E3 2010: Call of Duty: Black Ops First Impressions - From Out Of The Shadows
Written Friday, June 25, 2010 By Dan WebbView author's profile
Being the younger of two brothers, I can sympathise with being in the shadows of the older, more established brother, which is a lot like Treyarch living in the shadow of Infinity Ward. With the decline of Infinity Ward though – and subsequent resurrection of Respawn – Treyarch have a real chance to come out of the shadows and rise to the top of the pile. Whilst it’s still too early to tell whether the title has the legs to do that, it’s pretty clear that this is likely to be Treyarch’s best Call of Duty yet.
Behind closed doors at this year’s E3, Treyarch gathered to show the press a different mission to the one the masses experienced in the Microsoft press conference. A mission that has so much variety in the space of 10 minutes that it put a box of Quality Street to shame. Ladies and gentlemen, this is WMD.
“In WMD, you’re deep behind enemy lines in Soviet territory, up in the Ural Mountains and you’re investigating a Soviet weapons manufacturing facility,” says Treyarch Community Manager, Josh Olin, “and by investigating, we mean destroying.” That in a nutshell is WMD. The complex truth of the matter is that while it might sound like a straightforward mission, you should know that nothing in Call of Duty is straightforward.
The mission kicks off in an extravagant way, as you take to the skies in an SR-71 Blackbird – a high altitude bomber – and in typical COD fashion are made to feel like you are a part of something much bigger. After triggering the thrusters and pulling back on the stick to takeoff, the team takes to the skies for some tactical assistance.
The SR-71 aspect of the WMD mission is simple reconnaissance, providing real-time feedback for your squad on the ground. After fiddling with the controls on the panel in the plane and directing your squad to safety, back-up turns up while the team gets into safety and with a quick shift in viewpoints, we pick up with the crew who lie at the heart of the action.
Huddled in the bushes and watching the Russians creep past is a tense affair and is immediately reminiscent of the first time that Jin and Mr Eko encounter “The Others” in Lost. With the crossbow at the ready, the Russians pass and it’s time to infiltrate. Silently of course... for now.
After making their way through the snowy woodland area, the troops let a Russian soldier and his dog past for fear of making their presence known too early. The trip through the woods gives off a feeling of this intense cold, with a mild mist that kicks up off the ground and the icicles that hang from a nearby railing, all of which give a real indication of the subzero temperatures that the team is enduring. Once above the substation, it’s time for a classic Call of Duty “rappel and breach” scene, and the crew makes its way down the cliff and kicks through a window, tripping a slow motion breach scene.
“Hudson we need to keep this quiet. If you get heat, we need to switch to explosives,” says the commanding officer. Seconds later, Hudson fires an explosive arrow into a huge gas canister and after a couple of deafening beeps, all hell breaks loose.
As explosive arrows galore were pinged from left, right and centre, and grenades peppered the whittling opposition’s stronghold, the team battle their way through the garage alongside a huge snow plough to descend upon the control room’s door. A couple of well placed shots at the door’s hinges and the squad assemble to move inside to secure the control room. After an intense fire fight, the control room goes from a hustling, bustling chamber of death to a silent ghost town. The squad’s job was done though, and with the relay now offline, they head back outside.
In traditional Call of Duty fashion though, the escape isn’t as easy and with a scripted enemy rocket wiping out the walkway and triggering a massive rumble, the team must run down the mountain path and skydive to safety before the impending avalanche consumes them. “This has hopefully given you an idea of the kind of variety we’re going for,” said Olin, “You start the level in an SR-71 and you end up base jumping... and that’s not even the end of the level. There’s still a lot more to it” he continues.
The main mission we saw though, WMD, is a multi-pronged mission in Treyarch’s latest Call of Duty and looks to offer little bite-sized chunks of action from various perspectives; moving from the high altitudes of the SR-71 Blackbird, all the way down to the infiltration and all-out-war. WMD is all about reconnaissance and tactical insurgence and not only have Treyarch proved that they can make their action more diverse and rather more Hollywood than we’ve come to expect from the studio, but they did all this whilst bringing back the crossbow – a weapon that Rambo made oh-so-cool. Fact. Freeing the shackles of World War II and essentially freeing their arms is possibly the best thing the studio has ever done... and even now, it shows.
Call of Duty: Black Ops is scheduled for a November 9th release worldwide.