Published on November 6th, 2015 | by Edwin Millheim
Call Of Duty: Black Ops III XBox One Review
Summary: In the end Call of Duty: Black Ops III may be the same old rehash fans of this genre love that could get old... but thankfully there's something new
All Hail Treyarch
Treyarch is arguably one of the most successful developers out there when it comes to shooters and has great success with their Call of Duty franchise. So here we are now with the latest generation of gaming systems, so it is appropriate that Treyarch rumbles onto the scene with Call of Duty: Black Ops III.
However I am not going to sit here and tell you it’s the greatest in the franchise. Does it have some short comings? Sure. If I was doing a review for the PC version we would be talking about the possible issues with RAM use for computers and this game. Thankfully I did not have to deal with that for this version on the Xbox One. The game has enough to own up to when we talk about short comings, while they are by no means crippling, they are there none the less.
The developers decided it seems, to jump ahead into the possible future, I mean why not? Where else is there to go really? Space and other planets… it just has to happen eventually. I digress, here we are in Black Ops III in a future where the lines are almost blurred between man and machine.
As some soldiers are bio enhanced which means they are part machine and part human. So it seems they went the route we have already seen from games like Future Solider that gave us advanced future like weapons and gun smith plus Call of Duty Advanced Warfare which gave us enhanced soldiers… so really not a lot new here. Just enough to give it a kick and make you really want to play!
Thankfully we do have a single player campaign. Now I really like when a company includes a campaign and story. It adds more in way of overall value to a game that takes the time to include a story that will give the player an experience that they do not have to rely on gaming online to have.
The story in Call of Duty: Black Ops III is basic… it’s not as tight as it could be on delivering the story to the player. There are plenty of holy crap bloody moments full of violence that never seems to be just for violence sake. It’s brutal and at times shocking. However the overall package and all of its parts for the game are better together. Call of Duty: Black Ops III also brings together three different modes to the game… Campaign, Multiplayer and Zombies and as the press releases says, it is ambitious but it does in fact deliver as a whole.
Although the story spreads itself out a bit,it seems to try to deliver questions and get the player thinking about ethics, and the classic because we can do or create something does not mean we should create or do that something. For example, mixing cybernetics with a human. Even so, the story is enough to move things along and is deep enough for a summer popcorn flick. However as things do pick up as the story progresses, it is not as deep as it tries to make itself out to be. Also the story does keep your interest up and you wonder what is coming next and you want to hunt down the bad guys… but it all feels a lot like you have been here before.
The story telling is a bit jarring at times as in the beginning the player character is a normal soldier but in the middle of a mission they come to a rather brutal and bloody life changing event thanks to a robotic soldier unit. If you blink, you may miss that while the player character is being enhanced as the doctors are working to save their life, they are now going through a unique tutorial or training program… all in their head.
Nonetheless, it’s an interesting way to do it, so I applaud the developers and story writers for this but as I said, the transitions through the tutorials can be a bit jarring at first. Once you understand what’s going on, you smile knowing it’s just a clever way to introduce the abilities of the character and the control layouts and uses for the abilities.
After a montage that shows that the character has been active for five years as this new cybernetic soldier, we are thrust into a command center. From the command center we can look at our combat and missions records and even have access to load outs as well as your characters customizations. Here in the command center there are several different work stations and computer screens and interactive areas that are accessible… the player can also customize the character all the way down to changing their face and even gender. Nice.
Using these screens there are lots of ways to customize the players character even further. There are lots of new weapons to try, lots of perks, all unlocked using the points won over in battle. Having this customization the player can load out in very specialized ways. From snipers to close quarter battle specialists and medium to longer ranges with assault weapons… and even room clearers with that oh so scary and powerful shotgun.
Since the character has cybernetic systems, this customization carries over into this as well. The players “Cyber Core System” can be specialized in a more hand to hand type of fighting, and boosts certain abilities like movement and speed. There is even a kind of hacking specialization of the Core System, with this as it implies you can hack into enemy systems causing some of the robotic soldiers to self-destruct, or even take over an auto turret and wreak havoc to the enemy with their own weapon. Each of the seven abilities has three branches to upgrade which gives some diversity that is very welcome.
This all carries over into the online multiplayer modes as well which is rather clever to have all of the options rigged in the game available, without tearing you away, no matter what mode you’re in. Speaking of having access to multiplayer modes… the campaign is also playable as a co-op game. Four players can join forces on the combat team in the campaign missions or if you add an extra controller, it allows for side by side gaming with a friend or family member.
So once past the tutorial, things really pick up thanks to the campaign and the missions. The first mission really throws you for a curve as the environment ends up not only being a hindrance at times but just as deadly as the enemy you’re fighting. I really enjoyed this and was a bit sorry I could not slow down enough to admire the cool environment that was created for this mission. So the campaign is a good ride, and rises to awesome at times but just does not reach spectacular. However there are enough changes here from the earlier parts of the franchise to make it interesting.
Multiplayer is a blast as always. Players that are into never ending battles and skirmishes will be right at home here. When loading out for multiplayer, there is the old style of the load out system plus the specializations of character types and things get a lot more interesting. Multiplayer is fast and hectic and fun to play. The designers added some insult on if you are on the losing team too as there is a animated screen showing a winner’s circle and adds some snarky words to the losers.
Furthermore, there are lots of rewards and a pretty good ranking up system as well. So with multiplayer, there is enough here that caters for all sorts of gaming styles plus enough customization to make their character unique enough in play style to put their own stamp on the game which is very cool
Combat in the game is pretty slick and tight and things move seamlessly for the most part. Although there are times when trying to use enhanced abilities where you think it should work to run up or along a wall or jump up someplace and you just can’t… something in the graphics usually gets in the way and just does not allow it. So if you try again, you generally get taken out by an opposing team member as I learned on a few occasions.
Also, the movement system that was designed for the game keeps the action flowing very well for the most part. Movement from jumping to sliding to wall running and all while blazing away as you go makes for some interesting tactical situations. If you get really good at it, you can actually chain several movements together and keep moving in the middle of it all while being very combat effective. Gaming environments are well designed and things get really interesting on maps that have water in them. You can actually swim and fire from underwater so no place is safe on any multiplayer map.
Now that we know that the multiplayer is pretty cool and the campaign does its job…what about the Zombies part of the game? Over the years I have not been thrilled with the inclusion of Zombies as the go to cannon fodder for shooters. Some games handle them pretty well, and often I hate to say it, some of the shooters like Call of Duty did not overly impress me with the Zombies modes.
Somehow Call of Duty: Black Ops III got me interested enough in playing this mode and enjoying it. Granted it seems to borrow very heavily from other Zombie games and horror games in general… the four characters, and even at some points in the game when your character can turn into a monster of some sort or demon with tentacles that can lash out and attack and grab enemy… hmmm where have I seen THAT before? All that aside, this mode is done very well and is almost like a bonus game within a game.
Zombies has its own story, multiplayer modes and has its system own Experience Point progression system. The map is called Shadows of Evil and features four new characters or specialists if you will.
Nero the Magician voiced by Jeff Goldblum, Jessica the Femme Fatale voiced by Heather Graham, Vincent the Cop voiced by Neal McDonough and Campbell the Boxer voiced by Ron Perlman as they get involved in this supernatural crazy story that is a mix of film Noir and horror taking place in Morg City. Sure it’s clichéd but it grow on you, even the weak parts.
In the end Call of Duty: Black Ops III may be the same old rehash fans of this genre love that could get old… but thankfully the developers have included enough newness to keep us churning along for some more.
Have fun, play games.
Primary Format – Games – Xbox One
Game Genre – Shooter
Rating – R18+
Game Developer – Treyarch
Game Publisher – Activision