An amalgamation of all the games you love, in a game that desperately needed it.
In Call of Duty, anything can happen. That’s been clear as day, especially in the Black Ops sub-franchise. So, when I saw Black Ops III for the first time, I expect the most insane game to date. Turns out I wasn’t wrong. In the first mission, you fight a army of freakin’ robots. If that’s not insane on a base level, you and I need to have a talk.
Treyarch has set itself the highest bar imaginable with Black Ops III. Black Ops gave the Call of Duty franchise its best campaign since Modern Warfare, including radical twists and turns in an alternate history that you were engaged with from the word “go”. Black Ops II furthered this idea by revamping the way we played multiplayer, giving the player choices that give you a different story than your buddy Joe down the street, which led to an overall fine-tuned competitive game. Now, with Call of Duty: Black Ops III, Treyarch has just taken everything you love from other games such as Deus Ex, Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare and Titanfall, just to name a few.
This new version of Call of Duty‘s multiplayer experience begins promising, showcasing Black Ops III‘s new class system — Specialists. These dudes (and dudettes) are the baddest motherfuckers around and they know it. These “Specialists” also serve as your customizable soldier. Yes, you’re still confined to the traditional 10 slot loadout to spend on things like weapons, items and equipment–but Specialists add a certain level of nuance that several games try and fail at.
Each character carries a weapon or special ability that charge several times in the course of a match. It’s a “one or the other” case, because unlike the campaign, you can’t switch on the fly. The Outrider, for example, has a Sparrow compound bow, giving you exploding arrows you can use to turn the tide of battle. On the abilities side, she can use her Vision Pulse to reveal enemies lurking behind walls that gives you battle awareness, so anyone coming towards them, you can warn, which is something you don’t usually see in a Call of Duty game.
The Outrider is a perfect example of how well the Specialist system works in Black Ops III‘s multiplayer component. That contrast between the weapons and abilities–and the options they provide–leads to ever-changing scenarios that carry from match-to-match.
However, that quickly fades. Black Ops III gives you access to four Specialists, and upgrade options within each Specialist. By the time you get to the end of the Specialists, the abilities and weapons they provide just don’t feel like enough to keep you engaged and excited to keep grinding throughout the multiplayer to get that next weapon.
Call of Duty: Black Ops III provides some of the most well designed maps I’ve ever seen in a Call of Duty game. Each map has a myriad of sightlines, choke points, and differing options to get where you need to go. On top of this, the movement is just flawless. You can wall run across a bridge, slide away from the action, and effortlessly clamber over ledges. In short, Black Ops III is fluid and wonderful to play.
And then, there was Shadows of Evil. Black Ops III‘s new zombies mode has a really good map called Shadows of Evil. This map takes place in the 1940s, where Cthulhu creatures and portals are a normal thing. The four characters you play, acted by Jeff Goldblum, Ron Perlman, Heather Graham and Neal McDonough–showcase exactly what Call of Duty is about. It’s fun, hectic, and makes no sense.
The other map, Experimentation, is the most like “classic Zombies”. You and four of your best friends fight the Undead, while unlocking doors and Mystery Boxes. As per usual, be ready to get your ass handed to you, because this map is not fuckin’ around.
Zombies, all things considered, is a good way to get into Black Ops III. You feel accomplished at the end of every round and, as I’ve said countless times, it’s just plain fun.
What Treyarch forgot to mention, though, is that the zombies also shambled their way into your campaign. It’s called Nightmares, and it unlocks after you’ve beaten the story on any difficulty. Basically, take all the missions from the campaign, and add zombies to it, as well as a weird VO character that goes unidentified. As crazy as it sounds, it’s fun as hell. The pace is slowed, letting the story hit all of its dramatic notes. Oh, and this isn’t the same story. The game’s story now centers around a zombie infection, which if you ask me, makes more sense than the actual story.
The Campaign, on its own, is just awful. You barely use these new powers, and when you do, it’s the same old, same old, with you shooting enemies on the ground. After witnessing the effects of torture, which seems poised to be “the thing” in the Black Ops sub-franchise of Call of Duty, you soon begin with the slaughtering of nations. Along the way? Boring and stupid linear firefights.
The powers are what make this game great, but the thing is, you seldom get the opportunity to use them. You can control drones, blow them up, blind your enemies or rip out a robot’s CPU Indiana Jones-style. These powers would be great, if it didn’t rely on similar enemies and firefights throughout the length of the campaign. When you’re shooting the same enemies, you just get bored, which is surprising since Black Ops has generally been a sub-franchise that’s always had a stellar campaign.
Although you can play the campaign with friends, ala Halo 5: Guardians (shudder), its problems quadruple as a result. Instead of changing the gameplay to lend itself to teamwork and communication, Black Ops III just decides to say “Eh. Fuck it. Let’s just give you harder enemies.” The Warlord, a super-powerful enemy type, is enough to keep a man busy for a few minutes. Four? Well, fuck.
Black Ops III‘s story doesn’t support the campaign in any way. It tells a story that makes no sense, and while that’s mildly amusing at points, it wears thin real fast. Furthermore, I’m not entirely sure that this should’ve been Black Ops III. There’s no Woods or Mason here, the only link you remotely get is a passing mention of Black Ops II‘s Raul Menendez and a confronation with Dr.Salim.
So, don’t play the story. Skip straight to the multiplayer and zombies modes,and you’ll do just fine…for a few hours.