Every year brings with it a new Call of Duty and expectations for Treyarch’s newest entry, Black Ops III, were generally low. After all, the future setting has been well and truly explored and there are only so many ways to implement gadgets and drones without giving away the fact that the developers are largely out of ideas, going so far as to re-use the general mechanics of its previously released Advanced Warfare, replacing Exosuits with DNI (Direct Neural Interface).
The multiplayer aspect of the game remains an entertaining experience and the multiplayer maps aid in providing dynamic gameplay. Most of it work in conjunction with free running, and prolonged jumps (similar to the sky jumps in Advanced Warfare) introduced into the movement system in Black Ops III. Players can run along walls which allow them to reach some areas more quickly, they can slide across the ground, and use thrust jetpacks which allow you can jump clear over your enemy’s head and watch them try in vain to either follow you or duck and cover in fear of the bullets that will inevitably rain down upon them.
Guns and bullets remain the only truly effective way to win.
Grenades have been rendered largely useless when your enemy can simply slide or jump at ungodly speeds away from them, the maps hardly ever provide any opportunity to utilise tactical equipment and even when they do the enemy simply rushes past them along the wall. Therein lies something to be commended however since there is a noticeable, growing effort to discourage (though not eliminate) camping.
The maps in Black Ops III are a marvel. Maps often possess lush vegetation half-buried beneath rubble and the chaos of war…or something like it. There are a few which showcase exotic locales in pristine condition, ready for a match of 18 players in a free-for-all to blow it to bits, but generally players will see beautifully rendered grittiness upon their screens.
You will be happy to know that 4-player co-op is available in Call of Duty: Black Ops III and each player is offered a wide array of customization options.You are able to choose from one of nine specialist characters and customise everything from their suits to the colour of their weapons. It adds a sense of (political correctness) variety and colour to the barrage of people who will inevitably shoot you down. It also allows you to enter a match using one of two cybernetic abilities unique to every specialist. These abilities range from simple speed boosts to being able to teleport, adding to that dynamic gameplay.
The same can be said for the single-player campaign which does possess a few truly invigorating moments. That being said, the campaign is generally tedious and though its conclusion is a brilliant thing to behold for die-hard fans, it fails to satisfy after the often repetitive mission structures, forcing you to shoot and/or hack your way through massive units comprised of a handful of enemy types.
The story is set in the 2060’s, forty years after the events of Call of Duty: Black Ops II. You play as an unnamed character (referred to as ‘player’ in the subtitles) fighting alongside your CO, Jacob Hendricks against the NRC. That’s all you’ll ever know unless you read the pace-ruining blocks of texts offered to you in a safe house two missions later, otherwise it’ll seem as though the game just enjoys throwing vague acronyms at you.
After a devastating attack in Ethiopia following a black ops mission to rescue the Prime Minister of Cairo, your character is forced to undergo to an operation to rebuild his (brutally) broken body. Thus, you gain cybernetic enhancements and abilities to fight the robot overlords threatening the world, along with the horrifying effects of global warming (i.e. superstorms, droughts, etc…).
Not exactly the most original story, but then no one expects ‘original’ in the Call of Duty series.
The characters themselves seem to have just been taken from every war film ever made without any of the emotional depth or charisma and thus whatever relationships they have seemed forced and unnatural. Even the voice actors seem to lack enthusiasm for this game. You will hear companions clumsily deliver exposition with one of five varieties of low, macho growls. It makes it abundantly clear that the narrative’s focus is solely to place you in a firefight in one of the several locations and that’s if the game isn’t too busy switching between 60 to 30 fps between every cutscene.
If the concept of shooting at robots for hours on end with no real purpose seems unappealing to you, don’t lose hope, for Call of Duty: Black Ops III includes a zombie campaign which, in this case, is the same campaign but with zombies instead of robots.
You can also opt to play these campaigns solo or with up to four friends. It’s a wonderful feature only, the game itself seems to despise co-op in its campaign. You play the same nameless character but are free to customise your class and ‘cyber core’ abilities. It doesn’t blend well with the game and further hinders the experience, especially when the plot relies on picking up visual clues and intently listening to dialogue that extra players may miss while exploring the vast maps.
For newcomers of the series who just want to shoot and don’t intend to sit through a clumsy story, Call of Duty: Black Ops III is a fine place to start. The gameplay has seemingly reached its peak and the plot bears very little relation to the previous entries.
Gamers might rejoice at the fact that they can once again play whilst four people play couch potato and it’ll be enjoyable so long as they refrain from playing through the main campaign the same way.
• New movement mechanics
• Discourages camping
• Variety of specialists and boosts
• Completely customisable
• Dull single player campaign
• Co-op is not well integrated
• Not a huge variety of maps
• Unimaginative setting
• Noticeable frame rate issues
• Clumsy exposition