First Impressions – Call of Duty: Black Ops (Multiplayer)

I don’t think that it’s a secret that I was pretty underwhelmed with Modern Warfare 2, and also with CoD: World at War. I loved CoD4, and Prestiged multiple times on both the 360 and PS3 versions. MW2 I wasn’t (and am still not very) fond of mainly because of the inbalance with the weapons and perks. It’s still incredibly easy to get into a match where someone gets a nuke in just a few minutes.

With World at War, something just didn’t “feel” right to me. Many people assumed that it was because WaW was WWII-based, but that had nothing to do with it. I’m one of the few people that has no problems with the abundance of games that take place in WWII. My real issue was some of the inconsistencies, and the fact that my aim never felt right when compared to CoD 4.

So, I got home yesterday and Black Ops was there waiting for me. I immediately popped it in and went straight to the multiplayer. The interface is really clean, and right away I was quite happy with the improvements in the way the game handles your friends list (just hit “square” to join a friends session.) I got into a Team Deathmatch right away, and I quickly realized that the framerate was definitely not as smooth as the past 3 CoD titles. It wasn’t bad by any means, but it was obviously lower. I jumped two levels right away, and was met with invites from a couple of people on my friends list. Much to my chagrin though, I accepted and was transported to a lobby for Zombie Mode, which honestly, I could care less about. I’ve stated many times that the whole Zombie thing is not my bag, and furthermore, while it can be fun a couple of times, I was not going to play that mode more than once or twice, I was there to level-up as quickly as possible.

We had fun with the round, and got 8 waves taken care of, which isn’t too shabby for our first time as a team. But then I whined enough, and we went back to some Ground War, a mixture of Domination and Team Deathmatch. We played great as a squad, and this gave us a great opportunity to see how much fun a game can be. We all complained because we were still learning the ropes with the new maps, weapons, and items, but it was a “good complain,” as we all had a fun time figuring things out. I was trying to list some of the changes that I noticed, but then I saw this post by ‘Genesis Knight’ over on the NeoGaf thread, and I couldn’t have said it better myself:

-You can’t fire grenade launchers in the first couple seconds of a match.
-Scavenger doesn’t refill your launcher ammo.
-You can’t run any underslung attachments with a sight, mags, or any other attachment.
-Commando, OMA, and all the damage/health modification perks are gone.
-Claymores are weakened, grenades seem scaled back.
-No game-ending killstreaks.
-No chaining to get higher killstreaks (makes SR-71 and up damn rare).
-Snipers seem more difficult to use.
-Secondary weapons are super lightweight – no machine pistols or shotguns.
-No deathstreaks.

What this amounts to is the many ways that Treyarch have attempted to eliminate, or at the least strongly reduce the griefing and unbalance that plagued (and still do to some extent) Modern Warfare 2. Some people are complaining of weapons inbalance etc, but I really do feel that those comments are based in the reality that the weapons that you start the game with are all pretty underpowered in comparison. Once you get the feel of the weapons, Black Ops has a great flow online. That’s not to say it’s perfect, as so far it seems like the netcode’s just not up to the standards of the two Modern Warfare titles, but we’ll see if that’s mainly contributed to Launch Day Hammer-Time.

The visuals are definitely a mixed-bag though. The levels, overall, are quite detailed and populated, but things like character models, and some textures just seem a step below with what we’re used to from past titles. Also, as in previous titles, the PS3 version runs at a lower resolution than the 360 version, but in addition to that, I may start forcing the visuals to 720p, as the upconverting in this instance definitely gives the game a muddy look. It’s really frustrating that after 3 successful games visually, that this iteration seems to have taken a step back. It’s not bad by any means, but we all commented on this fact last night while playing as a group.

On the other, the star of the show so far in my opinion is the maps themselves. Treyarch has done an outstanding job with their level design, and so far, I haven’t met a map that I don’t like. The variety alone is worth the price of admission, and the fact that almost every map has more than average complexity because of vertical elements, or small holes at the base of walls for an explosive R/C Car to slide through, these are all very well designed. The one map that stood-out for all of us is called ‘Launch.’ The main theme of this one is a large rocket on a launch pad right in the middle of everything that’s going on. Then, a few minutes in, we started hearing sirens and some other noises. Then we heard an insanely loud sound, and one of us yelled “is that rocket actually launching?!?!” Yes, yes it was!

Included above all of that are some pretty deep community tools, many of which you seen iterations of in other games. Nice additions include the ability to save a replay of any match you play, with 6 save slots in your profile. Any of those can be shared to your friends for viewing, with an interface that’s very straightforward and easy to use.

Anyway, I’m just at about level 18, and I’m just getting warmed-up. Listen to the show during the next couple of weeks for more impressions, and look for a full review soon. So far, I’m overall pretty happy with what they’ve done, but it usually takes a week to figure out if this is truly a game that I can spend a load of time on, or if it’s a game that will frustrate me enough to leave it on the shelf.

Written by Glenn Percival

Glenn Percival

Just a guy that loves games, movies, Golf, Football, and Baseball.

Podcast Co-Host, Editor-in-Chief, Video Producer, and whipping-boy

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  • Personally I think this CoD game could be the beginning of the end for the CoD franchise. Not meaning it will be gotten rid of soon but in the next few CoDs that come out. MW2 despite what people bitched about was an amazing achievement in fast moving FPS gaming. No game to this day plays as fast while looking and most importantly feeling as good as MW2 does. After playing MW2 then coming to this I feel like I have been kicked in the nuts. Black Ops is simply worse looking, worse feeling, slower movement, and with more recoil, and and jeez. I know people are always saying this game doesn’t feel like Call of Duty but this game is call of duty and doesn’t feel like such. CoD4 to MW2 was a step up. MW2 to Black ops was a step down. Black Ops is my nominee for most disappointing game of 2010.

    • Anonymous

      OMG someone who actually speaks the truth. This is a rare occasion. Most of the time I have to read lies. Thank you Phill Oulds, you are my hero.

    • I will admit the game graphics were stepping back but they were not that bad. Now the gameplay is better than Metal of Honor. Maps are larger and have stuff moving like a train going by and so on. Single play to me is better than MW2. OK Metal of Honor and COD4 had best stories to me in FPS. I like the change that you buy weapons you want and wager bets in matches. Have not touch the zombie mode as of yet. Not saying this is the greatest FPS game in which it still is far from to me, but it plays well and to me gets a solid B grading in my books. If your still skeptic rent it (Wish i did that with Metal of Honor which froze up way too much and when people logged in or log out the game froze also). Metal of Honor to me was my disappointed of this year. Great story awful multi player modes. Also sniper heaven for them that love to camp out. I also hated and I repeat HATED when I mostly re spawned in enemy access of killing me right after I spawn. COD: Black Ops handle that better. This is my honest opinion I respect Phil’s thoughts too. I can understand his view and disappointed on what he wanted from the game. Take it as you like but I liked it a lot still.