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Call of Duty: Black Ops Review

Black Ops Wii Review - A Mere Shadow Of The HD Experience
by Dan Ryckert on Nov 17, 2010 at 08:23 AM

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Reviewed on Wii
Also on PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC
Publisher Activision
Developer Treyarch
Rating Mature

On Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, Call of Duty: Black Ops holds up the series’ tradition of high-intensity action, perfectly tuned controls, jaw-dropping set piece moments, and an addictive multiplayer experience. With the Wii version, Treyarch attempted to bring as much of the experience over to the less-powerful Wii as they could, but how does it compare to its HD big brothers?

In terms of content, it actually does a pretty good job of bringing most of the experience over. Every mission is included, and almost all of the features made the trip to the Wii as well. Alex Mason’s story is told in full, and you’ll be taking out as many commies and zombies as you would on any other system. Black Ops still features impressive segments that make the game more than a mere shooting gallery. Vehicular sections and the varied objectives do a great job of keeping the missions from getting stale, and the pacing is solid throughout.

While the core experience is intact, it loses many little aspects of the other versions. You won’t be walking through the halls of the Pentagon before you meet with “Lancer,” you won’t have a boost on your guided rocket for some reason, that awesome slingshot during the prison escape is replaced with an explosive crossbow, the surprisingly good Dead Ops minigame is nowhere to be found. These moments don’t define Black Ops on other consoles, but they all contribute extremely impressive overall package. Without them, the Wii version feels deflated.

More disappointing is the amount of technical difficulties that rear their head on the Wii version. I had to restart one of the first missions because the guy I was supposed to follow was frozen in place, oddly shaking in his boots. During the next mission, I couldn’t enter the elevator I was supposed to without the game tossing my character through the walls or out into an endless sky. At one point, the shoot button inexplicably made my character float up to the ceiling, seemingly attached to an invisible magnet.

Problems with the A.I. pop up as well. I watched as one enemy tried to throw a grenade my way, but the grenade floated unnaturally slowly to a nearby table. It exploded, killing the enemy that threw it. Another character ran off a cliff and was suspended in air as his legs flailed around like Wile E. Coyote.

Controlling the action with the Wii remote and nunchuk is frustrating and doesn’t offer the same level of precision as you would have with a standard controller. Switching over to the Classic Controller is an improvement, but still can’t touch the 360 or PS3 options. Considering the Classic Controller was essentially built to control games from the 8- to 64-bit era, its analog sticks simply aren’t precise enough for an experience like Call of Duty. Having fewer buttons is a pain as well, since the sprint and jump buttons are now the same. Shoot and aim strangely default to the tiny ZL and ZR buttons, but this can be changed via the options menu.

Visually, things take an unsurprising hit. You’ll see plenty of repeating faces and cutscenes are noticeably pixellated. Textures in multiplayer can take a very long time to pop up, meaning you might not be able to read that Nuketown sign even if you’re standing five feet away from it. Graphics and technical prowess never “make the game,” but in the case of Call of Duty, they’re a huge part of the experience. Storming the hills of Khe Sahn is an amazing sight on the HD versions of Black Ops, but the muddy textures and fog present on the Wii make it significantly less impressive.

While the campaign is obviously a big part of Black Ops, it's the multiplayer that keeps fans coming back to Call of Duty games. Treyarch has done an impressive job bringing this feature-packed experience over to the Wii, even allowing for the use of a headset for voice chat. Earning perks, leveling up, and customizing loadouts have become series trademarks, and you'll be doing it all on Wii. It may be limited to 10 players rather than the 16 on other consoles, but this doesn't make a very big impact on the entertainment value.

It’s impressive how much content Treyarch managed to cram onto this Wii disc, but it’s by no means the way to experience Black Ops. The campaign is well-paced, and the multiplayer is packed with features that can keep you coming back if you can get over the less-precise controls. If you have a choice, however, this version is not the one to play.

Bring as much of the Black Ops experience as possible to the Wii
Muddy textures, repeating faces, and fog make this the worst-looking version by far
Plenty of voice acting, but the sounds of the battlefield feel somewhat hollow
The Classic Controller is the best option, but even that struggles to keep up with the action
Technical issues and control problems make this a generally frustrating COD experience

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Call of Duty: Black Ops

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