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Old things hit, new ones miss

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    Call of Duty: Black Ops III

    Rating: 3.0 – Fair

    Old things hit, new ones miss

    Having played every Call Of Duty main release since COD2, I have a large perspective on the series as a whole. And Black Ops 3 makes some core changes to some components of its tried and trued formula with less than satisfactory results.

    The plot of Black Ops 3 for me is the highlight of the whole package. I think the story was very apt, and reflective of our worlds drive towards further improving technology. This narrative has been done before but I especially like the way it is subtly handled in this entry.

    Its hard to say anything with context within giving the plot away but on the surface the story is nothing special at first sight. You have a mission to track down some defectors and it eventually tails of from their. In the 3rd part of the campaign the narrative allows for some interesting level design but that department never fully materialises.

    The worst part about the campaign is playing it. Its designed around a 4 player co-op experience which bleeds eventually into singleplayer.

    What this basically means is that most of the time you go from one open area with 40 to 50 bad guys running around to the next huge combat moshpit. Its makes the levels feel disinteresting and somewhat grindy.

    New enemy types are introduced, wholly new to the CoD series. Robot bi-pedal soldiers make up the majority of forces you fight but ultimately are just cannon fodder that walks around looking intimidating but never really being. There are also some mechs that are essentially bullet sponges that really slow down the play.

    Players have access to a slew of powerups with cooldowns and while initially it looks like you have tons to play with it feels more like satuation with only a few skills feeling that useful and the selection menu for skills feels clunky and slow in a fast paced game that encouraged to stick with one all round useful skill.

    The co-op play has another huge side effect as well, there is virtually no variation in gameplay flow. No more missions where you pilot choppers or fun on rails segements or stealth missions to break the flow. There are still giant setpieces but they’re orchestrated in a way that doesnt effect how you play.

    Swimming returns but its used sparingly in a campaign and one of the segments involved is just really annoying.

    As a singleplayer I felt let down by the campaign and pushed out. I loved the interactive movie that was the CoD campaign but opting to turn it into another multiplayer component made it feel bland and samey.

    The multiplayer is mostly what you expect from a Treyarch game. Big focus on gunplay with at least one killstreak that fills the map up with dogs… or in this case: drones.

    There is large pool of guns but they’re basically reskinned iterations of previously used guns. There are high fire rate uzis, the standard p90 clone etc. Though credit where credit is due there are some "trick" weapons that dont behave like standard or known weapons. The gorgan is an LMG that kills in 2 shots no ifs or buts but has a cripplingly slow fire rate. There is a instant kill sniper that has to charge its burst for a moment and a dedicated anti air rocket launcher with 4 rounds.

    Weapons are highly customisable, as are the emblems. Something Treyarch has always done and is credible.
    This customisation trickles into attachments but I scarecly found anything new here barring an attachment that increases headshot damage. Most of the weapons groups share the same attachments also that reduces the variety.

    Specialists are a new addition and work very well. At the time of playing I never found any one specialist to be overpowered compared to another. There are some duff abilities though such as Battery’s Kinetic Shield that sounds great on paper but on doubles your hp which drains pretty quick regardless.

    Supply drops from advanced warfare return and are a nice amusement. They’re not as easily obtainable as before but this may be due to the attachment to micro transactions that work alongside the cryptokey collections that require no purchase and are obtained through play.

    Was very surprised to see not a lot has changed in the gameplay modes, there is a new one where teams take it in turns to defend a sentry as it makes its way between point a and b but it was nothing special enough to take me away from kill confirmed or domination.

    My biggest gripe with multiplayer comes now: the maps.
    I love organic maps, like the ones from MW2. All of BO3’s maps are arena. By this I mean all the maps are specifically designed to have an equal layput so as not to afford any one particular area of the map better to defend than another.

    A map layout in BO3 consist of a large central column with a column on either side that always has a long wall shortcut. The objects in each column change. Maybe the middle has a rocky outcrop and the side columns a small building or water but either way its this three column setup and I found myself bored by the fact that ultimately each map plays the same.

    I remember in MW2 trying to take hold of the cabin on Estate as it was the most easily defended poistion. Not fair? True but it added dynamic. The maps were organic. Teams fought to secure defendable positions but in BO3 its all about utilising the side columns for flanking. And when everysingle map has this layout it becomes an all too stale affair to quickly and ultimately is what drove me off the game.

    Zombies and Nightmares
    Zombies mode returns with another star studded quartet. Its what people know and love about zombies, its one area they havent made any changes but boy is the map huge. It is an amazing sprawling location that really doesnt let you know what to do or how to do it but thats the fun about the mode. Players like to make the discoveries themselves.

    Alongside zombies is Nightmares, an alternate take on the campaign mode that replaces the majority of enemies with the walking dead. Its cleverly done and a major credit for utilising assets in atrivial and enjoyable way.

    Ultimately BO3 misses the mark. It reduced the actual enjoyable factors of campaign for a misguided co-op system. The maps are not organic and become stale within a few hours.

    There are some great advancements to continue using such as specialists and the paintshop for guns.

    Its worth a playthrough at least once and even I gave multiplayer around 16 hours of my time. Just dont expect a corker to remember for some years… like MW2.

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