Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War – Review

Even though this year has been somewhat of a different one, it’s finally that time of the year when all the game franchises that we love (and some that we have come to hate) drop their new games.  This is no different for Call of Duty.

The new Call of Duty game, produced by Treyarch, sees us going back to the Black Ops series which, in my humble opinion, is among the best Call of Duty games.  Now some might immediately be put off due to the direction that the Black Ops arc took with Black Ops III and even with IV (which was released after the “boots on the ground” promise) but Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War (referred to as Cold War from here on out as that is a mouth full of a name) takes us back to the days of Mason and Woods with some plausible deniability action in the true Black Ops style.

The Game.

Cold War comes with the usual arsenal of game modes that we’ve come to expect from Treyarch plus one new addition that seems to be becoming a staple in the Call of Duty franchise, as well as in the broader gaming world.

The playable modes are Campaign, Multiplayer and Zombies, with the latest Call of Duty version of the popular Battle Royale game mode, Warzone. Let’s take a closer look at each.

Campaign – take on some of the missions that never happened during the Cold War in the 80’s as “Bell” who is a new edition to the Black Ops team.  Customize your Bell to fit you as you get to choose their name and surname, gender, country of origin, personality and field experience.
With your field experience, you get to choose between CIA, MI-6 or ex-KGB.  The story dialogue adapts around your choice of experience, but all the outcomes are dependent on your choices, actions and investigative skill.  Play as Agent Bell, and occasionally other agents, like Alex Mason, as you chase down one of the most elusive Soviet masterminds, known as Perseus, as you work to prevent him from plunging the world into further chaos.

Multiplayer – as has been the staple for Call of Duty games since the start, the multiplayer menu sees all the game modes we know, like Team Deathmatch, Free For All, Hardpoint and many others.  Cold War does, however, have a few unique game modes that sees teams battle it out across a handful of well-designed and intricate maps.  On top of this – customisable loadouts, weapon skins, new operators, clan tags and emblems are all still there, along with the information about your skills that you don’t want to look at but need to see.
And for those of you who are wondering, no – there’s no Nuketown… yet.

Zombies – once again, some very sinister experiments have gone horribly wrong (or incredibly right depending on which side of the fence you’re standing) and Zombies have been released back into the world.  Take on wave after wave of the undead horde alone, with friends or in a public queue and send the undead back where they belong.  Learning from it’s past, Cold War Zombies has objectives that can be followed to unlock the underlying story in Die Maschine and find out exactly what those evil scientists were getting up to behind the iron curtain.
Also, hidden within Zombies, is a game mode called Dead Ops Arcade.  This game mode has been sneakily tucked away in Black Ops games since the original Black Ops in 2010.  As this is a “hidden feature” in the game, I’d rather just let you try this one out for yourselves.  I will say this though, if you’ve played Dead Ops Arcade in any of the previous Black Ops games, then this one is definitely worth it.

Warzone – Call of Duty’s very own Battle Royale mode sees it’s second rendition come to life with Black Ops Cold War and, like with Modern Warfare, it will be free to play and stand almost as its own game within Cold War.  If you’re still playing Modern Warfare Warzone and are worried about your future with that game, Call of Duty have assured us that Modern Warfare will still be getting updates for a long time to come.

The download size of the game sits neatly under 85GB (come one Modern Warfare) with the total size being broken up into optional “data chunks” which you can choose to keep or remove from your storage to better manage your space.
With exception of the compulsory base game size of 21,7GB, the optional data chunks are as follows;
– Campaign – 38,7GB
– Multiplayer – 15,3GB
– Zombies – 3,6GB
– Dead Ops Arcade – 6,2GB
– Content Packs – each of these are only 10.1mb
This is well played by Call of Duty as players who never make use of Zombies or players who have completed the campaign can choose to uninstall those chunks from their storage and save on precious hard drive space.  This is especially cool for Warzone only players who do not have access to the other modes and so they can then just have the base game and Warzone installed.
What this looks like for future update sizes, I cannot say.  But it is looking a lot better than the massive updates we’ve had to put up with on Modern Warfare.

Graphics and Feel.

Playing this on my OG Xbox One, the graphics still look incredible. Guns look, and sound, realistic and great use of lighting, textures, shadows and colours work well together to create incredibly realistic areas across all the available game modes.  I, for one, especially enjoyed this in the campaign missions where weather conditions and time of day were so evident as you move through Vietnamese forests, Soviet bases or snowy peaks.

One minor issue I did experience with the graphics of Cold War was during the cinematics.  Now this issue is not really game based, but the fault more so lies within outdated and underspec hardware.
During cinematics, because of the high quality of the graphics, my xbox would really battle and what I was watching would become jumpy and laggy and the audio would often complete long before the video as I then had to suffer in actual silence as I watched till the end of the cinematic.  This didn’t happen all the time and I did find on longer cinematics that my xbox eventually caught up and everything was smooth and synchronised.  My old boy apparently just needed some time to catch his breath for all the hard work I was making him do.
Although irritating, this minor issue is really not game breaking in my opinion and still makes the game well worth it.

Gameplay and Controls.

As with all new games, some learning time to master the controls is required but I found the controls to be easy to grasp and quick to master.  This is most likely because they are the same as all the latest Call of Duty games and it was more a case of me having to dust off my own Call of Duty skills again.  But no, don’t expect to see my quick scope 360’ing you online any time soon.

The game plays incredibly well across all game modes and each needs its own strategy and skillset to really excel at it.  Gone are the days of sprinting and going Gung-ho on everything and anything that moved.
Focussing in a little more on the multiplayer game mode now – once I knew where to expect people and what angles I could get shot from, my stats significantly improved as I was able to make the key movement decisions needed that only come with map knowledge and game specific experience.

The Verdict.

After putting a considerable amount of time into the campaign, as well as a fair amount of hours in Multiplayer, I must say that this game has learnt from the mistakes and successes of its Black Ops predecessors and have used those lessons well to piece a really well made and fun game together.  Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War takes on an incredibly interesting and entertaining line in its campaign missions, as well as keeping you on your toes in both multiplayer and Zombies game modes.  This game really will go blow for blow with other big shooters, including its cousin – Modern Warfare.

As more people get the game, I am excited to see where it leads in Warzone matches and competitive play and if this game will carry the name of Call of Duty with pride and success into the future.

I personally think it will, and so I give Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War a massive 8.5 out of 10 stars.

A massive thanks to our friends over at Prima Interactive for giving us a chance to review the game.