November 10, 2010

824 words 4 mins read

First impressions of Call Of Duty: Black Ops multiplayer

If you game, you know Call Of Duty: Black Ops came out yesterday. While this is the 7th installment in a long series of Call Of Duty games, it really is “Modern Warfare 2: The Second”. By that I mean Treyarch just took the engine that Infinity Ward made for Modern Warfare 2 and reused it. At first glance that could seem like a bad thing, after all it means they really don’t have anything new in the engine. The reality though is this really isn’t all that bad. MW2 had a great engine and a great multiplayer experience. The real question is, will Black Ops manage to expand on MW2?

I hadn’t done any research about Black Ops before it came out, so I really didn’t know what to expect of it. I saw a buddy of mine playing Black Ops before I got a chance to play and the first thing I said was “Isn’t that Modern Warefare 2?". Basically, if you’ve played MW2 online, you’ve played COD:BO online. The major difference is the maps and the weapons. Since Black Ops is set in the Cold War era, you get Cold War era weapons – shocking. Again, it’s not a bad thing per se but I much prefer modern era weapons. We’ve made better guns, let’s use them!

The one thing I’ll give Treyarch is some interesting and different weapons. Beyond just the guns they have some fun toys like explosive bolts for crossbows and flamethrowers. Most of these fun and interesting weapons are higher up in the unlocks, so I haven’t gotten to play with them yet. Which brings me to one of the major changes of Black Ops: you have to buy your weapons and attachments. In Modern Warfare 2, you could use a weapon as soon as you unlocked it (by being a high enough level) and with that you got some basic attachments and unlocked more with kills. In Black Ops, you still unlock weapons as you level up, but in order to actually use them, you have to buy them with COD points.

COD points are the in game currency you earn by playing the game. Every match you play, you get a certain amount of points. Kill people, you get more points. Level up, more points. You can also take out “Contracts” (which are essentially elective challenges) before matches and if you succeed, you can get some extra points on the side. So far it is an interesting system as it forces you, the player, to plan a little more long term/strategically in terms of how you want to play. I love the fact that I can save my money and get the attachments I need in order to play how I want, rather than having to slog through a bunch of attachment unlocks I will never use again.

My main problem is the levels. Not the level designs, because Treyarch is good at making a multiplayer level. The problem I have is that the level sizes are, in many cases, just plain bad. I was playing in the standard 5 on 5 team mode (the name of which eludes me) and a few of the levels… I couldn’t find anyone to shoot. The levels were just too big for that few players. If there were maybe 2 more players on each side, it would have been perfect. On the flip side there is a map called “Nuke Town” that is just terrible. This map is total bullshit in how small it is; it should be 2 on 2, not 5 on 5. 90% of the match is spent in a spawn [email protected]$%, as people are everywhere in your spawns. If you don’t hit the ground running, you’re dead. Of course, enemies count on this and camp the two exits you have from spawn and gang rape you there as well.

Overall, the game is just as I’ve said above: not bad. It is by no means the next great shooter, but it will entertain. I’m hoping that there will be a LOT of spit and polish applied to this game over the next month or two, making the game much better. The maps need fixing and the gun balance need work (but the latter seems to be true of all shooters). While I will be playing Black Ops a bit, I think I’ll still be over in Bad Company 2 a fair amount. I had high hopes for Medal of Honor and Black Ops, but neither have quite managed to meet them. I will say this though, I think Medal Of Honor’s multiplayer was better balanced and polished at release than Black Ops (though others will disagree).

As a final thought: it is depressing that we now simply expect a game to suck on release… and that it will be polished later. We mostly just have to hope that they don’t charge for the polishing.