Another year, another Call of Duty, this time with Black Ops – Cold War. After previous games in the Black Ops series have been shipped without a traditional singleplayer campaign, Activision is making quite a comeback with, hands down, one of the best campaigns I’ve played in the entirety of the Call of Duty franchise. Raven Software is in charge for this year’s campaign. The studio might be remembered for the highly underappreciated Singularity game, one that I had a lot of fun playing back in the day. It’s very difficult to innovate in a game with such a big history as Call of Duty. We’ve pretty much seen them all, from futuristic weapons to World Wars. Or have we?
Black Ops – Cold War introduces an interesting character customization that has a big impact on how the story unfolds. You’ll be able to choose your in-game gender, your psychological profile out of a total of 14 options, and perks. Perks include options like survivor, paranoid and more (if you can call being paranoid a perk). Based on your choices you’ll get higher accuracy, increased health, bullet damage, and so on.
The character customization screen won’t be the last place you’ll have to make decisions in the game. Most cutscenes in Call of Duty: Black Ops – Cold War will present you with multiple choices. This means that based on how you play the game, you’ll get one of multiple endings. If your first playthrough wasn’t satisfying enough, you can go back and replay some missions for a different result.
Since it looks like the game’s theme is choice, the developer has taken another step further down the line, giving you the option to play missions in different ways. You’ll be able to silently take down enemies or just go in guns blazing in most missions. If you decide to be thorough and search for clues, you’ll be able to use them to solve puzzles from the game’s side missions. While there’s not a lot of them available, they are still adding to the overall value of the game. They even complete the story with some interesting plot details that you won’t find if you rush through the game.
The warehouse is a hub of sorts, allowing you to visit between missions. This is a place where you can socialize more with your team or review objectives using the mission board. From there, you can replay any of the missions or get a closer look at the clues you’ve gathered.
These new elements made the game feel more complete and a lot more interesting. Unfortunately, they also bring one of the most annoying bugs I’ve seen in any Call of Duty games so far. Some of the cutscenes had a really bad audio delay, almost completely ruining the experience. The cutscenes are way more dynamic now, but they’re also broken. Sadly, the issue wasn’t fixed before I finished the campaign, but hopefully this will be addressed soon. It’s the only downside of an otherwise incredible single player experience.
It wouldn’t be a complete Call of Duty game if it didn’t feature a multiplayer mode. This time the multiplayer doesn’t feel like the star of the game. Don’t get me wrong, it’s at least as good as Modern Warfare was. With that in mind, it still lacks the innovation the developer brought to the campaign.
There are eight multiplayer maps out there now for “regular” modes, from which Miami and Moscow were my favorites. It’s not like they’re not all good, but some of them encourage camping more than others. One of the main examples is Armada, where you’ll get sniped almost instantly from other boats. There are two more maps available for the Fireteam mode, a new addition to the game. Four teams of ten players compete to try and complete certain objectives. The first mode available for Fireteam is Dirty Bomb, where players have to fill five dirty bombs with uranium before they can detonate them. It’s an interesting mode, but people don’t really play it correctly. Instead, they’re just gunning and killing randomly, but this problem will hopefully solve itself in time.
As I already mentioned in my preview of the game, the weapons roster is well balanced, even if it’s not that varied. As in previous titles, picking up a weapon and constantly playing it will level it up and will unlock customization options such as scopes, bigger bullet magazines, and more. Those that play on the PlayStation 5 will be able to enjoy the new DualSense haptic feedback features. Using the new controller, the triggers will feel different based on the gun players are using.
Zombies are back with three modes: 20 rounds, unlimited rounds, and Dead Ops. The first two are exactly what the name implies, both of them being featuring the same map, Die Maschine. Fans may recognize it as a remake of Nacht der Untoten , now getting a complete visual overhaul. The action is extremely intense and the map has a lot of layers you can uncover, with a lot of hidden areas as well. Unfortunately, compared to the previous game having four zombies maps at launch, Cold War seems a bit neglected. The gameplay is in essence the same, you kill endless waves of zombies, you get points and use them to buy weapons and upgrades. You can also buy skills using crystals you obtain by…well… killing zombies.
Overall it’s impressive how many experiences they have packed inside Call of Duty: Black Ops – Cold War. You get a full-fledged, amazing singleplayer campaign, a more than decent multiplayer, endless zombie fights, and a silly twin-stick shooter bundled together. Not all of them are perfect, but somehow it all still holds up pretty good. It now all depends on the free updates Treyarch is going to release in the future to make things even more appealing to the gamer.
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