Call of Duty: Black Ops III

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My relationship with Call of Duty is a weird story of privilege – I was never really into the military escapism side of it. When it comes to FPS mechanics, I vastly prefer the snappier, more responsive and more obviously visually coded Halo and Destiny styles of games. I have mentioned before that I never really meant to get into Call of Duty, but it was easy to set aside time for – all the games in the “Modern Warfare” series had a campaign that was intense, varied and offered everything it had to offer in a linear path that took around six hours to follow.

In this sense, Black Ops 2 was the first game in the series – of the ones I played – that I kind of disliked, and for seemingly poor reasons. It was longer, had a branching plotline and some light RPG elements – not bad in any sense of the word but it does take away from the popcorn experience and I thought the series is nowhere close to providing the experience of other games that are focused on moral dilemmas and character progression. It felt like a wasted effort made it drawn-out.

There’s also the matter of story – on the last generation of consoles, it went from military drama to Tom Clancy-esque outrageous political intrigue – Modern Warfare in a slightly different way than Black Ops, but both moved away from focusing on the conflict to focusing on the characters. The three franchises of this generation have gone further away from the military sim with Ghosts being post-apocalyptic, Advanced Warfare being about drones and corrupt PMCs and finally Black Ops III being about even more drones and digital warfare. On the one hand, I do not really like the direction it has taken on any of them – the focus on the anonymous┬áman-on-the-ground in Modern Warfare and the scenes showing the ultimate results of war like the nuke, I think those were stronger than anything the game has done since. On the other hand, I remember not really liking the story in Modern Warfare either so it is very likely I my opinions do not align with the people this game was actually written for. It’s still good as throwaway entertainment, the way I am playing it.

Black Ops III has some neat ideas going for it in terms of player upgrades and character progression – none of the abilities or weapons you acquire are particularly innovative in themselves, but there is a good number to choose from and even though the levels are not as varied as in, say, Ghosts, the game feels very different when playing with a different loadout. I started out emulating my Destiny playstyle and went for close- to midrange encounters with lots of mobility and aggressive territory control, then I switched to a Mass Effect Infiltrator-build and went for sniping with skills favoring stealth and positioning. Both fun, and feeling very different to play.

… So that’s a cool part about it. I could talk a long time about other elements from Black Ops III, but as I think it’s not really intended for me it feels at best superfluous and at worst misleading. Also, this has been long enough already.

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Posted on Nov 26/15 by Saint and filed under Reflections | No Comments »