Before this review goes further I want to note that below with my final review scores I include 2 parts; 1 part for online/multiplayer and 1 part for campaign.
Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 takes place in the same fictional world as Treyarch’s previous Call of Duty games, virtually on the brink of a global meltdown as the positions of military and corporate are distorted.
For the first time in the series, you now have the option to create a character with a bunch of options varying between physical characteristics. You can now also choose between a male and female character, which have their own individual voice acting through most cut scenes. Speaking of, there are a lot more cut-scenes in this game, especially for a Call of Duty game.
The story starts out hard and heavy, of course, which stars Christopher Meloni. You may notice him from being in Law & Order: SVU, but in Call of Duty he is your supervisor who explains how important technology is. He sports a cyber skeleton of sorts, which has a set of cybernetic enhancements. These enhancements become more of a crutch than anything, but we will hit on that later.
I have always played Call of Duty campaigns first before I even touch multiplayer. It allows me to get a sense of the maps, weapons, and potential obstacles online. This year felt more of a drag than others. The story was very easy to predict, plot twists felt obvious, and it just felt like Treyarch missed the mark all together. Scenes that were meant to put you on your toes wound up boring me. I often heard myself saying “c’mon, hurry up.” When I play any game, nonetheless Call of Duty, I want to enjoy it. I was just racing to the finish line, not worried about my surroundings.
One of the positives I have of the campaign is the virtual reality training missions. You are put into this world that I can only describe as being straight out of the movie of ‘Tron’. You start out with having every upgrade available. It’s a blast learning to hack turrets, wall running, blowing up enemies remotely, and just being a cybernetic boss. However, Black Ops 3 takes all your hope away by introducing 3 skill trees. As you play through the campaign you earn ‘cyber cores’ which can be applied to upgrade an ability. You can also use these ‘cores’ to unlock new weapons, attachments, and more so I had to use a bit of strategy deciding what to upgrade or unlock.
You won’t have every ability at once, not until you hit level 20 in campaign. I didn’t hit level 20 through my first playthrough, and the replayability of the campaign is poor at best. This is where full co-op comes into play. Every mission in Black Ops 3 supports up to 4 players, where each player can customize and outfit their character along with yourself.
Enemies in the campaign are no joke as many of them are almost impossible to defeat solo. This changes the typical play of Call of Duty; fast and always moving forward isn’t the name of the game anymore. Playing co-op is helpful when you are dealing with intense enemies. Enemies now are more aggressive, stronger, and can even turn into running suicidal bombs. You can now coordinate with your team mate and plan out an attack plan. If you are running solo, however, then it just turns into a frustrating cycle of wasted bullets and running in the opposite direction.
Occasionally Black Ops 3 puts you in a spot where your cybernetic powers and co-op play turns into a lungful of fresh air. You will find yourself enjoying a game where all the yelling, cursing, and blood turns into a story of crazy plays of blowing up and enemy remotely, then hacking their robot tank drones to shoot and turn their base into an exploding ball of fire. These moments almost save the game, almost.
Once you pick your ability set you are locked in for the level, unless you are level 20, where you can exchange between your different rig trees. This is where the replayability of the campaign turns cloudy. Often times I went into a mission where my rig is not aimed toward the enemies I am fighting. What’s the point of a loadout that will help me defeat human forces when most of the enemies I am fighting is all robot and/or AI based?
Online hasn’t changed much in the sense of fast movement, constant flying bullets, and dodging maneuvers. However, Black Ops 3 introduces character classes. Each character class has a set of special abilities you can choose from. These abilities unlock throughout the game, and unlock faster when you power through score streaks. As you level up throughout online play, you can unlock and access new characters.
It seems like the character classes are there to create a “bells and whistles” kind of effect. Call of Duty has always been about loadout customization and what works for each player. Emphasizing specific power moves seems to be a reason to refresh interest in online play. They are cool to use, and fun to have, but they don’t really help in the sense of online play. The power moves seem to help start score streaks, and at best most of these kills are based on luck.
Freerun is one of the extra modes in Black Ops 3. You run courses shooting to beat, or hit, a specific time. If you have played Sunset Overdrive, then this will ring a bell. I found that Freerun helped me in multiplayer as I knew and felt comfortable with the new wall running mechanics.
Along with the extra modes brings the popular Zombies survival mode. Dead Ops is also included, but it now features a full length campaign. I am not a big Zombies fan, but what I did play of it was pretty enjoyable. When you finish the main campaign it unlocks a zombie variant that takes out human enemies and replaces then with hordes of zombies along with the same power up in the original Zombies mode.
I have always been a huge Call of Duty enthusiast. I have gotten the game at midnight regardless of having access to a review copy. I play and enter midnight release tournaments at my local Gamestop every year. Call of Duty is near and dear to my heart, and always will be. Black Ops has always been my favorite line of Call of Duty games. However, I think Black Ops 3 missed a big mark. Black Ops 1 and 2 left too big of an impression for me.
**NOTE**Activision supplied us with 1 retail copy of Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 for Xbox One. Said copy was used for review, and does not reflect my final scores.
- Cybernetic abilities are fun and refreshing
- A lot more cut scenes that show new voice acting technology
- Choice of female or male campaign protagonist
- Bleak campaign
- Never get 'full' use of cybernetic abilities
- Multiplayer levels don't allow much wall running