Call of Duty: Black OpsESRB:
Platform: Nintendo Wii
Category: First Person Shooter
Wii Remote and Nunchuk Compatible
Wii Zapper Compatible
Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection
2-10 Players Online
Activision has once again released another Call of Duty to the masses. This time Treyarch has the reins with an all new story and an all new location to defend. I have been playing the Xbox 360 version on my own, for fun, but I have also been playing the Wii version for the purposes of this review. I was looking forward to comparing the two as I thought it would be interesting to see the differences. Well after having some extended play time with the game, I have to say Treyarch has managed to cram a lot of of Black Ops into the Wii version.
Right off the hop you can tell this is a Call of Duty game. It just has the look we have come to expect from the franchise. Although you won’t find the same level of detail as that on the Xbox 360 (or the PS3 for that matter), which I am also engrossed in, it is still a pretty good looking game, especially for the Wii. You definitely notice the loss of detail due to the lower resolution of the Wii, and you can see how textures are not nearly as detailed and the colours are not as strong. You will still find a great use of special effects though from shadowing, explosions, to great lighting; but again, it is not HD quality, so don’t expect such. You’ll also come across a few levels that have framerate issues, as if they tried to do too much with the limited power available on the Wii’s chipset. In the end though it is still a damn good looking game and most Wii fans should be happy with the visuals.
I have to say that sound is a strong point for this latest version of Call of Duty. From the weapon sounds, the explosions, vehicle sounds, and chatter from your teammates, it is all there and sounds solid. That being said, don’t expect the same digital quality found in the HD consoles as the Wii is not capable of such. The voice acting for the main characters is a great inclusion into this game, from Sam Worthington, Ed Harris to Gary Oldman, all portray their characters with expertise and emotion. Finally, what would a Call of Duty game be without a great musical score, and Black Ops does not fail here. With orchestral ballads and impactful timing, the music plays a perfect role in this game as well. Wrapped up in one big package, all the sound is great.
We have already reviewed the Xbox 360 version on our site, so there is not a lot of reason to go over the single player story once again. That being said, the story does take place during the majority of the 1960’s from such hotspots as Cuba, Russia and Vietnam to name a few. You take on the roll Alex Mason, a black ops agent (covert operative). During the story you find yourself captured and being interrogated for information you have to ‘break a code.' During your torture you have flashbacks that are played out in the game as full levels. Each flashback is another piece of the puzzle that will culminate in some sort of conclusion. You will play out these flashbacks in some pretty neat locations, such as mountain bases, a rocket launching area, city center, and a Vietnamese river. I enjoyed the story and the locations it took me to and I was very happy to see that it made the jump from the bigger consoles to the less powerful Wii pretty much intact.
During your play through you will find there are a lot of cinematic moments, both in cut scenes and in gameplay. These can range from watching the story unfold to having something surprising happen, such as an enemy attacking you and you getting saved or having to hit a series of buttons to get an enemy off of you. The level of impact for each is pretty well done. If I did have any issues with the single player story it is in the implementation of the AI, both teammates and computer enemies. In terms of teammates, I found that they could be somewhat useless at the best and worst of times. They did not help in killing the enemies, nor did they stop enemies from bearing down on my position. This was evident right from the first level where I watched an enemy run right by my computer controlled squadmate and come straight for me. I was like “what the heck...” In terms of the enemy AI, they could be quite cheap. More times than not they seemed to take a lot of damage before they died, and they just kept respawning. The latter is more of a game design issue and I have seen it occur in all the Call of Duty games. Regardless of the reason, it is very frustrating to see wave after wave of enemies advancing on my position until I reach that ‘magic’ line to stop them and advance the story.
Controlling the on-screen action is pretty well implemented on the Wii. Of course you can use the combination of the Wii Remote and Nunchuk, but Black Ops also allows you to use the classic controller should you desire. This is a great feature as many diehard FPS fans are used to the dual analog setup, and now the Wii version allows for such. I tried playing with both control schemes and I preferred the latter given that I am used to playing most of my FPS games on the Xbox 360. That being said, I do know of more than a few people who love the Wii Remote/Nunchuk combination. Of course you have a bevy of control options (e.g. speed of reticule, invert, etc.) just like another Activsion published game on the Wii I recently reviewed, GoldenEye 007. Overall, either control scheme works well and it really does come down to personal taste and what you are comfortable with.
The single player story lasts around 6-9 hours depending on your own skill level as well as what skill level you play the game on. There is some replayabilty to the game but only if you want to play through a second time just to fully enjoy the experience and not have to deal with the mayhem of everything going on the first time you play through. Other than that I cannot think of any other reason to play through again as the game does miss the achievements/trophies aspect of the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions.
Regardless of the campaign's length, and the fun you should have with it, the meat and potatoes of any Call of Duty game is the online multiplayer, and this aspect makes the transition to the Wii pretty much intact as well. You will find that the online play you are so used to on the ‘bigger’ consoles is present and accounted for, such as levelling up, getting new weapons, new perks, challenges and anything else you may experience in all the other home console versions. There are the standard Team Deathmatches, Domination, Headquarters, Free-for-All, and Deathmatches, but these are all well known so I won’t go over them in this review.
What is pretty cool about the online features this time around is that you don’t have access to the new weapons and perks the same way you did before. Instead of levelling up to open up the cool weapons, you can now purchase them using COD Points. Sure, you still have to open them up somehow, but they don’t take nearly as long as before. Most perks, weapon attachments, and killstreaks become available much earlier on, although you have to still level up to get the guns. The key here is that you now buy everything that you want to include in any of your custom loadouts. Paying with COD Points allows you to get stuff at a much earlier level, but given you pay for them you are committed once you buy them, so do some research before buying anything you may want.
Also new to the online realm in this latest installment of the COD franchise is the incorporation of contracts. These are challenges that reward you with COD Points, and in some cases experience points, as you complete specific goals. The trick here is that you pay for these contracts and only have a limited amount of time to complete them. These can be as simple as stabbing an opposing player in the back (pay 50, get 100), get 25 kills with the SPAS (pay 50, get 250) or get three headshots without dying (pay 150, get 1300 back and 1300 EXP). Again, the key is finishing each set of challenges within the allotted time. I should also note that you can only have three contracts going at the same time. Contracts are also ‘renewed’ on a weekly or so basis, so they keep changing making for a fresh experience.
The other new online feature worth mentioning is the addition of Wager matches. Here you are putting wagers against other players in the room (fee ranges from 10, 1,000, 10,000 points) and you then play one of two very specific modes to determine who the top three players are. The first allows you to get better weapons with each kill you get. The other mode has all players equipped with a pistol and one bullet with only three lives to live. Last man standing wins. For each of these modes, the pot is split amongst the top three and the rest go home empty handed. You better be prepared to play some great people online as there are many out there with mad skills.
Also new to Black Ops is a mode called Combat Training. Here you can head online, with friends or not, and fight against ‘bots’ in any of the online levels available in human vs. human online play. It is just like playing a regular online multiplayer match. You can change the AI skill level to match your skill. It adds yet another level of realism in terms of playing online. You can earn points and level up just like the regular online modes, but these points and experience are only for the Combat Training mode. This is a great way to learn the levels, practice your skills, and experiment and try any loadouts you may want to take online against other human players.
For players who want something more cooperative, there is the famed zombie mode on the Wii version as well. Here up to 3 other players can join you in a night filled with killing zombies while protecting your environment. As you repair barricades and kill more zombies, you earn points to buy new guns, refill ammo, and even open up new rooms that have better weapons, and of course more ways for zombies to find and kill you. Your goal is to stay alive for as long as possible killing wave after wave of undead. The only thing here is that there is only one level at this time, and I don’t know if there will be any others in the form of DLC in the future.
For those wondering how to communicate with their fellow Black Ops players, you can use the compatible Headbanger headset with this game. Unfortunately I did not have one, so I can’t comment on the quality of such. In terms of any type of friends list, you can look at recent players and send them ‘ally’ requests which will allow you to join those on your ally list, send messages, and communicate with them as well.
If I had any complaints regarding my online experience, it would be that the connections were hit and miss. There were some smooth games, but on the other hand there were a lot of games that were laggy and resulted in dropped games. Unlike the Xbox 360 version I am playing at home, if a game drops it just drops and it does not migrate to another host. As well, you won’t find as many online players as you would the other versions, but if you look you will find players in the various modes.
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