BLOPS is back.
The annual new release of a Call of Duty game is something that highlights most gamers videogame calender, and rightly so. Whether you are a fan or not, there is no escaping the Call of Duty hype once that date comes around, and whether or not you agree with the annual releases, although using different developers does make it more bi-annual in all but name, the developers do make an effort to evolve and innovate the Call of Duty experience. The latest offering, Black Ops III from Treyarch, continues this trend with one of the biggest, and most feature packed, Call of Duty games in a while.
While many players while cast the single player mode aside in favour of the highly competitive multiplayer, there are still many, like myself, who wait eagerly for the next single player experience, as much as a refresher on how to play as to enjoy a gritty combat-infused story. Treyarch have pushed the single player envelope that bit further this year with a mode that will last most players in excess of 10 hours. That’s a fair chunk of single player gaming, and it doesn’t stop there. More on that further down.
However, this time around the single player story mode doesn’t have to be. Y’see, in showing a bit of love for the co-op gamers out there, be they online or sat together on the couch, Treyarch have managed to improve on the story by making it co-op for up to four players. Not only that, but the levels will apparently change to cater for the higher number of players.
Despite being able to play the story through with others, it still remains quite difficult to follow. Packed full of twists and turns, the story comes across as both confusing and convoluted. To be honest, I gave up trying to follow the narrative part way through and just did what I was told. But there is a lot going on here, and if you happen to like your Call of Duty with a bit of depth, then you may well enjoy the Black Ops III story.
A key point in the story is that the player, or players, have been augmented with all manner of robotic limbs and such, giving them an edge on the battlefield. In the game, this takes the form of different abilities assigned to three “Cyber Cores”. Each Cyber Core has seven abilities attached to it, ranging from simply moving quicker, to taking control of enemy robotics or launching a swarm of exploding insects. Before a mission begins, players are able to customise their load out of abilities, along with the various weapons or perks.
As you can tell, there are lots of options for how to play the story campaign. In fact, to get and see everything on offer, players will find themselves having to play through more than once.
And playing through more than once is exactly what Treyarch want you to do, with the inclusion of a new mode which becomes available on completing the story. Nightmares mode gives the player a new campaign to play through using the same levels as the story mode, but in a different order, and populating it with zombies. That is a bit of a bonus, whether you like zombies or not.
While we are on the subject of zombies, the infamous Zombie mode returns once again, with a new setting and new characters. Still incredibly difficult, to me anyway, players will once again co-operatively fight off waves of zombies while trying to solve puzzles. It is nothing especially different from the previous Zombie modes, but there are plenty of people who live for this mode and will be pleased for its inclusion.
With yet more content included, such as the twin-stick shooter Dead Ops, players will not be left wanting with Black Ops III. However, the main reason for many players to pick up a Call of Duty game, is the competitive multiplayer, and here Black Ops III once again shines.
All of the usual modes are present and correct, allowing players to jump into their favorite mode without any faffing around. But there are two big differences this year. The first is all to do with how you get around the impressive maps on offer. Just running around and shooting enemies is no longer enough. Now players will find themselves having to run along walls or leap massive distances, thanks to their new Cyber Rig, to even compete. Multiplayer matches seem much more fast paced than before, with players being able to move around at an incredible pace and attack from almost anywhere. It is a lot to get used to for the more considered Call of Duty player.
The other big change is the use of Specialists. There are nine different Specialists available, with more than half of them needing to be unlocked. Each Specialist comes with an ability or a special weapon, and the player will need to choose which they take before each match. Once a power meter is filled, the player can then make use of the ability or weapon, usually to devastating effect.
These Specialists are characters in themselves, each with their own personality, and bring some wildy ranging abilities to the match. For example, Ruin can either wield his explosive gravity spikes, or use the overdrive ability for a burst of speed, while Battery has a weapon that fires bouncing grenades or special armour that deflects bullets. The inclusion of these Specialists does change the game up quite a bit, leaving it feeling fresh and exciting.
Black Ops III certainly brings plenty of content and a fair few new ideas to the table. That being said, it is still a Call of Duty game and won’t win over any new fans. The multiplayer is, as always, compelling, which is kind of expected. The story mode is certainly expanded upon with the added length and the inclusion of co-op, but the narrative still stumbles more than once. Still, this year’s Call of Duty offering is great value for money and enjoyable to play, so remains an essential purchase for all CoD fans.