previews\ Sep 2, 2010 at 8:00 pm

Call of Duty: Black Ops Multiplayer Preview


There’s really no denying the staying power of Activision’s Call of Duty franchise. Year in and year out, the series continues to be one of the best-selling franchises on any platform, one of the biggest draws for online players, and a fine example of a hardcore gaming series that has successfully been transferred into the pop culture zeitgeist. Additionally, considering the semi-recent, much publicized kerfuffle surrounding Activision and Infinity Ward, all eyes are upon the “other” Call of Duty developer, Treyarch, to really bring their A-game this year with their upcoming entry to the beloved series, Call of Duty: Black Ops.

Fortunately, after spending some time with the game’s online element, it’s safe to say that the developer is definitely on track for their finest game yet. At the recent multiplayer reveal, Treyarch took lifted the veil on the game’s multiplayer elements, which builds nicely on the formula laid out by its predecessors, while introducing a host of brand new features to help it stand apart from other entries.

One of biggest new changes on the roster was the addition of CoD Points (labeled CP). Using CP you’re able to purchase special customizations for your character and weapons, including flak jackets and even labels that you can add to give your weapons a personal touch. The customization runs high in Call of Duty: Black Ops, as you still have access to upgrades like perks that you gain through experience as well as new ones that are based around CP.

CP will also give you certain upgrades for your weaponry which include special scopes and other improvements to make them operate better on the field. You gain CP by completing ever changing contracts, which are added to the game by the online team weekly, with higher CP yields resulting from completing more difficult contracts. However, the fastest (and perhaps toughest) way to get CP is through Wager Matches.

The Wager Matches are divided into four different game modes: One in the Chamber (each player has only a pistol with one bullet and three lives, and earn an extra bullet by killing somebody), Sticks and Stones (you each get a ballistic knife, a crossbow, and a tomahawk, and whoever gets killed with a tomahawk gets bankrupt), Gun Game (each player starts with a pistol, and each progressive kill nets them a new weapon; first one to get through every weapon wins), and Sharp Shooter (each player gets the same randomly cycled weapon). By virtue of putting some form of currency on the line, the Wager Matches are extremely tense, and wildly addictive. The top three players will split the pot at the end of the match, but there are some that will go home empty-handed.

New weapons have been added to the Killstreak system, the Death Machine and the Grim Reaper. The Death Machine is a mini gun capable of mowing down enemies in a stream of bullets, while the Grim Reaper is a missile launcher. Both are capable of causing huge amounts of destruction and netting players a nice amount of kills. The coolest (and most rewarding) Killstreak reward was the RC-XD, a remote controlled car with a bomb strapped to it. You guide the car through the stage, sneaking up on an enemy and detonating the car when you get close. It looks pretty damn funny, and will no doubt be one of the most entertaining multiplayer features when the game launches.

Additionally, Black Ops will introduce a new Theater mode, which allows you to record pieces of your match, slow them down, speed them up, and place the camera anywhere in the action, and save and see them at a later date. The end result was a lot like the video system in place for Halo 3, but showcased a nice level of polish. The matches are saved automatically, with up to 100 being saved per seven-day period. Navigating the timeline is a snap as well, as color indicators will mark where you died or when you spawned in order to make finding key moments easy.

There has been a lot of doubt as to whether or not the Call of Duty franchise will be able to carry on after the shakeup at Infinity Ward. However, if the multiplayer that the team at Treyarch is diligently working on is any indication, the future of the series is in very good hands.

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