Call Of Duty: Black Ops 3, War… war never changes

If the main criticism of the Call Of Duty series is that it lacks originality, then the reveal of Black Ops III isn’t going to help matters. Our first significant exposure to the game came in the form of a trailer that could have been mistaken for a Deus Ex teaser. Indeed, it bore a remarkable similarity to the Sarif Industries live-action teaser that Square Enix released for Deus Ex: Human Revolution a few years ago. Introducing us to the themes that the game’s campaign will be dealing with, the trailer opens with the line, “Mankind’s greatest mistake will be its inability to control the technology it has created.” It shows us images of augmented humans and protests about scientists playing God. It’s no wonder that developers working on Deus Ex ended up poking fun at Black Ops III for ‘stealing’ its ideas.


Perhaps a look at the game itself can help Black Ops III shake the impression that it’s a copycat? Well, not really. With augmented soldiers leaping all over the shop, the game unmistakably brings to mind 2014’s Advanced Warfare.  Add in the fact that its character design occasionally looks suspiciously Titanfall-esque and Black Ops III starts to look like a game that’s perilously short on inspiration.

That’s not necessarily a big problem for the game. It’s worth recalling that Advanced Warfare was labelled as a Titanfall rip-off and that did nothing to quell its success. The mechanics that made Sledgehammer’s COD debut in Advanced Warfare added enough flavour to the familiar fast food brand of gaming that COD has always offered to make it worthwhile.  Black Ops III needs to do the same: add just enough to ensure that COD’s familiarity doesn’t topple over into crippling boredom.
“DEVELOPERS ON DEUS EX ENDED UP POKING FUN AT BLACK OPS III FOR ‘STEALING’  ITS IDEAS”
How is the game going to do that? Treyarch has talked of a new momentum system that ups the pace of combat in multiplayer for example, vaulting over obstacles is now automatic, doesn’t take control of your weapon away from you and allows you to aim down sights. However, beyond that vague and meaningless reference to a ‘chained movement system’ and the introduction of some new terminology designed to make old mechanics sound new such as ‘thrust-assisted jump’ there’s really nothing that makes Black Ops III stand out when it comes to multiplayer. That’s not to say there won’t be. We need to see more before we can judge whether talk of revamping COD’s movement is all bluster, or heralds a real change.

Treyarch has been a more forthcoming when it comes to what single-player offers. We really like the fact that the campaign will support up to four-player co-op. Our enthusiasm for COD campaigns has waned as we’ve become tired of the formula, but the idea of blazing though a spectacle- packed campaign with a few friends gives us fresh impetus to jump on in. There’s also talk of having more freedom with how you approach your objectives. That starts with the fact that you will be playing a character of your own creation. Treyarch is promising more open levels that offer you the opportunity to approach them in different ways, depending on your character build. But then, we get told that Call Of Duty campaigns are going to be more open every year. Guess what? They’re not. In fairness, though, co-op is going to make it difficult to make the campaign as linear as is normally the case in the series. Maybe Black Ops III will be the game that delivers on the promise of COD opening up.

As we all know, people play COD for multiplayer and it is on that basis that the game will ultimately be judged. Over the next few months, we hope that the game can prove that it has its own identity and show us what it is that’s going to make it stand out from the games from which it is seemingly borrowing.

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