This article features SPOILERS, if you’re sensitive to that kind of thing, turn back now! Also to be clear this isn’t the LoadScreen review, expect that in the next few days.
Call of Duty: Black Ops III came out on November 6, and while most of the world has been content with blowing each other up I’ve been staring at my TV wondering what the hell happened to FPS games.
The Call of Duty games used to be groundbreaking with their look down the barrel sights and fast paced multiplayer modes. I still stand by Modern Warfare 2 as having one of the finest multiplayer modes, it did so much right. You had to have some semblance of skill to do well in that game and unlocking powerful gear took some work.
However that seems to have all gone out of the window as FPS games have now become a uniform melting pot. Playing Black Ops III, or Call of Duty 12 (as it should be known), feels like a mash of every popular game out there served up without its own identity.
Here’s what a grumpy Editor thought COD 12 did wrong.
You are straight up the bad guy in campaign
Remember Julian Assange? He was the Editor in Chief of WikiLeaks and is pegged as a modern day hero for releasing information to the public that certain governments would rather have had covered up. So with that in mind, Black Ops III essentially has you fight for the CIA to murder the shit out of people trying to unveil the awful classified war crimes they’ve committed.
Not only are you totally out to cover up all the atrocities your government has committed, but you also interfere in global politics pretty much all of the time. Now, there’s no way you are the good guys in all of this.
The “hero” you play as is essentially a government controlled super villain trying to cover up the murders of over 300,000 people… and the game rewards you for it! Admittedly the plot attempts to sweep that all under the carpet by saying those freedom of information bastards are infected with some kind of computer virus, which kind of doesn’t matter when they are still trying to take down a corrupt and lethal government.
Leave double jumping to Mario
Modern Warfare 2 was great because it was a semi-realistic war game. The guns looked and controlled pretty much how you would expect a gun to work and the soldiers moved like actual humans. Now what we have in online FPS games is a bunch of squished together concepts that make all FPS games more or less identical. Please can someone just make a decent game that doesn’t involve vaguely Sci-Fi super soldiers running along walls and boost jumping.
Don’t get me wrong, I adore Sci-Fi, but it should be thoughtful and not just tacked on to a story so that you can have “cool guns and shit”. In Black Ops III you are part of a team of robot super soldiers who say fuck a lot because I guess that’s what kids think is cool. These augmented soilders can do some pretty amazing things, such as set people on fire with nanobots and use the force to explode robots.
Other than that and some robotic enemies pulled straight from Titanfall, the Sci-Fi element in Black Ops III is just there to let you do stupid things in multiplayer that should never be in shooter games. Nothing enrages me more than getting a hit marker with a sniper to have the person suddenly start spazzing out all over the place like a drunk Neo. Wall running, double jumping and boost sliding just remove the immersion of an FPS and make it a snore fest for those who want to win by being good at shooting, not by being a hyperactive road runner.
COD isn’t Destiny
That may seem like an obvious statement, but believe me, somebody needs to pass that note on to Treyarch and Activision. In Multiplayer you can select a “Specialist” loadout which gives you a special ability once in a while in the form of a weapon or ability. And well, they’re pretty much taken straight from Destiny, your special recharges gradually or by getting kills. Among the specials available to you are Gravity Spikes, which are straight up Fists of Havoc.
I have no problem with specials if they are balanced and still take a bit of skill to use. Like predator missile, you could still botch those up in Modern Warfare, but they were powerful if they landed. In Black Ops III the specials are too simple to earn and pack way too much of a punch.
Compared to all this future running and gunning I’d probably prefer a game more akin to an 18th century duel where you actually have to earn that sweet sweet kill. Huh… thinking about it they should just bring back one in the chamber from the first Black Ops.
Ultimately it’s okay for games to copy mechanics if they somehow fold it into what they already have. But what isn’t okay is for each new title in a series to be a Frankenstein’s monster of everything else that’s hot at the moment. Ultimately I’m probably just outside of the target market for games like Black Ops III by about 10 years, but I’m still holding out for that shooter that gets me as hooked as Modern Warfare 2 did.