Sunday, 21 November 2010

Call of Duty: Black Ops Review

Call of Duty: Black Ops review
This is my first game review so please bare with me, I'll try and make 'em as good as my movie reviews.

Call of Duty: Black Ops is the next installment in the often called 'Biggest and best gaming franchise of all time', but does it deserve it's place in gaming's hall of fame or should it be left outside in the cold? Well, in a sentence I would say both......and the same time. I'll try and make sense of that statement throughout the review.


Yes, it might seem an odd place to start a review of Codblops (yes I will be referring to it as that from now on) on the story, considering Call of Duty games aren't exactly known for their long, engaging and emotional storyline, more the polar opposite of that in fact. But I'll be brutally honest here, I actually liked the storyline, it was a little bit over the top and a bit hard to swallow (calm down), but it was entertaining to say the least. Yes it does have some “DOUBLE-UU-TEE-EHHHFFF” moments but, when it's main job is to entertain me and to provide me with a couple of hours of fun and aggravation, then it does it's job.

Unfortunately the key phrase in the above paragraph is “couple of hours” stripped down to it's core and without all the cut scenes and times when the player doesn't have the control (Which is more often and more shocking than you might think, watch this video- ) or any relative input at all, the game barely manages to get 5 hours of gameplay in there. You read that right, 5, and before you scream at me for playing on the easiest difficulty setting, for your information you incredibly aggressive anonymous internet user I was playing on hardened difficulty which is the second highest setting there is.

Not only does the single player gameplay have many many instances where they might as well take the gun away from you, it has many times where it becomes inexplicably hard. It's not due to excessive rubber banding AI levels ( a degree it is), it's down to it not being straight forward, or your objectives just aren't being explained at all. If you've played the campaign then I'm just going to say “Vietnam Hill”, hopefully some people here will understand that and agree with me. I spent around 20 minutes shooting endlessly respawning enemies before I realised what I had to do. I guess you could throw in the old argument of modern games becoming too easy or dumbed down so when a moment when you have to actually use skill or logic to pass through then you become stuck. That's true to an extent, but what about games like Little Big Planet, Braid, Assassins Creed (in regards to the Glyphs), I passed through them with 'relative' ease.

New additions to Codblops single player campaign is scary Russian communists, this is a brand new idea and I'm surprised that no-one's ever thought of it before. Just in case you are illiterate at reading sarcasm, let me have the privilege of introducing the power of sarcasm to you, sarcasm allows you to insult idiots around you, very entertaining. Yes the Russians are back as bad guys and it's up to you, Alex Mason to stop them, preferably with one of the many guns in your arsenal. The real additions to Codblops single player is pilot-able Helicopters (in select levels of course, don't be silly!) usually in Call of Duty games you are allowed to only shoot the gun on ships, planes or helicopters. The first level that the helicopter is used and introduced is a level that you are stuck in a valley, so it's a little bit constricting and not as free as it should be, but the next level you use the helicopter is by far the better, I'm not going to spoil it for you, except that it's incredibly fun.

Splitting up the single player campaign into two different categories means you'll get two different reviews. The story is imaginative and fresh, it's definitely a step forward in the right direction (except length, mind you). The gameplay is starting to get old now, you run then you shoot, duck behind some superbly placed indestructible crates that just so happened to be there. That's it, besides the drivable vehicles (that you only get to use like twice) nothing new has been introduced this year.


Here's where it's at, where Call of Duty has made a name for itself, developing into a force known all over the gaming industry. Codblops delivers the now standard (for CoD games) blisteringly quick, ear-shatteringly loud, knock-out punch to the face 60 frames per second shooting. But looky here, they've added some new stuff. It's like getting your favourite meal in your favourite restaurant, just so happens they have that chef with 3 and a half fingers and a runny nose. They also used ingredients they found in the midst of a hobo's plop. Yes, I hate Treyarch let it be known. It's not that they don't try, it's just that they don't succeed. For me, the most interesting and exciting addition to Codblops was the theatre mode (more on that later), but, like many things, it just doesn't work.

They've introduced some things that are genuinely useful and great (Wager matches, increased customizability) but for some (and I'm not going over the top here) baffling, enigmatic, incomprehensible,indecipherable, indescribable, unexplainable , inscrutable, insoluble, mysterious, mystifying,obscure, odd, peculiar, puzzling, strange,unaccountable, undefinable, unexplainable,unfathomable, unintelligible and unsolvable reason they've taken stuff out. They've removed the amount of perks and I don't know why, yes I understand removing commando, but in retaliation to that they've introduced the ballistic knife and upped the distance you can knife from to near commando levels anyway! They've also changed the time limits on some match types, my case in point is sabotage. It's now 10 minutes instead of 20 minutes in MW2. I'm going to lose all my reviewer poise here, brace yourself. WHY?! What reason did Treyarch have to do that? It's been proven to work! Sabotage are the best match type because it defines what CoD is, it's frantic, god damn, brilliant, boisterously manly awesomeness! WHY RESTRICT THAT?! IT MAKES NO SENSE! Especially when they've increased the map size from Modern Warfare 2 it takes bloody 30 seconds to travel to the bomb-site making defusing the bomb in sabotage near impossible. Why did that need to be changed? Treyarch I think you need to learn from some old sayings “If it ain't broke, don't fix it”, “Don't promise things you can't deliver”, “Treyarch, I hate you”.

To add to my increasing amount of despair, I checked out theatre mode, the brand new inclusion to the franchise allowing users to record, edit and show off all those Uber killstreaks, those epic no scopes, and those down right hysterical mishaps.

Well it would allow you to do all those things, if it worked that is. Here is an edited down conversation I had with my friend whilst trying to use theatre mode.

Step 1: Have the actual match.

Step 2: Flick through the stupendously bad menus to find theatre mode.

Step 3: Find the match.

Step 4: Select file for playback.

Step 5: Allow video to buffer.

Step 6: Press play on the video, and struggle with the controls to find the right part you want to edit.

Step 7: Struggle with controls more.

Step 8: Realise that, in Treyarch's endless amount of wisdom the file has split itself, resulting in the match being two separate files and missing out a possible vital 30 seconds to a minute.

Step 9: Find other file.

Step 10: Select file for playback.

Step 11: Buffer video.

Step 12: Press play and struggle with the controls.

Step 13: Realise that it's not actually you that you are watching, it's someone else.

Step 14: Find yourself.

Step 15: Find the part you want to edit.

Step 16: Press record.

Step 17: Struggle with controls, restart recording.

Step 18: Struggle with controls, restart recording.

Step 19: Struggle with controls, restart recording.

Step 20: Struggle with controls, restart recording.

Step 21: Struggle with controls, restart recording.

Step 22: Get recording.

Step 23: Re-record part because, once again, it's restricted to 30 seconds per recording.

Step 24: Get new recording.

Step 25: Save file.

Step 26: Exit menu.

Step 27: Re-select file.

Step 28: Render video.

Step 29: Wait.

Step 30: Wait.

Step 31: “File has uploaded itself to”.

Step 32: Check

Step 33: It's not there.

Step 34: Re-render video.

Step 35: “File has uploaded itself to”.

Step 36: No it hasn't.

Step 37: Re-render video.

Step 38: “File has uploaded itself to”.

Step 39: No it hasn't.

Step 40: Get bored/annoyed leave the whole process.

Step 41: Couple of days later, go onto youtube.

Step 42: Decide to flick through a few of my own videos.

Step 43: The file has somehow uploaded itself to youtube.


Yes, I understand that “Theatre” mode is in Beta still...C'mon Treyarch the game has been released how can you have a significant portion of the game that doesn't do what it says it does! That's why Treyarch sucks. Yes Codblops does have it's ups, Zombies is fun but then completely unoriginal, it might as well someone else’s coding they stole and copied.

What review could be complete without a bit of positive re-enforcement and helpful hints? Well, in that case here it is: Treyarch, adopt the Medal of Honour method, I propose Treyarch to develop to the singleplayer campaign and Activision can make Sledgehammer games develop the online portion of the game, it might not have worked that well on Medal of Honour but I'm sure it would work on Codblops.

The way that I would sum this review of Codblops up would be that I utterly, utterly despise the multiplayer side of this game, but I play it. It's got something caveman and primeval about it, it's gritty stuff, and it's a way of proving how much better you are than everyone else. I guess that on some sort of level that makes me like it, and that's why I hate it with every fibre of my being...because I like it.

Honestly, I can't get my head around my reasoning behind my feelings towards Codblops and I don't expect you to either, but I guess this is as good as a stage as any to declare a challenge. I want to play against you guys, hit me up with a friend request and just tell me that you've read my review in the message.

My PSN: Baggie1993

(This is the frankly pointless video that was uploaded to youtube:
Note: I know it sucks, but it was a short little video that I enjoyed and was only done to test out all the features of theatre mode).

Friday, 12 November 2010

Remembrance day poem ... thing

I only just found this, I think I wrote it before the last remembrance service.
it's not really a protest piece, I just had a vision of war becoming nothing more than a sport in the hopefully distant future.


There's gas in the trench boys
There's gas on the wire
There's gas on the ground
And there's gas in the prior

Where is our lord boys?
Where has he gone?
Our lord has left us,
Should we run?

The whistle is blowing,
The charge has begun.
Those who falter,
Are easily done

Why do we fight?
Why do we stay?
Our city lies ruined
And fallen with plague

The war's never over.
The battle still goes on.
Why are we fighting?
We're fighting for fun...

As I said, it's not about protest, it's just my morbid view of the future of warfare ...

P.s I would have posted this yesterday, but my internet decided to fail on me.

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Undead Nightmare

One big cup of OHWHATTHEHELL.
Where to begin with this one?
I would start at the beginning … but that is a spoiler in itself for those who haven’t played this anyway. All I can really say about the beginning is that within the first five to ten minutes, all my theories about how the pack was going to turn out, where swept aside through a tide of awesome.
            The story line is a fairly straightforward one, ‘Kill the zombies while trying to find a cure’, Straightforward yes, simple … not so much. You see, the only way to kill one of these undead bas- beings is with a headshot and while this might sound like an easy task for any experienced dead eye user, trust me it is not.
            I even checked to see if Rockstar had skimped out and done a certain amount of damage to the body before death … they haven’t, and I can’t explain how amazing it feels to unload all six shells of a semi-auto shotgun into a Zombies chest, then finishing it off with one revolver round to the brain.
            Okay, I might not have been telling the truth when I said there was only one way to kill them, there are in fact a few ways. My personal favourite has to be setting them alight with a torch. Yes you did just read that correctly, a torch, like the burning kind they used to hunt Vampires with. The first time I used the torch was against quite a large group or rotters and … well it didn’t go quite to plan, for some reason I thought it would kill them fairly quickly. It didn’t. So for the next twenty – thirty seconds, I found myself being chased by no less than seven burning zombies, and as they say “The only thing worse than a zombie, I a burning zombie”.
            As much as I love zombies, I have to admit that I got a little nervous at the prospect of Redemption having zombies introduced into it, one wrong move and the whole thing could go up in flames. However Rockstar seem to have crafted a fine balance between the Undead and the Wild West.
            The actual story line of Undead Nightmare will take you just about everywhere, from Blackwater where you start, all the way to a brand new location in Mexico. I’m sure all of you will be happy to know that it features almost all the original cast and will take about six-nine hours if you decide to complete all the side missions and all the challenges.
            The game play has stayed pretty similar to Red Dead Redemption with only a few changes, the first and most notable change, is that the whole camping system has disappeared, which oddly works perfectly. Instead of camping to fast travel you now have to liberate towns from the undead menace in order to use them. Once liberated, you can save or fast travel from there, and sadly there are no shops in the game which means you will have to loot corpses and make sure every shot counts.
            Once I actually got over the awesomeness that were zombies, I decided to have a ride around to see what else was out there and I have to tell you, it was eerie. I just couldn’t place my finger on what made the whole experience so damn creepy. It wasn’t the zombies; I love zombies, nothing creepy about them. There was something else … something all together stranger. There was an absolute lack of people, I must have ridden around for a good hour and only heard a few shots in the distance, unless you count those hungry zombies trying to kill me. It really did feel like the world had ended which was an incredibly beautiful experience.
            Aside from the gameplay, Undead Nightmare actually feels a lot like a B-movie Which works very well for the whole experience. I’m not sure who they got to be the narrator for the game, but the did a good job in casting him.
            Once you finally decide to save one of the many ‘helpless’ towns, you are greeted by a number of armed survivors on the rooftops taking pot-shots into the undead horde. There are then two things you can do, you can either run around dispensing ammo to them, or keep all the ammo for yourself and decide to Rambo those zombies asses. Whichever way you decided to handle the situation, you almost always get a new … or old gun out of it, which I think is Rockstars way of saying “sorry there are no shops”.
            Another interesting thing to do once you have obtained some brand new guns, is to go and cleanse a graveyard. What this involves is burning a number of coffins, then holding off against the Undead till the ‘Boss Zombie’ rises, who is usually a character you met once in game. Once you have killed those the Graveyard is clean, rewarding you with new ammo and various other interesting gadgets.
            Before I move onto the multiplayer, I have to talk about the wildlife. OH MY GOD it is pretty damn awesome, never have I experienced true terror before until I was being chased from tall trees by a large mob of zombies (I had ran out of ammo) only to be joined by FIVE zombie bears and three zombie wolves. Infact I don’t think you have lived unless in a situation like that, that is the sheer level of ‘Oh dear god what now?’. Yes, you would be right in thinking that that is in fact a Zombie cougar … Where is your lord now?
            Well I suppose it is time to talk about the multiplayer, which I will be honest am a little disappointed with. Not because it’s bad, I just feel that there could have been more done with it, more game types involving zombies … hell even a zombie free roam, but I’ll stop before I start ranting about how I have the perfect idea for a zombie game, as they did deliver one awesomely fun thing called ‘Undead Onslaught’. The whole idea of U.O is to survive as many rounds as possible, while more and more zombies keep poring in. Sounds simple right? Wrong, you see every wave the Zombies get a little bit more difficult to kill, and you have to kill them all within a certain amount of time and just to add a little salt to that wound, if you don’t pop them all, you are stuck in limbo with a never ending wave of zombies till you die, you don’t even get any new ammo.
   Well, I guess that is all from me for this review. I would tell you more but that really takes the fun away from playing. I hope you have enjoyed reading it, and remember if this has peaked your interest you can just purchase it from your console.
Luke Seddon