Call Of Duty: Black Ops III is the latest title in Activision’s long running and Call Of Duty franchise. This latest installment has been developed by developer Treyarch and is the first game in the series to be released having had 3 years of development. That extra year allowed the team to really expand the game in new ways, though I don’t think that those changes worked out as Treyarch had initially hoped.
As with every recent Call Of Duty release, Black Ops III has a star studded cast featuring none other than Christopher Meloni (who may be better known as Detective Stabler from Law and Order SVU) playing one of games main characters. One nice feature of this game is that the protagonist is designed to be you. Unlike all past CoD titles where you are stuck in a specific characters shoes this time around, you create the character and even have the option of playing as male or female. As should be expected the characters are all designed, sound and look fantastic. Even outside of the characters the entire game is beautiful. Levels are full of detail with visuals and sound effects realistic enough to convince you what you’re looking at is real. As with every Call Of Duty game the gun-play feels fantastic. It’s fast paced, heavy on the shooting with a huge variety of different guns to choose from, each with its own unique feel as well as its own animations. The overall game-play is somewhat reminiscent to that of Advanced Warfare though it actually feels a bit closer to Titanfall. Boost jumps, wall running and power slides can all be done just about anywhere. There is the new “Core” abilities, allowing you to choose a set of core powers you can use throughout the level allowing you capabilities like making an opposing robot self destruct or turn on it’s peers or even shoot a stream of small insects out to light your enemies on fire. The core abilities were a nice change and were really one of the only noticeably new features the game had. Black Ops III features 11 campaign chapters, each running anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour and a half in length (depending of course on your difficulty) and though the lengthy-ness was a pleasant surprise it was how the story was told that seemed a bit out of place.
Black Ops III’s story really felt different from every other CoD’s. That’s not to say it didn’t follow the classic run and gun, this guy may have turned evil, we need to try and stop him while fighting this other enemy to save the world formula because it most certainly did. But it was how the campaign was told. It felt very influenced from the Assassins Creed franchise. BlOps III is a story about a soldier who is brutally mauled and survives only thanks to an entirely modified and upgraded cybernetic body. This enables them his quick and powerful new moves but also allows them to simply use their hand to pull data from computers or even enter into the heads of other cybernetically modified humans. This of course puts you in their head which leads to plenty of weird moments. My issue with the story is that because of its ability to mess with the players head (which it does frequently, though I won’t discuss most of them to avoid spoilers) so many different things happen a lot of it really became unimportant and seemingly random. There is a section of the game where the player is transported to a battle in World War II. It was a neat little section of game-play and I enjoyed the shooting aspects but I’m not sure what its relevance to the story nor what its importance were. Similarly I’m still not quite sure what exactly was occurring at the end of the game. Sure the very end of the game brings all of it to a close, but I still felt many sections of the game were thrown in for reasons that weren’t discussed all that well. Additionally the primary enemy in the game is a street gang which has become so overly powerful that they are able to become a hugely powerful army capable of taking on the world. I didn’t really care too much because I was busy trying to fully understand the whole plot but looking back it just seems like it’s something that would never be possible.
Among everything else one of my biggest issues is that the game, for some unknown reason, separates a local campaign from the online campaign. When I started the game my PS4 wasn’t connected to the internet. I played 3 or 4 chapters in. When I came back later on my PS4 was back online but I couldn’t just pickup the campaign where I left off with my friends. I had to restart the campaign as an online campaign and do everything over again or I could resume my story mode from the “local” settings. So I played through the game locally. Why it couldn’t be the same story mode I have no idea and this was really one of my biggest complaints. Sure I beat the game locally and got all of the designated trophies. However I don’t have access to the player cards or other unlockables for my multiplayer character that I should have simply because I was forced to play through locally. The ability to merge these campaigns really would have been a great setting and I’m not quite sure why they have it separated as is.
Overall you’ve got solid game-play that’s fun and entertaining mixed with a story that has an interesting concept but fell a bit flat in it’s execution. Now the fact that BlOps III has the multiplayer and zombies is still probably enough to entice a typical FPS fan into a purchase but if you’re only into CoD for the story you may want to wait for the price to drop.