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BO's campaign is still the most interesting thing about the game. You play as a Black Ops assassin named Alex Mason through a series of flashbacks during a torture-interrogation by Unknown indivuals. The interrogators are seeking out Mason's apparent knowledge of "The Numbers", which Mason cannot remember. You experience the interrogations from Mason's POV, as he's reminded of events leading up to where he is now, and these flashbacks are where the gameplay takes place.
BO has the second best story of the series, after BO2- all of the main characters stand out from each other and are all wicked likable, thanks to the great writing and superb performances by the cast, including Sam Worthington as Mason, Gary Oldman as Reznov(reprising his role from WAW) and James C. Burns as Woods. Even Ice Cube does a good job as Bowman.
As with every COD, the missions are loaded with cinematic explosive set pieces. The series has been called the Micheal Bay of video games and that's not wrong- explosions at every corner, constant gunfire and the most impossible narrow escapes. The action is balanced and well paced thanks to the cutscenes and a few quieter stealthy sections. There are some gameplay variations as you get two helicopter sections, a boat section and a short RTS style section in one mission, but most of the the time will be spent on the ground with guns in hand. Plus it's a globe trotting adventure- you'll be going from Cube to a Russian labor camp to Vietnam to the rooftops of Kowloon to Soviet Missle silos etc. Each location looks amazing and the level design stays interesting throughout. The shooting action can get mind numbing a few times but thankfully the many cutscenes, above mentioned stealth and vehicle sections as well as the varied and great level design keeps the game from getting boring.
You have a large variety of weapons from the usual AK47 and M16 to the lesser used FAL and PM63. Each gun looks and sounds fantastic plus the shooting action itself is very satisfying. The gore and violence isn't as brutal as WAW but it's still a really violent game, especially during the Vietnam missions. The soundtrack also adds a lot to the game, including a few hit songs of the time as well as good original soundtrack as the background to your gameplay.
My complaints are basically the same I have with all COD games- unskippable in game cutscenes. The interrogation scenes were done with the game engine, and sometimes skipping them doesn't work. You can always skip the pre rendered video cutscenes but before and after a mission starts, you'll get first person dialogue and actions to start off the level before you get control. Sure when you first play you'll want to see them, but when you're replaying the missions for fun or on different difficulties it's annoying having to sit there and watch. They're super well motion captured and choreographed but being forced to view them even after beating the game is annoying. My other complaint is, as mentioned above, it can get mind numbing at times. I mean that may have been the intent, but it can take you out of the game for a sec. My last complaint is the main villain, who is pretty bland and underdeveloped. He's a stereotypical rogue Russian general from countless 80s action thrillers. He's said to be a horrible person, and is said to have powerful influence but when he's on screen he doesn't really do anything memorable to live up to his title as main villain. He does horrible stuff but he seems more evil off screen. Thankfully this was fixed in BO2, which definitely has the best villain of the series.
Overall, this is still one of the best of the series after all these years. Zombies is wicked fun and the multiplayer is great, giving the game what feels like endless replay value, but the single player is what the game is most well known for. Great gameplay, graphics, performances, story, level design and variety. BO2 did improve and is the better single player experience, but BO1 still set the groundwork for it. If you just want a great single player FPS experience, get this game. If you want great multiplayer and a game full of varied game modes and tons of replayability, et this game.
I originally rated it a FOUR stars, because of the functionality of the game on my pc. After a few installation hurdles, I got it working reasonably well on a Pentium D class computer with an Nvida GeForce 9800 graphics card, a cable TV internet connection, and by tweaking my settings via setting and the game console, all of which (as I originally wrote) gave me a fairly acceptable game play, notwithstanding the occasional hacker one often seems to encounter in game play.
I have NOW rated the game a ONE star because on several occasions, I've had all achievements, game statistics, ranks, perks, and optional weapons configurations WIPED completely clean. RESET, for no apparent reason other than confirmation via online posts in their forums of others having the same experience. After the first experienced, my previous stats were only PARTIALLY restored, and I had to earn the rest all over again.
And here's the clincher. Activision "Support", or more accurately, the LACK thereof. Attempts to login to your account (created when you install the game) brings up a message which reads, "Sorry, an unexpected error occurred". At the bottom of this screen reads "visit support" which loops you right back to the same screen.
They reference no contact phone number, or email. I obtained a number (310-255-2050) via an online number bank, and an automated message refers you to a website where you supposedly can get a ticket number for phone support. Only, that page brings you right back to that login page and you're cycled through the same error screens again.
Not worth the time or money.
All negativity aside, I did enjoy it very much. The graphics, even turned down, are great, I don't know what so many people are complaining about. The voice acting was very realistic, and I instantly recognized Ed Harris. I would say cut back on the swearing, as it is unnecessary, but it actually adds to the realism, since that kind of language exists in the service. What I liked most was the variety. In one mission, you are running down the streets of Cuba, fighting off dozens of soldiers, in another, you are sneaking around in stealth, slicing throats and planting explosives. There is zip lining, skydiving, and sniping, which I loved. And there is no shortages of vehicles to operate: Cars, boats, helicopters, even the radar in the SR-71.
Overall, I would recommend the game. I would say it's worth $30. I don't do multiplayer, so that doesn't factor in. Since I bought this, I have played Half Life 2 and its expansions. Despite being 8 years old, it's a much better game, but very different. I also played Sniper: Ghost Warrior, which is decent, but not enough to play again. I have played Black Ops 3 times, and I liked it each time. But it's not great. I might try another Call Of Duty sometime.
After upgrading from 4GB Ram to 8GB, this can run on maximum graphics very smoothly. But I don't use it as much now, since it isn't really all that replayable.