Forget your Modern Warfares, this year its time for Call of Duty, Black Ops : Cold War. What a mouthful, that said, you can’t go through Silly Season without a new CoD can you?
Its been a decade since Black Ops first joined the roster, opening ups that whole Treyarch vs Infity Ward fan service argument. Much like the even numbered Star Trek movies it all comes down to taste. Black Ops for me back in the day was a hot mess, the campaign tried too hard to be clever. Throwing hallucinations and reveals at you in artillery style, it didn’t really do it for my taste. Some of the action pieces were superb, a lot of the story elements were forgettable. That was a decade ago, we don’t talk about the things we did then.
Spin your wheels back up to this year, 2020.
Cold War has grown a lot in that time. In fact the Black Ops franchise has been all over time and space in the last ten years. Now we are back in a period that I half remember from my school days. A world without instant news, internet, social media. It was still a time where the innocents were ignorant, but under clandestine darkness the game was afoot.
Picking up some familiar characters the game takes an eighties turn on the darker side of espionage. All well and good, but some of the firefights encountered in the game would still have made the ‘limited’ news coverage of the time.
Something that has not aged well are the classic Call of Duty mechanics that still prevail. Most will know I’m no fan of a few of the regular settings that CoD throws at you. Black Ops : Cold War throws then all at you in the opening levels. Like chasing a plane down the runway with a parade of enemy doppelgänger vehicles hooning in one after another. We’re better than this.
Did you sign up to RPG maggot?
The otherwise short campaign does have some virtue in the decision to add RPG like objectives. Infiltrate an area, choose different options, don’t cause alarm, etc. I had forgotten how fun this could be, especially as it put me right back to Goldeneye or Perfect Dark. Ultimately the options are limited and you’ll generally end up in the same place, but its fun while it lasts. This method of choosing paths and objectives offers some replayability – especially in the hunt for a completionist. Having been through it once though, I’m not itching to play again.
The weapons are the tools of the trade and whilst not wholly accurate to the time, they do the job for this narrative theatre. Talking about theatre, Black Ops is known for trying to be a bit wacky. What may have seemed a great design idea, just comes off as third rate cinema and to be honest puts me off. Running through the same level over and over in a nightmarish hallucination does nothing but piss me off. The big reveal was telegraphed from the Titanic and there are no suspenders strong enough for my belief to be taken in.
Call of Duty, Black Ops : Cold War has online modes though, eh?
Look, it wouldn’t be CoD without multi. To be honest most stalwarts will give the campaign a cursory glance and get into the main course. It’s all there, to be honest the original Black ops had some of the most memorable online game for me. I remember playing through the night in between feeding my newborn son at weekends. The maps were good and the customisations were great, it was eta fun times before wall running and jetpacks got invented.
This Black Ops does exactly what it says on the tin. Being able to cross play other platforms is nice and lobby connections are good. I have had a couple of matches where the view bugged out, fixing the UI in place and blurring the screen. Other than that, its an easy way to while away some hours, fans will be happy to see Nuketown reimagined. I’m a stickler for Team Deathmatch where my high assists and poor K/D get camouflaged. Online won’t upset anybody if that’s what their here for.
Alongside the standard offering is the Zombies horde game. Something that’s never really bothered me and to be honest without a regular crew that you want to play with it’s not all there. I would if I could, but its not for me right now.
Call of Duty, Black Ops : Cold War tries hard, the campaign is short and effective. It really tries too hard in the mind bending nonsense, that isn’t worth etc effort. The online game is strong and is always nice to have parked on the hard drive for a twitchy couple of hours. Especially because we can uninstall parts of the game like the campaign. If only to make space for some enormous updates.
Lock, load and get back to eighties if that’s your thing.