Call of Duty: Black Ops super review

Treyarch almost step out of Infinity Ward's shadow

GamesRadar+ Verdict


  • +

    Coherent story to complement the action

  • +

    Wager modes in multiplayer

  • +

    Buckets of gore at every turn


  • -

    Sticks way too close to old ideas

  • -

    Weaker sense of impact with guns at times

  • -

    Hidden checkpoints are annoying

Why you can trust GamesRadar+ Our experts review games, movies and tech over countless hours, so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about our reviews policy.

A game of two halves. Now that’s a phrase that is more suited to sport rather than a First Person Shooter, but it’s exactly how I’d sum up my feelings about Call of Duty Black Ops single player campaign. The sit-rep of the review event sees me hunkered down ina hotel with twenty or so other reviewers, which means wehad theideal environment where wecould share our opinions with each otherover lunch, booze or while spooning each other into the night.

Once in my room, free to play alone in my pants, I played the initial half or so of Treyarch’s first non-World War 2 CoD on absolute auto-pilot. A slo-mo breach here, a Vietnam bunker run there and I’m back in familiar territory and still waiting to be blown away. The chance to finally show the world that they can make a compelling almost modern FPS was being pissed into the wind.

Above: "Yo, Soap, wait up! We gotta get to theski-doos". "Wait, what?This ISN'T the same game?"

Devices found in Modern Warfare 1 and 2 weren’t only being replicated but they were being done with such frequency that any impact lost all meaning. Fuck sakes, Treyarch “THIS IS SUPPOSED TO BE YOUR BIG MOMENT” I shouted into the ether. But as the preamble unsubtly suggests, the second half finds its feet and suddenly Black Ops is amaze.

Idon’t want to ruin the impact of certain missions, but after being plonked into a Vietnamese river for a blast of a mission with a shit-ton of carnage I immediately rang a fellow reviewer to share in my excitement. We both agreed it was a beautiful touch and the start of a turnaround. Boo-yah!

Above: The guy with the itchy trigger finger is Woods, Alex Mason's buddy and chief hater of Vietnamese troops.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. What you want to know is whether Black Ops is better than Modern Warfare 2, right? Well,unhelpfully it is and it isn’t. The story – for my money – is better told here than in either Modern Warfare. You’re Alex Mason - aCold War operative who's been capturedby some mysterious groupand isbeing tortured/interrogated while strapped to a chair and plugged with enough volts of electricity to light up a small village.As a nice touch,thisarea provides thehub for the entire game.

Who are the shadowysilhouettesbarking at you and what is Nova 6? What does that mysterious number sequence being repeated over and over again mean? And why can’t we discuss this over a nice cup of tea rather than syringes full of truth serum? All is revealed in time as each mission is played out in the form of flashbacks.

Although the plot is more compelling in Black Ops, if we had to pick certain key characters out of a line-up we’d struggle…

Above: OK, maybe one stands out in this line-up. But the cookie-cutter characters are disappointing

They’re not as memorable or compelling as Soap or Captain Price from Modern Warfare and their contributions just act as another sound amid the rampant gun-fire. Cameos from Fidel Castro, President Kennedy and Viktor Reznov – the vodka soaked Russian from World at War – help to add spice to the story though.

Black Ops plays outover 15 missions that take you from an assault on a stronghold in Cuba throughVietnamese towns and jungles and even a quick soiree in the Pentagon. Each levelfeels significantly different to the last which ensures a fresharea to conduct mass murder as you progress.

Above: Not only a campaign setting, but this epic stage is also home to a multiplayer map too.

Click over to the next page for vehicles, weapons and getting lost

More info

DescriptionWith the hype and excitement surrounding Treyarch's first Call of Duty where they aren't bound by a World War II setting, it's a shame that they went for more of the same MW2. This isn't say it's poor but personally I feel they've missed an opportunity to really stamp their authority with Black Ops. Still, as a complete package with a great story, strong FPS action and a killer multiplayer mode, Black Ops remains unmissable.
Franchise nameCall of Duty
UK franchise nameCall Of Duty
Platform"PC","PS3","Xbox 360","Wii","DS"
US censor rating"Mature","Mature","Mature","Mature","Mature"
UK censor rating"18+","18+","18+","18+","18+"
Release date1 January 1970 (US), 1 January 1970 (UK)
Nathan Irvine
Hi, I’m Nathan. You may remember me from such websites as, erm, this one circa 2011. Been hustling in games for over a decade and write for Official PlayStation, Official Xbox, Gamesmaster and more.