As another year ends, another Call of Duty game arrives. Black Ops III is the third game in the Black Ops series, the third next-gen Call of Duty title, and the first next-gen Call of Duty game created by Treyarch. Black Ops III offers several new and refreshing additions to the series while still maintaining its classic and addictive structure that fans over the years continue to love.
Immediately upon starting up the multiplayer, you’re greeted with something entirely new to the franchise. You are asked to select one of the four starting specialist classes. These are the most interesting and diverse components of the game. In previous titles, you were only allowed to adjust the gear you wore. In this game, not only can you do that by earning kills, but you are also able to choose one of two abilities from a total of nine specialists and play as them, five of which are unlocked as you level up. The ability a specialist has can be used once you earn enough points in the various game modes. For example, the Outrider specialist gives you the option of either using an explosive crossbow that instantly kills the enemy on impact, or a vision pulse, which emits a sonar that covers a wide range and tags enemies who are in the pulse for several seconds. This offers various different play styles and keeps the game fresh.
A slight change from Advanced Warfare is the jetpack. Now, players are given a thrust jump which sends them high up into the air but doesn’t allow them to hover. Another new addition to the series is the ability to run on walls. Not only are you able to run on walls, but you’re also able to shot while moving on them as well. On top of this, you’re also able to shoot while sprinting as well as shooting underwater. The improvements from Advanced Warfare to Black Ops III are noticeable almost immediately and they’re all very positive.
The game also offers new game modes as well as bringing back old ones. The classics such as Team Deathmatch, Kill Confirmed, and Search & Destroy are here, but Demolition is also brought back from its very notable absence in Advanced Warfare and Ghost. A new mode, Safeguard, has the players guiding a robot from one side of the map to another as the enemy team tries to prevent them from doing so. League Play returns from Black Ops II under the new name Arena.
A new leveling system has been implemented into the multiplayer. As you level up, you will receive tokens. These tokens can be used to purchase guns, specialists, specialist abilities, items, and perks. There are only a limited number of tokens, so it’s best to use them wisely. Scorestreaks make their return yet again as well, with some changes and new ones debuting. For example, the R.A.P.S scorestreak sets off spherical devices which will follow around enemy players on their own and detonate when they get close enough.
In terms of the graphics, the game is vibrant and gorgeous to look at. The water, textures, and particle effects looked amazing. Well, at least in the next-gen version. My time on the last-gen version of the game was a bit soured by how ugly the game looked. The core of the game is still fully intact, save for the campaign, but I couldn’t help but notice just how out of date and low res so many of the textures were. Even with its $10 price reduction, I would highly recommend anyone to avoid those versions if you own a next-gen console.
Zombies returns to Call of Duty and it’s as incredibly addicting as ever. The new map, Shadows of Evil, is easily the best map the series has produced thus far. Set in the 1940s, this game mode allows you to take control of a Magician, a Boxer, a Detective, or a Dancer. The banter between the characters is amusing and there are noteworthy cast members such as Jeff Goldblum as the Magician. There is also a brand new option to “Become the Beast” in this mode. Once per round, you are able to turn into a tentacle monstrosity that has the ability to throw zombies, shoot electricity, and break down certain doors. This time around, zombies also has its own personalized perk and XP system that allows you to customize certain gun loadouts that hang on the walls or appear in the mystery box. This ensures variety when people play together.
Overall, Black Ops III has returned Call of Duty back to its roots of solid gameplay and gives a plethora of new offerings to make the game feel brand new rather than a rehash. Black Ops III is without a doubt the best installment in recent years, as well as the best installment on next-gen platforms. If possible, try to avoid the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 versions, as the reduced graphics may reduce your overall enjoyment of the game. While it still isn’t good enough to be declared the best in the franchise, Black Ops III has pushed the bar in excellency which is expected from the series. This game is by far the biggest package in Call of Duty to date.
Score: 9.0/10 (PS4/XB1/PC) 8.0/10 (PS3/360)
Release Date: November 6, 2015
Platforms: Playstation 4, Xbox One, PC, (Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 Multiplayer Only)
MRSP: $60 (PS4, XB1, PC) $50 (PS3, 360)
Reviewed by: Andrew Mendez (PS3/PS4)