Average User Score: 6.2Nov 11, 2010I remember my first Call of Duty experience, fighting in the pacific, thinking "Wow, its really unique how these Japanese forces rush you soI remember my first Call of Duty experience, fighting in the pacific, thinking "Wow, its really unique how these Japanese forces rush you so aggressively." Then as the years wen't by, I realized that this wasn't a unique take on island warfare but simply how every single AI in COD games operates.
Then I played MW2, and fell in love. You felt free to act, and on veteran, the game was still challenging. The worlds were large, and the enemies didn't re-spawn to infinity. This allowed you to actually be creative in your strategy, instead of tunneling. You could fall back, flank, snipe, or rush. Level design facilitated all strategies and the AI responded. Some levels set up better for different strategies, but the important thing is that it felt organic. When players died, they felt they could do something different--that they had control.
A majority of the positive reviews for this game focus on its numerous improvement over other Treyarch offerings, which is a valid statment. The graphics, story, voice acting, and music are a step up, as well as the addition of some "cool moments," and extras like Zombies. However, there are serious problems that get brushed over. I feel like multilayer issues have been covered. So this review will tackle single player.
On easier difficulties, it does seem fluid. The fundamental problems only express themselves at the more difficult settings. This is largely due to the fact that Treyarch uses infinite enemy spawns to compensate for poor, predictable level design and sub-par AI. Eventually you realize that besides a few "cool" roller-coaster moments type moments--fun but there's only one track, most of the game consists of a long corridor or enclosed "box" with predictably placed pieces of cover. Yes, you are in a box. Even though there are things going on outside the "box" and the graphics seemingly connect them, you cannot interact with them. Visually its a large world; in practice it's claustrophobic. Enemies advance mindlessly in single file from the back of the cover to your position, eventually charging recklessly from the last piece of cover. To "kill" them you need to toss smoke grenades, sprint past some imaginary line, and hunker down. If you get unlucky and get shot in the face, prepare to live the last 5 minutes of your life over and over again.
Lets be frank--in the early versions of the game, this was a necessity because of inherent technical limitations. The "box" existed because large interactive environments weren't possible. The endless spawns were needed because AI was terrible. It was necessary to have smoke grenades because these other compensations made certain configurations of enemies and cover frustrating. Purists might say "This is Call of Duty," but how many other games get bad marks for refusing to innovate from their predecessors?
In Black-Ops it feels like you just got unlucky playing the exact same interaction over and over again in the only way possible to play it. More specifically, it feels like you are forced to engage in the same interaction, requiring the same strategy with the same probability of success again and again. You are bound to get unlucky and die, even doing the right thing. When you do, unpredictable load points reward you with the with the same set of identical interactions and identical solutions.
Throw smoke and run into it seems like a poor mechanic after a while. In IW games you throw smoke to get a tactical advantage, get a way, or provide temporary cover to move to a new position. In Treyarch games, you do it because its the best way to stop infinite spawns. The former feels immersive, the latter feels like band-aid for poor game design.
Halo got a lot of crap for repeated area designs, but at least there were multiple ways to attack each situation. As Bungie put it, it was the same â… Expand