The title of my review is a recurring theme. In everything I find wrong with this game, it's always because Treyarch went for a wow-factor, but didn't sweat the small things. To be honest, I think it's that they didn't get enough previewing/game testing (or didn't listen to the advice they DID get).
The story was great. It was a great idea, I think (It's hard to tell cause the ending was spoiled for me.), but that was not the issue. The issue was all in Treyarch's delivery.
They didn't get me to absorb their material. I didn't feel involved. In successful games and movies, I feel welcome and the creators make the journey seem like a fun roller coaster ride (after waiting in line and without feeling sick). Black Ops felt more like doing homework. The point of the game is to confuse you at points, but where they weren't supposed to, I felt confused. I was watching my character and another screaming at each other and I had no idea why. I felt left out, and that made me stop playing the campaign for a while.
Treyarch had the great structure for a moving tale, but didn't present it well. Maybe they didn't pass it by enough people to see how loosely the presentation involved the players.
My teammates are useless. That's probably the only thing I didn't like in terms of singleplayer gameplay. In one specific example, three of us run up some stairs into a room. My buddies went in before me, and didn't kill the enemy in the room. I assume there's no one there then, and since visibility is rather low in this level, I don't see him myself. Then of course I die. It's frustrating when you can't trust your teammates; it begins to seem like you, alone, are fighting all the baddies.
Treyarch included many cool weapons, like a ballistic knife or flamethrower attachment. The maps, I found, didn't catch my fancy. I suppose I just didn't like how few spots I could find to snipe from. There are small ones like Nuketown and larger ones like Array, and the playing style changes for what type of match you play (Team Deathmatch vs Search & Destroy).
What I found aggravating was the respawning issues. I found myself dying and spawning a turn around a corner away, just in time for the enemy to get a few rounds through my skull. Also, I found that players (allies and enemies) would spawn behind the enemy lines, where our foes were still occupying the space. It was very puzzling and certainly annoying. When it was ME spawning behind them, I sure got a few good kills, but I didn't really like that fact that I got an edge on them in such a way. Here is a video I found that illustrates what I mean: [...] (he doesn't really start addressing spawning until 5:30)
I found this part to be the worst for me, maybe because it has affected me the most times. First, I'm not certain how or why, but it seems I'm getting the game data a second later than others. Many many countless times, I have run to cover and been out of sight, but still gotten shot, and as I watch the killcam, realize why. It is because others are ahead by a second and in their gamestate, I'm still visible and very vulnerable. This type of situation has occurred countless times, and I understand that it can't be like real life, where everyone is synchronized, but I thought the difference would've been insignificant.
The fact that I play this game on a PS3 may have an effect on this point, but very often, I try to join a match and sometime before entering the game (anytime in between immediately after joining the lobby or until the match and map finally load), I get a notice telling me that I've been "Disconnected due to transmission error" I realized it occuring mostly when I try to join a team deathmatch. Just right now, I wanted to get the wording right for the quote above, so I joined once and got disconnected. Handy isn't it?
All around, I think Treyarch put in a lot of good effort to make this game a success, but in the end, didn't look enough into things rather simply solved with some good player testing. Maybe they were rushed by the release date.
Watch the short trailer here
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