Black is an easy to pick up, non-stop action game that delivers exactly what it promised. It’s just unfortunate that it feels like it’s over just as you’re getting into it.
The Good: One of the best looking current gen shooters. Weapon and explosion sounds are massive.
The Bad: Extremely short. No multiplayer. Less than stellar A.I.
What’s been dubbed as the last great game on current gen consoles is finally in our hands, but unfortunately it’s not all it’s cracked up to be.
I’ve watched several interviews with the developers of Black (via Gamespot) and went into this game knowing it was made to be a fun, intense shooter in the same vein as the classic 80s Hollywood blockbuster action movies. And in this regard, Black excels. There’s bullets flying from every direction. Shit blowing up all around you all the time. And plenty of weapons to keep you entertained… for a short time.
I’m not gonna beat around the bush here… holy shit, this is the shortest game ever! It really is. I don’t think I’ve ever played a game that I beat in 3 sittings (less than 6 hours). But in that time, I did manage to fire over 27,000 bullets and drop over 1,700 dudes. I can deal with a short campaign as long as there’s other things to do. Unfortunately, there isn’t with Black. Once you beat it, you can play it again on a hard difficulty level, but that’s about the extent of it. After completing the game on Normal you’re rewarded with Silver weapons. Not only do they look wicked hot, they have unlimited ammo. Which you might find sort of cheese since you’re supposed to continue onto the harder difficulties and they’ve basically just given you a cheat.
Speaking of cheese. When I wrote my Preview last week, I mentioned that I was 4 levels in. I think it was showing my progress as 18% at that time, so I figured I still had quite a ways to go. I’ve now beat the game and I’m only 30% done. That there, is some stanky cheese. Aside from your main objectives, there’s secondary objectives which include things like collecting big red pieces of paper that you find stuck to walls, blowing up safes and laptops, finding plans and maps, etc. When you play on normal, you only have to collect a few of the secondary objectives to finish the mission, although you’ll end up with almost all of them anyway. It’s not exactly hard to find a big metal safe or a gleaming red page stuck on a brick wall. I guess this is where the extra 70% comes into play? Beat the game again on High and collect more useless shit, then beat it again on Black Ops and collect the same useless shit and you’ve finally completed the game. Ummm, no thanks.
Black doesn’t look or sound like an Xbox/PS2 game. And I’m sure you’ll agree after you watch my gameplay video. They’ve really pulled everything string possible to get the most out of these consoles. The environments look great with tons of detail. The amount of dust and debris flying around is insane. Add a bunch of fire on top of that and some sparks from bullets hitting metal. You would think with all that on screen chaos, you’d see some slow downs. Not at all – at least on the Xbox. It ran smooth as silk.
The weapon sounds are phenomenal. The automatic guns are sharp and crisp while the RPG and grenade explosions are huge and full. They really did a good job on the range of weapon sounds here. To accompany the medley of shells dropping and glass shattering is a beautiful orchestral score produced by non-other than Michael Giacchino. Who just happens to be my favourite composer. You’ve definitely heard his work, whether you’re a gamer or someone who watches television or enjoys movies. He’s done everything from the Medal of Honor and the Call of Duty series to The Incredibles and Lost.
The enemies you’ll encounter in Black are nothing to get too worked up about. Basically you’re run of the mill soldiers that don’t know any better than to take cover when they get shot in the face and will run head-long at you while you’re unloading on them. That’s not to say they’re not tough, though. I think in an effort to make up for their lack of intelligence, they’ve been given the ability to withstand and obscene amount of bullets passing through their bodies. Some in particular, you will have to reload a couple times before taking them down. Which does get frustrating, to say the least. There’s basically 4 types of soldiers. The standard, skinny, extra stupid soldier that only takes a few shots to take out. He’ll often run away if you come up behind him – which is actually quite funny to see. Then there’s one that’s got different camo and takes a few more bullets. Then we have Mr Jason mask with a shotgun. This guy sucks as you have to knock his mask off to kill him. I found that if you pump him full of bullets to the chest as you’re approaching, he’ll fall to the ground. You can then smack him with the butt end of your gun and he’s out for the count. The last class of soldier is the fuckin’ worst. Dude’s got a huge shield and is fully covered in armor from head to toe. If you don’t have grenades or an RPG, you’re going to take some hits and unload a ton of bullets on this dude. Even then, he can protect himself from the grenade blast with the shield. So you have to make sure to shot around him to keep him moving while you’re waiting for the ‘nade to blast. There was a couple instances where 2 or more of them came out at the same time. Sucked.
Overall, I had some fun playing Black. I don’t see myself playing through the entire game again. I’ve already played some of the levels through a second time, which was just as fun if not more with infinite ammo.