The Black Ops Journal: Day 3

I wasn’t planning on picking up Call of Duty: Black Ops for some time as Modern Warfare 2 didn’t feel like that long ago and there were better games to purchase. Big mistake in dropping $60 on Fable 3 instead.

But I recently received the game in the mail from some divine benevolent badass I know, and so I get to play and write up my thoughts on the game for you all to enjoy. No epic 3,000 word rant here like I dismembered Fable 3 with. Rather, I’ll be doing a few journal installments as I progress through the campaign and multiplayer. I’ve had the game three days now, and these are my initial thoughts.

I’ll start with the campaign, as that’s relatively easy to cover. Campaigns in nearly every COD game over the years have tried to top themselves in being action packed, and so far, Black Ops has taken the crown from any past entry. There are few moments in the game that aren’t insane massive gunfights, and sometimes it can approach overload and you barely feel like you’re contributing to any of it.

I had thought Black Ops was set in the present day, but it appears Treyarch didn’t quite make it all the way there. Rather we’re stuck in and around the Vietnam era with the Russians set up to be the main villains in yet another war game, despite us never actually fighting them.

Russia has had a far more impressive fictional history than an actual one.

But maybe we did SECRETLY which is the whole premise behind Black Ops. Some shadowy figure has tied our central character up and badgers him about his past covert ops history that we get to live out through playable flashbacks, that often border on giving me seizures as the game constantly flashes numbers, images and video in quick succession in between scenes meant to imply some sort of brain-tampering with our hero. But it’s getting to the point where it’s causing brain tampering in real life.

I have yet to experience the kind of “Oh shit!” moment I felt when the nuke went off in MW1 or during “No Russian” in MW2, but I suppose there’s still time as I’m probably about 2/3rds of the way through the game. I do like the plot set up as a big mystery, as it’s more intriguing and plausible than past plots which have essentially been World War III. And I’m pretty sure my character isn’t going to unexpectedly die in a random cutscene and be replaced by someone else.

I do have to note here that Black Ops feels different than Modern Warfare. As it’s a completely different studio, that’s no surprise, but MW just feels more realistic in both campaign and multiplayer. It’s hard to put into words, but things in MW just seemed to have weight behind them, killing an enemy felt…right. Not in the moral sense, but in the tactile, visual and auditory sense. It’s only a little bit different here, but it feels just a little less realistic than Infinity Ward’s series.

Graphics are good, but in multiplayer can be a bit muddy.

But that being said, for the most part Black Ops multiplayer is leagues improved over Modern Warfare‘s once you get settled into the new feel of it.

Not since Assassin’s Creed 2 has one sequel fixed more of the issues from a previous installment in a series. Treyarch has torn through Infinity Ward’s balance issues from Modern Warfare 2, which for the life of me, I never understood why they didn’t fix with a patch as they were incredibly obvious and made the game insanely frustrating for non-exploitative players.

Noob tubing? A thing of the past. Several steps have been implemented to make sure grenade spamming is no more, with the biggest step being the elimination of Danger Close as a perk altogether. This also makes you less likely to die from ridiculous blasts from claymores, grenades and airstrikes which was also a pain in the ass previously. Also eliminated is the ability of Scavenger to refill launched grenades and the resupplying One Man Army has been axed completely.

As for sprint knife/shotgunners, Marathon no longer gives you infinite sprint, only extended, and hallelujah, Commando has been removed entirely, meaning no one will lunge ten feet across the room to kill you anymore. Meanwhile shotguns have been once again made into their own class, a decision that fixes people sprinting around with dual 887s, though it’s kind of made the gun useless on most levels. I would have been fine with leaving it as a secondary, just with its abilities heavily tapered, as I do miss using it in the occasional enclosed space, but in most levels it’s suicide to pick as your class.

“That’s for shotgunning on Summit!”

Also eliminated is Stopping Power, which was a huge staple of MW2 which simply made your bullets hurt more, thus making it exceptionally necessary in many loadouts. But with the option gone completely, you’ll have to rely more on the damage stats of your guns for a change, and it frees up a slot for another useful perk.

Killstreaks are less invasive as well, with unavoidable Predator missiles no longer constantly raining down from the sky. That perk is still available in a way with guided missiles, but they’re harder to pilot and it takes 8 kills to get them. The RC-XD remote controlled bomb car can be frustrating, but you can stop it if you see it, and you die from it far less frequently than the pervasive predator strikes of the first game.

Leveling up is different as well as players now purchase perks and logos rather than simply unlocking them at a level. Guns are still unlocked via rank, but you have to purchase them as well as their attachments, which is a bit annoying, but overall I’d say the system is better. I’m not high enough to start changing my camo and gun sights, but I’ve seen some cool ones, though some venture into being a bit cheesy. But at least it’s SOME kind of customization, which previous games have been lacking in lieu of getting 1000 headshots with each weapon.

I wish these games would figure out some sort of leveling system that doesn’t rely on prestiging which resets everything you’ve worked for. Yes, I know there are new things you can do after doing this, but I really don’t think the best way to motivate players to move forward is to routinely make them throw away almost everything they’ve earned so far.

“I love this gun! I can’t wait until I have to throw it in the garbage!”

But Black Ops doesn’t trump MW2 in all areas. Namely I’ve been having a large amount of difficultly connecting to and staying in games. I have yet to even be able to play a free for all match, as it simply keeps searching forever until I give up. It takes a long, long time to be initially matched up with a game, and I’ve been dropped from probably 20% of the games I’ve played. MW2 had lightning quick match placement, and I rarely was ever booted from a game.

I also don’t think Treyarch has done a very good job with the maps here. I understand they’re drawn from different levels in the campaign, but they don’t seem to be very diverse, and most are a loose collection of small to medium sized buildings and hallways with not very many discernible features. Modern Warfare’s maps seem like real places that you just happen to be playing a video game in, while these maps feel overdesigned and full of random buildings and corridors that end up being purely a maze with the victor whoever can twitch their finger to the trigger the fastest when two people turn the same corner.  Afgan, Estate, Highrise, Quarry, Scarpyard, Terminal, Wasteland. Each of these were distinctive environments with varied layouts, but 80% of the maps in Black Ops just seem like the same collection of buildings shaken up and dropped in a different part of the world.

The only unique map that even comes to mind at this point is Nuketown, an insanely small map that makes Rust from MW2 look like a sniper’s dream. It perhaps best exemplifies Black Ops other major issue, spawning, as I routinely appear in front of enemies, both of us equally surprised and one of us dead half a second later. This happens routinely in other levels as well, as close spawns meant to keep you in the action often end up screwing you over by planting people behind your flank when they should be spawning with their teammates.

*Spawns* “FFUUU.. *dead*

I have yet to find any map that’s true worthwhile to snipe it, which is good for me because I’m awful at sniping and too good at getting sniped, but it does make gameplay a bit less diverse.  On the third day today I just got a new map I’d never seen before, so I guess it’s possible I just haven’t worked my way through the rotation yet. I think a “snipers only” game mode here would go a long way here, but I guess that’s what most Hardcore games are.

There’s a lot more I could say about multiplayer here, and I will in future journals, but I would like to conclude with a big THANK YOU to Treyarch for FINALLY including local online co-op in the game. It perplexed me for years why this was never even an option in both Modern Warfares, as sometimes I have my friends actually come to my HOUSE to play video games with me rather than just doing it via Xbox live miles away. It makes the game a lot harder for both players yes, as you can’t tell which screen has footsteps approaching them, and far away enemies are even less discernible than they were before, but the option is still a great one to include.

That’s all for now, see you back in a week or so when I can start unlocking gun reticules.

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  1. Agree with most of what has been said on this one.

    The removal of the One Man Army and Danger Close perks has prevented people from just running around with their ‘nade launcher permanently equipped.

    It’s also good that there are no more insane shotgun wielding speed freaks running around, or worse, the damn samurai commandos with the tactical knife.

    I do have two major gripes with the new game though.

    The first as you have mentioned is the connection problems. It is extremely irritating to be playing fine one minute then all of a sudden you get booted out of the room in postmatch for no apparent reason.

    The second is, and maybe this is just me, but it seems like at times I am literally emptying magazines into people and they will not die. Then they turn around, and bang, one shot and I’m out cold.

    Maybe it again has something to do with the connection problems, but at least in MW2 when I hit someone, they went down and stayed down, unless they were one of those people who use last stand.

    Still, there’s a lot of improvements over MW2 with this game.

  2. Can’t wait to get your take on the last three missions of the single player. Hudson has to be my favorite character in this game and the last shot of him in the second to last mission is priceless!!

    I would agree that multiplayer is fixed with the exception of the spawn points. I was excited when I saw the number of maps in multiplayer, but will also agree that there are no real standouts. I have only been playing Team Deathmatch, but will soon be playing Domination which was my MW2 favorite. Have not played any of the betting game modes yet, but I hear they are a blast.

  3. Actually the maps in multiplayer were specifically made for multiplayer. They made those first and then implemented some into the campaign.

    MW2 is the opposite.

  4. The chopper gunner is black ops is a billion times worse than mw2. When you and your teammates can’t even respawn without dying 5 or 6 times in a row because a damn chopper is hovering right in your spawn, it gets aggravating. When somebody gets chopper gunner on nuketown it’s pretty much game, set, match.

  5. I feel the exact same way as the poster above. Just last night I was playing headquarters in nuketown and I unloaded a full clip into someone and they kept running and knifed me. I was using the stoner63 with extended mags too and that gives you 60 bullets in one clip. And I’ll see someone elses killcam and they just shoot 4 bullets into someone leg and they are down. Thats my main thing about the game.

  6. What did you mean about shotgunning on Summit? That seems to be the best place to use a shotgun.

    I definitely agree about the maps not being very good.I don’t feel like I have any freedom about where I go, it just seems like I’m being funneled. The flow is too obvious and the invisible walls sucks. I hope that we get some much bigger, much more open maps with the first dlc.

  7. Here’s a suggestion for making the game a lot more interesting. If Paul reads this I’m sure he would appreciate it knowing that he’s a fan of the film.

    I didn’t really notice it until earlier on that in the mini-map they have grid references.

    How about throwing in a Battle Royale game mode? Two random grid references get selected every minute and if you are either caught in the area or stray into it, then you hear the noise and bam, head explodes.

    It would certainly make another issue I’ve had a gripe with, corner camping, a lot harder to pull off if at any time you could be killed for being such a cheap shit and sitting waiting for someone to run past you.

    Obviously it would only work in TDM or FFA. Objective game modes would be exempt. Any thoughts?

  8. Whoever said it above me is absolutely right about feeling like your emptying an entire magazine into an opponent and then they shoot you once or twice and your done. I have a feeling for me though this is caused by me using a wifi connection instead of being wired into my router, but then again I always have full connection bars. Also another thing I noticed which I appreciate but at the same time hate is that using melee is sooooo much more difficult than in MW2 even if you didn’t use commando. There’s been so many times in Black Ops where I thought I had someone dead to rights with a knife in the back but they were able to maneuver around and kill me, but that could be lag. So far a good multiplayer experience but lacks the realism and certain special touches MW2 had.

  9. Most of the issues about not killing someone (by knife or gun) could be chalked up to lag. It’s definitely not isolated incident, nor are the connectivity problems.
    I know that dedicated servers cost money, but since COD is one of the biggest FPS franchises, why hasn’t IW or Treyarch sprung for them?

    I would make a disparaging comment about Hebrew people right here, but it’s so insulting to the stereotype when compared to the greed of Activision and its cronies.

    Also, good article Paul. I agree 100% with what you said, for a change.

  10. “I do have to note here that Black Ops feels different than Modern Warfare. As it’s a completely different studio, that’s no surprise, but MW just feels more realistic in both campaign and multiplayer. It’s hard to put into words, but things in MW just seemed to have behind them, killing an enemy felt…right. Not in the moral sense, but in the tactile, visual and auditory sense. It’s only a little bit different here, but it feels just a little less realistic than Infinity Ward’s series.”

    i could not agree more. awesome review. awesome comments.

  11. Ada beberapa poin yang menarik dalam waktu dalam artikel ini, tetapi saya tidak tahu apakah aku melihat mereka semua pusat ke jantung. Ada benarnya, tapi saya akan mengambil pendapat terus sampai saya melihat lebih jauh. Baik artikel, terima kasih dan kami ingin lebih! Ditambahkan ke Feedburner juga

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