Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 Review Rebuttal

I don’t have a clever Tetris reference for you, and my rebuttal isn’t a review; this is simply a response We The Nerdy’s review of Call of Duty: Black Ops 3. Over the past few weeks, Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 has made a huge impact on the market, with the rumors of its downward slide not happening just yet. Black Ops 3 has proven that people still want to play their first-person military shooters built on spectacle. People have favorites and preferred developers, sure, and some people even hate the game all around, but as a franchise, it’s certainly worth discussing.

I’ll be honest I liked Call Of Duty: Black Ops 3 more than our reviewer (Sean Capri) did. That’s not to say I disagree with his overall review, but a few things in the review itself.

I was not a fan of Advanced Warfare. It’s not bad–rarely are any Call Of Duty games bad even if the internet screams otherwise==but Advanced Warfare felt closed off with a boring, conventional story and a multiplayer that was trying hard to be Titanfall. So going over the past Call of Duty games all the way back to Modern Warfare, I’ve come to the conclusion that Treyarch is my preferred Developer, and playing Black Ops 3 made me realize why: Treyarch’s campaigns are weird. It’s incredibly ballsy for a massive consumer hit to travel to the places their games go. It’s like a David Lynch fever dream sometimes.

Call of Duty campaigns are rarely consistent or cohesive, but Treyarch has always played that up. Remember when you were playing as a brainwashed Russian spy sent back to kill JFK in Black Ops 1? Yeah, I’m amazed I remember that much either. But Treyarch knows how stupid and ridiculous this all is, and they make it work. The point of Black Ops 3 is to make you have dorm room conversations with your friends baked out of your mind until you think it all makes sense. It supposed to feel deep the same way any Roland Emmerich movie is supposed to feel deep. Sure it’s not subtle, and the main character is saying, “Fuck” three times every few sentences, but you and your buddy are about to sit back and watch the credits roll on a seven-hour mind trip.

Is any of this defensible from a game making perspective? Probably not. But it should give you a reason why Call of Duty made 550 million in a week. And it should also tell you that sometimes we just want to shoot some bad guys. I do agree with our reviewer that Black Ops 3’s campaign is the weakest of the Black Ops subfranchise, and the ‘Dude-Bro’ mentality goes so far overboard that I’m currently drowning in ‘Ed Hardy’ apparel. Hendricks is a monster, and even worse he’s boring. The only bright spot on the character Front is ‘Kane’, a likable buddy that genuinely wants to help and isn’t screaming obscenities at you all the time. And while Wet Hot American Summer’s Christopher Meloni plays a significant part that feels like a Kevin Spacey knock off, I don’t think he is for two reasons. Games are made in a vacuum, so while Treyarch was busy making this they had no idea Sledgehammer was working with Kevin Spacey and, on the other hand, I think Meloni is more interesting and certifiably crazy than Spacey. Meloni has an AI wreaking havoc on his brain while Spacey is simply a war profiteer.

Our Review made mention of the blend of exposition and action that Black Ops does so well and this time around the worst part of the game in my opinion is the tutorial teaching you how to fight. It wasn’t until after that segment was over that I was able to like the game. It’s so boring and bland to watch characters blink in and out of existence just to drop some exposition on you. The other odd thing about the campaign and its characters is the female/male dynamic. You can switch at any point, along with your face and your armor–not a whole lot of variety on either front, but progress none the less–and while I like the ability to play as a female, it’s a skin change and nothing more. Although I will say, the female VO is far better than the male VO in my opinion. There is no acknowledgment of gender at all throughout the game, in fact, you don’t even have a name. Probably because of the stiff last few lines. On one hand, its great that I can play as a female because at least half of Call Of Duty’s audience is now being catered too but to not acknowledge it at all is a weird omission.

Call of Duty has returned to its peak for the time being. At least for the next few weeks. This isn’t the best Black Ops, and it isn’t the best Call Of Duty, but it’s a crazy campaign stuffed into a boat load of content along with it. That same bizarre, trippy storytelling is still their granted weaker than previous installments, but all the customization can make up for that. “This campaign does not elevate the series in the way the first two Black Ops titles did.” Part of me agrees with Sean’s statement, but the other part of me wants to say that this is something to build on.

Whatever Treyarch, Sledgehammer, or Infinity Ward do next, I hope they take a few pages from this book.