Black Ops III will mark the CoD franchise’s third foray into Next-Gen gaming, and the previous two proved at least as popular as ever – thus answering Edwin Starr’s eternal question (‘War…..HUH…..what is it good for?’) with a resounding ‘selling shitloads of video games, innit!?’. Whether you’re a fan of the series or not, I think it’s fair to say that the CoD games (from whichever developer) have really been nailing their next-gen shizzle, truly embracing – and pushing – what the new machines are capable of.
From what I saw, Black Ops 3 seems to be no different in that respect. On account of being (to use the technical term) ‘a load of old shite’ at them – at least until I get into my groove – I decided my time would be best spent watching those who were better at it than me, rather than queuing for 2 hours just to stare at a re-spawn screen for 10 minutes. It was a good decision, because not only did I get to see a lot more (across multiple screens), but because I was watching some pretty good players, I actually got to see Black Ops 3 turned up to 11. And I really liked what I saw.
As you’re probably aware, the newest feature in BO3 (with Treyarch at the helm) is the ability to get your parkour on in order to become not just a killing machine, but a free-running, environment-grinding, Tony Hawk-like killing machine – and it was this element that I was most keen to check out. The Multiplayer Map I saw was great in and of itself, but it was, as you’d perhaps expect, designed with exactly these kind of gravity-defying shenanigans in mind.
I was watching one guy, for example, who’d totally got to grips with it, and it really was phenomenal to see. At one point he spotted a potential kill in the distance, and was able to cut him off (and kill him) in a way I’d never seen before, and in a way which made all the boost-jumping stuff in Advanced Warfare look pretty pedestrian in comparison. Conversely, I also saw another guy suddenly find three people running across a wall in front of him and fully take advantage of the extra-rich bonus pickings.
Essentially, this new element appears to have really opened up maps, and fundamentally changed the way we’ll be approaching CoD multiplayer. It might not be so great for me, given that I’m rubbish even when there are plenty of places to hide – but much like nailing the exo-suit stuff quickly in Advanced Warfare paid off in spades, I very much expect that getting to grips with this new parkour deal will pay huge dividends.
To illustrate the point further, I was watching a Dad and his two kids playing on the same team in a multiplayer map. Aside from that being quite cool generally, they’d obviously spent a lot of time playing CoDs together, and they were managing to integrate the new elements into their game effortlessly. The family that plays together obviously kicks ass together, and like a pack of predators working as a team, they were able to surround, head-off, and ultimately kill-all-different-kinds-of-ways, any members of the other team who were foolish enough to wander into their theatre of death. At one point, distracted by the Dad, some unsuspecting fellows failed to notice the two kids outflank them by running on the walls – like something out of freakin’ Alien – and, just like that, it was all over. Death – she comes from above now. And the side. And she’s ruthless.
Finally, in terms of how Call of Duty: Black Ops III looked, sounded and played, it was as good as you’d expect from the Triple A franchise. The graphics were top quality, and the gameplay was both smooth, and blisteringly fast. Watching the rounds being played on a big screen was something else, and everything was sufficiently dazzling and mesmerising. In testament to the quality of the Sound Engineering, on more than one occasion I instinctively flinched when an ‘explosion’ seemed to go off right next to me – and I’d have felt pretty daft had not everyone else done exactly the same thing.
In conclusion, from what I saw, I think Black Ops III will certainly continue the trend of expertly combining all the stuff we know and love about the series with enough new elements, gadgets and gizmos to keep it fresh and challenging. Production values are still waaaaay up there (right next to the budget), it’s audacious, it’s big and it’s loud – and Black Ops 3 will likely be an action-packed blockbuster that’ll keep you coming back for more.
At least until the next one comes out, anyway.