Call of Duty Black Ops : Shooty mcbangy bang

Call of Duty Black Ops

So I played the new Call of Duty. More specifically Call of Duty: Black Ops. Even more specifically in internetese: COD BLOPS. I love that name, don’t you? BLOPS. Completely devoid of the utter destruction inherent in the game it describes. Come to think of it, I may have eaten some BLOPS sometimes in me life.

Anyway, it was fun. Now I have made posts that may lead one to think I hate generic blockbuster shooters. I don’t. I hate generic blockbuster shooters that want you to think they are an intelligent piece of art commenting on the human condition. Remember no Russian? (see what I did there? Never mind.) BLOPS was entirely fun. It was made to look and act like a stupid 80s action film, and it does that. If you have a specific itch to shoot people in the face while moving along a fixed path whilst things blow up all to kingdom come around you, BLOPS will scratch it to HELL.

It occurs to me that most people are perfectly content to shoot humans in the face with pyrotechnics all around. By that yardstick BLOPS is for most humans. It isn’t especially different or interesting or builds a great world, but that’s not what most people want, yes? It’s not the best Call of Duty game ever made, it’s not even the most polished. For a game that choreographs each set piece, it often breaks its own rules about not keeping the player in the dark. The best thing about it I can say is that it is probably the best game Treyarch has made yet. And after years of mediocre Spider-man games and Calls of Duty, at least Activision’s hajaar dollars have made them competitive enough.

Long the bastard child of the CoD franchise, Treyarch has earned both player ire and mainstream derision by being mediocre and delivering games made by committee. They still do that here, but at least they do that with a sense of humour and a hitherto missing maturity. Maturity in development only, of course. The vision is still the 12 year old gun freak’s porn. Check your boxes for semen.

In any case, the story making a point to establish that it is bunkum makes up for the ludicrous ending, and you can enjoy the Shooty bits without rolling your eyes too much. It looks fantastic too. The production values, or to call it by its technical name, Activision’s 3rd world debt ending budget, are what they are – astounding and beyond comprehension.

I could pretend I give a rat’s ass about the multiplayer, but I can’t be arsed. It’s as good or as bad as you think the last one was. I’ll play it for a few months and then move on to some obscure German RPG, though, so the question is not for me to answer. Meanwhile, here: it is Mostly Harmless.

The set pieces do not overtly steal anything from a famous film, so at least I think the multiplayer will have some originality too, as much as is possible for a Call of Duty game to be original. (Infinity Ward were an amazing developer, but they pegged the biggest moments of their games on moments from iconic films. Back when they were 2015, it was Saving Private Ryan. With the first Call of Duty it was Enemy at the Gates and so on. With Modern Warfare 2, it was Bad Boys 2, so you can imagine how deep the shit hole was in which they found themselves at the end of that game. PS Anyone who likes both should probably try and grow a real beard before they can discuss the merits of any artistic endeavour with me. )

ANYWAY, Call of Duty Black Ops is perfectly okay, and not at all pompous or stuffy like its predecessor, so if you ever wanted to play a Michael Bay movie, this will work just fine.

Now where’s my Risen at.

Disappointments of 2009 part I – Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2

Modern Warfare 2

I am a very shooty kind of guy, I used to think. I like being plonked in the first person view, seeing my burly forearms and wrists, and shoot things that move.
If it looks angry, shoot it. Heck if it moves, shoot it. You know the sort? I always thought that is what I am. I prided myself in knowing exactly why mastery of control and craft lies in the hands on Valve and Infinity Ward, and no one else.

Nothing I knew about myself has been proven wrong, exactly. But I AM thoroughly surprised by why so few people have not mentioned this: Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 is rubbish.

RPS’s analysis of the No Russian level is bang on as far an analysis of a controversial level goes, but really, they didn’t come out and say this. Or maybe I missed this. In any case, the truth is that I really, really feel that the game is rubbish.

Of course I am only talking about the Single Player campaign here. The multiplayer is a thing of beauty. glitches aside, the crack of shooting things that move to get better and unlock better things to shoot people with is as addictive as ever, and works phenomenally. I could berate it for being too small (9v9? in 2009?), or lack of features other modern shooters have (no cover system, really? Are they still living in 2002?), but that would be unfair. They didn’t set out to make that game that eclipses all features. They knew what they could do well, and delivered a polished experience. It’s insanely fun, this multiplayer game, honestly.

But really, what were they thinking when they set out to make that single player game? First off, it completely robs the entire series of gravitas by going all James Bond on us. It was the same issue that could have been leveled at MW the First, but that game still kept intact the sense of being part of a bigger whole. Modern Warfare 2? That is not a nasty war business. It is jumping off a ski slope on a snowmobile shooting people in the face. It is infiltrating a Russian prison, killing all the guards, and escaping on a zip line while rockets fire all around you. It’s not war in it’s emotional gravity – it’s a Michael Bay movie with no consequences.

Which would probably have been fine by itself. But they wanted to bring that emotional depth despite not having the backbone to support it. So they created the cipher of a level that is No Russian. There’s nothing I can say that hasn’t been said about it – it’s vacuous, and has no heft to it as a storytelling device.

Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2

Not that the storytelling has anything to it that would need clever devices. It’s downright stupid. Insulting, even. One entire mission has you take command of an SAS team trying to infiltrate a prison to rescue a “guy” who the arch villain apparently hates. Really? That’s your incentive? The enemy of my enemy is my best bud? The last act twist is so asinine that it actually, honestly makes no sense.

The gameplay is sweet, admittedly, but purely on a controls-mechanics-events level. The craft is solid. The design is barely there. At 5 hours of play on Normal mode, I would have expected more from the game experience itself. It’s nothing, it’s faff. The worst part? No one’s called IW’s or Activision’s bluff, though, and I am doing it now. For 74 Dollars, it literally is a rip-off, and a sub par game. There is no doubting the production quality, but the game just isn’t up to snuff. The multiplayer redeems the price point, but it does not redeem the single player experience.

Consider your self finger wagged at and chagrined, Infinity Ward! My not-read blog has chastised you.

(Bah. Humbug.)