Game Review: Call of Duty: Black Ops III

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Treyarch is back this year with the third title in the Black Ops trilogy, Call of Duty: Black Ops III. Will this highly-anticipated title live up to expectations or should Treyarch go back to the drawing board?

Release Date November 6, 2015
Genre First Person Shooter
Platforms PC/PS3/PS4/XBO/X360
Developer Treyarch
Price $59.99 US
ESRB Rating Mature
Players 1-18 Players

 

It’s especially hard for a yearly series of games to stay relevant in this day and age. There are so many new IPs out there for gamers to sink their teeth into that some of these longstanding series eventually meet their demise. The same can not be said for the Call of Duty series. For years, so many people have said that this is the year that Call of Duty is finished, this is the year that nobody buys it, or that it’s the same game each and every year. For a little while, that was true. One could argue that Call of Duty didn’t change much from Modern Warfare to Ghosts. After all, it was the same engine and not all that many new game mechanics were introduced to keep players invested in the series. There they were every year though, waiting to get the latest release and play with people around the world. This franchise is still growing despite all the naysayers.

Call of Duty: Black Ops III
There is always something happening in Black Ops III.

I’ll admit, I was one of the people who said that Call of Duty would be done. I’m not sure when it was, but it just seemed to me that the series was stuck in a rut that it couldn’t escape from. That all changed last year with Advanced Warfare. Call of Duty seemed to finally have some innovation and felt new again. I thought that would probably be it and that we would be treated to more of the same this year with Black Ops III. I was pleasantly surprised to find that there is even more to like about this year’s effort.

The campaign mode in Call of Duty: Black Ops III is set in the future and features the “Direct Neural Interface”, or DNI for short. This technology allows the human characters to interact with the technology around them. This whole system changes the way that the game is played and for the better. Weapons are locked to other people’s brains so you can’t just pick them up and use them like you would have in other Call of Duty games.

The new powers make everything more interesting. There are three types of powers you can choose to upgrade and utilize, Chaos, Martial, and Control. Chaos does what you’d expect – cause chaos, Martial allows you to beat people up, and Control allows you to control enemies to destroy things for you. Each power complements the others well especially when playing cooperatively with at least a couple other players who have different skills than you do. You can’t earn enough points to upgrade every power so choosing one and sticking with it becomes fairly important. Each level only allows you to use one power anyways, so it’s almost a necessity to stick with the one you like the most.

I chose Control as my power of choice for my first play-through. I was able to reprogram enemies to turn on each other and turn drones against my enemies. It came in handy when we had tons of robots swarming us and I was able to turn some of my enemies against themselves or when there were drones flying around and I could use them to my advantage. The power does operate on a cool-down though, so they’re not able to be used infinitely (although I wish they were). The powers were a great way to change the way that Call of Duty is played, but your gun is still your best friend in the end.

There is a new “Realistic” mode which becomes the most difficult game mode. I only recommend this difficulty to hardcore Call of Duty players as one bullet is often enough to kill you.

Everyone now has a thruster pack in multiplayer that feels similar but not altogether the same as Advanced Warfare. These thruster packs along with wall running and being able to shoot at any time provide for a lot of intense in air battles and frantic action. There’s even a free run course if you’d like to test your parkour skills in Call of Duty. The game even keeps track of your best times.

Call of Duty: Black Ops III
Yes, you can run on walls.

Multiplayer has the same pick-10 loadout as it has for a long time and it works just as well as in previous years, so I’m happy they kept it the same. The big change in this mode this year is the introduction of Specialists. I chose the archer (Outrider) which has a deadly explosive arrow. It was nice to gain a different weapon from the normal assault rifles, pistols, and launchers. This character also had Vision Pulse which pings the nearby area for enemies. Each specialist is like this with a special weapon and ability. There are 9 to choose from so players get quite the variety before each match. This system makes sure that each player has added value to the team even if they aren’t the best at taking down opponents.

The new Zombies mode, Shadows of Evil is the most ambitious version of the mode yet and is set in the 1940s. A new XP systems allows players to customize their weapons and perks before going into a match allowing everybody to be a bit different this time around instead of being completely repetitive. The big addition to this mode is the ability to “become the beast” at certain fiery beacons. Your player transforms into a powerful, tentacled monster that can rip the undead apart for a short period of time. It adds a different albeit strange element to the popular game mode. I would have liked to see more maps/stories for this year’s Zombies Mode however, I’m sure more will be added later.

Call of Duty: Black Ops III is an interesting game in that it does everything well, but everyone still wants more. In my opinion, it’s a fantastic game for COD fans and there is a lot of content across all game modes to keep players busy for a very long time. The Specialists, wall-running, improved Zombies, and 4-player campaign make this a huge step forward for the series. Traditional COD fans may not enjoy the changes as much, but this version is definitely worth upgrading to for any fan.

*A copy of this games was provided to FYIG by Activision for review purposes*

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