So the “Most Anticipated release of the year” came out today and I trekked over to blockbuster to give it a try. The guy behind the desk was a little surprised that I was renting it, “You’re not going to buy it?”
“No,” I said, “I bought the last one, and now I barely play it.”
He did give me something to think about, “But think of all the hours you spend enjoying that game” which made me pause. I did spend a lot of time with Modern Warfare 2, the multiplayer sucked a whole lot of hours out of my life when I could have been working on my thesis project. But with the franchise pumping out a game every year I just know what to expect now. And I know that if I put down the 70 bucks for this game, it’d just be sitting on my shelf in two months.
Ya I loved CoD 4, the first game in the series to forgo the WWII setting and head into a modern day conflict. It still has one of my favourite single player campaigns, and it’s multiplayer revolutionized online shooters. Last year’s sequel to Modern Warfare was released to a little bit of hype and to some decent success. However, it had, probably, the dumbest third act ‘twist” of any story in history. Basically, half the main characters get killed becuase they’re British, and then the survivors have to go kill an American general out of vengeance, and end up killing more Americans in two levels than Russians in the rest of the game.
And now we come to Black Ops. While I haven’t completed the campaign (which is supposed to be quite good) and I haven’t even touched the multiplayer, this game is so familiar I’ve pretty much already made up my mind about it. It’s not bad, but there’s pretty much nothing new about this game, it feels more like Call of Duty Plus. It adds little tweaks and touches but there isn’t much here that wows in the same way the last 3 Call of Duty games have.
And therein lies the problem I think, in four years we’ve gotten 3 modern day shooters from the Call of Duty franchise, it’d be hard for anyone to find something new to wow the masses when you saturate the genre with your own product. I’m just tired of playing the same kind of game every year that has the same exciting gameplay, and the same frustrating game design and AI. And after 4 years, the gameplay is getting tired, and the short comings of the game are getting worse.
My main problem is being repeatedly killed by enemies I can’t see, while my friendly AI can’t seem to kill anything. You can forgive a game when the AI slips up and they miss the enemy sneaking into their lines, but after 4 years of this shit, I’d hope that I wouldn’t have to worry about being killed from behind when I have 8 friendly soldiers watching my back. More surprisingly is the number of glitches I’ve seen. For a series known for it’s polish, I’ve been bounced around the map and or had teammates walk through my body, and stay there so I can only see the inside of my helmet while I get filled with lead my and a never ending stream of enemies.
Not to say I haven’t been enjoying my self. There are some things I like, but it seems like with everything this game does right, it makes another decision that drags the game down. A big one is having the making the character you play as something more than a silent super soldier that the player can imprint themselves on. Alex Mason has a face, and can talk, it’s too bad he doesn’t have much to say. There are a lot of lines of dialogue, but they’re filled with so many F bombs you wish he’d just shut up like the rest of the CoD predecessors.
There was a time when and FPS lived and died on it’s variety of weapons, thankfully Black Ops gives a nod to those golden days of shooters with a wicked variety of guns. More than just types of guns, we also get more mods to them as well. These are little things, but having an AK-47 with 2 mags taped together or a flame thrower attachment makes me smile as I put down the unending hordes of heartless commies.
The Nazi zombie co op mode is back from 2008’s World At War, except, I’ve already played this game, it came out in 2008 and it was called World at War. Although I have heard that there are more exciting levels than the first one I played, the basic formula is pretty much the same as from 2 years ago.
Over all, this game have given me a weird kind of feeling while I am globe trotting and skipping through time playing fast and loose with Cold War history. I felt like I was in a James Bond game, taking on Russians, skipping between beautiful villas in Cuba to cold gulags in Russia all the while roving around with a one eyed Russian, a Brown-hair-with-stubble hero and your token black guy. Although, your Alex Mason is very much an American Bond, he might be doing covert ops for his government, but he doesn’t get the girl, swears more than a pissed off Christian Bale and only seems to drink the blood of his enemies. It’s fun, exciting and there’s a lot of variety, yet it still doesn’t seem to feel new. The whole 007 feeling kind of takes you out of the boots on the ground soldier feeling the franchise is known for, and for all the varied environments, none of it is anything that hasn’t been in a CoD game before. We’ve seen Latin America and Russia before, and the Vietnam era missions are way too reminiscent of the Japanese levels in World at War for my taste.
But like I said I haven’t gotten into multiplayer yet, and that’s becuase I already know what to expect, a lot of fun. I know I sound like I’m shitting on this game, but I can’t deny that it’s fun. I think if anything I’m just upset that we get one of these games every year, and that Activision has already announced there will be another CoD game next year. The formula is getting tired, the genre is getting stagnant and if Activision’s track record with music games is any indication (5 guitar heroes in one year? are you kidding me?) I’m not looking forward to seeing this great franchise get run into the ground.