Call of Duty: Black Ops Multiplayer Review, Part 1
I dropped by my local EB Games after games night at a friend’s place on Monday night, but the lineup was about 100 people, and it just wasn’t moving. So I went home and had a good night’s sleep and picked up Black Ops the next morning. I played Combat Training for the morning, and online multiplayer in the afternoon and evening, and also quickly checked out the local split screen. Here are my thoughts on the game so far. I have reached level 16 and my K/D ratio is about 1.2. I’ll post a part 2 once I’ve had a chance to play multiplayer a lot longer.
I’m not going to go over all the game mechanics. You can read that elsewhere. Instead I’ll focus more on my thoughts of the game.
I like ’em! I really do. There’s not quite enough variety between the maps, and some look very similar to others. But other than that, there’s nothing I can complain about. WoodysGamertag complained that they are all too brown and gray, but I didn’t think that was a problem at all. It’s obvious that these maps were not made by Infinity Ward. Often when I’m traversing a map I’d think “that wouldn’t be in MW2″. (Like rooms with only one entrance.) On the whole, the Treyarch maps feels a lot more like real places instead of set pieces. There are interesting nooks and crannies to explore, and the maps are big enough that it will take a while to learn them all. Well, except for Nuketown, which is Black Ops’ equivalent to Rust. I’m quite pleased with the maps, and I don’t cringe at any map that comes up in the rotation. At least not yet.
The map voting is kinda cool too. You can vote on what to play next. There are three options. You can vote on the next map the game chooses for you, or the map you just played, or some other random map. Even though I don’t understand why people would want to play a map they’ve just played, we still have more options than MW2 gave us.
The guns do feel different than in MW2. Every gun has its own character and takes getting used to. I didn’t like the MP5K as much as all the YouTube commentators seemed to. I did alright with it, but it didn’t really connect with me. I did like the Skorpion. The Enfield assault rifle is really nice, and even though I did really well with the M14, I think that might have been luck more than anything else. The Famas makes an awesome sound, and I probably like this gun for that more than anything else! YouTubers say it’s weak, but I found the opposite. The recoil is bad, but if you can keep it on target it kills pretty well.
There’s no stopping power in this game, so it takes a bit longer to kill someone than in MW2. I think that this is a good thing, and it’s even possible to run away from gunfights sometimes. Coming up against more than one enemy at a time is more likely to get you killed than in MW2, but killing them all is possible – I got a tripple kill once yesterday.
Compared to MW2, you’ll do better against bad players and you’ll do worse against good players. If you come up against a better team, you’ll really get creamed. But if you come up against a team of noobs (as Chris Smoove would say), then you’ll be surprised by how well you do. As of today I have a K/D ratio of 1.2. My MW2 ratio was 0.8 (but it was climbing).
It’s a lot harder to kill people with explosives now. Noob tubes have to be pretty precise against an opponent out in the open. If the opponent is near a wall, the splash damage is quite helpful and would turn a “damage” to a “kill”. Grenades also have to be more precise. I’ve had grenades explode right beside me, and I’ve survived without Flak Jacket. That said, a well-placed grenade throw can still kill. On Nuketown I got a tripple kill on the B flag.
Combat Training gives you the online experience, but offline. You (and a friend if you want) play against bots. You level up, buy guns, etc. For those of you wanting to get into multiplayer, this is a great way to get your toes wet. I played a lot of Combat Training yesterday morning just to acclimatize myself to the game. This help me with my very first online game in which I went positive and killed three people before dying the first time. This mode is great except for two things. One, it only supports Free For All and Team Deathmatch. Two, you can’t rename your custom classes. However, Combat Training is still a great addition to the game, and I’m glad they added it.
The game now has a theater mode where you can play back previous games you’ve played. This is an awesome feature, and I look forward to exploring it.
Right now because nobody has Stinger missiles or Ghost Pro yet, this thing is way overpowered. Spawn and die. Spawn and die. I couldn’t even get to a building to take cover, because as soon as I spawned I would die. This was very frustrating, and if I was that kind of guy, I would have gone to a store, bought a puppy, and kicked it. I didn’t put this under “The Ugly”, however, because I think that this problem will get better with time. People will start unlocking Ghost Pro and Stinger missiles, and pretty soon these things will get shot down. At least I hope so.
I said above that I look forward to exploring this mode because it doesn’t work well yet. Often games that you want to view don’t work. I’ve tried to review several games, even many hours later, with no luck. I’ve only ever been able to look at one game. As well, the interface is a little bit clunky. I still haven’t figured out how to render a movie clip to my PS3’s hard drive. And if that feature isn’t there, then shame!
Edit: Friend Management (added this later – I forgot)
The game added a new screen to manage friends. It’s a nice idea, and inviting a friend to your party is as simple as hitting Select when you have them selected, but there are issues. Often there’s no feedback that you actually sent a friend request when you hit Select. This list is hard to read, and includes ALL your friends instead of just the online ones. In order to accept an invitation, you still need to go to the XMB and accept it, just like in MW2. It seems like half a solution. Edit: Actually, I was wrong about this last bit. You can see your invites by hitting triangle, which is nice and is easier than in MW2. Also you can hit X when viewing a friend, and join their party. Hopefully they won’t mind. It makes getting back together after the game breaks you up easier.
Just like at the beginning of MW2, there are lots of problems here. Backing out of a lobby with your party intact almost never works. You have to reform the party. People get dropped from the party quite often, so you have to get them back in. Sometimes people are shown as being in the party when they’re not, and vice versa. Several times I was kicked from my party only to have my friends go on ahead into a game without me, because they thought I was still there. This was painful painful painful. I assume that Treyarch will iron out these problems. They better!
Even though there were lots of people playing, we sometimes couldn’t get into a game. And the game often doesn’t show that it’s looking for a game. So the party leader will start the game search, and the rest of us are wondering why we’re still sitting in the form-a-party lobby when in fact we weren’t.
Game Control (Lobby) Interface
When people leave or enter you party or lobby, there’s no little bleep to inform you of this. Often we were like “Hey! Where’s BooggerFace? Wasn’t he just here a second ago?” I like the fact that they put your party members names in cyan, but sometimes it’s hard to read. When you enter a game lobby, it often doesn’t show it right away (see above). I can’t remember off the top of my head, but there were a couple more niggly little things like this that were annoying and just detracted from the experience.
Local Split Screen
When it came to local split screen play, Treyarch totally dropped the ball. It’s useless. My friends and I might try it once for giggles, but I think that we won’t be doing it often. There is NO game customization whatsoever! In MW2 you could tweak each game’s settings to make it just perfect for a group of four. In Black Ops that’s gone. Not just reduced, but gone. In MW2, each one of you could have your own class setups, customized just the way you like them. In Black Ops, you all have to share the same class setup. How idiotic is that? As well, there’s no more levelling up. My friends and I enjoy levelling up, and now that’s gone. I am really really disappointed by this. Treyarch really let us down here.
There are a ton of little bugs that need to be fixed. Like mics not showing up next to your name. Framerate issues. I once got an “Out of Memory” error! And others. I hope that Treyarch fixes these soon.
If you don’t want to play local split screen with your friends, Black Ops is great. It’s having some teething pains, but I assume that Treyarch will fix those. I look forward to playing a lot of this game, and I’ll post my thoughts again in a while.
This review is based on a retail copy of the PS3 version of Call of Duty: Black Ops provided by Activision.