You've seen the rest, now play the best. Black Ops is undoubtedly the best online FPS ever put together. Call Of Duty is no longer a single-player game with a multiplayer attached. It's a multiplayer game with a single-player campaign added as an extra bonus. It's more or less impossible to fault it on any level.
This is a team game and it's a big change for a series was best known for its single-player with scripted set pieces, now the focus has changed to a more improvised style. But the fact remains that we're still playing the same game we've been playing for years. Shoot the enemies when they move out of cover, move forward, shoot more enemies and so on. But at least the basics are as tight as ever. The most common action of killing enemies remains as much fun as it ever was and when it boils down to it this is the what all warfare games are about. Killing is given variety through the widely varied arsenal at your disposal; pistols, shotguns, assault rifles, sniper rifles, RPGs, grenade launchers, crossbows and more, all with an assortment of attachments to ensure that your campaign progress is rarely a dull experience. This is a department in which Black Ops excels, with such weapons as the explosive-tipped crossbow, with the satisfying thud when it hits the target, or the China Lake, a hefty pump-action grenade launcher. The locations you visit are also many and varied.
The violence is obviously quite a feature and culminates in the helicopter attack where you rain fire down upon hordes unprotected combatants below. These levels are easily the most violent, but also the greatest of the game. Unfortunately, not long after this climax, the game loses the plot a bit but that is a minor problem when taken in the overall context and high standard of the game.
The narrative is a bonus, but it has flaws but they are easily forgiven. Thanks to this new approach to narrative you are no longer faceless marine, but you're now predominantly in the boots of Alex Mason, a member of the Studies And Operations Group, the best of the best. He is a man with a problem as he's gone and got himself captured and tied to an interrogation chair. Pumped full of drugs and electrocuted when he refuses to answer his interrogator's questions, the events of the game are experienced through flashbacks as Mason relives past events. So, the narrative jumps about a bit. One level you may be performing a coup d'état during the Bay of Pigs in Cuba 1961, the next infiltrating a Russian launch site in 1963.
The new currency concept gives all players an almost instantaneous advantage by offering access to the kind of items early on in the game that would usually require hours to unlock. It means players can start playing Black Ops the way they want to from the start without having to slog through numerous lower levels and challenges. Having said that, the CP currency isn't too easy to obtain, it takes a little while to accumulate enough to buy the best items, so don't expect to start purchasing every upgrade and high value accessory as soon as you jump into the multiplayer. There are plenty of ways to earn XP and CP though, as well as the standard challenges you can now take out contracts, which are purchased with CP and require specific tasks to be completed within a time limit. These tasks may be as simple as winning three team deathmatch games, or as difficult as getting five headshots without dying. The reward in CP is usually worth the effort, though. And then there are the Wager Matches one of COD's most innovative features. Supporting six players Wager Matches allow players to bet CP on the outcome, with the hope of a place in the top three on the leaderboard and earning a nice return on their investment.
Each of the four modes takes Call Of Duty back to the basics of FPS deathmatch, but with an individual twist. There are the tense, one-shot kills of One In The Chamber; the escalating mayhem of Gun Game; the unpredictability of Sharpshooter; and then, of course, there's Sticks And Stones, the last mentioned being one of the most chaotic FPS game modes I have ever played, but also one of the most demanding of skill. It's overawingly good, but then so is the rest of the game. Would I recommend it, what do you think?