Black Ops is a poor quality game: A long winded hate speech.

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Zhukov
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Black Ops is a poor quality game: A long winded hate speech.

Post by Zhukov » Mon Dec 13, 2010 2:20 am

Yeah. This is going to be one of those posts. My apologies. It's also going to be a veritable wall of hateful text. Once again, my apologies.

But before I say anything else, let me make a few of disclaimers.

1 - The following hatred is directed at the single player portion of the game. The multiplayer is actually alright. I don't particularly like it, but I can't honestly call it bad.
2 - I don't hate the Call of Duty series as a whole. I have fond memories of the original CoD. And World at War was kinda-sorta enjoyable. Modern Warfare was actually pretty good. Mostly because it felt like some actual writers had been involved at some point. Sure, MW2 dropped the ball somewhat, but, balance issues aside, there was still some fun to be had with the multiplayer.
3 - No, I am not writing this because I think that hating a popular top-selling game makes me cool. I'm doing it because I regret spending my hard-earned dollars on the game and writing a long and vindictive post on the internet will make me feel better.

...

Right, now that stuff is out of the way... time to crank the criticism. Let me begin by sinking my fingernails into the great oozing pimple that Black Ops laughably refers to as a story.

(This part will contain huge spoilers. Just sayin'.)

So, Black Ops has this Big Twist going on. Turns out your character, the one with the hilariously out of place Australian accent, has been brainwashed by the Russians. (Because Russians are evil don't ya know?) Now, to be fair, that could actually be a pretty interesting angle. That is, if it wasn't given away by clumsy attempts at foreshadowing halfway through the damn game.
Fairly early on a cutscene shows Mason meeting with President Kennedy. This is proceeded by Mason getting severe headaches and hearing a string of number in his head. Then we get a hallucinatory glimpse of him drawing a sidearm and aiming it at Kennedy's head. That's the first half of the twist given away. Mason has been brainwashed into acting as a double agent.
A bit later on Mason starts repeating Reznov's lines. "Steiner, Dragovich, that other guy, all must die" etc etc. Annnnnnd that's the second half of the twist given away. Reznov has hijacked the brainwashing process for his own purposes. Of course the game acts like this is all still a big mystery right up until the Big Reveal where it finally spells everything out in giant, glowing retard-proof letters and says, "Well, are you shocked? Are you surprised? Are you reeling with disbelief? Have you forgotten about how Bioshock did this several times better? Have you? Huh? Huh?"

Another central problem with the story is the overarching threat. Apparently the Russians (eeeeeevil Russians) have planted a whole lot of nasty chemical bombs throughout the USA and have a whole load of brainwashed sleeper agents ready and waiting to set off said bombs once they receive an activation code via radio broadcast. (One thinks it would be a lot simpler to just drop the chemical bombs from a couple of planes but whatever, we'll run with it.) So once the game has finished coughing it's Big Twist into your lap, you are sent off to and prevent this broadcast. Fair enough I guess. Problem is, before the explosive finale, this whole situation is mentioned a grand total of twice. The game screws around for about 90% of it's duration and then in that final 10% suddenly says, "Oh hey, by the way, the entire free world is under threat. Y'know, generic evil Russians and all. So yeah... you might want to get on that."

And then there are the characters. Oh the characters. Usually I would be tempted to call them cliche. But that would suggest at least some vestigial degree of characterization. At least enough to file them away under various trite and uninteresting stereotypes. But they don't even have that. Woods, Bowman, Weaver, Mason, Hudson... they all amount to so many cardboard cutouts. I cannot think of a single defining trait for even one of them. Of course the game thinks it has a wonderful cast on its hands. I kept getting the impression that I was expected to feel something when the characters started to die their hilarious deaths. That is to say, feel something other than, "Oh thank God I don't have to listen to him any more."
Actually, I would like to pause the flow of hatred long enough to say that Reznov was kind of cool. He was so hammy and over the top that it was impossible not to like him. Of course the game kinda buggered it up (resume hatred) by writing him out of existence toward the end. "Oh hey, that one notable character? That one you couldn't help but like? Yeah... he actually died in level 2."

(Phew. It's good to get that out of my system. Incidentally, if you're still reading up to now then you have my gratitude... and my pity.)

...

There is of course a rather obvious counter argument to all of this. The game doesn't need to have a great story. It's just Call of Duty. It doesn't have to be anything more then a big, dumb 10-hour action sequence. It's just the video game equivalent of The Expendables or something.

Well... y'know what? Good point. I actually agree with that. Although, it makes me question the need to cram all the bad writing into the end product. But hey, I guess the story does serve to give some context, regardless of it woeful quality. The fact is, not every game has to be work of art. Not every game has to show that video games could eventually be the equal of literature and cinema. Sometimes a game can just be about fun gameplay.

...

Yeah... speaking of gameplay... sorry, but no. Black Ops's gameplay simply gets drowned under the weight of it own scripting.

Now, there is nothing wrong with scripting in games if it is well done. Heck, some of my favourite games are heavily scripted ones. But Black Ops goes one step further and keeps trying to script the players actions as if they were an NPC.
At one point in the first level I ran into a room, saw an enemy and shot him. He didn't die. He didn't react at all. So shot him again. Still no reaction. Then he shot me and killed me. Back to last checkpoint. Retry. Run in to the room. Shoot the enemy. Still no reaction. He shoots me, I die. Back to last checkpoint. Retry. Run in, shoot, no reaction, die, checkpoint etc. But this time as I die I notice the enemy being killed by one of my poorly characterized NPC buddies in a scripted sequence. So the next time I let the NPC go in first. Sure enough, the dastardly enemy gets killed in a scripted sequence. In other words, the game was screwing me over with unkillable enemies so it could show me its precious cinematic moment.
In another part your helicopter crashes (sound familiar?) and the player character gets thrown into a lake. The player then exits the lake by climbing onto a sampan. But God help you if you try and exit the lake any other way. Try to swim to the nearby shore? Death by mysterious instakill. Try to climb onto a different boat? Instakill. Try to climb onto the other side of the correct boat? Instakill.
In yet another part the game slapped me with a Game Over screen every time I wandered more then a few metres from the predetermined path. Once during the Kowloon level it gave me a game over for accidentally killing a civilian.

The smothering scripting is the main problem with the gameplay, but there are plenty of others. The checkpoints can be utterly retarded. Several times I was forced to start a level over because the game gave me a checkpoint while I was standing next to a live grenade, kicking off a sequence of load-bang-die-load-bang-die that would have been hilarious if it hadn't indicated an hour or so of lost progress. Oh, and the cutscenes and occasionally even the gameplay are constantly overlaid with flickering white lights and fleeting images apparently designed to give the player a headache.

Allow me finish on an ever so slightly positive note. The Vietnam tunnel section was pretty good. The Kowloon level had some fun moments. The level where you play as Reznov had awesome music. The gameplay is perfectly adequate standard-issue FPS when it manages to get away from the prohibitive scripting.

...

TL;DR: Black Ops has bad writing, non-existant characters and gameplay that is frequently ruined by its apparent desire to be a bad movie instead of a bad game.

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Re: Black Ops is a poor quality game: A long winded hate spe

Post by BlackHole » Mon Dec 13, 2010 7:45 am

http://www.escapistmagazine.com/videos/ ... -Black-Ops

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A thief is more moral than a congressman; when a thief steals your money, he doesn't demand you thank him.

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Re: Black Ops is a poor quality game: A long winded hate spe

Post by Freshbite » Mon Dec 13, 2010 10:19 am

Naturally this post will also contain a fair amount of spoilers.
Zhukov wrote:The game screws around for about 90% of it's duration and then in that final 10% suddenly says, "Oh hey, by the way, the entire free world is under threat. Y'know, generic evil Russians and all. So yeah... you might want to get on that."
I fucking laughed at the ending when suddenly the whole American fleet had come knocking, and jets flew over our head in a "We-won-the-war" gesture. Almost had me puke from the lameness.
Zhukov wrote:Woods, Bowman, Weaver, Mason, Hudson... they all amount to so many cardboard cutouts. I cannot think of a single defining trait for even one of them.
I had a really hard time telling them apart. One of them died quite early, I think, and later I found him to be there again and went "Wait, didn't this guy die like two missions ago?" If we can't even tell the main characters apart, they are doing something wrong.
Zhukov wrote:That is to say, feel something other than, "Oh thank God I don't have to listen to him any more.
Yeah, I found the characters to be quite annoying. Reznov was alright though.
Zhukov wrote:It's just Call of Duty. It doesn't have to be anything more then a big, dumb 10-hour action sequence.
Why do I feel as if that's how everyone thinks nowadays?
"Nah, we're Ubisoft, we don't have to make games approachable for people to buy them."
Naturally, as I have noticed, people have got fed-up with it and have started a well-earned boycott towards them.

Zhukov wrote:In other words, the game was screwing me over with unkillable enemies so it could show me its precious cinematic moment.
I noticed that aswell. There was one part of the game where you were suppose to kill a guy that fled, I think it was in the Vietnamese tunnels. Anyway, somehow I got ahold of a Rocket Launcher and, well, launched it his way, wanting to not chase his ass 12 more times (I die quite frequently on Veteran difficulty), but the game wanted to keep their pretty chase going, even though the rocket hit him straight in the back, twice.


There was also another lame thing that happened. You were in some guy's secret base, with Reznov, while he listens to a radio podcast. Supposedly, a bomb goes off and you have to crawl your way to safety. I didn't know what to do and stood, pretty much, still. Nothing happened anyway and I was waiting for further instructions concerning the situation. And then all went dark, Game Over. I guess the roof fell in, but I never got the impression of that. As far as I know I just died from... something, a simple faint was my first guess. I even tried running back to where we came from with no success. After a few times though, I gave up to the game and ran out of the cave, in the right direction.

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Re: Black Ops is a poor quality game: A long winded hate spe

Post by Venatir » Mon Dec 13, 2010 3:20 pm

did you just compare black ops to an RPG?

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Re: Black Ops is a poor quality game: A long winded hate spe

Post by Renegade_Turner » Mon Dec 13, 2010 7:54 pm

Didn't play the campaign. Think FPS games for the most part should just be multiplayer games. Black Ops is a great game.

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Re: Black Ops is a poor quality game: A long winded hate spe

Post by Sandurz » Mon Dec 13, 2010 9:32 pm

I agree with you on almost all points.

Multiplayer is fun though. I love gun game, I remember playing it on CS a while ago. I think they need to have more gun tiers.

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Re: Black Ops is a poor quality game: A long winded hate spe

Post by Assaultman67 » Mon Dec 13, 2010 10:11 pm

Wow ... instant killing for going the wrong direction ...

Whomever mapped for this hasn't done it for very long ...

Generally the standard for maps is to provide the illusion of choice rather than the forceful "Wrong way dumbass!" insta-kill or invisible barrier

The scripting I can kinda understand ... they probably expect the players to get into this tactical/stealthy/analytical mindset rather than a quick draw mcgraw mindset you would see in games such as Halo, TF2, etc ... let alone the hyper quick draw mcgraw speed balling crack and adrenaline mindset you see in games like Quake and Unreal Tournament.

Problem is they need to make scripts bendable ... they sometimes forget that one of the advantages of games when compared to cinema is that games have interactivity its the ability to change a sequence of events that give games a "Choose your own Adventure!" story ...

In Red Faction there are alot of scripted scenes where a miner will get killed by a guard ... and if you're fast enough, you can shoot the guard and save the miner ... unfortunately the miner is absolutely useless after that point and stands around like a jackass saying "You go on ahead, I got orders to stay here."

Although, alot of games (as said before) merely provide the illusion of choice (It seems as if the illusion of choice is a very fundamental concept for SP mapping now days) ... it would be similar to this scenario in a "Choose your own Adventure" story:

Do you want to enter the cave?
Yes! (go to page 7)
No! (go to page 7)

Which still provides the consumer with the illusion of freedom the first time they play through the game ... however the second time is more disappointing when they realize their decisions have no actual effect on the game :P

They still manipulated the consumer into thinking "Wow this game is so much fun because I can choose what direction I want to go!"

The most common "illusion of freedom", yet subtle quite effective, being the divergence of one path into two or more parallel paths, that join back together ...

I bet, if you only considered linear story games, you could determine which games seem more adventurous by this feature alone ...

Wait, ... why am I ranting about the psychological tricks that mappers use? :?

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Re: Black Ops is a poor quality game: A long winded hate spe

Post by Renegade_Turner » Tue Dec 14, 2010 12:55 am

Tl,dr (I actually did read it), single player campaign in both Bad Company and Modern Warfare/Black Ops have been crappy and boring, but the multiplayer in both games has been peerless.

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Re: Black Ops is a poor quality game: A long winded hate spe

Post by Ozymandias » Tue Dec 14, 2010 2:46 am

So, we can assume that they make the multiplayer game, and then tack on the singleplayer game as some kind of illusion?

I remember Battlefield 1942 having no singleplayer story. Tribes2 didn't have a singleplayer story (aside from the tutorial stuff,a nd maybe some fluff). Those games did fine with just being multiplayer (at least tribes2 did, I didn't play 1942)

Now that I mention this, I worry a bit aobut Red Orchestra, HoS. It's primarily a multiplayer experience, so how are they going to pull off singleplayer?

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Post by Zhukov » Tue Dec 14, 2010 9:03 am

Freshbite wrote:I fucking laughed at the ending when suddenly the whole American fleet had come knocking, and jets flew over our head in a "We-won-the-war" gesture. Almost had me puke from the lameness.
Same reaction here. That scene was clearly intended for the sort of people who get a raging hard-on every time they see an American flag fluttering in the wind.
Freshbite wrote:"Nah, we're Ubisoft, we don't have to make games approachable for people to buy them."
Are you referring to any Ubisoft game in particular? Because I never fund approachability to be a problem with them.
(Now that DRM of theirs, that is a problem.)
Venatir wrote:did you just compare black ops to an RPG?
Uhh... no? I don't think so.

I am not of the opinion that only RPGs can have interesting and well told narratives populated with interesting characters. Umm... if that's even what you were implying...
Renegade_Turner wrote:Didn't play the campaign.
Disqualified!
Renegade_Turner wrote:Think FPS games for the most part should just be multiplayer games.
Yeah, that would probably be a good... wait, what? Really... I mean... really?

No Bioshock? No Half Life series? No S.T.A.L.K.E.R.? No Metro 2033? No SWAT 4-game-that-you-love-despite-its-boring-theme? No desperate melees with enraged golems under the sea? No Alyx Vance and D0G? No exploring the nooks and crannies of the Moscow underground? No hostages bitching at you as you cuff them?

No? None of that? Just endless repetitions of the same 10 maps punctuated by the occasional headshot and complementary tea-bagging?

I don't think I want to live in your world.
Assaultman67 wrote:In Red Faction there are alot of scripted scenes where a miner will get killed by a guard ... and if you're fast enough, you can shoot the guard and save the miner ... unfortunately the miner is absolutely useless after that point and stands around like a jackass saying "You go on ahead, I got orders to stay here."
I remember that!

I also remember how sometimes you would see a guard about to shoot a miner. So you interrupt the script by shooting the guard first. Then a couple of seconds later the miner would suddenly die anyway because his script was still going.

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Re:

Post by Freshbite » Tue Dec 14, 2010 9:52 am

Zhukov wrote:Are you referring to any Ubisoft game in particular? Because I never fund approachability to be a problem with them.
(Now that DRM of theirs, that is a problem.)
Yeah, that's what I was supposed to mention.
Zhukov wrote:... Then a couple of seconds later the miner would suddenly die anyway because his script was still going.
Now that's bullshit!

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Re:

Post by Renegade_Turner » Tue Dec 14, 2010 1:01 pm

Zhukov wrote:
Renegade_Turner wrote:Think FPS games for the most part should just be multiplayer games.
No Bioshock? No Half Life series? No S.T.A.L.K.E.R.? No Metro 2033? No SWAT 4-game-that-you-love-despite-its-boring-theme? No desperate melees with enraged golems under the sea? No Alyx Vance and D0G? No exploring the nooks and crannies of the Moscow underground? No hostages bitching at you as you cuff them?
Oh lord you're melodramatic...and you seem to have a lack of reading comprehension.
Renegade_Turner wrote:for the most part
Renegade_Turner wrote:for the most part


Renegade_Turner wrote:for the most part


Love Half Life series, love Bioshock series, love Metro 2033, love SWAT 4 (which, for the record, did not have a boring theme, it just didn't have story, we've been over this, it was meant to be like the actions of a SWAT theme, I'm still not convinced of your suggestion to have a SWAT theme with magical powers set in a medieval fantasy era because it's just simply ridiculous).

Most FPS games turn out having awful single-player aspects...but then magnificent multiplayer modes. Modern Warfare, Modern Warfare 2 and Black Ops have all managed to keep multiplayer very fresh and entertaining by switching it up a bit each time. Complete overhauls are not needed. A lot of the time I derive no more fun from anything else than I do from playing a game of Fifa 11 or Black Ops online. Great rush.

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Re: Black Ops is a poor quality game: A long winded hate spe

Post by krazykat » Thu Dec 16, 2010 11:56 pm

I've never played a Call Of Duty game since the first Modern Warfare, which I love :)

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Re: Black Ops is a poor quality game: A long winded hate spe

Post by zoidberg rules » Fri Dec 17, 2010 6:50 am

First Modern Warfare was great.
Second was good, but the campaign seemed too short and the multiplayer was just copy and paste from MW1, with a couple guns gone, a couple guns added and the ability to nuke/EMP the fuck out of "that noob over there".

Haven't played Black Ops multiplayer yet, but I am planning on getting it soon so I will do then, and then I can comment on it.

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Re: Black Ops is a poor quality game: A long winded hate spe

Post by Renegade_Turner » Fri Dec 17, 2010 1:04 pm

I thought multiplayer in Modern Warfare 2 was a lot more polished than Modern Warfare, and overall much better.

I will agree that the campaign in Modern Warfare was much better though.

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