The plot of the game surrounds an Black Ops operative, who is searching for an American traitor turned terrorist, but instead is blah blah blah. They try really hard for you to pay attention to the cut scenes. They invested in hiring actual actors to help movie the cut scenes along, but unfortunately didn’t employ any kind of skip button. I found myself very annoyed when I had to sit through 4 minutes of a black screen with credits of the designers rolling, only to hear more pointless dialogue. Maybe if the direction of the cut scenes was a bit more action packed, or better written, it’d be able to keep more people’s attention, but I only found myself frustrated with cut scenes that really offered me nothing.
As where I found myself completely bored with the plot, the game play does significantly make up for how much time it makes you waste with hidden faces with voice-overs. As a Black ops operative, you are responsible to destroy large terrorist encampments of numerous soldiers, with no to very little help. Many points in the game you are constantly being overwhelmed with multiple kinds of fire that will constantly respawn until you disable a particular machine gun nest or complete some side mission. This can prove to be very difficult since almost every opponent in the game is covered with ridiculous amounts of body armor. I can understand an Uzi not being able to penetrate a bullet proof vest, but when I fire a whole round of a fully automatic machine gun into someone’s chest at point blank range, they need to be cut in half at the very least. Or when I throw a couple grenades into a group of terrorists hiding behind riot shields, they shouldn’t simply be able to cancel out the concussion wave it creates by hunkering down. Needless to say, the game over emphasizes head shots. I found it more useful to switch my semi automatic weapon to burst fire to conserve rounds rather than just unloading into knee caps so I can more effectively disable my opponent.
There are other short comings in the game. While the ammo is bountiful, weapons are not. Despite the fact you, at times, regularly fight terrorists utilizing Magnums, you are only able to find a usable Magnum about 3 times in the entire game. The limitation of only being able to carry two guns at a time, while somewhat realistic, is misused. I can understand why it’d be difficult to carry a RPG and a machine gun and anything else, but for a character to carry a collapsible Mp5 and a magnum, and not being able to wield another pistol seems a bit far fetched. Another thing someone brought to my attention is the lack of knives in the game. True the butt of a rifle is just as good as a sharp edge, but I would hope the Black Ops carry a close combat weapon for more delicate situations. The game very comfortably emphasizes guns, but makes no use of other weapons. True a well placed grenade in the game can make the difference between a slim victory and utter defeat, there is no tactical grenades, laser sites, C4, any espionage equipment. or anything beyond picking up a silencer here and there to aid in long range sniping.
Most likely my favorite aspect of the game is the interactive environment. Yes, while there are still the infamous red exploding barrels, the game makes it a point to go beyond that. You are able to, with “well” placed assaults, explode industrial sized tanks and cars, blow away entire sides of walls, destroy crates filled with a wide assortment of contents, windows, doors, tables, safes, laptops, shelves, nearly everything in the game is able to be destroyed. But this goes both ways. You simply need to shoot a car in a very general area to cause a huge explosion. Shooting a mechanical fan staged high in a building will cause entire walls to collapse in on themselves after exploding, as if the building was laced with C4. Shotguns are able to bring down ridiculously heavy metal doors with one shot, without ricocheting back or anything similar. In fact, if you don’t have a shotgun, you’ll find it very difficult to enter any closed room in the game. Sure, a well placed grenade or RPG will do the trick, but unless you desperately need to get in there, that’s pretty wasteful. This is probably the strongest selling point for this game, in my opinion. First person shooters need to take a lesson from Black, and make the battlefield more of a tool than giant red barrels near spawn points for enemies.
Don’t be mistaken, though. The game is far from any acceptable level of depth an honestly ground breaking game would have. For starters, the levels are limited to 8 locations, and 4 difficulties. The Artificial Intelligence really makes no increase in difficultly what so ever. Ammo is plentiful in all difficulties, and if you are careful enough, health can be available at nearly any time. The replay-ability is rather unimportant as well, since they only rewards you gain are unlimited ammo or one unlockable gun. Black is a strong step in a very positive direction for first person shooters. Where it lacks in plot and length, it makes up for with senseless destruction and impressive battles. In short, it has enough to be worth renting, but I wouldn’t buy it.