed many of the extremely annoying features that Modern Warfare 2 (MW2) installed. I am talking, of course, about the infamous deathstreaks, which provided players with a boost should they die a prerequisite number of times. The deathstreaks included: Pain Killer (3x health for 10 seconds); Final Stand (instead of being killed, you will fall to ground and continue to be able to shoot your primary weapon, and stand back up should you survive long enough); Martyrdom (drop a grenade when you die); and Copy Cat (copy the class of the person who just killed you).
It also removed the following perks: One Man Army, which allowed you to change your set-up at will; Danger Close, which added additional power to any explosive you were using; and Commando, which allowed you to melee a person from further away. I can’t begin to explain how happy I was when, in the midst of my pre-Black Ops hysteria, I read that these perks would be removed. They were the bane of my existence, especially the combinations of Commando and lag, and One Man Army/Danger Close and the under barrel grenade launcher (read: n00b tube).
At the same time that I read these ridiculous perks were on the way out, I also read that Sleight of Hand Pro (a pro perk which allows you to aim down the sights twice as quickly) would not apply to sniper rifles. I don’t have an issue with this, as it means people who want to aggressively play with a sniper rifle (that is quick scope), will now actually have to have some skill, ala Call Of Duty 4 and World At War.
I have, at this point in time, played Black Ops for approximately twenty hours, reaching level 46, and am excited to prestige for the first time. I decided early that Black Ops would be the first COD game with which I would try to go “all the way”, and reach 15th prestige. On the basis of the time I have spent with Black Ops thus far (which is bound to increase significantly given I have a week and a half off!), I don’t think I will see this feat as a grind, but as more of a journey.
As Tristan has repeatedly stated, the new customisation feature of the game is amazing. I am truly enjoying “try-harding” during games to earn valuable COD points, which I will then go and blow on every conceivable attachment for the guns I currently own. I’ll admit that I haven’t really experimented too much with regards to guns. However, I have found that each of the guns I have used have their own pros and cons: with a high recoil for those with a fast fire rate, and low fire rate for those with high power. This is in such a vast contrast to MW2 it isn’t funny, where only one gun has recoil (the F2000), and makes sniping across the map with an ACR far more effective than actually using a sniper rifle.
Another high point is how the perks have been set up. There seems to be a more balanced feel to perks now, with players no longer able to sprint around the level like Usain Bolt, all the while moving like a ninja. Another positive that should be noted is the removal of Stopping Power, which requires players to be more thoughtful when choosing a primary weapon. Instead of choosing a weapon with a high damage level, which is then multiplied by the perk; they must now consider their comfort level with the gun, and develop a strategy around it.
However, the most gratifying tweak to the game involves killstreaks. In Black Ops, killstreaks do not stack. A major issue with MW2 was the fact that a person needed five kills (four using Hardline) to get a predator missile. From there, it was almost guaranteed a harrier and chopper gunner would follow, resulting in the destruction of entire teams stuck in a spawn spree of mammoth proportions. This strategy became extremely annoying by the end of MW2’s life. As kills from your killstreaks no longer count towards your next killstreak stack, it now requires players to actually kill people with their gun or equipment. Shock horror!
However, not all is perfect in Black Ops. During the first week of play, the lag experienced by many people was, to put it bluntly, horrendous. Case and point:, I emptied an entire clip from my Galil (an assault rifle) into a person using an SMG and I did not get the kill. The player then proceeded to turn and shoot me twice, resulting in my death and a few choice words exiting my mouth. This would almost always, be followed by Lisa getting up me for yelling. It was infuriating to say the least, and. I am happy to say that this is no longer a major issue (the lag that is, Lisa still gets up me when I get a tad excited). You will still experience lag on occasion, but that is to be expected in a Peer-to-Peer system.
An issue of greater concern is that of the spawn system. COD games have never been known for an amazing spawn system, but Black Ops is sometimes just downright confusing. Many a times I have killed someone, turned around, only to find the same person running around an approaching corner and spraying away, dropping me like last week’s cold. This isn’t reserved for Team Deathmatch TDM either. This has actually occurred in Domination, near one of my own flags no less. While I understand that developing a fully functional and rational spawn system is a difficult piece of programming, surely Treyarch could have come up with something better than the one which has been implemented.
Something that is probably a lot closer to my own heart than that of any of the other reader’s is the new sniper rifle mechanics. While I have no issue with SoH Pro not working on sniper rifles, what I do have an issue with is the whole two second delay once when you scope in where your bullets do not even fly straight. And I am not talking about a slight deviation either, I am talking about a major deviation from where you have aimed the crosshairs. While there have been a few people who have found a way around this, the new mechanic pretty much makes using a sniper rifle completely ineffective for those who are do not have a Bobby Lee Swagger level of proficiency.
But that didn’t stop me from trying the sniper rifle, and I am slowly getting the hang of it. Thanks to the new, and absolutely amazing Theatre Mode, I was able to hit this triple while playing Domination on Array, then make a clip of it, and upload it onto the internet. To a massive geek like myself, I almost wept when I saw my work on YouTube. So, I will leave you with this my ridiculously cool shot I got, and a recommendation:
If you have not picked up Black Ops, and you have a solid internet connection, do it. You will find a game that is enjoyable to all levels of players, and a level of customisation that surpasses that of many games available, some RPGs included.
As a side note, if you are struggling to get consistently good games in Black Ops, I suggest that you subscribe to a player called xJaws on YouTube. He provides tips and tricks on how to perform consistently, but more importantly, on how to have fun.
PS. Subscribe to me! I will try and upload any good little clips I get like this. If I actually end up doing alright in BO, I am even considering getting a capture card.