Last year’s Advanced Warfare really surpassed my expectations and I genuinely considered it to be one of my favourite releases of 2014. I was eagerly anticipating the release of Black Ops 3, believing it to follow in the footsteps, or EXO suit exhaust clouds, to create an exciting, chaotic and claustrophobic online experience similar to the likes of Quake and Unreal Tournament that I enjoyed so much in my youth. But it seems I was asking for too much. In an almost desperate attempt to be new and original, Treyarch have created a game unlike any other Call of Duty that we’ve seen before, so much so that gamers may as well play a different and much better franchise. Jeff Goldblum’s involvement is the only thing that makes it worth investigating.
Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 is the latest release of the annual FPS series that will no doubt appear in every 8 year olds Christmas stocking this year. Black Ops is perhaps the franchise’s most popular and successful sub-series, with its focus primarily locked onto conspiracy, the paranormal and the unknown, and it returns on all major consoles and even last generation machines without the single player campaign. Speaking of said campaign, in Black Ops 3 you control yet another bloke, a shell of a man exhausted of all personality and likeable characteristics, or you can play as a woman … YES A WOMAN!!!; however unlike RPGs that give you the same option she won’t be a bitchy nor sexy alternative that’ll seduce her enemies into giving her what she wants, damn Dragon Age: Inquisition was awesome. In this latest outing, you’re on a fairly standard mission of killing robots (if you can truly kill something that doesn’t live) and rebellious armies, until your captain buggers off without you and a robot tears bother your armies off, oh and your leggies, turning you into a less human Robocop. Along with your fellow Brobocops, you must uncover a string of merciless killings that are all linked to your seemingly loyal team mates and put an end to the wave of robots that appear to be coming from everywhere. As well as your typical lacklustre campaign mode, a Call of Duty game wouldn’t be a Call of Duty game without its Zombies and multiplayer modes that come back with a bang, where the latter comes back with more of a bang and a massive crash. It’s definitely the most crammed and packed Call of Duty yet, but are any of its many features actually any good? Not really no.
Say what you will about my obvious dislike of the Call of Duty franchise but I have actually owned and enjoyed the previous Black Ops titles. The original Black Ops game was the first to feature a genuine narrative, a tale of brainwashed operatives assigned to assassinate the world’s political powers. They were never going to win awards for their storytelling, but Treyarch did well in creating a narrative that was intriguing and unusual, not so much with Black Ops 2 but it did follow the same pattern, unexplained activity and the not knowing whether the protagonist is a lunatic or not. Black Ops 3 is just another Call of Duty title with no ties what so ever with the games that have come before it. The campaign is just as boring and soulless as I’ve come to expect from the franchise, granted it’s not the reason why so many people buy the games, but if you’re not going to try and create an immersive and enjoyable single player experience then why bother making it in the first place. Featuring a cast of your typical unrelatable, unlikeable and wooden soldiers, Black Ops 3’s campaign mode is an incredibly painful chore to complete. Opposed to just shooting soldiers in the face and tossing in a few grenades, you are also equipped with special powers, or cores, thanks to your DNI system, a piece of kit capable of taking out enemies and turning the battlefield to your advantage. These abilities can range from giving your enemies headaches to put them off, exploding turrets and robots or sending out a troupe of nanomachines that gradually peck your combatants lips off; sure it adds in a new way to play and traverse the field, but honestly it’s like polishing a turd. Despite how mind numbing the campaign is, you can actually inject a little fun into it by playing alongside up to 3 friends online, which is a series first; sure it adds in a new way to play and traverse the field, but honestly it’s like throwing glitter onto a dead body. Advanced Warfare featured a similar storyline, however what last year’s title had was pace, it was fast, action packed and full of explosions stolen from Michael Bay’s personal collection, whereas Black Ops 3 is sluggish and about as much fun as walking through fire.
Online multiplayer, the only reason Call of Duty hasn’t died, because as long as there are gullible children this franchise will continue to sell. Instead of taking a formula that works and doing everything in their power to improve it year upon year to make the most immersive and successful multiplayer experience yet, Treyarch have decided to think outside of the box and produce a ‘fresh’ and new way to play, which ultimately doesn’t add anything fresh or new to the franchise. For the first time ever you actually select a ‘Specialist’, a soldier with an actual name and set of abilities to choose from, an offensive skill or a strategic power up that once activated aims to turn the battle in your favour. These abilities can only be activated when enough time has passed or an adequate amount of kills have been racked up, so for most of the match-up it’s just the bog standard Call of Duty match you’ve come to expect. Choosing which Specialist to play as isn’t a difficult task either seeing that only their abilities differ, stats remain the same and you won’t necessarily have an advantage on the battlefield, so just choose someone with a cool sounding name. The abilities themselves, once you get to activate them, can be pretty cool and useful, like a temporary reflective skin, heightened senses or the ability to leap onto an unsuspecting terrorist with a set of devastating buzz saw/knife/hammer things. They do in all honesty provide something different and give you a good opportunity to spice up the course of battle, however they can be very difficult to pull off unless you’re incredibly skilled or extremely lucky; who am I kidding, there’s no skill involved. Black Ops 3 claims to produce maps that complement the game’s new playing style, traversing smoothly across the battlefield in, and I quote, “…a new momentum based chained movement system, allowing players to fluidly move through the environment with finesse…” Yean I suppose I can agree with this, but basically it just means that a few walls have been popped into the map that allow you to wall run and attempt to shoot on target. Each map is hugely different from one another but that’s as far as I can complement this ‘new’ multiplayer experience, as fundamentally it is exactly the same online experience I’ve played countless times before that is nowhere near as fun and action packed as last year’s release.
The only redeemable feature in Black Ops 3 is this year’s new and improved Zombies mode, which actually is new and improved with a much needed injection of character and personality. This year’s zombies mode takes place in Morg City, a 1940s inspired city that has been overrun by the undead to somewhat teach the city’s most notorious villains a lesson. Stepping into the shoes of one of 4 dastardly protagonists, the femme fatale, the cop, the boxer or the Jeff Goldblum, sorry the magician, you must survive the endless waves of zombie infestation and uncover the real reason why you have been brought here to pay for your sins. Aside from The Magician, each character provides a particularly generic style of character to their roles, whereas Jeff’s eccentric and baffling involvement in the franchise is hilarious and enjoyable. Morg City itself is gorgeous and full of character, which is the only thing that separates this game from its predecessors who up until this point have featured generic and overused locations. You can also try and tackle the mode on your lonesome, however it does generally offer a much more difficult and lengthy play-through which quickly becomes boring. Underneath the glitz and glamour the Zombie’s mode essentially follows the same format, rack up enough cash to purchase new weapons and power ups, but it’s the mode’s setting and atmosphere that makes this the most enjoyable Zombie experience to date.
My biggest issue with Black Ops 3 is its marketing. It promises so much to its players, so many new features that make it THE Call of Duty you’ve been waiting for, however underneath all the PR bull it is still disappointingly the same game you’ve played year after year. The single player campaign is incredibly dull and difficult to sit through that sadly doesn’t follow the same narrative or themes as the past 2 Black Ops titles did, which makes me wonder why they bothered calling it what they did. The multiplayer does actually add in a couple of new features, however they only make up a small percentage of each match and fundamentally it still plays exactly the same way as it did before. Zombies is ironically a much more fresh interpretation on the now cult sub series that is once again fun to play due to its undeniable character and eccentric setting. On the website they feature a quote from IGN which states “The biggest and most feature packed Call of Duty to date”, which isn’t a compliment but more of an observation, and if that’s their way of measuring how successful their game is then who am I to deny them of this fact. Congratulations.
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.