Since the game came out on Tuesday I’ve logged over 10 hours of multiplayer gameplay so I figured it was time to give my rundown and impressions of the multiplayer modes in Call of Duty: Black Ops. First of all congratulations to Treyarch for doing what everyone thought was impossible and selling more copies than Modern Warfare 2 did in it’s opening. For those of us that follow the development of these games, we all know that Treyarch doesn’t have the track record that Infinity Ward does when it comes to the Call of Duty games. Treyarch bombed pretty big with Call of Duty 3 while Infinity Ward hit a homerun with Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. Following that, Treyarch released World at War which was almost a step backwards considering we were all used to modern combat by that point, but it was still a solid game that a lot of people enjoyed. And it introduced us to Nazi Zombies. After that Infinity Ward released the biggest selling game of all time with Modern Warfare 2. Personally I think it’s a great game and have enjoyed playing it online for countless hours. Sure it had some hiccups and glitches when it was first released, but everything was patched and besides a few balance issues that still remain I continue to enjoy my time with the game, but not everyone does. There were a lot of complaints about pretty much all aspects of the multiplayer when it came to Modern Warfare 2, and while I did have a few complaints, they weren’t things that made me bad mouth the game and refuse to buy the DLC. So with all of that said let’s take a look at the multiplayer in Black Ops.
The first thing I noticed when I fired up Black Ops multiplayer was the graphics… and I know I’m not the only one, but I think I may be in the minority with what I noticed. The graphics and look of the game definitely remind me of World at War, but the textures and graphics themselves look way more realistic than Modern Warfare 2. Some people apparently don’t want realistic and want everything to look slightly cartoonish and “wet” (like Gears of War). That’s not to say that MW2’s graphics are bad, because they’re not, I just feel like Treyarch went for more of a realistic look to everything and put more detail into the environments. I will say, however, that some of the character models don’t look that great (at least on the 360 version). Faces are pretty dull and the bodies look very generic, but in the multiplayer mode you hardly ever see faces up close.
The animations throughout the multiplayer experience are awesome. I love the fact that a lot of the maps are actually “interactive” and things move and change based on player commands and/or time triggers. It adds more depth to the actual environment when things are actually happening around you other than dudes running around with guns. So as far as the look of the multiplayer mode, it’s definitely different than MW2 and takes a couple matches to get used to the different feel of the environments, but in the end I think it’s a welcome improvement and have no issues with the graphic quality throughout the multiplayer.
The controls feel solid, obviously familiar if you’ve played any of the previous Call of Duty games so there’s no steep learning curve and everything feels very good when controlling the game. The guns seem to be balanced pretty well, the fact that shotguns are now primary guns is a huge step in the right direction. I think this is the way it should have been in MW2 to keep things evenly balanced throughout the gun classes and Treyarch hit the nail on the head here. I’m also extremely glad that they crippled quick scoping with the sniper rifles. I know I’ll probably catch a lot of shit for saying that, but it was seriously annoying. It definitely takes skill to be able to time a shot like that correctly, but it’s definitely cheap that when you scoped in the gun would auto-center on a target. I don’t mind if you’re quick scoping in the new game and actually aiming quickly at the target to get the kill, but when the gun does all the aiming work for you it’s a bit cheap. I also like the addition of the ballistic knife and the crossbow, fairly difficult to get a hang of, but a lot of fun and very rewarding when you do get a kill with them.
As for the killstreaks in the game, I think they got them right this time. I’m not sure if the RC-XD should be a 3 kill killstreak, but the fact that killstreak rewards don’t count towards your overall killstreak is a welcome addition. No longer can you get to a predator missile and string together kills all the way up to chopper gunner, you actually have to kill people with your gun, grenades or equipment to get a killstreak reward. This actually makes the care package a lot more valuable in the game because you can get those high level killstreak rewards a lot easier. There are also a few special, rare weapons that only come in care packages, but honestly I don’t really care for them. The only thing that I would have liked to see differently about killstreaks was the ability to cycle through the ones you have stacked up so you can choose which one to use instead of always defaulting to the latest one you got. In real life if I had a spy plane and then got a napalm strike I wouldn’t call in the napalm before calling in the spy plane…
The maps also seem pretty balanced although some of the spawns are a bit wonky. I understand that Nuketown is small so people are going to spawn near each other, but on some of the other maps it seems ridiculous that you would spawn right next to where the enemy is, but maybe it was just bad luck the few times it happened to me.
Oh and the tomahawk is fuckin awesome!
Currency System, Levels and Customization
Huge improvement here. I love the new currency system that allows you to purchase guns in the order you want them as opposed to having to just level up for more powerful guns. You still have to level up in order to unlock the ability to purchase certain weapons, but this way you can buy the guns, perks and equipment that you want to use and not waste your time/money on pointless stuff. It’s the same with the customization for your character, which is pretty endless considering the amount of stuff you can do and create.
Combine the currency system with the wager matches, where you can bet your hard earned money in hopes of making even more, and you’ve got yourself a pretty solid leveling system. I’ve never been one to prestige in any of the Call of Duty games, but I think because of this new leveling system I may actually press that button and work my way through the ranks. I never did it before because I liked going through and trying to get all the challenges completed, but in this case since I can buy the guns I like fairly early in the leveling process, it’ll be easier to level up.
The Theater mode is also a very cool addition to the game even though it wasn’t working properly Tuesday night which caused me to lose some extremely cool/lucky kills, but it’s implemented pretty well and as of typing this it’s working pretty smoothly. I’m also a big fan of all the stats that they are now keeping for each match and each player as well as the implementation of the friends list within the menu system instead of having to go to the xbox dashboard to invite friends to matches or join sessions in progress… much better.
Lastly I want to talk a little about the Zombie mode… honestly I’m a little disappointed. I’m not necessarily disappointed with the Zombie mode itself, I’m more disappointed that the Zombie mode is the only type of co-op in the game. I would have much rather seen a mode like MW2’s Spec Ops rather than Nazi Zombies. The zombie mode was fun when it was in WaW, but it just seems to get too boring for me this time around. When playing with a friend, we actually had more fun playing the top-down shooter Dead Ops rather than the actual zombie mode.
So that’s that, my impressions so far of the multiplayer mode in Call of Duty: Black Ops. I didn’t go into detail regarding the different game types because most people already know what they like and what they are going to play and the rules haven’t really changed there. I really like the multiplayer so far and think that it’s pretty safe to say that I won’t be going back to Modern Warfare 2 for a while.