Call of Duty: Black Ops Review

Call of Duty: Black Ops is the seventh main installment of the Call of Duty series, developed by Treyarch and released on November 9, 2010 in the US. The game is rated “mature” by the ESRB and is a multi-platform game in regards to PC, PS3, Xbox 360, Wii, and DS. I played this game on the PS3, but my review is meant to apply to the other platforms as well.


Black Ops is a first-person shooter. Essentially, you are just shooting bad guys throughout the campaign. I really like the gameplay of Black Ops but as always, it is very similar to the prior Call of Duty games. When the player gets hit, the screen turns red on the edges, simulating blood splatter. The health regenerates over a few seconds. Dismemberment, where your enemies heads, arms, or legs come off and start squirting out blood, is shown in the campaign of Black Ops.

The control layout of Black Ops is exactly like the prior iterations in the series except with more extra control schemes. The player is able to crouch, go prone, and, with the introduction of this game, has the ability to dive prone. As a matter of fact, being able to dive prone proves lifesaving, but it can also be quite annoying because there are times where the player doesn’t want to do it but it ends up happening anyway and then the player is wasted by the players of the opposing team.

The player is able to handle two weapons at a time and hold many various types of equipment. Likewise, Black Ops brings forth many new weapons of which only a couple stick out such as crossbows with explosive ammunition and ballistic knives.

Campaign Synopsis

The game starts out in an interrogation room where the main character, Captain Mason, has flashbacks. Each flashback is actually a mission which brings the player to a different time and location. In the game there are special “numbers” that are played back to Captain Mason, leaving a puzzle for both the confused Captain Mason and the player to solve.

Black Ops takes place amidst the Cold War during the 1960s. The whole campaign is centered on a Soviet chemical weapon code-named “Nova-6.” The Veteran difficulty in Black Ops is much harder than Modern Warfare 2’s Veteran difficulty because infinite respawning is back in many encounters including the level where the player defends Khe Sanh called “S.O.G.” As a consequence, only a small group of players have complained that shooting down enemies with the same faces everlastingly can get boring at times because only a small set of enemy skins were developed in the game, though, this didn’t wasn’t a big deal at all for me. The game actually turns out to be quite difficult with all of the unexpected events throughout the single-player campaign storyline.

The length of the campaign seems appropriate and just about right for a plot like this. As a result, the game is very fun. It’s enough to keep the player from taking a break because of the bizarre “twists and turns” of the plot. Many players think that the game pushes the “borders of good taste.” On the other hand, what I like the most about Black Ops is that I can easily get the sense of what the characters feel throughout the campaign.

Graphics & Sound

The graphics in Black Ops seems to be based on the World at War engine, but with the exception of upgraded effects, shadows, and lighting done extremely well. The weapons look a bit exaggerated in the manner of a cartoon. The graphics look crisp and smooth overall. What I really like is that Treyarch really made the character details, such as visible sweat, highly realistic. Another thing that is introduced in Black Ops is a brilliant 3D feature.

The weapons sound pretty good but they seem less diverse all together. The lip synchronization is almost perfect, but it isn’t a big deal at all as the voice acting brings the characters to life extremely well. The sound effects played throughout the game sound great.


Multiplayer is, by far, the most popular attribute of the Call of Duty series. Many may not know it, but Black Ops has broken many five-day sale records. With that said, one can think about the millions of people playing online at this very moment.

Black Ops keeps the tradition of gaining experience points and unlocking awards that have been introduced since Modern Warfare. What’s new in Black Ops are new ways to socialize and customize your classes through “Create-a-Class 2.0.” Almost everything is customizable from perks, clan tag writing, emblems, face paints, camouflage painting, attachments, and even reticles. Player models are reliant on the first tier perk instead of the weapon’s type. New killstreak awards have been introduced. One example of a new killstreak is the ability to have remote controlled explosive cars.

One new major feature that is brought into the Call of Duty world is the currency system. In order for the player to be able to buy weapons, clothing, and accessories the player must have a certain amount of “COD Points.” Players can gain a small amount of currency by playing the normal playlists. Not just that, the player can gamble by playing special free-for-all game type based “wager matches.” Players can purchase “contracts” to gain more currency and experience points as well.

For the console releases of Black Ops, players may hook up another controller and play together online on a split-screen, similar to the feature introduced in Call of Duty 3. The other player can rank up as the main player does, but the player’s rank will be reset after each sign out. Only on Xbox 360, split-screen players who want to save their rank must have a Xbox Live Gold account. For PC gamers, Treyarch brings back the use of dedicated servers. Zombies mode, a feature that many players since World at War have loved and commonly referred to as Nazi Zombies, is back and the maps that came with Nazi Zombies from World at War are included as well as an extra map called “Five.” Another interesting feature that is also introduced in Black Ops is the “Combat Training” mode which specifically enables the player to play against AI opponents alone or with friends. In addition, Black Ops brings forth a new feature called “Theater Mode,” similar to the theater mode found in Halo 3 and Halo: Reach.

When Black Ops was released, there were many large problems that needed to be resolved. Today, many of those problems, such as menu screens taking a long time to load and lag, have been patched. One problem that I’ve noticed while playing multiplayer is that the hit registration didn’t quite work so well. For example, whenever I would shoot someone I seemed to get killed first, and contrary to what I expected, it didn’t show up in the kill camera playback at all, meaning that my shots weren’t even registered, even if I had full green bars. The essence of this problem also applies to knifing as the game won’t always accept that either. Another problem that I’ve noticed is that the spawn points for multiplayer are chaotic. For instance, other enemy players would be spawning right around the corner.


Call of Duty: Black Ops appeals to a large audience who like to shoot down enemies and want to enjoy a unique kind of first-person shooter game, as well as those who want to move on from other first-person shooters. If you are someone new to the Call of Duty series, then definitely try out Black Ops. If you are a player wanting to switch from Modern Warfare 2, then Black Ops might take a while to get used to, as the game requires you to change your style of play to a certain extent.

While the multiplayer might not seem perfect to the masses with its ups-and-downs, it’s good enough even though the game is unforgiving at times. Black Ops has upped the class when it comes to a balanced Call of Duty game. I think that the multiplayer will hold up to its purpose for quite a long time.

The game has truly ranked up the charts. I think it’s a great game. Treyarch has hit the spot with a storyline which proves to be interesting and suspenseful, yet fun at the same time. The graphics and sound effects are pretty adept. Call of Duty: Black Ops will give many first-person shooter players a good reason to get their wallets out.

About the Author

Austin is the founder and owner of Game Byline, a casual gamer, and a software developer.