Thursday, November 18, 2010

Black Ops: Why you should care

Posted By on Thu, Nov 18, 2010 at 6:49 PM

Like the 5.6 million others who waited for the midnight release, I have not slept more than 10 hours this week while playing  Call of Duty: Black Ops. Needless to say, it’s all been well worth it.

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As you are all aware of by now, the new multiplayer is mind-blowing. A new way to customize your character and a new wager mode lets the gambler (and Kenny Rogers)  in us all get our thrills. The use of new kill streak items (such as napalm strikes and guard dogs) and close-combat maps (Nuketown anyone?) keeps you coming back for more. The solo campaign starts off like any good Cold War-era style story. You come to consciousness strapped into a chair, being asked to remember something you have no idea about. You go through flashbacks of your time in different locations such as Cuba, Laos, and Russia. Sometimes you get so sucked into the story, you’ll start to have flashbacks of shooting VC back in Nam every time a helicopter flies overhead. While I will not go too in depth about the plot, just know that the (sometimes) predictable story is still one of the better war stories told of that era. Behind The Deer Hunter of course. And Apocalypse Now.
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Finally, there is the very popular Zombie mode. One map has the original characters from the zombie mode in War at World; the second map has the players playing as either JFK, Richard Nixon, Robert McNamara or Fidel Castro in the Pentagon; and the final mode is a hidden (go figure it out yourself on how to unlock) game that resembles Zombie Apocalypse from the Xbox Live Arcade and Playstation Network.

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But it’s not the new— and completely awesome— features that I want to bring this game to your attention. It’s more behind the scenes that is interesting. First, there is the issue of sales. Like I said in the opening paragraph, 5.6 million copies of Black Ops were sold in 24 hours. Team Xbox said that number equals to around $360 million dollars. Activision is hailing the launch as “biggest launch in entertainment,” and it even surpasses Avatar’s opening day total AND more than Modern Warfare 2 sold, which was a measly 4.6 million copies. Second, there is the voice acting. Sam Wothington (who was also in Avatar) voices Alex Mason, our protagonist. Ed Harris also stars as CIA agent Jason Hudson. If your ear is also keen, you can pick out Gary Oldman as Reznov, Ice Cube as Bowman, and even Topher Grace. The nerdy kid from That 70s Show? The actor who destroyed your hopes of seeing a good Venom in Spider-Man 3? Yeah, I don’t blame you either. Finally, the Call of Duty series once again manages to cause controversy. Modern Warfare 2 had the airport scene, and Black Ops has Operation 40. Now it’s understandable as to why Cuba would be so pissed off; the game shows the player shooting Castro. During 1961. When we’ve tried to kill him several times before. Alas, the Cuban government said “What the United States couldn't accomplish in more than 50 years, they are now trying to do virtually.” This caused Pulitzer Prize winning columnist Leonard Pitts to write a hysterical response in return. Running on little sleep and caffeinated beverages, it’s very easy to see why the Call of Duty series has become popular. Sometimes I cry at night for the fallen comrades in my virtual world. I'm still trying to get my insurance to cover virtual PTSD.  And then I cry because the series has been so good, I fear it might be getting a bit stale. But until then, I would recommend holding on to this piece of gold for as long as you can.

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