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Quick Thoughts About Call of Duty: Black Ops

Rapid impressions after my first shot at the multiplayer game.

2010-09-02
By now you should have read about the new Call of Duty: Black Ops multiplayer modes and improvements and watched the trailer to see Wager Matches in action. After Treyarch and Activision unleashed that info, they gave me a few hours to sit down and try the new modes out and put the whole shebang to the test. Here are five quick thoughts I have now that I've taken Black Ops for a spin.

The RC-XD is Hilarious

You earn the RC-XD, a remote controlled bomb, through kill streaks and in the game variants I played it generally took only a few kills to unlock it. Once you do, prepare for hilarity. The current physics have it bouncing off of walls, taking jumps off of bumps, and generally stumbling and bumbling around until you find an enemy…at which point you'll pull the trigger to detonate the bomb.



That process alone is pretty funny. More hilarious, though, is what happens if your enemy notices the RC-XD coming. They'll dance around it trying to get the car in their sites while their character model looks like a maniac. I never saw anyone succeed in stopping the RC destruction, but I hope they never stop trying.

Leveling and COD Points Are More Complex Than You Think

The addition of a credit system – in which you have to earn COD Points to unlock weapons -- is an extra layer on top of the already robust leveling system in past Call of Duty games. It doesn't replace it. In fact, it makes it deeper and more involved than ever before.

You will still have to unlock many things by leveling up, and even after you do you'll find that not everything can be purchased with COD Points right off the bat. Some weapons only become available for purchase after the player has obtained others. The best sniper rifle, for example, was locked until I purchased all of the others in its class. Everything costs points, too, straight down to little emblems that you can use in customizing the look of your rifle or player card.

Theater Mode is the Real Deal

It's one thing to put a Theater Mode into your games. It's quite another to rival even the current industry leaders at Bungie, but that's exactly what Treyarch is doing with Call of Duty: Black Ops. All of the standards are there -- a free roaming camera that can also lock on to players, clip and screenshot export, the ability to fast forward or rewind the action, and the option to browse your friend's shared files. There's also a whole lot more.

You can save segments and then clip them together and slow down or speed up the game speed while recording. Up to 100 of your most recent games over the past 7 days are saved automatically for you to later watch and edit. The timeline displayed during theater mode indicates all the kills int eh match, a green mark for a kill, and a red mark for when you died, allowing you to quickly skip to the interesting parts of the match. The tools look super powerful -- both for the casual player that wants to know where jerks are camping and for the hardcore machinima maker.

One in the Chamber is the new License to Kill

One of my favorite Goldeneye N64 modes back in the day was the License to Kill variant for multiplayer. It distilled deathmatch down to the basics. One shot on target was worth one kill, it didn't matter who had the best gun. Here only the best would win -- luck was not a factor.

Black Ops has its own take on this classic in One in the Chamber, a mode specifically made as a Wager Match. Here you only get one bullet. Connect with that shot and it's an instant kill and you'll be awarded another bullet. Miss and you better hope you can get in close for a knife slash.

It took me a couple of rounds to get into the swing of things. I usually waste quite a few bullets while playing first-person shooters, and that's not conducive to victory. One in the Chamber only offers three lives to each player before you have to sit in spectator mode. That's where I found myself quite quickly during the first couple of matches.

Contracts Are Going to be Addictive

Challenges are a big part of what makes Call of Duty such an addictive multiplayer game. They're back, but now there are Contracts to top them off. These are rotating challenges offered by Treyarch, changing every day or week. To partake in them, you'll have to pony up a few COD Points to buy the Contract. Complete the challenge and you'll win extra points. There is a catch -- each Contract has a time limit. I bought a low level one that required you to get three SMG kills without dying in less than 40 minutes of game time. It cost 50 COD Points and, upon completing it, I received 250 back.

Fail at completing a Contract and you'll have to wait at least 24 hours to try again. And you'll be out of some COD Points. I can see myself getting caught up in these even more so than the Wager Matches against other players.

©2010-09-02, IGN Entertainment, Inc. All Rights Reserved

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