Activision and Treyarch (the developer) sent Call of Duty: Black Ops for the XBOX 360 and PlayStation 3 console systems to retailers on Nov. 9 and the game set a single-day sales record of $360 million. That's one reason why other publishers pushed back their own release dates so as to not go head-to-head with what could well be the biggest title of the year. The other reason? … The game is damn good.
For the uninitiated, Call of Duty is a first-person shooter that pushes the boundaries of the genre in terms of graphics, story and action. For those familiar with CoD, "Black Ops" raises the bar for the franchise and genre even higher.
The single-player campaign (5-6 hours on normal difficulty) tracks the story of Alex Mason, a top U.S. special ops soldier under interrogation by unseen captors. During this interrogation, Mason recounts—and gamers get to play out—excursions that feel like they could be real-world black ops missions: top-secret incursions that put personnel in places the public doesn't know about doing things the public doesn't want to know about. From the assassination attempt on Fidel Castro to the Soviet gulag (Mason travels the world), Mason is an integral part of the tale. But there is much more going on here, with overtones of The Manchurian Candidate resonating throughout the story arc.
The narrative for the single-player is terrific, whereas the options in multiplayer are stellar. As gamers play they earn CoD Points or CP (sort of a currency), which can be used to buy gear in multiplayer modes, buy MP contract missions or buy into wager matches. One MP mode is the Gun Game: players start with a pistol that upgrades with each kill.
The story could have been expanded and deeper, but what's here is quite good. The graphics are superb, and the multiplayer is incredibly robust and entertaining. All together, this is a game well worth playing and easily one of the top titles of 2010.