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on November 10, 2010
Want to know the word that sums this game up in a nutshell? I'll give it to you: Stutter.

I have a fairly midrange system consisting of an AMD X2 7750BE, Radeon 4850, and 4 gigs of RAM. Since my PC exceeds the recommended system requirements, one would assume that I would be able to run the game. Not a chance. Both the singleplayer and multiplayer aspects of the game are COMPLETELY DOMINATED by stutter, regardless of the fact that I've either turned down or turned off every imaginable graphics setting to alleviate the problem.

Confused about what stutter is? Imagine watching a movie and having it freeze for a half second every three seconds. The movie plays as smooth as silk; it just freezes a little every three seconds. Would be frustrating, wouldn't it? You'd probably get a headache around five minutes; maybe leave the movie after ten, wouldn't you? Well, imagine purchasing this game and playing it. That's what's gonna happen to you. Constant, constant stuttering to the point you want to wring the neck of whoever was in charge of QA at Treyarch.

Really, it's obvious that the team at Treyarch does not care about the PC demographic, because I find it hard to believe that such a fundamental problem would get past quality control. Maybe they don't even have quality control for their PC ports.

Think it's just me and every other idiot writing a 1-star review? Google "black ops stutter". You'll stand corrected.

I already bought the game, and now I'm...meh, "paying" for it. Don't be an idiot like me. Be an informed and smart consumer; do not purchase this game unless you enjoy playing half-baked, stutter-strewn videogames that don't deserve to be put on the market.

EDIT ON 11/14/2010

OK, I've bumped this game up to three stars from one because, as other people have noted both in comments and other reviews, Treyarch released a patch on Thursday that DID fix the stuttering problem.

And because the stuttering was fixed, I have had the opportunity to play through both multilplayer and singleplayer and can safely say that there is a phenomenal game that is buried underneath a myriad of technical problems (more, unfortunately, on that later). I don't want to dedicate a large portion of this edit to a review of everything the game has gotten right simply because such reviews already exist. I will say this though: This game has either met or exceeded the standards set by past shining entries of the Call of Duty franchise from a cinematic, gameplay, and narrative perspective.

However, from a technical standpoint, the game is still an utter failure. While playing through singleplayer, I made it a point to enable a value in my configuration file that allowed me to measure the amount of Frames Per Second (fps) my computer was rendering. For the people that don't know what fps is, fps is a measurement of how smoothly the game is running (laymen's explanation). A low fps means that the game will run more choppy, whereas a high fps means that the game will run more smoother. Anything below 30 is considered unplayable, anything around 30 is considered barely playable, and anything near or above to 60 is considered quite smooth.

With those definitions in mind, throughout the entire singleplayer campaign, my fps never exceeded 60, and it often dropped below 30, particularly when it mattered most: in firefights and heavy action sequences. If I were to give a range, it would be about 25-45.

It was very frustrating. I found myself aiming from the hip because I couldn't track targets correctly aimed down the sight, and hanging back rather than rushing into the action. There were times where there was a really cool cinematic event that was flat-out ruined by the fact that the game was running like a slideshow. And as with the stuttering problem, I encountered low fps regardless of my graphical settings. I tested on three levels what I'm about to say: There was no discernible gain or loss of fps between two sets of settings of 16x AA, 16x AF, and a 1920x1080 resolution, and 0x AA, 0x AF, and an 800x600 resolution. This is on a PC that can run any other Call of Duty game at over 100 fps.

These fps problems carry into multiplayer as well, the part of the game where its absolutely vital to have over 60fps. Since this part of the review is, I must confess, absolutely heartbreaking for me (I played cod4 professionally), permit me to sum it up with one statement: Unless you have a high-range machine, you'll always be playing at around 30-40 fps. For me, at least, that is unacceptable.

Amazon defines a 3 star review of a product as one that is simply "OK". Nearly everything about the game is fantastic; the intriguing narrative, the cinematic feel, the tight feeling of the controls, and the improved multilayer, among other things. Yet, despite all of the awesome elements of this game, the problems with low fps served to consistently shatter the fantasy, turning a heart-racing, breathtaking global trot into a walk that was simply OK.
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on November 10, 2010
I wish, oh boy do I wish, that there was a way to flag this review with 0 stars. Yes. It sucks that much.

As a computer programmer, I know how important it is to make a first impression with your project. Whoever approved this game for launch should be fire immediately. I mean that.

The lagging. The pausing. The crashing. The . . everything technical about this game just sucks. I'm at a complete loss at how this game was approved for release. Maybe after one or two patches have been released it may be playable, but now, no way.

Save your money and wait. If you don't believe me, Google "call of duty black ops PC issues" and be prepared to read a lot.
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on November 10, 2010
If you wander to Activision's Support website it seems that their #1 reply to problems is that even though there are "Minimal System Requirements", many of our systems are TOO GOOD for Black Ops.

Most of the suggestions are to TURN EVERYTHING DOWN. I was almost expecting to see the suggestion to use a monochrome monitor! We're told to cut down screen resolution size, turn off textures, cut down sound rates and more ... wow!

For now, SAVE your $60.00 and wait until they get this stuff FIXED or just pass on this title to tell Activision we are not just open wallets. If I would have beta tested this game or played a demo, I would not have purchased it.

Here is what I've seen so far:

I finished the single player in about 5 hours ... all run-n-gun with zero tactics. You never get to enjoy what there is of the map graphics and are constantly blinded by the white screen flashes between game sequences. You do get to pilot a boat and copter, while the SR77 flight is ... is ... ah, useless? I agree with a few other reviews in that the AI is STUPID.


- LAG LAG LAG, Stutter~Stop, and more issues. Activate the in-game Lagometer and you will see in the lower green bar (not giving all the technical terms here) the lost and fragmented packets ... red can be stated as "lost" or like an interrupted connection, yellow = fragmented or incomplete. I monitored the packets using tools I have and they are a MESS. That green bar should be as fast, skinny, and steady as possible. No spikes, surges, or color changes.
- CPU Load in ALL cores of over 70+% (completely inefficient on my overclocked AMD Phenom II X4) with it sometimes loading all cores to 100% and minimal GPU load at all. (plus the game is not properly coded for multi-GPU)
- HACKS HACKS and MORE %$#*&@# HACKS already! People are already claiming they hack because the game sucks, or that they do so to offset the lag. The usual excuses on an FPS where the developer and all their claims to creating a cheat-free game are LIES!
- Graphics are OK (if you like games prior to Modern Warfare 2, and NOT the quality of detail from say a developer like Crytek), but no better (or possibly worse in many areas) than MW2. I expected something at least as good as Far Cry or Crysis graphics with explosions and such doing residual damage, not just new maps on top of old code (OK, yes they did tweak the code for multi-core CPUs). Even the bullet holes, fire (flames), and the movable objects (cans, tires, etc) are better in MW2 ... and I'm VERY surprised by that! The big explosions are in the advertising videos and not actual game-play.
- I have NO clue what is up with their range on Mouse Sensitivity .... but it is screwed up. I have to have it nearly OFF or the mouse rate is insane.
- Frame Rate (FPS) cap is at 60 FPS !?! ... As you may or may not know, MW2 is capped at 90 FPS, and with say CoD4 I was able through tweaks and configurations setting to achieve 400-500 FPS average. I have not been able to get beyond 80 FPS bursts with this game, usually hovering at 70-75 FPS, and it shows negatively in the smoothness of game play. That includes a variety of tweaks and testing to even get 80 FPS!
- Your own footsteps sound like someone is walking behind you and that they are not your own steps. A good 5.1 digital head set and you can hear how bad it really is.

By news reports there are changes being applied at the server level, but so far nothing at the PC client. Treyarch and Activision, ... can I have my $60 back now please, consider it a deposit for Beta testing your work? Maybe you can get a commission from the jerks selling the game hacks for your titles to make up for refunding me? You are FORCED to go through Steam, and dedicated servers are contracted ONLY with Gameservers. Steam claims to remove cheaters, but I've yet to see them ever ban an account for cheating (other than those that were banned mistakenly).

Above is the short list of issues ... you have a $60 expansion pack to MW2 with dedicated servers and horrendous, surging lag, and already an infestation of hackers.

I agree with other reviews that I expected a MUCH BETTER game from Treyarch. STAY AWAY until these greedy developers and merchandisers (publishers) provide something of quality again.
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on November 10, 2010
Besides the other dealbreaker issues of lag, retro 1990's graphics, bad animations.. The WORST dealbreaker IMO is the maps are Clearly MADE for a console NOT PC! The maps are very very small with very dense narrow shooting lanes to create a labyrinth wackamole claustrophobic feel. This is done by the devs. on purpose to cater to console thumb-stick controllers. Enemies that are CLOSE up and in a narrow field of vision are easier to see and hit with a thumbcontroller. But this all comes at the expense of PC/Mouse users. There is no aiming involved or skill on the PC side. just be looking in the direction you are restricted to traveling and there is the enemy-click. Previous games like cod4 offered a fair balance in map size and design but Black OP's is 100% made for a thumbstick in your face TV venue.
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on November 10, 2010
UPDATE2 - More patches (Why doesn't Treyarch / Steam even ask to install updates?) and this game is finally starting living up to it's potential. Still has major bugs in the server browser and frequent server-side crashes don't help.

UPDATE - I have added a star after a patch and some tweaking. The game is still buggy, but playable. I really hate spending $60. to be a beta tester. This game has tremendous potential that is being crushed by technical fumbles.

I thought I was alone - I installed BO and was disappointed in the graphics (they look like something from a cheesy arcade) the game play, and most especially in the function. I exceed minimum specs and at best, play was choppy and at worst, unplayable. What once was a great franchise has been turned into an after-thought by developers looking to make their fortunes on consoles.

PC gamers are now officially second-class citizens.
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on November 10, 2010
Dont waste your money!!!
Modern Warfare 2 was a win, but this is NOT.

If you are fortunate enough to get on a server,
you might be able to play...seriously!!

When you try to connect to a server the game freezes,
and may even crash your computer!!

If it does start, there is a lot of lag, and
you will not be able to control the mouse or your keyboard.

You are guaranteed to stop playing from frustration!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The maps and the models are beautiful, but the game play is a pure DISASTER!

Look for patch after patch to fix this expensive OVER-RATED GAME.
With all the hype, you would think it would have been better tested before its release.

1 star, and I am being generous
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on November 13, 2010
Call of Duty: Black Ops is a poor attempt to keep up with Modern Warfare 2. While the graphics are quite nice they far from make up from the massive amount of problems with the rest of the game. If you're looking to buy this for PC I would highly recommend not wasting your money until Treyarch learns how to properly make a good game.

For starters the multiplayer system is very very poorly designed. It is far from a polished product like MW2 or other games of this caliber. The menu system is extremely clunky and has far to many steps for simple things such as joining a game, adding friends, choosing game types, etc. All of which MW2 made extremely simple. The server browser is a nice option but shouldn't be the only option. There is an option to join a Ranked game but it randomly chucks you into whatever if feels like. The wager match option is the same way, it gives you zero control as to what wager game type you play. As a result you have to deal with the server browser and search for a specific game type.

The friends systems is a huge flop as well. Not only are there too many steps for something that should be extremely simple, but there is no way to create a party. So you have to individually invite all of your friends onto the server.

Gameplay itself in multiplayer is extremely laggy, even with their latest patch which was supposed to sort the lag issues. I can't even properly review the multiplayer experience as every game has lagged so hard I've spent more time staring at a stalled screen than fighting.

Even on the art side there is plenty to complain about. While the models and environments are nice, the UI and menus look like garbage. As an artist I can safely say I would be embarrassed to have my name on a product like this.

Simply put, the multiplayer experience was a huge waste of time. Considering Black Ops is a $60.00 game, with a 6 hour single player the multiplayer is what you're paying for. With that in mind, after TRYING to play the multiplayer, you leave the game feeling as though Treyarch stole your money for an exceptionally crappy game. You might as well spend your money elsewhere as this game is a not worth $20.00.
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on November 11, 2010
At the moment this game is pretty much unplayable for most people. Activison and Treyarch must have known that the PC version had major issues but released it anyways. This is another example of a console game ported that wasn't optimized for the PC. Now, we have to wait for patches to come out while the consoles gamers can play without any problems on day one. This tells us how much Activision and Treyarch gives a crap about the PC community now. I am not going to buy another COD until they start supporting the PC community again.
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on November 15, 2010
This series died after Call of Duty 4. That was the start of a downhill battle that the devs waged against their loyal fans and continues with call of duty black ops. To be fair, Infinity Ward, the original creators of the series made three really amazing PC shooters in the WWII genre. Skill was required, the fan base was full of people who had to, and were willing to buy a powerful PC to gain the full experience, but we were willing to do it because the games they put out were top notch. Some years ago Activision took the axe to Infinity Ward and caused the original creators to abandon the series that they perfected and their loyal fans had made so popular. When it became more profitable to focus this popular series on the consoles, that is exactly what they did. This was a huge slap in the face to all the PC gamers who have played the series since Call of Duty, which was orignially a PC exclusive. All the fame and fortune this brand now produces has created a degrading quality of game for the PC gamers that STARTED this series on it's rise to fame. PC game developers really need to look at this series and see how many PC gamers are willing to NOT buy these games anymore. Hollywood started making money and largely stopped making art. Let's not let the mighty dollar kill the great experience of PC gaming. People are spending thousands of dollars on their rigs, and yes it is a smaller market than consoles, but these people are LOYAL and can APPRECIATE good games. If you make good games for a fair price, people will have no problem buying them. Unfortunately Call of Duty: Black Ops is just another example of the stranglehold these big greedy corporations currently have on the gaming industry. Looks like i'll still be sticking with Valve and the few small game creators that are still making great games at affordable prices for the dedicated, and loyal PC gamers that still exist. We will not pay for games that are dumbed-down, over-priced, and under developed. The amazon reviews like mine make this pretty clear. Don't let the greedy corporations sell you garbage like this, if we demand games that have a learning curve that gives a high reward for success, and not just simple games for the masses, then they will deliver.
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on November 10, 2010
Have had the game for 2 weeks now & have yet to play one frame. Haven't even seen the Activision logo. All I get is a black loading screen. Nothing else. Complete & total waste of money. Massive fail.
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