The latest game in the first-person shooter franchise “Call of Duty” sold 5.6 million copies 24 hours after its release Nov. 9, breaking the previous record of 4.7 million copies, which was set last year by “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2.” Though “Call of Duty: Black Ops” doesn’t exactly revolutionize the old standards set by the former games like its sales did, it’s still an improvement in the now seven-game franchise.
Unlike the other games, “Call of Duty: Black Ops” takes place in the time period just between the last games of the franchise during the Cold War. The campaign puts the player in the shoes of special ops agent Alex Mason as an unknown group tortures him. The levels of the game take place as Mason’s flashbacks during the interrogation. The player is then asked to complete a range of missions, from searching and destroying targets to escaping from a prison camp in different locations, including parts of Russia, Cuba and Vietnam.
The campaign itself is business as usual for the “Call of Duty” franchise — there are distinct improvements, but it’s essentially the same concept driven by basic “go here, kill this” objectives. With each new release, the graphics get better, and the campaign seems to become more and more cinematic. Both are true with this latest game. “Black Ops” is also made more interesting with its character focus, as the player continues playing as Mason throughout the campaign — different from the previous games in which the player would become different soldiers in different locations. Though the game does have the feature of the development of a central character, the story starts to fall flat because of the standard “run and gun” gameplay seen throughout the rest of the franchise.
“Black Ops” is the players’ introduction to “COD points,” a feature only available in multiplayer. The biggest change in the game and one of the greatest improvements, the multiplayer mode is now in a currency-based system in which a player earns both experience and currency during a match. Like in the other games, the experience points unlock features like guns and multiplayer modes, but the COD Points buy the guns, attachments and other customizations that a player wants after they have been unlocked.
The new system allows players to buy specific equipment and personalize his or her features. The new system gives players an opportunity to specialize and customize his or her playing style. Buying guns with COD Points also keeps players from being dominated by others of a higher level because the guns and their attachments are not immediately available to people after leveling up.
There are other tweaks to the game that also alter and improve online gameplay. For example, “Black Ops” comes with more guns available than in previous games, offering many different ways to get kills, some of which are fun, though not necessarily effective, such as the explosive-tipped crossbow and throwable tomahawk. Not only are more guns available, but they are more balanced against each other so there isn’t one great gun for each class.
Also new to “Black Ops” is the theater mode. Taking a note from Bungie, the game developer for Halo, players are able to relive their greatest gameplay moments. Treyarch does take the theater mode a step further than Bungie, allowing players to post their clips directly to YouTube. While this mode does not alter the gameplay, it does offer gamers the opportunity to watch their previous matches, see where they could have done better and learn some new things by watching the players they faced.
Between the new customizations and innovations, “Black Ops” is a standout addition to the “Call of Duty” franchise. Though it keeps to the basic, structured missions in the campaign, there are many improvements in the online multiplayer mode that help to progress the game. While not quite revolutionizing first person shooters, it is still a game that keeps to the great franchise.