With the calamities of Infinity Ward's implosion fresh in mind, a lot more pressure is resting on the shoulder of Treyarch as they prepare Call of Duty: Black Ops. The first Call of Duty game with a cold war setting. You will jump in and out of famous conflicts, as a tale of conspiracy unravels before your eyes during one of the most politically volatile periods in history.
Call of Duty: Black Ops plays a lot like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, with the same kind of military phrases coming out of the loudspeakers. Even if there aren't a whole lot of futuristic weapons, the weapons are a lot more modern than the World War II guns, and that adds to the sense that this game is more closely related to Modern Warfare 2 than World at War.
But what about the popular Nazi zombies from Call of Duty: World at War? Nothing is certain at this point, but Treyarch did say they had a few aces left up their sleeves. So odds are that there will be some kind of zombie infestation in Black Ops as well, as Treyarch seemed very concerned with keeping their fans happy.
But there are a lot of things that sets Call of Duty: Black Ops apart from Infinity Ward's creations. They have worked with "Compete/Customize/Create" as a motto for the development, and have aimed to include everything their fans crave. This includes bots, that have long been missing from the game. It is Treyarch's opinion that not enough people play online, and that bots is the perfect route into the wonderful world of online gaming. Two players can co-operate or compete with a bot army each in split screen mode.
Another major addition is that the inclusion of a currency, CP, (the C has a line running through it like the dollar sign). The idea is that you can unlock the things you want with the currency, so you can get your favourite gear quicker. The currency also enables Treyarch to introduce Wager Match. You bet a few CP bucks before the round, and the three best players share the spoils. The remaining players walk away empty handed. I didn't have to play more than a few games, before I realised that the difference between winning big, and losing hard earned space bucks was an extra incentive for everyone involved.
That takes us to the next C, create. You will be able to customise your class just like in the last game, but the difference this time around is that the it has greater impact, and you will also be able to see clearly on each character what class he belongs to. If he is better equipped to handle explosions from grenades, he will carry big pads and a sturdy helmet, which will signal to his opponents what his weaknesses are.
You will also be able to create your emblems with a terrifying amount of options at your disposal. If you always wanted to create that special emblem with a horse with guns on his hooves on a sunset backdrop you will be able to. Objects can be rotated, turned, zoomed in, and out. In the end it will be possible to make sure that you and your clan will have be able to make sure your emblem is one of a kind. On top of this you will be able to modify your weapons and pimp in ways that leave Army of Two: The 40th Day in the dust (how about a smiley face instead of a boring scope?). You will also be able to carve messages into your weapons. Hopefully something a bit more creative than "pwned" or "1337".
There are more perks and killstreak bonuses. One favourite is RC-RD, a warthog looking little radio controlled vehicle filled with explosives, and almost impossible to shoot. You can send it on a kamikaze mission towards your enemies, as they sit and twiddle their thumbs behind cover. You will also be able to pilot the helicopter that drops bombs on the enemy, and direct missiles. On top of that there is also the crossbow that shoots explosive arrows (Rambo style), which reminds me of Torque Bow from Gears of War 2.
Naturally there are new game modes. The most entertaining one I got to try was the Wager Match mode Gunslinger. The objective is to kill an enemy with each of the 20 weapons available in the game. After each kill your weapon is automatically switched for a new one. It gives the action a lot of variation, and forces you to change strategies on the fly. You have to be very vigilant, because if you get killed you lose a level and you're forced to register another kill with a previous weapon. But there are also other modes that have been added.
Treyarch were also very proud of a video mode, not unlike the one found in Halo 3. Your matches are saved onto the harddrive and you can edit them yourself and post your proudest moments online. You are able to freely control the camera to get the action from the best possible angles. A powerful and easy to use tool that is sure to result in tons of insane Youtube clips.