Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 PS4 Review
With Infinity Ward turning into a ghost of its former self, it has been left to Treyarch to become the lead Call of Duty developer with their string of Black Ops games. Black Ops 3 is the latest installment into the multi-million unit selling franchise and expectations were high after Black Ops 2’s stellar multi-player suite. The success with multi-player continues with Black Ops 3, as well as the return of Zombies mode which is the best it’s ever been. However Treyarch did not deliver anywhere near an acceptable level of quality with this year’s campaign mode. Muddled with a confusing and boring plot, tired cutscenes, and uninspiring level design, Black Ops 3 was one step away from shooter greatness only to be held down by its campaign experience.
Said campaign is a chore to play through, even with the all-new 4-player co-op added. Characters are dull and lifeless, and the sci-fi plot doesn’t do enough for me. I was never engrossed with what was happening on screen as it all passed by too quickly. In terms of the mission and level design, you’re mostly just getting from point A to point B with some vehicle sections thrown in. While the majority of the campaign is uber linear and has you going down constricted lanes, it does open up some of the time which provided the best gameplay sections in the campaign. My partner and I would use this to our advantage and with the game allowing players to create a class for campaign levels, the teamwork and combination of different abilities and weapons was a blast while it lasted. Too many times though, the game would give you a decently sized playground to fool around in just for it to take it away from you far too quickly and throw you in a three wave defense mission or an impossibly difficult assault to get inside a building being defended by dozens of foot soldiers and huge robots. The custom classes also extend to three branching ability trees: control, martial, and chaos. Martial surrounds a variety of ability and movement options like deploying a smokescreen around you character or being ability to the boost movement stats of your soldier, and control covers the ability to turn the enemies weapons against them like hacking vehicles and piloting them yourself, or turning robot soldiers into allies as they fight alongside you. But it is the chaos ability line you want to focus on purely from the sheer amount of robots and other tech equipment you can hack and sabotage. A quick pop out of cover and use of the ability can send half of the enemies on screen flying across the battlefield in blown up carcasses, allowing you to focus your gunfire on the human enemies. There are also dream sequences that break up the gameplay with one of them in particular playing around with visual effects to make the player feel as though they are in an environment being moved around and flipped on its head as you play. Every so often the game throws some large robots to take out as well, but it’s never satisfying and I was always wanting to return to the more open level structure.
If you manage to get through it though, greatness awaits. Black Ops 3 multiplayer is the best the series has been for over half a decade, with impeccable map design and a solid, albeit limited, sandbox of weapons and abilities. The pick 10 system from recent entries returns with a host of gadgets and perks to choose from as I opted with sacrificing grenades and secondary weapon attachments to go all in on my primary weapon even if that meant my perks list suffered. Players can mix and match and fine tune their pick 10 classes to find the perfect sweet spot that really added to the meta-game. Additionally, Black Ops 3 has players choose between specialists that are given unique abilities such as a grenade launcher or the ability to throw down a powerful ground pound. The problem was I just didn’t see it used enough in multiplayer, so much so that I was reminded it was a part of the game every time it happened because of how rare it was. But the core of the multiplayer is in the gunplay and Black ops 3 unsurprisingly is as tight and responsive as its predecessors. What Treyarch really improved though was the movement. Advanced Warfare played far too quickly for me whereas Black Ops 3 is set to the perfect level of speed with the player’s thrusters. Being able to control your movement in the air with precision just feels so natural and adds an extra layer to the game.
Coming to the ever-popular Zombies mode known now as Shadows of Evil, set in a beautifully rendered noir styled 1940’s city, this year’s entry is the first time I’ve ever enjoyed it. I loved the series’ other attempts at a third co-op mode, like Ghosts’ brilliant Extinction, but never got into Zombies. Treyarch’s new improvements like becoming a Darkness-esque tentacled beast or being able to customize weapons finally have me hooked to get to the highest wave I can while scavenging for cool easter eggs. And that is the shame of this year’s Call of Duty, with 2 of the 3 modes being spectacular and 1 falling short. Although the game is easily recommendable if even one spends all his time slaying foes in matchmaking. Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 is a game of two thirds that gives us a fantastic multiplayer experience and an ever addicting Zombies mode, coupled with a poor single player. Hopefully Treyarch’s next entry can finally give us a commendable campaign to boot.