E3 2010: How Call of Duty: Black Ops improves on Modern Warfare

General gamer consensus seems to be that developer Infinity Ward makes the "real" Call of Duty games, having originated the series to begin with, while developer Treyarch makes the "other" Call of Duty games. Based on what I just witnessed at publisher Activision's E3 booth, however, that rule might be changing. A half-hour and two levels of Call of Duty: Black Ops were enough to convince me that the benchwarmer is now fully capable of outshining the superstar. At least in these four ways…

Remember the AC-130 gunship from the first Modern Warfare, in which you rained death upon tiny enemy blips through a grainy night vision targeting screen? In Black Ops, you'll put on a 1960s-era astronaut suit, jump into an SR-71 Blackbird and launch into an outer orbit that might as well be outer space. Then you'll actually direct those little white dots on, helping them avoid enemy patrols from 80,000 feet above the Earth.

Remember the stealth missions in Modern Warfare, in which you crawled painstakingly along the ground, sniping enemies from between blades of gray grass? During the same Black Ops mission described above – "WMD" – you'll switch perspectives and control a man on the ground, slithering stealthily through the snow as patrols walk by unaware. Only in this game, when you're ready to announce your presence, you do so with a scoped crossbow that sends bodies hurtling through the air. Or, if you choose the explosive arrows, marks them with a blinking green dot… which, after a few dramatic seconds, blasts them into bloody smithereens.

Remember rappelling down a dusty cliff in Modern Warfare 2, or leaping wildly across that frozen chasm? In the Black Ops E3 demo, I watched as the Treyarch developers rappelled down the side of a building, then kicked through the windows in slow-motion, shooting the waiting worker's faces before the glass had even fallen to the ground. And when the Black Ops protagonist hurtled off a ledge, there was no Soap MacTavish to catch him… he began free-falling towards the ground, with the player controlling his dizzying, wind-whipped direction.

Finally, remember all those times you've jumped into a Call of Duty helicopter, then sat back and spammed the trigger button as your NPC pal did all the piloting? In Black Ops, calling "shotgun" is no longer your only option. My E3 demo ended in the jungles of Vietnam, with the protagonist using a grenade launcher to take out an enemy base. The goal: Steal the Hind helicopter inside. Once obtained, a friend lifts the bird into the sky, but immediately afterwards – in what will come as a shock to any unprepared Call of Duty fans – he hands the job over to you. Left analog moves the helicopter, while the right analog…

Well, the right analog unleashes hell. You're not just piloting – you're launching missiles at the same time. I watched as men, trees, rows of jeeps and entire villages were instantly transformed into echoing fireballs. As bridges were destroyed in individual pieces. As guerrilla caves built into cliffs were incinerated. And as the protagonist's helicopter was outnumbered by two enemy helicopters, and a rocket-streaked dogfight broke out in the middle of a tropical river ravine. One bad guy's bird went down, and our helicopter strafed through the resulting cloud of black smoke to surprise the second. And then the E3 demo ended, leaving me with a single thought: I won't automatically dismiss the "other" Call of Duty games again any time soon.

Jun 15, 2010


E3 E3 2010


  • CandiedJester - June 19, 2010 8:31 a.m.

    Well I am definitely sold. But I was sold when I found out it was by the same guys who made COD: WAW. Say what you will about it, but man do I love that game to DEATH. And I have put sooo many hours into it, it's the only multiplayer game where I know all the weapons and all the maps (also the only game I ever bought the map packs for), and it's also the ONLY game where you can play freaking awesome nazi zombies mode. (Which is the most BADASS GAME MODE EVER.) Modern warfare has never appealed to me as much. Yes they are excellent games and very polished and pretty and all that jazz, but they just aren't gritty enough for me. I don't know what it is. I have played maybe 10 minutes total of MWF2 and Slightly more COD4, but only because my friends played. Treyarch's COD games are so very underrated and I'm glad this game might change that. I am SOOOOOO excited for it! Yay for a new multiplayer game I can actually care about and willingly sink hours and hours of my life into and not feel like it was a waste of time. :D Also, I hope there's another zombie mode. I would die of excitement if there is!
  • GangsterJew92 - June 19, 2010 3:52 a.m.

    I've lost my interest in Call of Duty, I didn't like World at War (except for Nazi Zombies), and I hated Modern Warfare 2. Hopefully Treyarch can change my mind on the franchise.
  • CH3BURASHKA - June 16, 2010 7:03 a.m.

    As awesome as it looks, it's still just one of 'dem war shooters'. After eventful E3 conferences, I'm bored by them. Why shoot dudes when I can slice them in half with Raiden, or jump on them with Donkey Kong, or cut them up with Kratos? Seriously, the straight-forward shooter is getting stale, and 'amazing' setpieces aren't the answer: games like Bodycount and Bulletstorm are.
  • BoBaFett777 - June 16, 2010 6 a.m.

    Castro zombies ftw!
  • Spybreak8 - June 16, 2010 5:52 a.m.

    From what I saw from G4's Hands on with the game and talking with one of the devs is that they're going for that varied rollercoaster ride. I'm down with that, COD always keeps it entertaining while interesting like a Hollywood action movie.
  • Limbo - June 16, 2010 5:37 a.m.

    Black Ops looks very promising. I have never found anything wrong with the Treyarch CoD games, they are nearly the same as the Infinity Ward CoD's. I do agree with Smeggs though, the Modern Warfare games make you really feel like the gun you're firing packs a punch, while WaW's guns didn't give you that feel.
  • Smeggs - June 16, 2010 5 a.m.

    The only reason I dislike the CoD Treyarch games is that they must use some kind of different firing "system" than Infinity Ward because it feels like you aren't doing much when you fire a gun in those games. That's the reason I didn't much like World at War. I'm going to give this a try, obviously, but my hopes aren't very high for the amount of "fun" this game will provide me. To quote a guy on youtube. "I've played the best, Modern Warfare 2, and other stuff just feels lacking." That's the way I felt about Bad Company 2, if it weren't for the fact that it felt like I was firing air when I played that game I would have been able to enjoy it.
  • taterboob - June 16, 2010 3:55 a.m.

    At least it's not WWII anymore. Better have zombies.
  • elpurplemonkey - June 16, 2010 3:06 a.m.

    Black Ops looks very promising. Yes Infinity Ward makes the mind blowing COD games, but Treyarch is no slouch- their games may not be as good, but they are still damned fun.
  • derrderr420 - June 16, 2010 3:03 a.m.

    60's espionage is the only thing in console games from the sixties that works, warfare from the sixties works only on PC with only one exception, Conflict:Vietnam
  • RebornKusabi - June 16, 2010 2:54 a.m.

    I can't help but disagree with this sentiment, which is I just plain do not like Treyarch games. I didn't like 3, it's numerous offshoots or World at War so I unless this one comes out and completely blows away the Modern Warfare games, it's still just another offshoot to me. I have no allegiance to Infinity Ward... they just make far better games in my opinion.
  • gibbsy24 - June 16, 2010 2:39 a.m.

    I really don't want to continue to support Activision and their milking of the COD games, but damnit this looks too fun.
  • db1331 - June 16, 2010 2:15 a.m.

    Dedicated servers are dedicated.
  • HaitianSensation - June 16, 2010 2:05 a.m.

    I wasn't too thrilled with W@W. I thought it was a good game, enough to have multiple replays but didn't have those jaw-dropping moments like CoD 4. Now that looks like it won't be an issue. I was looking forward to the game before but now, I really can't wait. Another chance to feel like a bad-ass :)
  • CurryIsGood - June 16, 2010 1:57 a.m.

    Communist zombies??
  • BigTuna - June 16, 2010 1:45 a.m.

    I never understood the hate for the Treyarch CoD games. I've had fun with all of them and my friends who profess to have "hated" CoD:WaW are all 7th-8th prestiges who have played much more than me. It bothers me when people hop on the hate train just because its popular. Really looking forward to this!
  • Doctalen - June 16, 2010 1:43 a.m.

    Hmmm my opinion about Treyarch has shifted a little.
  • Cyberninja - June 16, 2010 1:31 a.m.

    sounds BA cant wait to try it for myself

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