|Min OS X: 10.7|
|Call Of Duty: Black Ops|
September 27, 2012 | Jon Carr
Mac OS X: 10.7.4 | CPU: 2.4 GHz Intel | RAM: 4 GB | HD Space: 15 GB | Graphics: 512 MB, (ATI): Radeon HD 3870; (NVidia): GeForce 650M
Reviewer's Rig:27" iMac, Core i5 Quad 2.8Ghz, 8GB RAM, ATI Radeon HD5750 1GB. Lion 10.7.3, Apple Wired Keyboard, Logitech Wireless Trackball M570
It's been awhile since we had a Call of Duty game on the Mac. CoD4 was released all the way back in 2008 by Aspyr Media. In those years we have seen the releases of Modern Warfare 2, 3, and Black Ops for the PC and other platforms. Whether you are a CoD fan or just like shooting people in the face, then today is your lucky day, because Aspyr Media has brought us Call of Duty: Black Ops to the Mac.
The story of Black Ops takes place during the Cold War in the 1960's. Focusing on the CIA backed "black" operations carried out behind enemy lines, the game lets you inhabit the tortured mind of Alex Mason, a Black Ops operative. But not is all it seems, as you wake up strapped to a chair in an interrogation room, surrounded by monitors. A muffled voice asks harsh questions over a speaker, demanding answers. When Alex lapses he is shocked by electricity. As he remembers a mission you transition to gameplay. This structure goes back and forth throughout the campaign, and creates a tense and intriguing narrative with several good twists along the way as you discover the truth behind what happened to Alex, and how he got to where he is now.
The campaign isn't particularly long at about 6 hours on normal mode, but it's definitely entertaining. From an assassination attempt on Castro in Cuba, to escaping a Russian prison camp or surviving the killing fields of Vietnam, the story hops around the globe with a variety of missions and the occasional set pieces. The majority of gameplay favors smaller scale fights and stealth operations over the more invasion/all-out-war style we see in other CoD games. It's not against the odd bombastic set piece however, such as cruising down the rivers of Vietnam in full force, manning a machine gun on a boat while your platoon wreaks havoc on the enemy from the land and air whilst blasting out 1960's tunes evocative of Apocalypse Now. You will spend most of your time shooting or gruesomely slicing the throats of sleeping soldiers, but you also get to pilot a Hind helicopter and guide friendly troops from a Blackbird aircraft. The shooting mechanics are tight as ever for a CoD game, and enemy animations are excellent. You can die fairly quickly even on Normal difficulty so you do have to take cover. But you can also get away with a lot of run-and-gun tactics which some may find disappointing. On higher difficulties you die very quickly, which forces you to play more tactically. If you want a more "realistic" approach, then play on something above Normal from the start.
My only real gripe with the campaign is that it's a little short, and there are occasional "press this key repeatedly" events to open a door or move an object. It's kind of immersion breaking and not particularly fun to pound your keyboard to perform an action. It's also a waste of the player's time, but it's not frequent enough to be a serious issue. Overall, the campaign tells an intense and engaging story with a satisfying conclusion. You can also find Intel pieces hidden throughout the various missions giving you incentive to replay the game or be more thorough. These unlock interesting facts and notes about the missions you've undergone as well as provide more story details.
But the main draw of the game is most assuredly the multiplayer modes. There's a lot here, from the usual Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch and Capture the Flag modes to the more tactically based Demolition or Search and Destroy in which you must either plant or defuse bombs played by the enemy team. There are also "Hardcore" versions of many of the game modes which add increased bullet damage, negate health regeneration and remove most of the HUD. I personally found the Hardcore mode to be extremely fun, adding an extra layer of tension and challenge.
Perhaps the most interesting modes are the new Wager matches which introduce another new system: CoD points. In this new structure points act as currency, in which you unlock everything, from perks to guns to attachments to cosmetic changes like facepaint or camo. The core experience and rank system is in place, but now in addition to needing a requisite rank to access a particular weapon, you have to buy it before using it, and any attachment you want. It's actually pretty fun and encourages players to do well in matches and play how the game modes want, as more points mean more currency at the end of the match.