IMM Review
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IMM Review

Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War

by Frank Kovacs

Review Date: November 19, 2020

Platforms: PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series S, Xbox Series X, PC

Publisher: Activision

Developer(s): Treyarch, Raven Software, High Moon Studios, Beenox, Sledgehammer Games

ESRB: M for Blood and Gore, Drug References, Intense Violence, Strong Language, Suggestive Themes

Cost: $60 for Base Game, $70 for Cross-Gen Bundle, $90 for Ultimate Bundle, Extra costs from Battle Pass, Season Pass, and Cosmetic Bundles (not available yet) — including the annual C.O.D.E. (Call Of Duty Endowment) bundle for $6.

This game was reviewed on PC (AMD Ryzen 9 3900X, 16GB RAM, RTX 2070 SUPER).

Ready for some good chaotic fun? The 17th release in the Call of Duty (CoD) series is outstanding, and well worth the $60 (minimum), plus the Season Pass to come for extra content. I should know, I’ve played every call of Duty since 2009. I would now like to give you your official Spoiler Alert.

Cold War starts us off in the 1980s during the Reagan administration as familiar characters Alex Mason, Frank Woods, and Jason Hudson are tasked with finding the real life Soviet spy who leaked classified and sensitive nuclear secrets to the Soviet Union under the codename, “Perseus.”

CAMPAIGN

The game starts off with actual news footage from various casings of the Iranian Hostage Crisis. These newscasts will be played throughout the game to further encapsulate the realism. As a tutorial, you start off as Alex Mason, a CIA operative and protagonist of Black Ops I and II, along with fellow operative Frank Woods and their handler, Russell Adler. Their task is to kill/capture Qasim Javadi and Arash Kavidar, two Iranian terrorists and orchestrators of the hostage crisis. Afterwards, with the exception of another mission and both optional missions, you’ll play as the new character, known only as Bell. Bell and Adler have been comrades since the Vietnam War.

Your character joins under the guidance of Adler. Bell can be customized by race, gender, ethnicities, alliance(CIA, MI6, ex-KGB), and two personality traits that will provide in-game perks such as increased reload speed, health, or damage. All of these options can remain CLASSIFIED.

Throughout the missions, you can find items that will help unlock intel that will change the endgame.

On a mission in Cuba, Perseus’ plan is finally revealed: using codes from a nuke meant for Operation Greenlight, Perseus will detonate all nuclear devices hidden in Western Europe. This will trick the world into thinking the US attacked Europe and allow the Soviet Union to invade.

Near the end of the game, Bell is injected with a cerebral injection in order to get him to tell Adler the location of Perseus. Through this trippy reflection, it is revealed that Bell was never a CIA operative and never knew Adler from Vietnam. Those memories were implanted in him using MKUltra tactics when Arash failed to kill him in the first mission. The aftermath is where the game branches into three available endings: Good, Bad, Evil.

GOOD ENDING: After waking up, Bell tells Adler the location of Perseus: an array complex on the Solovetsky Islands. While unable to capture Perseus, the CIA prevents the nukes from going off. In the end, Adler thanks Bell but informs him that he needs to “tie up loose ends.” Adler and Bell shoot each other, but their fates are ambiguous.

BAD ENDING: After waking up, Bell lies to Adler about the location of Perseus, stating he’s in a remote area of Ukraine. Upon realizing that they’ve been lied to, Adler executes Bell. While the CIA burns down their hub in West Germany, President Reagan is sent into hiding after Europe is nuked from within.

EVIL ENDING: After waking up, Bell not only lies to Adler about the location of Perseus, but he orchestrates an ambush for the CIA. When they arrive, Adler learns Bell lied, but Bell then initiates the ambush. Along side Perseus, Bell ends up fighting and killing his former CIA operatives, including Adler, Woods, and Mason. Perseus allows Bell to call in the word so the Soviet Union can detonate the nukes in Europe. While the CIA burns down their hub in West Germany, President Reagan is sent into hiding after Europe is nuked from within.

Campaign Ratings

Story: 8/10

Gameplay: 8/10

Espionage: 7/10

Length: 8/10

Reagan’s Forehead: 1000/10

Overall: 7.75/10

MULTIPLAYER

It’s not often that the multiplayer has a story attached to it. Set in 1983, two years after the good ending, Perseus sets up a series of attacks in America and Europe. The two factors are NATO (CIA, MI6, BND) and Warsaw Pact (Spetsnaz, DGI, HVA).

While not all the gameplay aspects are coming back, Black Ops Cold War has the classic gameplay with Modern Warfare (2019)’s class system. The staple scorestreaks have come back, but their mechanics work a little differently. You still have to acquire a score to get them, but death doesn’t reset your progress.

Old gamemodes like Domination, Team Deathmatch, Free For All, and Seach and Destroy, and new gamemodes like Control, Combined Arms, and VIP Escort are ready to play in Core and Hardcore modes. All modes can be played on a selection of eight maps, three for Combined Arms, and two for the new Fireteam mode.

The first Fireteam mode is Dirty Bomb, where 10 teams of four fight to gather uranium deposits and detonate the bombs scattered around the map.

On November 24, the classic Black Ops staple map, Nuketown, was added to the roster (called Nuketown ‘84). To celebrate, the gamemode Nuketown 24/7 is available to play.

Multiplayer Ratings

Fun: 7/10

Gameplay: 7/10

Gamemodes: 6/10

Weapon Selection: 9/10

Sweaty Tryhards: -9000/10

Overall: 7.25/10

ZOMBIES

The Zombies storyline continues where it left off from Black Ops IIII. After the events of Tag Der Toten, the multiverse comes to an end, and the Primis, Ultimis, and Victis crews, as well as all locations, the Apothicons, and Element 115 are erased from the world.

Our new story, called “Dark Aether,” takes place in 1984. Samantha Maxis, the original antagonist turned protagonist from the erased multiverse timeline and now in her early 30s, has since joined West Germany’s BND where she was given a tape by her friend and spy in the KGB. She then contacts Grigori Weaver, an old CIA operative and American spy, about Die Maschine, an old Nazi experimental facility that the Soviets have uncovered.

In 1983, the Soviet led Omega group uncovered Die Maschine in Morasko, Poland. Inside, they found zombified remains of Nazi scientists and soldiers who killed the first batch of soldiers to enter the facility. Weeks later, a cleanup crew was sent in and the Soviets attempted to continue development of Projekt Endstation: an experiment to open a rift to the Dark Aether via a particle accelerator.

Led by Weaver, the American group Requiem is sent in to discover, shut down, and destroy any and all remnants of Die Maschine.

There’s another map on disc: Dead Ops Arcade 3. DOA3 has no story relevancy, its a fun top-down arcade style map.

A number of changes are coming to zombies. You still start off with one weapon, but you can start off with whatever you want: the classic M1911, an LMG, a grenade launcher, or even a knife. You also start with one of five field upgrades: Frost Blast, Healing Aura, Energy Mine, Ring of Fire, and Aether Shroud.

Weapons now have rarities and rarity based damage and attachment systems. Rarities go from Common (Red), Uncommon (Green), Rare (Blue), Legendary (Purple), and Epic (Orange). Wonder Weapons and Intel are ranked Ultra (Gold). Weapon rarities can be upgraded from the same station as the brand new armor station.

Pack-A-Punch has a new functions as well. Weapons can be upgraded three times, increasing in price each time but gives your weapon a devastating damage increase each time. Alternate Ammo Types such as Dead Wire and Brain Rot can be bought with out Packing first.

Classic perks such as Quick Revive, Juggernog, Speed Cola, Stamin-Up, and Deadshot Daiquiri return, but with tweaked and upgradable attributes. A new perk is available as well: Elemental Pop.

The box system has been tweaked also. Weapons with higher rarities have greater chances of appearing in the box in the later rounds.

Instead of dying in zombies when you don’t feel like playing anymore, you can now use the exfil system.

A new zombies experience has been added to the mix: Zombies Onslaught. Onslaught is a smaller gamemode that will bring zombies gameplay to the multiplayer maps. However, much like Spec Ops Survival in last year’s Call of Duty, PlayStation players will have exclusive access to this mode until November 1, 2021.

Zombies Ratings

Story: 9/10

Gameplay: 9/10

Customization: 10/10

Fun: 10/10

Make Ray Gun OP Again: 115/10

Overall: 9.5/10

WARZONE AND BATTLEPASS

As of now, neither Warzone, nor the Battlepass system will be available in the game until the start of Season One on December 10.

GLITCHES AND ERRORS

Of course, like any other Call of Duty at launch there are a few graphical hiccups and reports of blue screen crashes. Some of the maps that were in alpha and beta didn’t experience some of the glitches that occur in the final game.

I don’t know if it was just my computer, but there were framerate issues and lag with some of the cutscenes during campaign. Sometimes character animations would desynchronize upon loading back from death.

Graphical errors happen in the Zombies mode as well. There is a constant update where a player using Aetherial Shroud would have their screen stuck in the blue filter when transferring from the Dark Aether to normal.

Certain weapons will still have placeholder assets when selected / detected.

Game crashes and input bugs are far and few between but happen far too often than they should.

Bottom Line

Despite the flaws and minimal content, Black Ops Cold War is still a fun game to play, especially Zombies with friends. The campaign is engaging and with multiple endings, makes it worth while to go back and play again. The grind is well worth going the extra mile for high ranks and rounds.

Overall Rating: 8/10

Frank Kovacs is an Interactive Multimedia major at The College of New Jersey. This is his first review. He plans on creating his own gaming company here in New Jersey.

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Reviews and class projects from TCNJ’s IMM (Interactive Multimedia) program.

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Frank Kovacs

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