Wii

North America

Call of Duty: Black Ops

by Pedro Hernandez - February 5, 2011, 9:30 pm PST
Total comments: 9

8

War, War never changes... Oops, wrong game!

War is a particularly common subject in video games. Whether you are the general of an army or just a soldier plowing his way through enemy Nazis, war video games have allowed players to partake in an event that some would deem cruel and others a fine art. Activision's Call of Duty series has been doing this for years, taking players to World War II, the Vietnam War and even war on the Middle East with the latest in modern warfare. Black Ops is this year's iteration, and once again it manages to impress, even within the limitations of the Wii's hardware.

Black Ops takes place in the 1960s during the events of the Cold War. You play as Alex Mason as he is tortured into telling his story to a faceless captor. Mason, however, isn't the only soldier telling his tale here. As the story progresses you will step into the boots of other soldiers involved in the conflict and see their side of the story. Even though I am not a fan of war stories I won't deny that this is a fascinating tale filled with conspiracies and deceit. Despite taking place during real events in history, Black Ops is a story that should be taken with a grain of salt. Nevertheless, the game does a good job of placing layers of human conflict onto its fictional narrative. One drawback is that at times it jumps around too much between characters, making it hard to follow the development of the plot. The interrogation scenes with Mason are also pretty confusing and distracting, using fast paced clips to give the game a sense of mystery that comes off as gimmicky.

The single player campaign mode is where the story takes place in. In terms of gameplay, it is a first person shooter where often the goal is to get from point A to point B while fighting many enemy soldiers. Often times you have to fight off hordes of enemies while your allies complete their task. It is a linear affair. As basic as this may sound, though, the Call of Duty franchise is known for giving us some of the most amazing and even controversial action sequences in any game of its kind, and Black Ops is no exception to the rule. Even when all you need to do is get to the other part of the scene, you will see everything from never ending enemies to helicopters taking out whole buildings. The intense feeling of survival will take over your senses as these scenes occur, and it is glorious to participate in.

Speaking of, even on its easiest difficulty setting, Black Ops will provide a challenge. This isn't a game where you can just run and avoid the enemies and get to the checkpoint. Enemies are everywhere, and the key to survival is knowing how to shoot, avoid enemy fire and seek protection. This can prove to be both satisfying and endlessly frustrating as you survive an onslaught of bullets only to get attacked by an enemy when you least expected it. Thankfully, the designers at Treyarch were smart enough to include checkpoints as often as possible, so even if you die a lot you won't be starting the same level over and over again.

Unfortunately, the objectives aren't always as clear as they should be. Usually, auxiliary characters will tell you what to do or where to go, but sometimes objectives are so subtle that you end up running around trying to figure out what to do next. It's not a game-breaking problem, but an issue that should be noted.

Zombie Mode has become a favorite in previous Call of Duty games, and Black Ops features a very funny one. The zombie mode has John F. Kennedy, Richard Nixon, Fidel Castro, and Robert McNamara fighting off zombies at the Pentagon. This is a mode that shouldn't be taken seriously as history is taken way out of context for the sake of entertainment. Zombie mode provides a silly and lighthearted diversion from all the war drama involved.

Black Ops offers a plethora of control options. The default Wii Remote and Nunchuck scheme works very well, with aiming being fast and smooth, however button placement takes a while to get the hang of. You can, however, change the layout of the buttons, as well as other options such as the sensitivity of your aim and the size of the bounding box. There are also options for the Classic Controller and the Wii Zapper. They, too, can be altered to your liking so it is refreshing to see so much effort being made in taking advantage of the Wii's multiple controller options.

The Call of Duty series is known for is its multiplayer, and Black Ops offers plenty of it, although it comes with some problems of its own. First, there is no local multiplayer in Black Ops. Only online play is available, and while robust, the absence of traditional couch multiplayer is disappointing. Once online, you will have four options: player match, private match, combat training, and wager match. You can drop in and participate with other players in player match, while in private match you can set up your own game and invite friends. Combat training is important as it lets you train with bots so you can get used to online play. Best of all, players can join in and participate. This will earn you COD points which will help you level up and gain new extras and features, such as new items to customize your characters, new levels and challenges. In wager match you can bet those points before starting a match and cash out if your team manages to win.

Despite all the customizable features, accepting invites from friends, adding new players and such proved to be troublesome due to a confusing menu system. At the time of this review, friend matches had problems where the game would say that the session was over, even if the invite was sent at the moment the match started. Worse, I've encountered matches with some severe lag issues that prevented me from moving properly, and in a game about quick movement and timing this can be really annoying.

Online play also allows for voice chat using the recently released Wii headset, which can be turned on and off before a match and during one. The Wii Speak microphone, however, is not compatible with the game. Despite these issues, online play can be really fun once you understand how everything works and find a working match. The maps are quite varied, inspired by the levels you explore in the single-player campaign, and vary in size. You can even customize your own team, changing everything from the weapons they carry to their expertise. Finally, the game is constantly updated with patches, so it is always up to date.

In terms of technical prowess, Black Ops is designed to be a realistically gritty shooter that pushes the technology of the high end consoles to the limit, so it should come as no surprise that the Wii version suffers a lot from this strategy. Several scenes have been either cut entirely or drastically altered so they can meet the restrictions of the Wii hardware, a fact that many die hard Call of Duty fans will lament. Despite these issues, Black Ops does look great. The cinematic beauty of the game is still a great achievement on Wii. Character models look and animate well. Finally, the game engine runs well, although slowdown appears in the busier scenes.

Overall, Black Ops on the Wii is a great alternative to those that don't own the high end console version. Some hardware limitations and online issues keep it from being the ideal experience many fans crave, but the plethora of control methods along with the enjoyable gameplay and captivating story make it a game that people must try at least once.

Summary

Pros
  • Cinematic gameplay
  • Enjoyable online gameplay
  • Great story
  • Multiple controller options
  • ZOMBIES!
Cons
  • Challenging, even on its easiest difficulty setting
  • Confusing interrogation segments
  • No Wii Speak support
  • Technical limitations
  • Troublesome online problems

Talkback

ShayminFebruary 06, 2011

I heard that war has changed.

But I always heard war never changes.

I think I'll stick with a wizard.

Flames_of_chaosLukasz Balicki, Staff AlumnusFebruary 06, 2011

"Overall, Black Ops on the Wii is a great alternative to those that don't own the high end console version"

Don't you mean that it's a great alternative to those that own a high definition console, AKA a PS3 and 360?
Anyways, I picked up the Wii version just because of the pointer controls and my general dislike of dual analog controls. The Wii version in my opinion performs admirably since it's the same game and it looks close to the other versions, while not being extremely gimped over the other versions at the same.

The online mode isn't that glitchy and the friend system is awesome since it's easy to add people on your list when compared to most other online Wii games. The fact that once someone adds you, to their list the other player only has to accept an invite rather than inputting your code makes it a bit easier, plus you can access your allies (friends list) by pressing a single button while online.  While the online play while it has some glitches, and some "lag" due to constant disc streaming; it has rarely given me any major problems.

Also, how is a game challenging even on the easiest setting a bad thing? One common complaint with games nowadays is that games are getting too easy.

It's the first time I have heard someone complaining about the interrogation scenes since that's the point of the story. Mason is always being interrogated in order to forcefully jog his memory about what happened in various critical locations that he was in, and the levels you play are a retelling of what happened in locations. 

Coolmatt49February 06, 2011

"Zombie Mode has become a favorite in previous Call of Duty games, and Black Ops features a very funny one. The zombie mode has John F. Kennedy, Richard Nixon, Fidel Castro, and Robert McNamara fighting off zombies at the Pentagon."

The Wii version doesn't have that Zombie map. All you get is the Kino der Toten map. Hopefully we'll get to see this map in a future map pack. The latest update to the game shows promise towards this as under the Private Match option for Zombies there is a new option called "Change Map".

Overall, I personally enjoy the game. Sure it is missing some stuff from the Xbox 360/PS3 versions, but the game still lives up to its Call of Duty name. Compared with the other Wii versions at least, it is a huge leap forward for the series.

NWR_pap64Pedro Hernandez, Contributing WriterFebruary 06, 2011

Quote from: Flames_of_chaos

"Overall, Black Ops on the Wii is a great alternative to those that don't own the high end console version"

Don't you mean that it's a great alternative to those that own a high definition console, AKA a PS3 and 360?
Anyways, I picked up the Wii version just because of the pointer controls and my general dislike of dual analog controls. The Wii version in my opinion performs admirably since it's the same game and it looks close to the other versions, while not being extremely gimped over the other versions at the same.

The online mode isn't that glitchy and the friend system is awesome since it's easy to add people on your list when compared to most other online Wii games. The fact that once someone adds you, to their list the other player only has to accept an invite rather than inputting your code makes it a bit easier, plus you can access your allies (friends list) by pressing a single button while online.  While the online play while it has some glitches, and some "lag" due to constant disc streaming; it has rarely given me any major problems.

Also, how is a game challenging even on the easiest setting a bad thing? One common complaint with games nowadays is that games are getting too easy.

It's the first time I have heard someone complaining about the interrogation scenes since that's the point of the story. Mason is always being interrogated in order to forcefully jog his memory about what happened in various critical locations that he was in, and the levels you play are a retelling of what happened in locations. 

1. I honestly don't see people favoring the Wii version over the console and even PC versions, unless they are collectors or prefer the Wii control scheme other everything else.

2. Well, when I played it it glitched like crazy on my end. It took me a while to find a working match. Maybe this is like Brawl where the quality of the match depends on the strength of the connection. I was unlucky on my end. Also, how can you say it is not glitchy then confirm what I said in my review?

3. I mentioned in my review that Treeyarch was kind enough to put several checkpoints to alleviate potential frustration. Still I mentioned it for those that are not fond of these types of high challenge games. Its not a game breaker, but I still made note of it.

4. Gametrailers complained about it, and I agree with them. It's not bad, but they were too often and I thought it messed around with the pace of the game. It does add some intrigue to the narrative, but at times they were intrusive.

Coolmatt49: That wasn't the Pentagon? I played the zombie mode on both the 360 and Wii and I could have sworn it was the same stage.

SeacorFebruary 06, 2011

Did you happen to write this review before the latest patch?  Did you know there are online patches available for this Wii game?  I count about 6 patches released so far for Wii COD BO.  Some of your mentioned problems during online may have been fixed.

While I do not currently own black ops on Wii, I find it odd that you make no mention of the online patching system (patches are downloaded to your console when you connect to Nintendo Wi-fi Connection). The support from a developer to patch a Wii game post-release is pretty awesome and deserves some mention.

Wii Patch fixes
http://www.callofduty.com/board/viewtopic.php?f=74&t=338909

NWR_pap64Pedro Hernandez, Contributing WriterFebruary 06, 2011

Quote from: Seacor

Did you happen to write this review before the latest patch?  Did you know there are online patches available for this Wii game?  I count about 6 patches released so far for Wii COD BO.  Some of your mentioned problems during online may have been fixed.

While I do not currently own black ops on Wii, I find it odd that you make no mention of the online patching system (patches are downloaded to your console when you connect to Nintendo Wi-fi Connection). The support from a developer to patch a Wii game post-release is pretty awesome and deserves some mention.

Wii Patch fixes
http://www.callofduty.com/board/viewtopic.php?f=74&t=338909

Actually, I downloaded several patches while playing online for the review. I may have missed the latest patch, but the game kept acting up even after I downloaded the patches. The bug that I got prevented me from moving. The image kept stuttering and I kept walking in place.

Oh and FYI, if you guys see a 6.5 in this review, it is actually a bug that crept up around the site, so a lot of reviews have 6.5 on them. I gave this game an 8 out of 10.

I think it's important to note that online games have always been a "Your Mileage May Vary" experience. 

Coolmatt49February 07, 2011

Quote from: NWR_pap64

Coolmatt49: That wasn't the Pentagon? I played the zombie mode on both the 360 and Wii and I could have sworn it was the same stage.

The Xbox 360 and Wii both have the Kino der Toten map, which is the one with the Germans and the time machine (http://callofduty.wikia.com/wiki/Kino_der_Toten). The map that you mentioned in your review was the map called "Five" which featured Kennedy, McNamara, Castro, and Nixon (http://callofduty.wikia.com/wiki/Five).

Kino der Toten is already unlocked when you start the game, but Five was an unlockable by beating the campaign mode. However, the Wii doesn't have this map, only the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and PC (at least until Treyarch releases a map pack which has it for the Wii, which is likely).

Mop it upFebruary 07, 2011

I'd agree that the game is best played on another system if you're into these kinds of games, the Wii version just wasn't designed very well since too much effort was spent on superficial aspects like graphics (which are still dull and ugly), and other, more important aspects suffer because of it (framerate stutter, slowdown, glitches resulting from the constant disc streaming, etc.). It's still competent enough to be worth it for those who prefer the Wii controller to the ones on other platforms, but it confirms what most of us already knew: realistic-style games just don't pan out well on Wii.

Now, as for the actual game, I guess it just isn't my thing. I've played only the multiplayer since that's the reason I bought it. I find the weapons to be uninteresting, the maps are pretty poorly designed, most of the gimmicks like the perks and killstreak rewards are annoying and unbalanced, various gameplay mechanics like the run and aim buttons do nothing but bog down the action, etc. I think Modern Warfare was a better game in most respects, though I still wouldn't call it a good one. But I guess that's just because I'm not into "realistic" games, which, unfortunately, if you like shooters, these days it's increasingly difficult to find one that isn't.

Quote from: Flames_of_chaos

Also, how is a game challenging even on the easiest setting a bad thing? One common complaint with games nowadays is that games are getting too easy.

Nobody complains about the easy mode of a game being too easy. That's kind of the point of it, it's supposed to be easy, so if it isn't, it's a valid complaint.

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Call of Duty: Black Ops Box Art

Genre Shooter
Developer Treyarch

Worldwide Releases

na: Call of Duty: Black Ops
Release Nov 09, 2010
PublisherActivision
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