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Call of Duty sticks to its guns

Nov 19, 2015

By John Powell - G4 Canada

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Call of Duty: Black Ops 3The bionics are back. Embracing its madcap, sci-fi heritage, the third instalment of the Black Ops Call of Duty franchise offers more futuristic wackiness and chugs ahead like a well-oiled machine.

Set 40 years after the last installment, technology has continued to advance as has the chaos in our world. Able to jack into the very minds of their cybernetic soldiers (Direct Neural Interface (DNI), the black ops team is still putting fires out around the world. The future soldiers not only have enhanced strength, speed and agility, they can now summon nanobots to swarm their enemies, hack and either control mechanized foes or even cause them to breakdown and implode. Those new abilities come in handy as the plot borrows a page or two from The Terminator with robotic adversaries threatening to take over the world.

Call of Duty: Black Ops 3These new skills alter the gameplay in positive ways. Combat has become more flexible. While your weapons will still get a vigorous workout, your expanded arsenal bolsters your tactics, giving you far more options in the battlefield. For example, the new ground pound attack can reduce entire squadrons to scrap metal or broken bones.

What the future (Treyarch) gives, the future (Treyarch) also takes away though. Most of the new-fangled abilities need to be charged before you can put them into play and unlike other Call of Duty games, you cannot pick up and use enemy weapons unless you use the default class and unlocked a special skill. In the future, firearms are networked, linked to specific soldiers. While that is discouraging, it all makes sense when you take into account the time and place.

Call of Duty: Black Ops 3The approximately six hour campaign is not the only mode to get an upgrade from Treyarch. Zombie and multiplayer modes have also been given game-changing improvements. In the first story in Zombies mode, Shadows of Evil, a co-op campaign, brings together a motley crew of zombie exterminators voiced by Hollywood heavyweights Jeff Goldblum, Heather Graham, Neal McDonough and Ron Perlman. They are tasked with clearing out the imperiled Morg City of living dead under the direction of the mysterious Shadowman.

To battle the undead, you can surprisingly become a monster yourself at times, a Cthulhu-like creature but only once per round.

The Giant, the second Zombies storyline, uses the original characters but takes place in an alternate future, an alternate world, in which they are trying to put the timeline back together.

Call of Duty: Black Ops 3In both Zombie modes, the leash on character progression has been removed. An XP system lets players improve their skills and weapons along the way, making for more fluid gameplay.

There is a big change to the multiplayer element as well. Before the round or game begins you have to select and then play as a Specialist who has one dedicated power and weapon. This throws a welcome wrench into the works transforming the multiplayer experience in the sense that teams are more diverse than ever.

Black Ops 3 is a fully loaded package, with hours and hours of content to experience and explore. Treyarch's shrewd improvements retain the core Call of Duty tone, feel while at the same time rejigging the gameplay just enough to mix things up for those series veterans. Some worry about the franchise as a whole suffering from fatigue but under Treyarch's watch, Black Ops has a bright, if not, twisted future.

Call of Duty: Black Ops 3Call of Duty: Black Ops 3
Format: Xbox One
Publisher: Activision
Developer: Treyarch Studios
ESRB Rating: M for Mature

Official Site:

Rating: 9 / 10

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