E3 2010: Call of Duty: Black Ops (Impressions)

by: John -
Treyarch’s got a big job ahead of them in trying to continue the Call of Duty series and make a good follow up of Modern Warfare 2. Call of Duty: Black Ops certainly has me intrigued from what I saw in the demo though at Activision.

The one thing that Treyarch wanted to make sure we know about is that they are looking to make the gameplay diverse. Now, I’m sure many of you have seen the hind scenario whereby you capture an enemy hind and unleash hell in Laos. The Activision demo showed that as well albeit a little longer. The development team started out making it a rail based shooter but as they went along, they decided to give the control to the player on how to fly the hind making it a more engrossing experience.

You can’t control the elevation of the hind but you can do the rest. It’s a pretty good decision in my opinion as it’s frantic enough trying to fly forward, back, left and right dodging enemy gunfire and shooting your own. Giving the player ability to rise and fall would’ve been too much to handle.

So the new sequence shown was a mission where you start out in an SR-71 Blackbird. Here’s where the diverse nature of the game was shown. You take off and then go to a screen that shows the top down view of the battlefield and your squad. Like the AC 130 sequence in Modern Warfare, you’ll see the thermal images of any people or vehicles in the area. Unlike the sequence in the previous game though, you are tasked to direct the four soldiers to a safe area and trying to avoid being discovered by an enemy. So here, you have sort of an RTS type mini-game to break up the FPS action.

Once you get to a specific spot, the camera pans down to one of the soldiers and you’re now back in first person mode. The crossbow used showed off the ability to switch between various ammo types as ones with explosive tips were used during a sequence while regular bolts were used in another.

I asked Treyarch what improvements have been made to the engine. Some of the normal things such as a bump in texture detail and improvements into the streaming technology brought forth by Modern Warfare 2 were mentioned. The other is the motion and facial capturing they did. They likened it to the process done by James Cameron in Avatar offering up improved quality and detail in their animations and models.

After the disappointment in the single player story line of Modern Warfare 2, I’m hopeful Black Ops gives me a better single player experience. I am happy to see that the PC version will bring back some features missing from Modern Warfare 2, which I hope translates to a better PC multiplayer experience. Overall, the demo left me with a feeling of hope and that perhaps the series is in good hands. But, we’ll get to know for sure this Fall.
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