Activision’s Call of Duty franchise has been around for three generations of consoles and there is no sign of this juggernaut slowing down one bit. Both of the developers, Infinity Ward and Treyarch, have been keeping their respective sides of the franchise fresh and relevant in today’s market. Last year’s Advanced Warfare surprised me, but Black Ops 3 blew me out of the water. I’ll admit that I’m the first one to oppose yearly releases, but somehow the three developers keep Call of Duty up to date with the current mood. I thoroughly enjoyed my time in all of the modes in this newest release–the campaign, the multiplayer, and of course, the zombies. None of them felt rushed or tacked on just for giggles, and that is what makes Black Ops 3 one solid game.
Most hardcore Call of Duty players buy the game for the multiplayer and the multiplayer alone, some of them never even touching the campaign. I, on the other hand, start off with campaign and dip into the multiplayer slowly–that’s usually when I get stuck in the campaign since I play it on Veteran all the time. After I installed the game I saw there was a new difficulty: Realistic. So, I figured I would try my hand at that. Needless to say I didn’t do very well. The difficulty is true to heart; if you are shot once, you’re dead, and you have start up again at the checkpoint. What is neat, though, is that your bullets inflict the same amount of damage, so three successful shots equals three kills. There’s one caveat with the campaign, however. I unknowingly I began my Veteran campaign offline, and when I finally was allowed to join the servers and attempted to play my campaign, I found out it wasn’t possible. If you play offline, your save cannot be moved to the online campaign or vice-versa, so be mindful when booting up your game or you may lose progress. I have no problem playing alone for now, but I look forward to playing again on Realistic with some buddies.
The story in this iteration is an amalgamation of the movie Source Code, last year’s Advanced Warfare, and Deus Ex. The year is 2065, and even in the far future humans have a difficult time getting along, so a new Cold War has emerged. You begin on an Op to save an Egyptian politician and eventually his right hand man. There you meet the new horrors of war: Robots that can blow you away with one shot, drones, and soldiers that are part man part machine. You also meet the star of the show, John Taylor, played by Christopher Meloni, who you may know from Law & Order: SVU. He is this year’s Kevin Spacey, and Meloni does a great job following in his footsteps. It cannot be easy to act in front of a green screen in a skin tight suit covered with tiny little balls, but you can see every emotion in Taylor’s face thanks to Meloni’s performance. After this initial mission, your life is changed and soon you find yourself to be one of the “special” soldiers under Taylor’s command, and he’s going to whip you into shape. He does this by throwing you into missions that should have taken place ten years prior. In the first one you are tasked with stopping a train from exploding, just like in Source Code.
Controls in Call of Duty haven’t changed in years, and this game is no different. I picked it up after not playing Call of Duty for a year or so, and I didn’t miss a beat. It was like my experience earlier this year with Tony Hawk Pro Skater 5; if the controls aren’t broken, don’t fix them. The only complaint I had about the controls is that you can be staggered while running. I don’t remember this in previous games, but as I was trying to run from point A to point B while getting all shot up, I would have to re-click my left control stick to run and I continued to die. That bothered me for a bit until I finally beat the area I was stuck at.
Treyarch did add some new abilities for the upgraded soldier. Since you’re half, man half machine like Steve Austin, you are able to have night vision at any time, all you have to do is press left on the d-pad. You can also bring up information on enemies regarding their health and armor status by pressing right on the d-pad. Thanks to the cybernetics in your head, you can control nearby drones and turrets, too. All you have to do is have them in your field of vision, press LB and RB, and the turret is yours. Those same buttons also allow you to do some superhuman moves as well; you can send a swarm of nanites at enemies, cause a robot to catch fire, and so on. More powerful abilities unlock as you continue to level up. My favorite part of the campaign is that I can choose my own loadout for the levels–in older games you had to take what they gave you. Here I can upgrade my guns and use the best equipment I can get for each level. This helps me, since I live on using a scope to take down my enemies.
The campaign is extremely fun, has countless enemies for you to kill, and many abilities for you to abuse. I had a great time gunning through the future with some AI squad-mates and I’m excited to gun through it again with some real squad-mates. It isn’t a very long campaign, which is why I usually play all of them on Veteran; the difficulty makes it last longer. However, with the added online capability, it seems that I will be investing more time into the campaign. The graphics are stellar, and I can’t really explain how amazing there are and how great the cut scenes seamlessly drift into gameplay. It’s something that needs to be experienced on a huge HD television. The music also struck me. It isn’t as overpowering as it is in some games, but instead its tone is lower and you almost have to force yourself to listen to it. Generally that’s a weird thing to do, but it really worked for me in this game and set the mood in the campaign. Whatever you may purchase this game for, whether it’s for the multiplayer or the zombies, do not overlook the campaign–you will be missing out.
This is what a majority of Call of Duty players wait for each year. I’m sure hundreds of thousands of copies of Advanced Warfare and Black Ops II are being put into their jewel cases for the final time, and with good reason. Out with the old and in with the new. The biggest change to this multiplayer is the fact that you can pick a specialist who has two unlockable perks to play as. There are nine that you can play as, with the first five being available immediately and the last four being unlockable. Ruin’s special weapon are two Gravity Spikes that you slam into the ground and mess up your opponents. He also has a special overdrive that allows you two short bursts of speed to get around the map. Outrider has a bow called Sparrow that is a one shot kill so you can be just like Katniss Everdeen. She is also equipped with Vision Pulse, which allows you to see enemies around you. Prophet is given the Tempest, which is a charge shot energy weapon that can chain electrocute foes if they are close together. He can also us Glitch, which allows him to transport to a previous area–this is good if you’re being surrounded. War Machine is the weapon that Battery has, which throws Bouncing Betty grenades, and you can also use Battery Kinetic Armor that deflects all bullets except headshots.
The unlockable Specialists are available after you hit a certain level cap. Sereph’s special weapon is called the Annihilator, which allows a one shot kill. Her special ability is Combat Focus, which lets you trigger bonus multipliers when it is active. Nomad’s H.I.V.E weapons allows him to drop pod traps that release nano drones onto the enemy. His special ability is Rejack, which allows you to respawn where you died unless you were killed by a specialist weapon. Reaper uses the Scythe weapon and when it is activated, your hand turns into a four barreled mini-gun. His special ability is a Psychosis that unleashes three decoys to confuse the enemy. Next is Spectre, who carries the Ripper, a two bladed weapon that replaces your standard melee weapon. Active Camo is his special ability and–yeah you guessed it–it allows you to become invisible while on the battlefield. And finally the last Specialist is Firebreak, who carries the Purifier that can burn enemies on the battlefield for a short amount of time. His special ability is Heat Wave, which allows him to stun enemies and destroy enemy equipment. Where’s The Flash when you need him?
When I saw all these awesome options flash across my screen, I was figuring that the Specialist’s ability would be ready to use right out of the gate and at all times. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case; you are still equipped with normal loadouts that can vary from light machine guns to sniper rifles. The basics of the multiplayer are intact: kill everyone on the other team, capture the flag, etc.. The Specialists make the multiplayer a tad more exciting, seeing as I’m not too great at multiplayer yet, it was nice to see my avatar die through various means. On the other hand, it was very satisfying finally being able to use my Gravity Spikes on the enemies. Once you use your Specialist’s weapon with LB and RB, you have to wait a certain amount of time for it to recharge, so use it wisely. I used it once as I got shot up and lost my charge–what a waste. Everything else remains the same, so if you’ve excelled at prior incarnations of Call of Duty multiplayer, you are going to thrive here. If you’re like me and dabble with it now and then, it will be a very long and slow road to Prestige.
I’m not going to lie, when Zombies hit the first time, I wasn’t too impressed with it. I thought it was a neat little add on, but I had no one to play with and was used to Resident Evil zombies at the time. I went into the new zombies mode with that mindset and was thoroughly pleased with the outcome. This version of zombies has a nice little story tacked onto it; it’s set in the 1940’s and you are one of four “sinners” that has been chosen to fight the undead. The four sinners are played by some great stars. Heather Graham plays the actress, Neal McDonough is the detective, Ron Perlman plays the boxer, and Jeff Goldblum plays the aptly cast magician. All are summoned by the Shadowman to a twisted version of their city in Shadows of Evil.
This version of zombies is probably the one I will play the most–I love the 1940’s era, I love these actors, and I love the fact that Treyarch made this version a little Lovecraftian. Treyarch kept the usual mechanics from zombies in tact; you have to survive rounds, kill zombies, build up barriers, and buy weapons and new areas with the points you gain. This time around, though, they added a nice mystical tinge to it. To survive in this city, you have to find five summoning keys and fight the “demons” of the four people summoned. When you’re first thrown into this, you think it’s just the same old same old “kill and rebuild.” It isn’t. You have to become a Cthulhu-like monster to unlock mystical boxes that get you summoning keys and other items to progress. Luckily, in one match I got paired with someone who knew what to do. We still failed, but it is nice to know there is a way to beat the city and be free of the curse. I’m just going to have to spend more and more hours on it.
Treyarch really hit the ball out of the park with their newest release. I haven’t wanted to rush home and play a Call of Duty game since Modern Warfare, and that’s saying a lot. The Zombies and single player in this game have kept me hooked. I’m not too big into multiplayer with any game, seeing as I’ve somehow become a loner, but that doesn’t mean the multiplayer is bad at all. What drew me back was the Shadows of Evil world. I’ve played that more than the multiplayer and the campaign combined. If Treyarch were smart, they’d turn that into the fully fledged Lovecraftian horror game that many fans are waiting for. Either way, Black Ops 3 has something for everyone–the loner, the p’wner, and the survival horror enthusiast. I recommend picking it up, as this isn’t the same re-hashed Call of Duty we’re used to.
An Xbox One copy of Call Of Duty: Black Ops 3 was provided by Activision for the purpose of this review
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