Posted by: Edward Fairclough | November 14, 2010

Call of Duty: Black Ops Single-Player Review


So its that time of year again when Activision takes control of our lives for a good few months with another helping of Call of Duty. While most of you will be wrapped up in it’s ever so popular multiplayer mode, some of us like to spare a moment to reflect on the single player side of the game, with Black Ops being no exception.

The story behind Black Ops primarily takes place amidst tension between Russia and the USA during the height of the Cold War. Amongst other characters, you’ll find yourself take control of the main protagonist Alex Mason, a member of the U.S special forces who, at the beginning of the game finds himself strapped to a chair being shouted at by a currently unknown character.

The story revolves around Mason having flashbacks of events that have already taken place, and as a result allowing you to visit key historical locations during the Cold War, including Russia, Cuba and Vietnam. Due to the setting of the story, Black Ops has a distinct connection to previous Treyarch CoD title, World at War, which I wont talk about at this time due to risk of spoilers.

The levels within the campaign are incredibly varied thanks to their locations and objectives, one minute you’ll find yourself jumping from roof to roof in the slums of Hong-Kong, and the next you’ll be skydiving of icy peaks within the heart of Soviet Russia. As a result of this Black Ops is easily the most over-the-top Call of Duty title to date, although unlike it’s predecessor Modern Warfare 2, which was criticised for it’s unrealistic and over-the-top storyline, Black Ops manages to pull this of thanks to it’s relatively unknown historical background.

To those that may never have played a CoD title before, the story at first seems incredibly complicated, although all is revealed at the end with a clever twist, which has admittedly never been attempted in any previous Call of Duty title. One thing that upset me however was how pretty much all aspects of the story was rounded of upon completion, therefore leaving little room for a sequel.

The length of the campaign within a Call of Duty game has always been a debatable topic, and while Black Ops is still relatively short with an average completion time of around 5 hours, I found that the pace at which the campaign progresses is a perfect fit for it’s action pact storyline. So although I love a campaign to have a good length, limiting Black Ops to an average 5 hour play-through seems fairly reasonable, as there are times towards the end where you think the game is over, but there’s still something left to do.

Unfortunately, there are a few negative aspects of the game which prevent it from being that perfect single-player FPS. The main let down within the campaign is something which Treyarch are infamous for; infinite enemy respawning. Especially in Vietnam, I often found myself dying in the same spot no-matter how many enemies I shot, and eventually had to turn down the difficulty from Hardened to Regular, and even then I frequently found myself diving for cover, literally. This fault can cause some serious problems for players which are trying to complete the game on the harder difficulty settings, and is a problem which should have been stopped years ago.

Overall, if you add together a clever and well thought-out story, a mixture of intense and emotional gameplay and extremely varied and action-packed levels, the result will turn out just like Black Ops. It’s by far the most enjoyable Call of Duty campaign to date and if it wasn’t for the problems with enemy respawning, it would be, in my eyes, the *perfect* FPS single-player experience. Well done Treyarch!

The Good:

  • Improved Graphics
  • Emotional story with a clever plot twist
  • Extremely varied and action-packed levels

The Not So Good:

  • Infinite enemy respawning in many places
  • Even Regular difficulty can be quite challenging

Overall score:

4.5/5

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