REVIEW – Welcome to the technological nightmare of Call of Duty: Black Ops 3, which presents us a bleak future with super-soldiers from the CIA, devastating private armies, cyber-warfare, killer robots with advanced AI and all the show you can expect from military sci-fi shooter. Black Ops 3’s setting ditches the past and sends us to this frightening near-future. What remains is the outstanding quality of the franchises with a well-done single player campaign and robust multiplayer which will provide months of fun for the Call of Duty fans.
Like Advanced Warfare was last year, Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 is now a major episode of the popular franchise from Activision. The new chapter in the long series took three years of development for the Californian studio. The principal area where Black Ops 3 dwarfs the competition, the solid content offered on his solo mode.
The solo name is also inaccurate because everything is playable up to four players in co-operation, thus multiplying the playability and lifespan. What we have here are two full campaigns represented by the solo and nightmare modes, a top-down shooter called “Dead Ops 2” added, a Freerun mode for fans of Parkour and finally the return of the classic Zombie mode. It’s clearly a masterstroke from Treyarch concerning the trio of quality, quantity, and price.
While you know that less than half of the players of Call of Duty buy the game just for the multiplayer, they can still appreciate the amount of content offered by the solo mode of Black Ops 3, which is unmatched today. It remains to be seen whether this title will do as well as the previous one regarding sales, but we don’t have any doubts about that either.
Who’s the king?
Every third Call of Duty games were developed by Treyarch (thanks to the alternation system put in place by Activision), and the team has long ago stole the show from the studio Infinity Ward, which latest game: Ghosts had a mixed reception at best.
Treyarch was always specializing in Black Ops episodes that immerse the players in the daily life of an undercover CIA operator, so they had the difficult task to deliver a chapter that must be at the height of Advanced Warfare while also giving something new, but still staying true to its Black Ops roots.
Black Ops 2 – released in 2012 – indeed broke all sales records with more than 500 million dollars in revenues in 24 hours. It was just a year before GTA 5 regained his crown with 850 million in revenue over the first marketing day. In an attempt to reclaim the crown once again, Treyarch was busy making Black Ops 3 during three years of development. It came a bit as a surprise as It’s quite unusual for the studio to take that amount of time to create a game.
World terrorism against the CIA
Nevertheless, Treyarch also had the time to develop a proper story. Welcome to 2065 (a period that is chillingly all-to-close to our present day): when numerous terrorist groups threaten the stability of the world. Fortunately, to protect people from the evil clutches of those organizations, a new CIA unit was created: Black Ops.
These highly trained soldiers have several advantages keeping the population safe, especially with some of their members equipped with substantial body increases – just as Major Kusanagi in the Ghost in the Shell series.
No exoskeletons here, since the limbs of these elite troops, are directly replaced with more efficient mechanical parts, knowing that every soldier is in permanent connection with the entirety of Black Ops via their DNI, which stands for Direct Neural Interface.
This system, located at the base of the medulla oblongata and the middle of the spine, connects each fighter to a central network, allowing them to communicate with each other. They also have some new abilities, such as being able to interact directly with anyone of any computer system, whether we are speaking about a door opening mechanism or a more complex system.
While Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 takes part in the future, it is still a different future of Advanced Warfare since jetpacks are now only limited to the multiplayer. However, those who are fans of the ultra speed traveling won’t miss it, with the armor of Black Ops soldiers still allowing them a lot of special moves, such as running on walls vertically. Wall runner pros of Titanfall will have fun times ahead indeed!
This sci-fi dimension is also found in the futuristic armory, with tons of exotic weapons – although we are missing some cool technological gadgets such as programmable grenades. Shame. Concerning the campaign’s length, we should rest easy as Black Ops 3 should occupy you a good ten hours of playtime if you don’t rush it like crazy. Moreover, the scenario is significantly better this time around.
Without spoiling anything, what we can tell you, that this is a story that revolves around the boundary between humans and robots. It’s a mixture between the Matrix, Ghost in the Shell, and Deux Ex. It’s a simple yet tasty recipe, and it works pretty well for this opus of Call of Duty.
Besides the usual political and military conspiracies, you’ll have some rather enigmatic levels and haunting cut scenes, which are surprisingly artistic from the makers of a Call of Duty game. We’ll take part also in some World War II war missions in a snowy forest with a shifting soil.
Concerning the actors, while we don’t have a Hollywood star anymore to play the villain nemesis, the cast remains noteworthy with well-shaped characters. We will take a liking to Hendricks, our sidekick while the character of the head of the unit: Taylor will be more complicated to see through.
It’s more fun together
Like in Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 we won’t miss the co-op mode in Black Ops 3 either: we’ll have to fight together on twenty levels of increasing difficulty. The co-op mode here is quite hard: even at four in cooperation, we have failed to exceed level 10. It will take a hell of a good cohesion and hours of play before we can finally meet and decimate the irritating primate that serves as a final boss.
The developers also tried to spice up things with the “Freerun” mode. What’s this? Well, it’s quite straightforward, you’ll have to cross a path in a short time if you want to be placed high on the global leaderboards. Remember the DLC maps Mirror’s Edge? Well, this it is quite the same thing, namely, you’ll have to do wall runs with of sequences of precise jumps while shooting on the fly that will prove that you are even better than Neo.
Is it any fun? Well, on consoles, this mode is very aggressive to your thumb and the DS4 controller, since you will torment the left stick like no tomorrow, because of the constant changes of direction, and also because the sprint is linked to the L3 button.
To blow all records, and we recommend a pallet lever, much softer for your fingers. With six courses for now, and probably a new one that arrive later via updates, here is yet another way to pass the time in Call of Duty.
Finally, for classic Black Ops players: know that “Zombie” mode will also be renewed, always with the option to play up to 4 players in co-operation. As always, the goal will be to survive the different waves of undead, while earning money to pay for weapons and also for the keys to open the screen doors to progress through the adventure.
But if these scripted activities are not your thing, Treyarch also thought to include a robust multiplayer with Black Ops 3. With 12 maps, plus Nuketown if you pre-ordered the game, you should have your hands plenty, until the first DLC arrives. A large number of game modes are also available: you will be able to choose between Team Deathmatch, Free For All, Domination, Demolition, Kill Confirmed, Hardpoint, Capture The Flag, Search & Destroy, Uplink and finally the Safeguard mode.
While the multiplayer is very classic, it’s none the less well-made, although the new things aren’t exactly abounding. In fact, the essential addition consists of a system of experts that resembles the classes or heroes in an MOBA. We can choose between nine specialists in the menu, with each his morphology, individual weapons, and skills tree.
When your specialist has fulfilled its distinct gauge, you can trigger devastating attacks. For example, with the Outrider, you will have a bow with explosive arrows while the robot Reaper opens his left arm like a Transformer to reveal a Gatling gun.
Also, each specialist has their capacities of their own, and you can use it instead to get your particular weapon. In the case of our two sidekicks above, Outrider can use the Pulse Vision to detect nearby enemies with wallhack, while Reaper 3 will deploy decoys as a diversion.
It looks gorgeous
Concerning graphics Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 is a genuine Hollywood blockbuster. The IW engine was completely redone, and the 60fps display works fine on our trusty PS4 as well. Yes, we noted some framerate drops during some scenes where explosions and flying debris abound.
Regarding AI, the progress isn’t that convincing, since your AI enemies fail to show a great tactical sense, so BO III is somewhere in the middle of what is already done in other FPS games.
One thing I didn’t like that much is the musical score that I sometimes found overly dramatic, sometimes cliché. Voice acting isn’t particularly good either, so it’s definitely a con for the game.
Call of Duty Black Ops 3 should please not only the fans of the franchise but also conquer the hearts of other FPS game players. The single player campaign is pretty good, and while the multiplayer segment isn’t that ground-breaking, it can provide months of fun for those, who prefer to play in a community.
Treyarch certainly gone a long way from the underdog COD developer and their latest opus shows that they are at the top of their craft.
+ Well done campaign with a good story
+ Superior graphics
+ Lots of co-op/multiplayer/special modes
– Wall running can be a pain in Freerun mode
– Some missions are too scripted – even for a CoD game
– Your characters are just named “Player.”
Release date: 2015.11.06