Anyone who has picked up a Call of Duty title in the last decade knows exactly what they’re in for once the game boots up – loud and over-the-top gung-ho Bayhem action. And Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War, the sixth title in Treyarch’s series of historical fantasy shooters, doesn’t disappoint. Taking political-thriller cues from conspiracy-fuelled ’80s war films, the single-player campaign plays out a bit like Apocalypse Now meets Patriot Games meets Three Days of the Condor.
It’s the Reagan era and you’re placed dead centre in the middle of those top-secret American government assassination missions. It’s off the books and you’re somehow at the forefront of saving the world from a madman. A nefarious Soviet agent named Perseus wants to see the western world go down in flames and it’s up to a small group of hard-nosed undercover spy operatives that believe they need to save “the free men and women of the world” from communism to infiltrate and raid the KGB headquarters. Piece of cake!
Like most flag-waving U.S. propaganda films, Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War is focused around arrogant macho-man stereotypes that believe in the “shoot first ask questions later” approach to getting things done. Before you know it, you’re raining down bullets on terrorist scum and delivering one-liners while interrogating suspicious foreigners who can barely string two sentences together in English – in the name of good-versus-evil, of course.
But messy politics aside, this is a really entertaining game – even if it is a little campy and predictable. The tongue-in-cheek Black Ops Cold War immerses you into the Cold War and leans in completely to deliver on all its promises. And that’s all you can really ask for from a first-person shooter that is mostly interested in putting the F in fun rather than your political-correctness.
Or is it? See, the other side of the coin might be that Treyarch and Raven Software is actually trying to make you feel a little guilty. Perhaps they’re actually trying to make you feel something as you spray a group of Iranian suspects with a round of NATO bullets. Maybe the point is that America has gotten so much of their history wrong and they couldn’t possibly justify the Cold War and all the fallacy, could they?
Either way, whether or not Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War favours patriotism or not, when you couple the high-stakes arcade-like action with the big-budget cutscenes, the ’80s flavour visuals and a groovy soundtrack, there’s a lot to love about this instalment.
What makes the tense story a little more interesting is the ability to make various choices in dialogue throughout the game, giving you some form of control over the way things play out and, ultimately, the climax of the game.
However, it’s the gunfights that are obviously the most interesting and another thing that Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War does right is make every single gun feel unique. And, oh boy, there’s a ton of weapons to choose from. Oh, and they’re customisable too.
In fact, if there’s one thing the game could never be faulted for it’s the gripping action sequences. Call of Duty has never been about stealth. It has always been about Rambo-ing your way through crowds of bad guys or hordes of zombies, firing up everything and anything in your way – letting the bullets do the talking.
Also, like every Call of Duty release, you’re essentially getting three or four games in one: the story, a wide range of multiplayer competitive options and the co-op horde mode, where, as the name suggests, you’re tasked with fighting off zombies.
At his core, Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War is essentially a multiplayer-heavy game and fans should be familiar with most of these different options (Search and Destroy, Team Deathmatch, Domination, Hardpoint, Combined Arms: Assault), excluding the new VIP Escort mode – where you have to to protect a player until they are airlifted out- and Fireteam: Dirty Bomb – where you’re tasked with collecting uranium and detonating bombs.
Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War does all this and more – with a lot of zeal. It’s a satisfying shooter that should please fans.
Prima Interactive provided a review code to Fortress of Solitude for the purpose of this review.
Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War
Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War, the latest in Activision's annual first-person shooter series, is a solid effort. There is a lot to like and enough content to make fans happy.
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