Al Jazeera & Christian Science Monitor & El33tonline – 2010-11-10 21:12:59
Activision’s Latest Offering in the ‘Call of Duty’ Series
Is Expected to be the Best-selling Game of all Time
(November 9, 2010) — Activision has released the seventh installment in its Call of Duty series, a first-person shooter that takes place during the Cold War and could wind up being the best-selling video game in history.
Players take on the role of US Special Forces operative Alex Mason and CIA agent Jason Hudson, both of whom are involved in clandestine operations based on real-life plots involving Cuba and the former USSR.
Critics decry the violence featured in Call of Duty, but the series of games, which have encompassed World War II and modern counter-terror operations, never cease to prove their popularity.
Call of Duty: Black Ops Has Arrived.
So what do critics have to say about the follow-up to the top-selling Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2?
Matthew Shaer / Christian Science Monitor
(November 9, 2010) — Last year, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 nuked all sales records to become the most profitable entertainment product launch in history. On Tuesday, Activision will release Call of Duty: Black Ops, a kind of prequel to Modern Warfare 2, set at the height of the Cold War. So is Black Ops even better than the last installment of Call of Duty? ….
“Call Of Duty: Black Ops is superb,” writes Nick Cowen of the UK Telegraph. “The experience of playing the game, thanks to the modified World At War engine, is comparable to the best in what the franchise has had to offer up until now. The meaty kick of the guns, the blistering pace of the action and the sterling soundtrack of explosions, gunshots and whistling bullets all serve to quicken the player’s pulse and tighten their grip on the controller.”
Cowen notes that as in previous Call of Duty games, “introspective considerations” are “dumped to one side as Black Ops’ gameplay plugs directly into the player’s primal need to make it out alive… There is nothing gratuitous about the violence in the campaign, however. While it contains its fair share of graphically violent scenes, there is nothing on the level of the cheap theatrics of the ‘No Russian’ level of Modern Warfare 2.”
In a five-star review at the Guardian, Keith Stuart praises the narrative of the campaign mode of Call of Duty: Black Ops, which has the gamer playing as special ops veteran Alex Mason. As the action “ping-pongs between Cuba, Vietnam and Russia, an interesting tale plays out concerning dodgy CIA dealings, Nazi experiments and communist expansionism, all bubbling beneath the accepted ‘facts’ of the era,” Stuart writes….
And what about the content? Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 drew its share of criticism for a scene involving a shooting in a crowded Moscow Airport. At Kotaku, Brian Crecente warns that Black Ops is “the most adult game I’ve ever played and not just because it has you killing and avoiding being killed. The intensity of the game is only matched by how vicious those moments between battles can be.”
He continues: “The action, the torment, the kills are so brutal at times that you’ll want to look away from the screen.
If you’re worried that it’s too much for you, you can go into settings and tone down the game’s brutality. Doing so doesn’t just turn red blood to green or remove curse words, it changes the cut scenes, removing the overt torture and gore without changing the story.”
As for the multiplayer mode — the reason many gamers will purchase Black Ops — Mike Snider of USA Today has nothing but praise. Among the best parts of Black Ops multiplayer, Snider says, are “the wager matches in which you bet in-game currency points on original contests such as ‘gun game’ in which you start with a pistol and upgrade to a higher weapon with each enemy you dispatch. There’s also split-screen multiplayer on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.”
Black Ops Interview Discusses Violence
GERMANY (August 21, 2010) — At gamescom today in Germany, El33tonline participated in an illuminating group interview session with Treyarch’s community manager, Josh Olin, where we discovered a little more about how the studio has prepared itself to deliver Call of Duty: Black Ops in November this year.
Over the course of the interview, Olin spoke about the importance of the game’s realistic violence, the pressures of creating a blockbuster Call of Duty game, and how Black Ops will stand out from other online multiplayer offerings, while musing on whether or not critters found scurrying and flying in the jungles of Vietnam will give away your position to enemies during the game.
The interview began with a question about the level of violence in Call of Duty: Black Ops and the necessity to include such realistic gore, to which Olin responded by saying that the violence in the game is included to instill a strong emotional response in players and to tell the brutal story of deniable operations (or ‘black ops’) soldiers during the Cold War.
Olin believes that there is no gratuity in the violence in Black Ops and that it’s used to punctuate key moments in the game, while the title’s pacing (which is very important to Treyarch) also benefits by providing shocking spikes in action to complement the more slow-paced stealthy sections….
Adding to this, Treyarch has always held itself to high standards for the games that it develops, and while the pressure to create a new, blockbuster Call of Duty game to outdo Modern Warfare 2 must have added intense levels of stress to the team, Olin did enforce the fact that the studio always pressures itself to create the best games possible and that they’re now used to the stratospheric expectations of Call of Duty fans.
They’re confident they can deliver, and it seems as though Treyarch and Olin aren’t worried about the competitive market Black Ops will be released into this November — a market which currently comprises a host of similar and enjoyable first-person shooters, including Battlefield: Bad Company 2 and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, and will comprise Medal of Honor and Halo: Reach this year, and Killzone 3 and Crysis 2 early next year.
Black Ops, says Olin, will differentiate itself from those other titles with Call of Duty’s signature action formula, as well as the satisfying controls and smooth 60 frames per second gameplay you’ve come to expect from the series. Olin wants the quality of the experience in Black Ops to speak for itself and get people talking simply by delivering a great game.
Naturally, however, Olin agrees that the name that will be brandished on the box come release day, ‘Call of Duty,’ also has a part to play in the franchise’s continued success, as players have come to expect a level of excellence that they can count on in Black Ops….
Olin pointed out that Treyarch strives to bring fresh new experiences to the market with every game the studio develops, and cited Call of Duty: World at War as an example of the company delivering new features and ideas to the World War II sub-genre of videogames, which was (and still is) a genre that had been squeezed dry of new ideas after a deluge of titles set in this time period.
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