Call of Duty: Black Ops III Review: Is it really bigger and better?
With a setting in modern era where minds can be linked with each other and to machines, Treyarch tried to take the Black Ops series in a new direction, which they somewhat achieved. The story feels old and concepts feel like they have already been presented, but the gameplay is very smooth and lives up to the expectations.
With earlier Black Ops, Treyarch managed to set the bar really high, first Black Ops gave a brilliant story, while Black Ops II contributed largely to the multiplayer mode. With Black Ops III, developers tried to overtake those previously set standards, but only managed to create a game that turns out to be average in all fields.
Graphics of the game are very good but uses loads of particle effects making it a bit heavy on the system. Certain articles in the surroundings can be interacted with and hence provide a wide array of options for your attacks. For example you can shoot at molten metal carrying cauldrons to spill some and kill one or two of your enemies.
One of the most remarkable additions to the CoD series is the player customization, though not much choice is offered, it is unexpected and adds to positive notes of the game. For the first time in CoD, players can choose to play with a female character. When starting the game for the first time players get to choose gender, and head style for their character. A limited number of hair and beard style choices for male, while only hairstyle choices for female characters are available.
The Campaign: Cliched and Boring
The six-or-so hour long campaign is set in the year 2065, 40 years after events of Black Ops II. The game like all games set in future has its own theory that requires some getting used to. Direct Neural Interface or DNI in short, is the technology that Black Ops III is based upon. DNI allows humans to connect mentally to weapons, computers, and also people. This tech gives some advantages but also has a few limitations. You may be able to connect to hack into turrets with just a flick of your hand, but you cannot pick up weapons dropped by enemies as they are registered to someone else's brain. With certain new approaches to FPS games like the one mentioned above, Black Ops III gives a new twist to the classic gaming combats.
With not-so-new ideas of AI consciousness and quite predictable twists, the story fails to attract players. The game does not spend enough time to make you care about a character before desperately trying to gain your emotional attention that makes the story further weak.
DNI is introduced with a training mission that gives you various powers like wall-run, remote-hacking of turrets, etc. These abilities do a great job in fueling the excitement, but are soon taken away, and instead you're left with three skill trees. During the game, you get cyber cores, which are used to unlock and upgrade these skills. All skills are divided into three groups: Control, Martial, and Chaos.
Each of the three trees promotes a different play-style, and leveling up on all three of these is somewhat impossible unless you sacrifice weapons upgrades and perks. Moreover, you cannot use more than one ability simultaneously until you get to level 20, so as it turns out progressing along a single path is more efficient. Actions like firing during a wall-run can be unlocked from the skill trees.
The Co-Op: United we Stand
Black Ops III also allows up to four players in a co-operative mode for each campaign mission. Each of the players gets to chose their loadouts like you do in multiplayer. The co-op mode seems necessary at times when the campaign gets too boring to be played alone. Instead of presenting tasks that four players can do as a team, co-op takes enemies that are harder to kill and dumps more of them onto the players. This sometimes gets interesting, a situation where a suicidal robot chases you out of cover may demand help from your team-mates.
The Multiplayer: Specialists, a new aspect
An interesting augmentation to the multiplayer is the specialists. The loadout is still the same with a small change to Pick 10 system introduced in Black Ops II, but now each player gets a power weapon or special ability, which recharges several times over the course of an online match. Each power is different and has its own tactical advantages, perfectly timed usage of these can shift gears and quite possibly flip the result altogether. Players will need to spend hours online to be able to exploit these to the fullest.
Multiplayer mode gives thruster packs to every player, regardless of their loadout. The thrusters are similar to those in Advanced Warfare, but much easier to command. The game also provides four free-run obstacle courses to test out your skills before jumping into action. Revamped maps from previous games are fun to play especially with tons of new skills that provide many more options.
I found the gameplay during multiplayer very fluid. Leveling up rewards you with more specialists and abilities that opens up loads of options with different combinations for your play style. This, however, loses its 'mojo' later when you reach higher levels and the unlocks fail to pump enough excitement for upcoming unlocks.
The Zombies: New and better?
The Zombies survival mode is back and so is Dead Ops, which now features a full-length campaign. Finishing the campaign unlocks 'Nightmare', a zombie mode variant where all your enemies in the whole campaign are replaced with zombies. Though interesting, the re-imagining of the scenarios and story, to center around a zombie infection, seems incomplete, and the whole idea could have been realized in a better way. Nonetheless, the Zombies mode is better and more fun than any of its predecessors.
The new Zombies co-op mode, 'Shadows of Evil', is so far the best Zombies mode in CoD. The 1940s style setting looks downright gorgeous. Moreover, Jeff Goldblum plays one of the characters and is introduced with a great short video, which makes it even more inviting. Other characters played by Ron Perlman, Heather Graham, and Neal McDonough are all introduced with a short video of their own.
A noticeable addition to the Zombies is the ability to 'Become the Beast,' which allows players to change into a tentacled monster that spews lightning. This creature is extremely powerful and can tear zombies apart. Like most of the perks, it is available only for a limited time and can be activated only at some fiery shrines.
Is it really bigger and better?
Bigger, yes. Black Ops III is definitely the biggest and most feature-packed Call of Duty so far. The campaign lacks a strong story but makes up for it in the gameplay that is rewarding and new. Although it gets boring at times, trying out new weapons and abilities is fun and might add some replay value to the game. Multiplayer content is smooth, and new maps and abilities offer numerous advantages and play styles. Newer, better versions of earlier CoD maps in multiplayer gives the series fans a unique experience.
Better, not quite. Even though the gameplay of campaign and multiplayer is smooth and somewhat new, the game lacks a very important thing, a strong story. The zombies mode is better and a lot of fun. The co-op mode, on the other hand, fails to exploit teamwork and tactics of the players.
With Black Ops III, the series takes a step forward, but a very small one. It will be interesting to see what the series will offer in future as it seems Treyarch has already reached its peak.
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