Friday, May 28, 2010

Call of Duty: Black Ops First Look Preview

 Here we are folks, a mere week after our trip to Treyarch Studios in sunny Santa Monica and we can finally share the epic visions that have filled our heads since then.  From igniting members of the North Vietnamese Army with a Spas-12 equipped with incendiary ammo to providing recon from the seat of the notorious SR-71 Blackbird, prepare to embark on a badass journey filled with twists and turns never before seen from Call of Duty.

"Black Ops is not about the Cold War, it's about the black ops that occurred underneath the Cold War." - Mark Lamia

Let's start off with the two Single Player levels that we were shown.  The first of which is titled "WMD".  Most of you have seen glimpses of the SR-71 Blackbird throughout the trailers that have been released up until now, but what you haven't seen is how this bad boy is incorporated into the gameplay.


Weapons Used:
  • Modified Crossbow w/ Explosive Tips
  • Steyr AUG w/ Silencer
  • AK-47
Starting off in this level, you're suited up and ready to pilot the Blackbird which sits on a runway in California.  After approaching the vehicle, you're saluted and begin to board the plane.

"Big Eye 6, you have the sky."

After requesting for takeoff, you're told "Your aircraft sir".  You're then prompted to press a control to engage the boosters, then must pull back on the thumbstick to begin your ascent.  After a short cinematic of Big Eye 6 in orbit, the screen cuts to a first person view of the cockpit.

"Big Eye 6, this is Kilo 1 requesting tactical recon."

The view is that of a heatmap screen where the 4 man team (Kilo 1 - SOG) can be seen prone in the snow.  Your job is to assist them past any enemy troops that may be present.  After providing them with recon, the screen fades, and you're then put into the boots of one of the members of the black ops patrolmen on the ground.

This is where we first got a peek at the modified crossbow that you've been hearing about.  You lie prone in the snow with your squadmates on your flanks.  Power lines can be seen in the distance.  Your breathing can be heard, provoked by the frigid climate of the Ural Mountains.  At that moment, a group of Russian soldiers on patrol slowly creep by to north.  Their cold breath can be seen in the air, their boots crunching the snow beneath them.  Luckily, you're not detected and the troops continue on their path.

Your objective is to make your way to a substation.  The point of interest is that of a weapons manufacturing facility, obviously not a facility that one wishes to inhabit...that is, unless you're a member of this group of men who show no fear in the face of adversity.  Making your way down the snowy trails, you're met with your first enemies.  Shouldering your crossbow (click thumbstick to hold breath and steady aim), you pick off any targets while remaining completely silent.

Making your way further down, you're then required to hook up and rappel down the steep face of a mountain.  One might imagine this would be where you cut to a cinematic sequence, but not in Black Ops.  After hooking up your ropes and beginning your descent, you're required to push off of the mountain and put the brakes on several times before finally making it to the landing below.  Shooting through the facility's windows with your silenced AUG rifle, you're immediately met by a hoard of Russian soldiers.  Nothing you can't handle though.

Once you've taken the substation, your objective is updated and are asked to move to the "com-stat".

Kilo 1 is approaching the objective.
Making your way further down the mountain, you soon meet a group of enemies that require a bit more firepower.  Switching over to explosive tips on your modified crossbow, the enemy never has a chance.  One enemy is shot directly in the leg, in return exploding not only him but a few of his comrades.  This is when the music kicks in and the shit gets thick.  After you've taken out the enemy troops and taken the storage shed, you move onto the power room.

Alarms are sounding, enemy chatter can be heard.  Switching to an assault rifle, you head towards the power room.  Moving behind your teammate, he opens a door and is immediately met face to face with an enemy.  What does he do?  What any black ops badass would do...he quickly pulls out his blade and throws it at the enemy, impaling him in the neck.  And the crowd goes wild!

Making your way through the facility, the opposition is heavy.  Chaos ensues, but only shortly as you make short work of the enemies inside the facility.  Moving to your objective, you find the relay and yank the fuses from the box.  Objective complete.

Once you've cleared the mountain and completed the objective, there's only one more logical action scene that could possibly take place.  Insert epic avalanche.  Jumping across opening crevices, you follow your team to what you hope to be safety.  As the snow rushes behind you, you have no choice but to jump.....


Weapons Used:
  • Spas-12 w/ Dragon's Breath incendiary ammunition
  • CAR-15 Commando
Next up we have Slaughterhouse, which depicts the Battle of Hue City in 1968.  Taking place during the Tet Offensive, you're in the boots of Mason, a black ops member of the SOG group infiltrating the city in South Vietnam.

You start off rappelling from a Huey chopper.  As soon as you're in the air, the chopper is hit and starts spiraling out of control.  Luckily you and your squadmate for this mission, Woods, are able to smash through a window into a multi-story building.  Dazed by those events, you rise to your feet and are thrown a Spas-12 shotgun equipped with Dragon's Breath ammunition.  Imagine a short-range flamethrower that shoots a burst of fire per trigger pull.  Making your way to an objective, you're met with several Vietnamese enemies, who only end up taking a face full of flames via the end of your barrel.

Receiving assistance from friendly choppers, machine guns rain fire through windows mowing any enemy in it's path down with ease.  Intensity is high, and mixing in civilians throughout the building requires quick thoughts and reactions to minimize their casualties.

Once you've made your way into the urban streets, you can hear a Vietnamese voice over a loudspeaker system...

American soldiers, put down your weapons!  This is not your war.  We do not wish you harm.
Outside you approach a group of Marines and take over their radio communications.  Requesting assistance from the sky, you're then tasked with the job of designating buildings to be fired upon by the Huey's.  Pounding the streets, you're able to provide recon to the choppers who make your job a bit easier.  Don't forget about the remaining troops on the streets though, as they're out for blood.  Picking them off one by one with your CAR-15 Commando, the screen soon fades to black, and our preview comes to an end.

Recalling the levels that were shown, the words of Mark Lamia (Treyarch studio head) ring through our heads, "We are trying to craft an experience on truly an epic scale.".  From objective to objective, you're left wondering what's around the corner.  What in the hell is coming up next?  This is also the first Call of Duty where you'll actually be given a voice, immersing you deeper into the emotional experience of war.  

Since we're assuming the role of a member of the SOG, our missions are truly different than those we've seen in past titles.  These guys were allowed to approach their missions as they saw fit.  Given access to advanced and personally modified weaponry, vehicles, and any equipment they might have needed, they were dropped behind enemy lines and ruled the battlefield.

Not only were SOG tactics and stories recounted by veterans like Major John Plaster, but enemy tactics and stories were studied with a highly-trained member of the Spetsnaz, Sonny Puzikas.  Some of you may have seen Sonny on Spike's Deadliest Warrior as well as his popular instructional videos highlighting his tactical expertise (LINK).  In short, the team at Treyarch has taken the task of depicting this era with as much authenticity as possible...and it looks like they've achieved that with mind-blowing missions that will leave your jaw on the floor.

After viewing the missions shown to us, we were left asking how Treyarch managed to achieve the high level of detail and animations while retaining that butter smooth 60 frames per second.  While the same engine that powered World at War is being used, it's been improved and ratcheted up to provide a truly visceral experience.  Not only has Treyarch incorporated the same motion capture technology as James Cameron's Avatar, but they have access to the world's largest studio with 200 cameras built specifically for Black Ops.  These guys aren't using today's technology, they're forging tomorrow's technology...and it shows.

We were also given access to some of the behind-the-scenes work as well, like the laser scanning of authentic military uniforms which are then transferred over to the game in a highly detailed fashion.  When we say this game looks good, it looks REALLY good!

Another station that we were shown detailed the new AI tactics that you'll see in the Black Ops campaign.  New scripting has given the enemy evasive tactics.  Once you lock on to your target, the enemy will take measures to prevent your success.  From dipping away from your crosshairs to rolling into cover, Treyarch has yet again brought us a more intelligent foe who is surely to impress.

Last but certainly not least, we'd like to touch on some of the multiplayer/Co-op details that we were able to get our hands on.  Although Treyarch isn't ready to rip the top off of the competitive side of things, we were given the chance to talk with Dan Bunting and David "Vahn" Vohnderhaar, who both are working extremely hard on the multiplayer portion of Black Ops.  Instead of attempting to thread their words into a neatly woven paragraph, we're giving you bullet points.  Dig in...

  • The Black Ops mp team is twice the size compared to the mp team of World at War
  • Work on multiplayer began on day one
  • There is no time period for multiplayer, giving us access to more toys and tools
  • Vehicles will return for mp, although not how you know them in CoD's of past
  • The mp team reads the forums, blogs, Twitter, etc. and are sensitive to what the community says
  • No mp maps have been taken from sp, although some sp maps have been taken from mp
  • Create-a-Class customization is deep and includes many new features
  • Focus is being put on varied playlists, including those for old school gamers ala Barebones
  • The team is also focused on how to extend the game once you leave your console/PC
  • Many of your favorite weapons will be seen, although we can't speak specifics
  • Region filter will return
  • Leave with party feature sounded to be making a return
  • Host migration will be included
  • Auto-aim ("Sticky Aim") will have a toggle on/off option
  • Focused on preventing hackers/modders with a dedicated "security team" 
  • 2-4 play Co-op will return, and it's not Campaign Co-op, rather a "really fun co-op mode that you and your friends will love to sit on the couch and play".  Speculate away people. 
  • It looks like dedicated servers will be returning to the PC version, although mod tools are still in question.

We know that's not everything that the community has asked, but like we said, the team just isn't ready to spill the beans on everything regarding multiplayer.  Impressions are great and hopes are high from the short time that we did have to talk about the competitive side though.

To end, we would like to thank Treyarch and Activision for giving us this peek inside Call of Duty: Black Ops.  The game looks absolutely amazing, and the team is extremely focused and dedicated to bringing us a fresh experience to the Call of Duty franchise.  You'll see new elements of gameplay never before explored, and a new playable faction who is truly the best of the best.  Stay tuned in the coming weeks and months for more on Call of Duty: Black Ops.

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  1. Wow,Great job TA/IW team,This looks to be the best yet.Leaders of the pack you are!.Good buddie,DB.

  2. great write up, best one ive seen so far. This game looks awesome, any news on limited editions and what will be within them? Hope no bollocks like a figure or nightvision, something useful to the game such as early weapon unlocks/double xp, etc.

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