Call of Duty black ops Cold War did not disappoint with it’s action packed campaign, multiplayer and zombies mode. It is a bit different than previous call of duty campaigns, so this game gets a 10/10 in regards to originality. However that doesn’t mean there weren’t a few bumps along the way that could have been avoided. In this review I’ll be primarily reviewing the game’s campaign but I’ll also be going over the zombies and multiplayer modes a bit as well.
Overview: The campaign mode is set in 1981 and takes place two decades after the first Black ops game and about 7-8 years before the flashback missions of Black Ops 2. That makes this game an “interquel”. The story is mostly told from the perspective of an unnamed mysterious protagonist only code named as “Bell” but also from the perspective of CIA operative Alex Mason on three missions. These two characters along with an entire CIA task force led by a man named Russel Adler are hunting down a mysterious Soviet agent known as “Perseus”. As the story unfolds, the player starts to realize that something just isn’t right about the mission.
The main character: For the first time in a Call of Duty video game, the player gets to “create” their own character. The player can name their character whatever they want, choose the character’s sex, skin tone, what organization the character previously worked for and personality traits that offers special abilities. However since we never see the character’s face, we can’t customize the rest of the character’s physical appearance. The character is always referred to by his or her codename “Bell”.
Limited weaponry: My biggest issue with this game is the lack of weapon variety. This becomes more visible in the campaign where certain factions use historically inaccurate weaponry. For example; the East German Stasi are using MP5 submachine guns because there are no PPSH41s in the game, while Soviet soldiers are using M1911 pistols as their standard issue side arms because there are no Makarov pistols in the game. They put in a M1911, a M93 raffica and a magnum revolver but no Makarov or APS pistols for the commie baddies.
Great visuals(graphics and physics): Despite the game seemingly being rushed, the game’s graphics and physics are up to date with 2020 standards. The characters, weapons and environment all look realistic.
Outdated but still feasible engine: One of the biggest complaints I’ve heard is that the game is using a older game play engine than Call of Duty: Modern warfare, which is the previous call of duty game. Apparently they are using the same engine they used for Black ops 4. I personally don’t really care about that. Even though it’s a slightly older game engine, I still think that it still meets 2020 standards. The engine doesn’t feel clunky and it runs smooth even though it’s not as new as the engine used for Modern Warfare(2019) or War Zone(2020).
No weapon load out in campaign: Unfortunately this Black ops game completely ditched the load out option which allows players to select their weapons and equipment before a mission. Instead, the players are given pre selected weapons like older Call of Duty games. It’s not really a big issue but it’s still a downgrade from previous Call of Duty Black Ops titles.
Player choice: Unlike most other Call of Duty games that are linear without any player choice, this game has so many different player choices that can affect the story. From different dialogue options, side missions and miscellaneous actions in missions; each choice a player makes can dictate the path of the story. The player has more control over the narrative, this makes the campaign worth replaying.
Dynamic Stealth elements: Call of Duty is often associated with it’s fast paced never ending action. However, this Call of Duty is slightly different. While there is definitely a lot of fast paced action, there is also a strong element of stealth. There’s two missions where the player must rely on stealth. And it makes sense because the player is a CIA operative, not a frontline soldier.
Favorite missions: Every mission brought something unique to the campaign but there’s three missions that I really liked in this game. The first mission I really liked was the Yamantau mission where the player gets to play as Alex Mason and accompany Frank Woods to investigate a destroyed Soviet Facility which was also a mission in the first black ops game. I really liked the snowy mountainous environment and that the player can get a Magnum revolver in this mission. The second mission I liked was “Operation Chaos” which is a side mission that takes place in the Colorado/New Mexico border, Alex Mason and Frank woods are sent in to eliminate an ex CIA operative who sided with the Soviets. I like how the mission has a very “Red dawnesque” feel to it and I like how a Magnum revolver is available in the mission. The third mission I liked was the Lubyanka building(KGB headquarters) mission where the player gets to play as a KGB double agent named Belinkov that is performing espionage on behalf of the CIA. I really liked the stealth elements, all the different choices the player can make in this mission, the fact that it shows not all Russians are commies and how the mission ends in a classic Call of Duty fast paced action sequence where Belinkov, Bell and Adler go Rambo on the commie baddies.
Favorite Weapons: Despite there being significantly less weapons than previous Call of Duty games, there is still a wide variety of weapons available to the player. My personal favorites from each category are the following. Note that many of the guns in this game are called fictional names, their actual names are in parentheses.
- Favorite Pistols: Diamatti(M93 Raffica), M1911 and a hybrid Magnum revolver. I liked all three pistols.
- Favorite Shotgun: Gallo SA-12(Spas 12)
- Favorite Assault rifles:XM4(Colt Commando), Ak-47
- Favorite SMGs: MP5, AK-74U
- Favorite battle rifle: DMR-14(M-14)
- Favorite LMG: M60
- Favorite sniper: LW3-Tundra(L96A1)
Favorite characters: There’s a lot of old characters from previous Black Ops games but also several new characters. Obviously I like the classics(Mason, Woods, Weaver and Hudson) but I also like some of the new characters as well such as Belinkov, Adler and Simms.
Worth exploring: The missions have a lot of stuff that the player can interact with, such as intel, Easter eggs and unique weapons. In the Lubyanka mission there’s a unique weapon called the “Hand cannon” which is pretty much a desert Eagle with a scope on it, this weapon at the moment can’t be found anywhere else in the game. These little treasures encourages players to thoroughly search their surroundings.
CQB takedown and human shield mechanic: A cool feature is the close quarter combat mechanic that allows players to quickly dispatch enemies who get too close with takedowns. The player also has the option to use an enemy as a human shield.
Feels like Wolfenstein: The game feels very similar to the Wolfenstein games but instead of fighting Nazis in a sci fi setting, the player fights commies in a fairly realistic setting. I’ve always wanted a game similar to Wolfenstein but with commie baddies and this game some what does just that.
The endings: I personally feel that the endings were the weakest part of the campaign. There’s only three endings(Good, bad and evil) that the player can choose. Of course I chose the good ending because I ain’t letting those commie bastards win. Also spoiler alert, I’m going to break down all three endings.
- Ending 1 the good ending: Also called the canon ending considering the events of Black ops 2. In this ending, “Bell” realizes that he or she is an MK Ultra sleeper agent who once worked for Perseus but was captured by the CIA after he or she was betrayed by another of Perseus’s agents. Bell still reveals the actual location of the launch base where Perseus plans to detonate all the nukes in Western Europe. Long story short; the whole team goes to the site and after defeating all the Soviet soldiers, Adler’s team manages to thwart Perseus’s plan. Sometime later, Adler meets with “Bell” alone one on one and explains how he or she is just another loose end. Adler draws his pistol but so does “Bell” and the screen goes black as two gunshots are heard. The end.
I personally think it doesn’t make sense for Adler to betray “Bell” since they made it seem as if both characters were bonding as the story progressed. This just felt like cheap shock value. While it might not make sense, it’s not as illogical as the evil ending. And it is a way of explaining why neither of these two characters are in Black ops 2. But as we see from multiplayer, we realize that Adler survived but Bell’s fate is unknown.
- Ending 2, the evil ending: Instead of telling Adler where the real launch base is, “Bell” lies to Adler and then goes to secretly set up an ambush against Adler’s team. So Bell leads Adler’s team to a different location named “Duga” only for the whole team to be ambushed by at least two platoons of Soviet soldiers led by Perseus himself. After a brief gun fight, Bell manages to eliminate Mason, Woods and Park/Lazar(depending on who the player saved earlier). Then Bell and Perseus corner a wounded Adler in a room and eliminate him as well. Perseus then says that Perseus is actually a group instead of an individual(probably a lie) and gives Bell a walkie talkie to Command the detonation of all the nukes in Western Europe and placing the blame on the US. Perseus then tells Bell that “there’s still much work to do”. The game ends with most of Nato Europe getting nuked and the US taking the blame.
This evil ending made even less sense than the good ending. First of all, how could Adler and his team fall for the trap when they literally had their eyes on “Bell” for every second and were suspicious of him/her. Second of all, how did Bell manage to take down Mason and Woods by him/herself? “Bell” might be a good marksman but he/she is nowhere near as badass as Woods and Mason. “Bell” almost died 3 times throughout the campaign including at the beginning when he/she is betrayed by one of Perseus’s agents. So why did “Bell” suddenly become an overpowered character? And also, Mason and Woods are so badass that they can take down entire Soviet military bases by themselves yet suddenly they can’t handle two small Soviet platoons? Good thing the evil ending is not Canon because it’s absolutely stupid. I guess only sovieboos like this ending regardless of how ridiculous and lore unfriendly it is.
- Ending 3, bad ending: Once again “Bell” lies to Adler but this time “Bell” doesn’t set up the ambush. “Bell” leads Adler and his team away from the real launch base but instead of them getting ambushed, “Bell” mocks the team prompting Adler to execute “Bell” in anger. Western Europe then gets nuked. It’s very similar to the evil ending but the only difference is that Adler and his team survive and it is anti climatic.
I personally liked this bad ending more than the evil ending, not just because Adler and his team survive but also because it isn’t as illogical as the evil ending. The only bad thing is the commies still nuke most of NATO Europe. So yeah, there’s the three endings.
Multiplayer: The multiplayer of this game was highly criticized from the get go based on it’s gameplay mechanics and visuals. However as I mentioned earlier, I didn’t really have much of a problem with either. I still think the visuals, physics and gameplay meet 2020 video game standards. It takes place three years after the campaign in 1984 and follows the canonical good ending. Keep in mind that there isn’t much to say about multiplayer at the moment because it’s a new game that will gradually continue to get new content each season.
Just like older call of duty titles: For the most part, multiplayer in this game is just like it’s predecessors with some differences. You can still create a class, choose the game mode and map. And much like the most recent Call of Duty games, you can choose a character/operator instead of a generic unnamed soldier.
Gunsmith: Much like recent call of duty games, the gunsmith weapon customization returns. Players can modify their weapons to suit their play style. For example, you can change the barrel length of every weapon. This is a great mechanic that makes up for the lack of weapon variety in this game.
New characters: Aside from Adler and his team, there are also new characters introduced in multiplayer, such as Hunter J and Portnova Yirina. I personally like these new characters even though most people think these multiplayer characters look too “goofy”.
Zombies: The fan favorite mode returns with significant changes. Both the story and gameplay are a bit different than the zombie modes in previous games.
Zombies connected to campaign? For the first time in COD history, the zombies mode seemingly ties in with the campaign mode. In the intro we get to see Weaver who is a Black Ops campaign character interacting with Samantha Maxis who is a Zombies character. This is an interesting change to Zombies that could further expand the zombies storyline to the point where it can get its own stand alone game or at least a cod game where zombies play an important part in the campaign. I’m not going to spoil the story itself but I’ll briefly talk about the gameplay itself.
Brief zombies overview: So far there is only one map in the game, it takes place in a snowy region of Poland and features the very first Zombies map Nacht Der Untoten(Night of the dead) albeit it’s only a small fraction of the larger map itself. There aren’t unique zombie mode playable characters, instead the player(s) choose from the multiplayer operators. The player(s) can choose their load out instead of starting off with a pistol like older cod games. However, just like older cod games; player(s) can access perk a colas, buy guns off the walls or mystery box and access the pack a punch machine. There’s also new features such as the armor system and the ability to call in for extraction once the player(s) feel they can’t hold off the zombies and monsters any longer. I personally like this change of pace for the zombies mode, I feel that it does a good job of preventing the mode from getting stale.
Overall: If you put Rambo, Red Dawn, Red Scorpion, James Bond, atomic Blonde and John Wick together, you get this game. It’s a pretty decent game despite all of the limitations that the pandemic caused for the game development. Perhaps if it weren’t for the pandemic and if the game had more time put into it, it could have been one of the greatest call of duty games made so far. With that being said, if you are only planning on buying it for the campaign and zombies mode, I’d wait for the price to go down a bit. The campaign is way too short and the zombies mode doesn’t have much content right now. Overall I give this game an 8.4/10. Once all of the downloadable content and updates are released then it could become a 9/10.