The super-soldiers of the future can hit harder, run faster and longer and perform near impossible feats, thanks in part to the technological advances in science, allowing elite soldiers to enter the battle as augmented juggernauts. Neural enhancers also gives these soldiers the ability to communicate through their minds, among other team-based executions which uniquely compliments cooperative play. In fact, just when you think the battlefield is no match for you and your cooperative team of war demons, developer Treyarch takes it up a notch, placing you in a psychological warzone, pressing you even harder, revealing the games ultimate truth.
Call of Duty: Black Ops III is loaded with entertaining content. From the thrill ride single-player campaign, whose narrative takes influential ques from Dues Ex: Human Revolution, an addictive multiplayer mode which has tamed down the traversal dexterity of Advanced Warfare and a well fleshed out Zombie mode.
Now with the ability to choose a male of female combatant from a variety facial options, (we chose a female soldier) Black Ops III in vintage Call of Duty fashion thrusts player into a myriad of international world threats as an augmented super soldier who is survived through a series of extreme physical alterations, (ala Adam Jensen) due to a vicious run in with what we call, the machines.
During a number of tutorial gameplay sequences which run quite lengthy during a cognitive mind enhancement walkthrough, before actually moving forward in to the meat of the story, players are introduced to the games dynamic cybernetic abilities which are founded on three core foundations. Control, martial and chaos, each of which provides the player with seven unique capabilities. With ‘control’ players can use their cybercore resources to debilitate and overpower the games machinery such as enemy robots, gun turrents, enemy drones and more. With the ‘martial’ resource players can dominate through cunning and sometimes sheer force and even utilize an active camo rendering players almost completely invisible. The ‘chaos’ abilities allow players to create panic in enemy soldiers while devastating their numbers.
Now with up to four player online and offline cooperative campaign play, mixing up these unique cybercore abilities among your squad of friends makes for an exciting good time tairing through waves of human and robotics forces, and better than ever, the high-octane explosive rollercoaster ride is brutal and quite interesting. While the narrative brings with it a colorful expression of F-bombs, eventually Black Ops III becomes a story of control and mind manipulation and finding out who is at epicenter of this grand plot. The dialouge among you and your allies which is mainly maintained with Hendricks and Kane for most of the ride, is an ever evolving relationship of questioned motives, with trust always in the balance. Despite their uncertainty, racing together to find the truth becomes the mission. Gaining the truth often becomes a psychological and virtual exercise for the player, as taking down some of the games keys characters presents a series of hypnagogic combative realities of the characters mind. You’re basically sifting through their thoughts which have been dubbed as war scenarios which certainly adds a understanding of who these characters are.
The campaign is maintained through eleven chapters, taking players to Switzerland, Singapore and various parts of Egypt. Reminiscent of our glorious Socom days, each chapter offers a pre-game analysis of the mission before deployment. There’s a mission overview, details of the expected resistance as well as a chart displaying the anticipated engagement distance, allowing players to properly select the rights tools for the job. All of this is housed in your stylish safehouse which comes right out of a Splinter Cell episode, with safehouses made available at each of the games prime locations. Within the safehouse players can select the various cybercore abilities, weapons from the armory as mentioned before, change their look and appearance from the wardrobe, check out their in-game collectibles, log into their data vault and also jump into the combat immersion chamber. Sort of like the Matrix, where you are booted into the virtual combat experience, only here when you die, you’re still very much alive. The immersion chamber is where players tighten up their skills fighting through sixteen rounds of human and robot enemies, rewarded with a bronze, silver or gold as well as fabrication kits and XP upon reaching specific point totals.
The chapters or mission objectives in the campaign play out with a brief video intro before dropping you into the action. Game progression allows player and weapons to rank up granting use to newer outfits in the safehouses and better weaponry and combat acessories.
While my time playing through the campaign going it alone as well as playing cooperatively was quite memorable and probably the most fun I’ve had with a shooter in recent years, next to Halo 5: Guardians, my only real gripe would be the lack of intelligence expressed by the enemy AI. Often enemy soldiers were displayed as bullet sponges made formidable only by their sheer numbers and amount of projectiles whizzing past your head. Don’t get me wrong, the experience for was so entertaining I did not want to put the game down, however enemy soldiers do not force you to re-evaluate your approach on the fly or express a form of battlefield chatter of engagement and that is probably ok given the type game this is, yet as a shooter there is nothing like those epic standoffs where you and your buds must think about how to get past the next line of defense.
Making up for this Treyarch introduces some interesting characters, a mixture of impressive weaponry with a fair amount of ammo caninsters littered in the combat zone, a well-balanced blend of unique locales promoting a non-linear traversal accession and again some awesome power-ups in the form of the cybercore abilities.
While the earlier stages of the campaign can seem to start off slow when you’re being introduced to the cybercore enhancements, once you’re finally awakened, the experience that follow is quite entertaining.
Always the star of any Call of Duty show, the multiplayer brings with it the proven gameplay formula with a few added touches to spice things up. No longer are there any exoskeleton suit wearing soldiers zipping through the air terrorizing you from all over the map as the movement has been tamed down a notch. Now players can choose a specialist who comes with their very own exclusive abilities. There are nine specialist to choose from with four open at the start. The remaining specialists are opened upon reaching specific levels. Movement is extended to wall running and leaping to reasonable heights, without thrusters enabling the dodging of bullets and it all feels like a great compromise.
Consisting of a familiar UI new additions like the black market are added to the mix allowing players to exchange their cryptokeys for 54i contraband via common or rare supply dops. 54i stand for the 54 Immortals which are the ruthless antagonists from the campaign, or should I say one of. The playlist as with previous COD tites consists of core, hardcore and the new bonus mode which offers a playlist of special time-limited engagements.
As a small yet helpful addition in selecting a specific gameplay mode players can see the percentage of online players currently taking part in the playlist. Custom weapon creations work relatively close to Advanced Warfare so for you COD veterans you’ll be right at home as soon as you jump in. We’ve been able to tackle most if not all of the currently available maps which in many cases offers a lot of breathing room without dying every thirty seconds. Some maps allows quick swimming traversal with underwater combat. The ability to leap out of the water to take down an enemy and their nearby ally is too cool. Of course to do this it takes skills which is what many of the players are displaying at the time of this write up. While Treyarch has toned down the movement, added specialists with unique abilities with stylish and customizable cosmetics, the mulitplayer is very much Call of Duty priding itself on the ‘I see you first I win philosophy’, in most cases.
Zombies makes a return offering a four player survival mode consisting of waves of progressively more aggressive zombies closing in you and your friends position. Peppered with a short yet decent back story, the four playable characters must standoff the incoming threat in order to be redeemed of their past discretions which have landed them in this zombie struggle. Offering solo, public and private matches, this zombie experience is depicted straight out of roaring 1920’s coupled with slick jazz overtones making the experience more light than sinister.
Like the previous games, this zombie mode is all about having the right weaponry as the action quickly picks up. Board up the windows, kill a few zombies and watch your money increase, granting you access to new areas and weapons. Upon feeling too overwhelmed players can always access the purple lit devices transforming you into a tentacle wielding zombie killer with the ability to electrocute and or grab and split zombies in two. The whole thing feels like Treyarch decided to borrow abilities from the The Darkness and I must say, it does come in handy and does not feel like a rip-off. Zombies as with the campaign and multiplayer, offers increased levels of XP earned. The furthest I’ve gotten playing solo has been wave seven and it really heats up.
Call of Duty: Black Ops III, while the formula hasn’t been changed so much from Advanced Warfare, what has been altered gives this Call of Duty outing a satisfying progression of the series. Though I would have liked for a more intelligent enemy while fighting in the trenches of the campaigns diverse locales, the uncomplicated and interesting narrative running alongside the games thrilling trigger pull and death-defying sequences made up for it in spades.
Offering yet another refreshing and gratifying multiplayer and zombie mode, don’t expect the Call of Duty hype fest to die down anytime soon. This latest offering is a bright addition to the series and one I will be diving back into for the foreseeable future.