Title: Call Of Duty: Black Ops III
Platform: PC, PS3, PS4 Xbox 360 and Xbox One (reviewed)
Release date: Out now
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The game kicks off on October 27th, 2065, where you and Hendricks are on a mission to infiltrate Ethiopia in order to find and rescue hostages from the NCR. After successfully retriving the “package,” the main protagonist gets literally torn to pieces by a combat robot. Our hero is saved by Commander John Taylor and is carried into a mysterious lab, where he is given advanced cybernetic enhancements. Five years later, we find our heroic duo, Hendricks and the protagonist, under the command of Rachel Kane, investigating a CIA black site that has gone dark. As with any CoD game, this is where the proverbial poop hits the fan.
Once again, I’ve used this saying a lot as of late (maybe because devs can’t come up with something new?) but if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. If you’ve played any CoD games since the beginning, the control schemes remains the same. Returning players will immediately feel at home, FPS junkies as well.
Luckily the campaign features a nice variations of enemies; although most of them will be human soldiers, you’ll often come across robotic force, almost as if you’re playing a CoD game in the middle of a Terminator movie. There are also bigger, tougher robots that will be somewhat reminiscent of Robocop’s ED-209. There are other types of enemies further down the road in the campaign, but so I don’t spoil anything, I will leave it at that.
As with most Call of Duty games, the story is convoluted in its own complexity; and there is still the predictable plot twist, but for once, I didn’t see the ending coming. Although I suspected it, I didn’t guess it at all and was kind of surprised, which was a nice change. Mission are well-paced and “boss battles,” are as intense as they could be. Also it was interesting that Treyarch gave the chance to players to unlock all missions from the start, letting you tackle them in any order you see fit. Obviously it’s recommended you do them in order if you want to understand the story, but still a nice touch. That’s something we don’t see that often… well… never.
Keeping the futuristic tone set by last year’s Advanced Warfare, Black Ops III goes a step further by making your character with robotic parts. Your suit allows you to wall run and double jump. Additionally, in order to take on the enemy forces, you’re granted upgradable skills called Cyber Cores. These cores allow your character to be faster and stronger. There are three upgradable skill trees:
- Chaos: lets players put enemies into a state of confusion.
- Control: players can control robotic enemies.
- Martial: provides players with faster and stealthy strikes against enemies.
The new set of skills really make the game feel a bit different and brings a new flavor to the combat. Being able to manipulate enemy turrets against other enemies or flying around punching robots never grew old.
And now we get to the core of the game: multiplayer. We won’t hide the fact that most players who buy CoD on a yearly basis are multiplayer fans who enjoy spending hours on end compiling kills and leveling up faster than most gamers. Once again, players will find the same multiplayer modes they’ve become accustomed to:
- Team Deathmatch
- Kill Confirmed
- Capture the Flag
- Search and Destroy
One of the things Treyarch did do different is before diving into the action, you can choose between 3 different gameplay types:
- Core: Standard multiplayer affair
- Hardcore: As it namesake indicates, this is for the hardcore players as matches are HUD-less and players have less health
- Bonus: Special match types
As stated in my Beta impressions, don’t expect Black Ops 3 to be the entry point for “part-time,” gamers and newcomers for the franchise. After losing all of my progress due to an update, I was reset to level 1, and I was still thrown to the wolves. In matches filled with Level 30+ players who had way better gear (if Treyarch hadn’t screwed up my save, I could’ve stood a chance) so I was easy pickings for those who had powerful weapons and even camo that would blend so well with the map’s background, I never saw my death until the Kill Cam.
But for those who dedicate hours and hours to playing online until next year’s Call of Duty will be in gaming heaven. When starting off a multiplayer match, players need to pick one of the following specialists; note that some of them need unlocking prior to use:
- Battery: Armed with the War Machine grenade launcher and can activate a deflecting shield as a Combat Focus Ability.
- Firebreak: As it name hints, he uses a Flamethrower which is greatly efficient for up close kills. His Heat Wave ability releases a heat blast which stuns enemies and destroys nearby enemy equipment.
- Nomad: This class can throw or pin pods to walls, which release nano drones. The Rejack ability lets him respawn from the last spot he died, which you can expect when his death came from a Specialist Weapon.
- Outrider: Armed with a bow and explosive arrows which will result in One Hit One Kill, players who are quick enough can shoot them in mid-air. Her Combat Focus ability allows her to see enemies through walls.
- Prophet: This class fire an electricity charge, electrifying any enemies touching the ground surface. As a Combat Focus Ability, he can teleport back to a previous location
- Reaper: His scythe is basically his arms, which turns into a mini-gun. His Psychosis ability allows his to have three decoys that run forward.
- Ruin: His weapon of choice is the gravity spikes while his Combat Focus ability lets him speed up for a short period of time.
- Sereph: Uses the Annihilator, a one hit kill gun which packs a major punch. Her Special Ability is a bit lackluster as all scores triggers a bonus multiplier for Scorestreaks.
- Spectre: Uses twin blades with an extended melee lunge while his Special Ability allows him to become near invisible for a short period of time.
With Black Ops 3, Treyarch brought back the popular Zombies mode. This is basically a separate pseudo-campaign. I say pseudo because you don’t progress like in the main campaign, where you simply shoot and run. In this mode, you have to survive and kill zombies. The way to progress in the level is by killing the zombies. You earn money, which in-turn can be used for either purchasing new weapons, barricading broken windows or opening doors to additional areas of the map. It’s set up as you get put through waves of zombies, but it’s pretty transparent in the sense that you assume you’ve successfully moved onto the next wave because the number of zombies coming at you grows. As you walk around any given maps, you’ll find pedestals that will allow you to morph into some sort of creature which allows the player to shock and maim the zombies. It’s a nice diversion from the other content, although a more streamline experience à la Left 4 Dead could’ve been even more fun.
To add even more content an already full package, Treyarch also added a new Free Run mode. This doesn’t bring anything new or interesting. It will allow players to work on their skills as a super soldier by wall running, shooting and sliding their way to the finish line. It can act as a nice little diversion for a few runs, but it gets old fast.
Call of Duty is one of those rare yearly games that consistently looks better every year. The fact that either Infinity Ward or Treyarch (or now might as well also include Sledgehammer Games in the mix) are actually given adequate development time really shows, visually at least. Environment details are visually splendid while character models are (somehow) more impressive than last year’s Advanced Warfare. You might even recognize Christopher Meloni as John Taylor. Additionally, the transition between cinematics and gameplay is seemless. No cutting or interruption conserving a sense of immersion. Audio wise, the game’s score is one again up to snuff, but again won’t be remembered for years to come. The voiceover actors’ work is top notch; all actors involved, especially Ben Browder as the male character (I played as the male character during this review, however I’m convinced that Abby Brammell does an amazing job as the female character) and Sean Douglas as your running mate and shooting buddy Hendricks. Some lines do fall a bit flat from secondary characters, but you see the relationship develop between them as they try to unravel the story.
Before I move onto the verdict, there are two addendums I’d like to discuss. First of all, if you have yet to upgrade to the current generation of consoles, you might want to skip it. Mostly because the PS3/Xbox 360 features only the Multiplayer components and the Zombies mode. Obviously if you’re a Multiplayer fans, you can pick up and I’m pretty sure you’ll still enjoy it until next year’s CoD game; but for those looking to enjoy the overall package will be bummed as the campaign is worth playing through. Easily one of the best CoD campaign to date; despite some fucked up twists. Additionally, paying the game full price ($70) for an incomplete game is also pretty much a ripoff and another proof that the gaming development is just a greedy industry.
Additionally, for the current generation, you might want to be careful how to handle your campaign save. If the servers are down, apparently you can’t access your saved game if you’ve been playing connected to the internet. On the other hand, if you play offline, there’s a huge chance you won’t be able to access your campaign save if you opt to connect online. I was 3/4 done with the campaign and I decided to give Multiplayer side of things a shot for review purpose. Unfortunately, playing the campaign offline made it impossible for the game to resume the story, and I had to start over. This can be insanely infuriating. Treyarch definitely screwed the pooch with this.
You know something? As with any review I do, I try my darnest to be unbiased and express the best I can what works and doesn’t in a game. Black Ops 3 shines on multiple level such as the campaign, and deep multiplayer. The game features a whole lot of bang for your bucks. But it does have pitfalls such as some really shit filler campaign chapters, predictable story plots and the worst of them all: your campaign progress being tied to Treyarch’s servers. It really forces the player to stay connected online at all times. Internet outage? Treyarch servers down? Xbox Live/PSN issues? Forget about playing/continuing the campaign.
- Visually stunning
- Every chapter unlockable from the start
- Interesting story
- Zombie mode!
- Online multiplayer is still addictive
- Free run is pretty boring
- Demon Within is the worst chapter in all of the franchise
- Predictable story plots
- Can’t access campaign save if servers are down
Call Of Duty: Black Ops 3 is rated M for Mature. You’re a soldier on a mission, so soldiers will die and blood will flow.