Category Archives: Call of Duty: Zombies

From World at War to Black Ops 2, stories, reviews and thoughts on COD: Zombies.

Black Ops 3: My Thoughts

blackWell, it’s that time again. It’s that wonderful time of year where the leaves change color, the air gets crisper, the nights get longer AND we are treated to the next installment of Activision’s Call of Duty. Like Christmas, New Years, Thanksgiving or any other major holiday, it can either be a time of great celebration and excitement or just another reason to hate this time of year. Regardless of how we might feel towards the franchise or the season, it is all happening once again, so let’s talk about it.

General Impressions

Like millions of other players out there, I am very excited for Black Ops 3. I have been playing the game, everyday since it’s release and I can honestly say that I am enjoying the hell out of it. I have explored both the Zombies mode and the co-op story mode and they are each a blast. To be fair, I have not yet tried the multiplayer and I am a little skeptical about the whole idea. I know it is a highly sought-after feature of this game and a real selling point for many gamers, but anyone who knows me, knows that I am NOT a big fan of competitive player versus player modes. Unfortunately, since a large part of Call of Duty is basically built around that one idea, I just have to grin and bear it. However, despite my feelings on this topic, you can be sure that I will be playing the multiplayer mode and ranking up to at least level 55. Why? So, I can get the associated trophies and eventually platinum this game. That is really the ONLY reason, otherwise, I wouldn’t even touch the competitive multiplayer.

Going into Blops3, this last opening weekend, I was initially skeptical. I’ve been a big fan of Call of Duty since COD1, but lately, I’ve been a little apathetic regarding their most recent releases, Ghosts and Advanced Warfare. I was burned by Call of Duty: Ghosts and I didn’t even bother playing Advanced Warfare. I was concerned that Blops3 might just be another nail in the coffin for the bland, uninteresting, repetitive, first person shooter genre. I can safely say that it is not. It is a very enjoyable game with a lot of unlockable extras, tons of replay value, co-op modes and a robust online component. Not only do you have a story mode that is 100% co-op , but you also have an updated, ever-exciting Zombies mode and a new mode called Nightmares that lets you play the story mode with zombies in it, or so I have been told. I haven’t unlocked it yet, but I am itching to give it a try. Combine all of that with the popular multiplayer modes (if that’s your cup of tea) and you have the makings of one of the better Treyarch COD games to hit shelves in recent history. Truth be told, being three years in the making, I would have been surprised if this game wasn’t topnotch.

predator-1987-arnold-schwarzenegger-bill-duke-pic-2Co-op Galore

Like I had mentioned in my initial Black Ops 3 post, I am very interested in the co-op aspects of this game. Not since World at War, have we had a story mode where we could play online… with friends… and I’m very pleased at the return of that feature. After getting through about half of the story mode with my co-op buddy WTFSendit, I can safely say that it is super fun. Although we’ve elected to go through the game on the hardest “Realistic” difficulty setting, it is still worth the time and effort. More on that mode, a bit later.

If you are a solo COD player, this is still an entertaining game with an interesting, although rather convoluted storyline, but I think that you might be slightly disappointed. I strongly believe that this game is made more fun by the inclusion of co-op play. That is where this game really shines, especially if you plan on playing on the higher difficulties. In “Veteran” or “Realistic,” a real-life player is almost indispensable. You need someone or a few friends watching your back, otherwise you won’t survive very long. Plus, it is so much fun and pleasantly stressful to try and revive your buddy, while being aggressively attacked by the A.I. enemy. Try it with some of your FPS friends, you won’t be disappointed.

Now, unfortunately my co-op experiences haven’t been exactly perfect. I have noticed a number of glitches, some pretty sever that have troubled my play through. For example, l have unlocked various level checkpoints only to have a few of them revert back to earlier checkpoints in the same level, I have had selected weapon load-outs randomly change from death to death and my co-op buddy can never seem to transition from one mission to another, without being kicked from the session. Other than those, the game runs well enough and most of these issues are not game breaking. You can be sure that Treyarch will probably patch these in a future update, but until that happens, it will still be a bit annoying.

imagesA New Veteran Mode?

As a fan of the Call of Duty franchise, the term “Veteran Mode” is nothing new or strange to us old-timers. It is a notoriously hard level of difficulty that challenges a player with the most brutal and unforgiving criteria. It can make your blood boil and your brain go into rage mode very quickly.

My first taste of this difficulty setting was in Call of Duty: World at War. To this day, most of my gaming buddies still cringe at the mention of World at War‘s “Veteran Mode.” It was brutally hard. Grenades rained from the sky, enemy troops never stopped spawning and your character was so fragile, a gust of wind would kill him. I never thought that anything could be as difficult as World at War‘s “Veteran Mode,” until I was introduced to Black Ops 3‘s “Realistic Mode.” My god this game is unfairly evil.

I will warn you, “Realistic Mode” is not for the faint of heart. We had initially figured that it was best to get this mode out of the way early and then go back to do cleanup on the easier difficulties.  It took us almost 45 mins to make it out of the first area of the game. Bullets can kill you in one hit, enemies are relentlessly aggressive, the game throws a ton of things at you, all of which can kill you instantly and your A.I. partner is regrettably useless. Your enemies somehow manage to shoot you through walls, through cover or right as you spawn. Even after a co-op buddy revives you, your character can be put down, immediately upon standing. I have had that cycle repeated over and over again, which is VERY frustrating and generally unfair.

However, this mode really shines when it comes to co-op. Yes, some sections and deaths are still shockingly cheep and very frustrating, but a real-life player can make all the difference in the world. You can strategize, cover different areas and watch each others backs. It really tests your resolve, but the payoff is that beautiful platinum trophy. Call me a glutton for punishment, but I can’t wait to gather the full team and test out our skills in “Realistic Mode.”

2854911-black+ops+3_no+fly+zoneFinal Thoughts

So far Black Ops 3 is a very solid game. The levels are larger and far less linear, the graphics are very nice to look at and I love the setting for the new Zombies map called Shadows of Evil. The singleplayer mode has a ton of customizations, lots of unlockables and a plethora of upgrades that will keep you testing new combinations and load-outs, for the foreseeable future. Even the Zombies mode is hugely expanded with its own load-outs, leveling system and upgrades. The addition of the Gobblegum micro perk abilities really gives Blops3: Zombies an entirely new layer of customization, adding some cool and handy features on top of an already addicting game mode. Aside from a few glitches, the game runs smoothly and I haven’t run into any noticeable lag in either the PS4 or the frame rate. Of course, I haven’t tried PvP multiplayer yet, but all in good time.

Yes, Black Ops 3 is a really fun game, but there is the larger question here, one of innovation: Does Black Ops 3 really standout as anything new? Will this game add new life to the tired, old FPS genre? Well, that depends on who you ask. Some critics have said that this game is nothing more than last years Advanced Warfare, seen through Treyarch’s eyes and with Black Ops 2‘s customization. That may be true, BUT since I have not played Advanced Warfare this is all new to me.

So, as a gamer relatively new to the whole wall-running and cyber enhancements idea, is this game an innovator? Does this change the FPS paradigm? I would have to say no, I don’t believe it does. Really, the core of this game is nothing that we haven’t seen before. The same underlying foundation that existed in other COD games, still exists here. It is the same game, just with some cool additions and a pretty coat of paint.

Does that mean that you shouldn’t play Black Ops 3? Absolutely not. Like I have said before, this game really stands out in its co-op modes and THAT is the reason I am playing it. I could care less about the cyber enhancements or the futuristic abilities. None of that changes the fact that I can now play the entire game….. with my friends. We can fight together or go down in a blaze of glory. That is why I am playing Black Ops 3. If this game is going to innovate anything, let it be in the expansion of its co-op modes. That is the real game changer for me and that is what I am excited about.

Overall, Black Ops 3 is very enjoyable and I have liked what I have seen so far. I’ll reserved my final judgements until after the game’s been out for awhile and Treyarch has patched some of these bugs, but after that, I think this one is keeper. I have high hopes for the longevity of this game and I can see the crew and I playing this one for quite some time. Pick it up and check it out. Good luck soldiers and I’ll see you on the co-op battlefield.

~GB

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Call of Duty….Just when I thought I was out…

…They pull me back in!

blackI thought that I was done with this COD nonsense. I thought that I was finally free. After the lackluster fiasco that was COD: Ghost, I thought “That’s it for me. I’m out.” Game after game, map after map, failed story after failed story, I was done with it all.  I was so disillusioned with COD, I honestly hadn’t planned on ever picking up another COD game, again…….. And then I saw the trailer for Black Ops 3: Zombies…… DAMMIT!

The Legacy of World at War

CODWW MP3 Zombie Factory Attack--article_imageNow, I absolutely loved COD: World at War. It was more then just a game for me, it was an obsession. Night after night, day after day, the World at War disk was constantly in my PS3. Being an avid historian and a huge fan of World War 2, it was an amazing time in my gaming life. Not that I condone war, but WW2 has always been forefront in my mind. Even though I was born a good 38 yeas later, WW2 shaped my life. World at War gave me a way in which I could experience the events that I had only ever read about. It’s hard to imagine, but very true.

A big part of what kept me playing this game time after time, wasn’t the competitive multiplayer or some great love for the FPS genre, it was the Co-OP mode that kept me coming back. Originally called Nazi Zombies, the Zombie mode was a 4 player, cooperative mode that pitted you and three other people, against a never-ending onslaught of zombified Nazi corpses. Wave, after wave of enemies clawed and lashed out at you, while you and your team tried in vain to shoot them and keep them out of your makeshift sanctuary. Survival and teamwork were paramount and I love BOTH of those things. It was so much fun and it single-handedly redefined my entire outlook on gaming and online interactions. After that, for me Co-Op was the only way to go for video games and World at War became my benchmark for all other FPS titles.

As the Zombie mode became more and more popular, we started seeing additional zombie maps being released for the game. This was my first introduction to the idea of downloadable content and my very first purchase of DLC. Each DLC map got more and more complicated, adding additional weapons, perk machines, main characters and even a storyline. World at War changed everything for me and Zombies took on a life of its own. It became the only reason for me to even consider purchasing a COD game.

I should mention here that COD: World at War was released by a company called Treyarch. They are now one of three different development teams currently used for the COD series. The others are Infinity Ward and Sledgehammer Games. Up until recently, Treyarch was the only ones to incorporate this Zombie mode into their titles, but now Sledgehammer Games have also taken a crack at Zombies. Since I have not played their version, I can’t compare it to the Zombies that I know and love, but I will say that Treyarch is my favorite of the three developers. Regarding who is the best overall, I’ll leave it up to individual players to decide amongst themselves. That is a very heated topic and one that I do not wish to get in the middle of.

Zombie Mode Continues…now with less Nazis

black-ops-annihilation-shangri-laAs the years pasted, Treyarch released two additional COD games, Black Ops and Black Ops 2. In both of these games, Zombies were back full force. This time they weren’t just shooting a bunch of Nazis, now we were fighting  zombies of various nationalities. I still kind of missed shooting Nazis and the World War 2 environments, but these maps were still extremely fun.

Both Black Ops and Black Ops 2 included a variety of all new zombie maps. We visited a haunted movie theater, an ancient Tibetan (I assume) shrine, the Pentagon, the island prison of Alcatraz, the Moon, a sky rise in China and even the trenches of World War I. There was a huge effort to bring something special and different to each map and all of them stood out as unique amongst the previous maps. Of course, for me I always missed the Classic World at War zombies. There was just something special about shooting zombies with old school guns and 1940s technology. It appealed to me more then the modern maps or even the cold war era time frame. However, the newer zombie maps were pretty cool and had a class of their own.

One of the main problems with all of these newer Zombie maps, other then a lack of guns like the ppsh and MG42, was the overcomplexity of the so called “Easter Eggs.” It seemed like each map had a bigger and more complicated puzzle that you had to solve in order to listen to a new piece of the zombie storyline. These had you doing some pretty complicated and cryptic tasks. It got to the point where I just didn’t want to mess with them. Getting artifacts, killing certain enemies, tossing grenades out of the map, moving statues, making golden objects, it was all pretty convoluted. If it weren’t for my gaming friends, I would have never earned those trophies.

Despite my “Easter Egg” complaints, Zombies grew into a huge part of the COD franchise. What started out as simple, endgame reward, turned into one of the best reasons to buy a Call of Duty game. I know a few gamers that wold agree with me on this one.

What Could Possibly Be Next?

Black_Ops_3_Zombies_Shadows_of_Evil_Jack_Vincent_WM.0Like I said, killing the undead has taken us to a huge variety of varied locations. Ghost towns, movie sets, insane asylums, weapon factories….what on earth could be next? Well, if you have watched any of the recent teaser trailers for the new Zombie mode, it looks like a metropolitan city, sometime in the 1930s. That looks very promising, as it takes place around the same time as the map “Mob of the Dead”, where you were fighting on Alcatraz. “Mob of the Dead” was one of my favorites of the newer maps, and I would love to see some more of that time period. It would also be cool to see some period authentic weapons pop up. A Thompson M1928 with drum mag gets my vote. Maybe a Trench gun? How about a Browning Automatic Rifle?  That would work for the era….. Just some ideas here, Treyarch.

With the release of Call of Duty: Black Ops 3, we will be receiving one new Zombie map called “Shadows of Evil,” and depending on which version of the game you purchase, you might also have access to a 2nd map called “The Giant.” Now “The Giant” seems to be just a re-skinned and updated version of the older World at War map called “Der Riese,” but that is OK by me. I loved “Der Riese” and I can’t wait to try my luck on the catwalk or in the Thompson room once again. Also, if I remember correctly, in German, “Der Riese” translates to The Giant, so that is a nice touch for us old school zombie fans. I just really hope that they have the classic guns available once again. I would love to see a ppsh or a FG-42 in beautiful next gen graphics. It is doubtful, but a guy can hope, right?

Final Thoughts

Origins_loading_screenI can honestly say that I am very excited for this new addition to the Zombies lineage. I have such fond memories of playing the original zombies with my friends, that just the thought of having a new area to explore and learn, pulls me back into a simpler and happier time in my life. Trying out new strategies, getting to high rounds, being able to say that my team and I fought and died together, in glorious battle, really recalls a wonderful feeling. I hope that this new Zombies will be worth the wait, because I am really looking forward to it.

The trouble is, COD has become pretty synonymous with the modern cookie-cutter, over hyped FPS genre and it is a series that has come to represent a lot of what I hate about our AAA gaming market, the homogenization of artistic expression. These days, big companies recycle ideas, boil them down, strip away good content for DLC and market these games as a brand new experience. COD and Activision have made an art form out of robbing us of our hard earned cash and it really sucks. They truly offer nothing towards the greater progression of gaming as a legitimate art form. They give us dolled up, boring clones of previously successful games, just with a fresh coat of paint slapped on top.

Many gamers see COD as a lost cause, a series with no hope of significant innovation. Based on previous iterations, they may be right. I mean, this market is way over saturated with FPS games as it is and we have Activision to thank for that. A COD every year for the last 12 years!? Come on guys, that’s just obscene. You can look it up too. We have had a Call of Duty released every year, since 2003 and very little has changed in the overall formula.

But, regardless of COD‘s inability to innovate, people still buy each successive installment. Activision seems to pride themselves at their ability to release a COD game every year. Of course, it takes 3 different studios to accomplish this, but at lest we can count on always having a Call of Duty game to entertain us. If only they were each different and unique…

Of course, why wouldn’t they do this? Activision reported sales figures for Black Ops II as being more than 7.5 million copies sold on launch day. It grossed over $500 million during its initial 24 hours on the market, and that was just in the United Sates. With numbers like that, is it any wonder why they insist on having a COD released every year? Recycle, Recycle, Recycle and make tons of money. That’s all they know. And we gamers keep buying their products. What is wrong with us? If we really don’t like something, we shouldn’t support it with our pocketbooks. Of course, we are all guilty of this, including myself. In this case, we only have ourselves to blame for Activision’s inability to change the FPS paradigm. In their minds, they don’t need to change a thing. They are still making money and that is what counts.

Even though I am VERY excited and hopeful for the Zombie mode, I can almost guarantee that the campaign in Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 will be no different then any other COD game. Chances are, we will have a short, uninteresting storyline with shallow characters and a few “new” innovations, that aren’t really that new. We will have some form of vehicle section, the obligatory stealth mission and possibly a few sniper levels. The big emphasis will be on the competitive multiplayer, which I have always hated. Except for the co-op aspects of this game and the Zombie mode, there isn’t much else in here that makes me want to play Black Ops 3.

But hey, you never know….things might be different. Maybe I’m being too cynical. Maybe this will be the game that changes everything. The game that revolutionizes the genre and flips the FPS world on its head. You never know. Unfortunately, if the previous COD games are any indication, we will probably only get a few superficial improvements and maybe a new type of dog. Wouldn’t that be amazing….

~GB