Gamescom 2010: Call of Duty Black Ops Impressions

by on August 25, 2010

Being a huge Modern Warfare fan, my first stop at Gamescom 2010 had to be the Activision/Blizzard area. Myself and Asim went into the Black Ops booth with such high hopes…..not expectations, but hopes! As a gamer I really want Black Ops to offer me more of that Modern Warfare 2 goodness, but as a critic I’m a bit more sceptical about their efforts.

As soon as the presentation started, the graphics were the first thing that caught my attention and not in a good way, they had Treyarch written all over them. I could probably count the polygons in quite a few of the locations on show, the snow was especially unrealistic. Now I’m not completely disrespecting Treyarch, they make good games but their graphics and visuals in general have never been top-notch. Everyone has become accustomed in expecting a “filler” Call of Duty title form Treyarch while we wait for the next Modern Warfare title from Infinity Ward, but that’s probably not going to happen anymore and that is the reason why so many gamers have put their faith in Treyarch to out-do themselves with Black Ops.

Quick, strike a snowy pose!

Anyway, the first presentation basically showed off a new aircraft (some kind of recon plane) as it spotted ground troops with thermal vision and directed them towards (or away from) enemy patrols. This was quite interesting, with gameplay switching to and from the aircraft then back down to your man on the ground.

When the shooting began, I was thrown out of the immersive combat which another nasty surprise. The silenced STEYR AUG being shot sounded like someone clicking a pen in an echoey exam hall, not good at all. It’s quite clear that the sound effects in this game are created by the sound effects team at Treyarch as they don’t really match up to Infinity Ward’s more realistic sounding guns in Modern Warfare 2.

"Hey, Tree. Are they still there?"

Credit where it is due though, the crossbow weapon looks like it will be immensely fun to use. We saw the weapon used as a silent alternative to a sniper rifle and with explosive rounds to take out a vehicle and provide a distraction. If used correctly, this could provide the player with some very interesting gameplay options. The throwing knife animations were great too and I imagine they will provide plenty of laugh out loud moments in the multiplayer part of the game.

Later we were invited to view another Black Ops presentation, this time it was behind closed doors. Thankfully, this one demonstrated a lot better content. We were guided through a live demonstration of Victor Charlie, an infiltration mission based in a small Asian village where the player is tasked with finding General Kravchenko. It was quite reminiscent of the latest Rambo movie and if I’m honest, that is not entirely a bad thing. Shame, I can’t say the same thing about the movie though!

"Do you think they have Sky Sports HD?"

There were some quite sexy stealth attacks with knives and the gun models were actually a lot better than those shown off in the previous demonstration. Whether that’s because this was live rather than video, at a higher resolution or simply a later build of the game…..who knows?! Saying that though, there were still some pretty dirty animations going on in the pre-rendered scenes.

We were shown another mission entitled Payback, for the sole purpose of demoing the live helicopter action, which is one of the main marketing aspects of this game. “Unlike previous CoD games, our helicopters aren’t on rails”. I’m not sure if this was a passive-aggressive comment towards Infinity Ward or if Treyarch are just really excited about their helicopters, but it was certainly funny to hear.

Overall, I came away from Gamescom this year pretty disappointed by the latest title in the Call of Duty franchise. From what I’ve seen I’m predicting this game will be around a 7/8 out of 10, rather than a 9/10 out of 10 like Modern Warfare 2. I would love to be proven wrong though!