With a yearly cycle, the Call of Duty franchise has to keep pushing boundaries and look no further than Treyarch to take the series to new heights with quite possibly the most content filled and ambitious title in the series so far with Call of Duty Black Ops 3.
Treyarch have always been quite the dark horse when it came to the Call of Duty franchise. They deliver some of the best titles in the series so far with World at War and the original Black Ops despite being the B-team. While the second Call of Duty Black Ops had some issues, the way it correlates into the first title was magnificent and I commend the writing. While Call of Duty Black Ops 3 is set in the same timeline as the previous games – it’s a self contained story.
The Human Effect
Going down the futuristic route again, Call of Duty Black Ops 3 is set in 2065 where the world fights wars behind enemy lines. In these battles, technology plays a vital role as you’ll see combat robots fight alongside humans and cybernetic modifications turn normal soldiers into weapons. Unlike previous titles that explore futuristic advancement in warfare and it’s consequences, Black Ops 3 goes deeper down the rabbit hole and uncovers the damage behind the mind when it comes to human modifications.
The story in relation to its themes does push the envelope way over the edge and it was something I wasn’t quite expecting from a title like Call of Duty. Treyarch has been known for twisting up the story but since they’re in a territory where they can write pretty much anything they want. It’s an intriguing ride but often hard to follow as it threads on itself too much as it blends reality and fantasy. With previous Call of Duty relying on huge explosive set pieces that blows away the player – Black Ops 3 feels overdone within its narrative space which becomes it’s ultimate downfall.
“It’s an intriguing ride but often hard to follow as it threads on itself too much as it blends reality and fantasy.”
It’s the first time the player can also customise the character choosing either male or female to become the face of the campaign. The method helps craft the players own experience but its ruined by the sub-par voice acting. It’s probably the first time I wanted a silent protagonist. The supporting characters are top-notch however with appearances by Chris Meloni and Katee Sackhoff.
The campaign also allowed much more control over how and what you play with. This is the first time you can play 4-player co-op throughout the entire story plus modify and create weapon setups before you jump into each mission. The levels themselves are less corridor and more arenas which allows you to explore different options of how you approach the enemy. The freedom is welcoming and again like above, helps personalise the campaign even more than before.
Running on Walls
The second pillar of Call of Duty Black Ops 3 and often the most popular or go to is the multiplayer. It’s the biggest part of the Call of Duty franchise and most will only delve into this experience than anything else on disc. After Sledgehammer decided to change the movement system in Call of Duty Advanced Warfare, the team at Treyarch have devised their own take on a new futuristic movement system in Call of Duty Black Ops 3.
Killing off the exo suits, Treyarch has favoured superhuman cybernetic movements to lay the groundwork for Call of Duty Black Ops 3. Players have the ability to slide, wall run and mantle over any obstacle on the map with ease. The new movement system is great and provides a new challenge to the pre-existing Call of Duty layout. With the ability to move around the map faster and often engage in combat from different angles – Treyarch has really hit the nail with how the game moves.
“With the ability to move around the map faster and often engage in combat from different angles – Treyarch has really hit the nail with how the game moves.”
You’ll also see the introduction of the Specialist classes which adds another layer to the multi-player. Similar to MOBA titles where each character has a certain ability exclusive to themselves, the Specialist classes gives players another perk to play with. Take for instance Sparrow, whom is able to utilise her compound bow to shoot off explosive arrows at enemies while Ruin can deal alot of damage within an area with his gravity spikes. Each character is unique and creates a signature style play within each game which will be one of the biggest push when competitive Call of Duty Black Ops 3 begins.
Dawn of the Dead
The ever popular Zombies return even bigger with Call of Duty Black Ops 3 in Shadows of Evil. Set in the 1940s noir-setting, Shadows of Evil features four characters: a police officer, magician, boxer and a dancer. Just like before, you have to survive waves after waves of the infected utilizing teamwork and money management.
A few new things have been added into Shadows of Evil, like two brand new enemies and the ability to turn into a cthulhu tentacle monster destroying anything that stands in your path. The brand new XP and weapon loadout system also allows for greater customization within the mode. I’ve personally never been interested in the Zombies mode but with every Call of Duty iteration; they seem to push it further and it almost feels like a mode that can stand on its own.
But wait, there’s more
If you thought Treyarch has stopped there with this release, you’re wrong. There are a few more additions to Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 that’s worth mentioning and having a look at. The new free-run mode or “Mirror’s Edge’ courses are something players can try out to better hone their skills at the new free-running aspect of Call of Duty Black Ops 3. There are a few preset courses you can try and master and adds somewhat of a fun competitive mode to the game.
You have also minor additions like gunsmith where you can add decals and customize your weapons. Previous Call of Duty’s allowed you to unlock and change weapon skins and to an extent that remains here but you can add decals that you’ve unlock to further personalize your guns. If you wanted a picture of a dog on your rifle, then you can.
I have always been a fan of Treyarch’s campaign and stories but Call of Duty Black Ops 3 has to be the weakest in their line-up. It just didn’t deliver despite being quite gripping at the start. There was too many unexplained theories and things just felt overdone. The strongest card and always have been in their arsenal is the multi-player and it really hides the weakest point of the package. It’s packed to the brim of the game’s case with content and the new movement system helps create a new curve for players to learn which makes things interesting. There’s lots of things to do here and if campaign was never your thing – then it’s still worth picking up Call of Duty Black Ops 3 for it’s massive multi-player.
Platforms: PlayStation 4 (reviewed), Xbox One, PC. Xbox 360 & PS3 Version (Multi-player Only)