Meta-review: Call of Duty: Black Ops III (PS4, Xbox One, PC)

Black-Ops-3I have a love/hate relationship with Call of Duty. Like Assassin’s Creed, the annualized franchise has just worn thin as far as my gaming tastes are concerned. Black Ops II was incredibly tedious in my books, while I skipped Ghosts completely. Now I actually loved Advanced Warfare’s campaign, but I stayed out of its multiplayer offerings. With Treyarch’s latest, Black Ops III, I had originally decided to withhold any decision on whether to play it or not until I had read the reviews, and although Call of Duty games rarely review poorly, I wanted to know if there was enough of a break from the formulaic Call of Duty experience to make the game worth a playthrough. The gameplay footage released at E3 did little to win me over. That said, reviewers seem to be walking away from the game relatively positive. Here are what the reviewers have to say:

For the purposes of this meta-review, we are only going to be looking at the review scores for the Current Gen platforms (ie. not the Xbox 360 or PS3). That is because the last-gen versions of the game have had the entire single player story component of the game removed. 

BLOPS3EGM: It’s never easy to continually one-up yourself, but Treyarch seems just fine rising up to the challenge each time its turn comes up to put out a Call of Duty game. By adding progression and co-op to each mode, players have new reasons to go back and play each one more, while also providing a common thread through each part to help pull it all together. Multiplayer and Zombies are more robust than ever, and although Campaign’s story might not have been the strongest we’ve seen from series, it’s still a high-quality thrill a minute ride with a twist that will keep players talking until the series’ next installment. Simply put, Black Ops III is the deepest experience the franchise has seen thus far. (9.5/10)

The Telegraph: Black Ops III, then, is not necessarily a game for the masses in the same way Call of Duty has been in the past, but it is a more focused and exhilarating offering for those that find connection with its constant and unfettered action. In a world in which so many games are trying to be all things to all people, this form of focus is welcome from a design and identity perspective. Plus, if you find that the multiplayer isn’t for you then there’s always Zombies and the campaign to indulge in. (4/5)

Destructoid: Multiplayer has been overhauled from a features standpoint too, as there’s now full support for streaming (including a cavalcade of spectator options), arena ranked playlists with seasons, and an even more convenient instant menu option for perma-muting anyone outside of your party. There have been hundreds of people populating Black Ops III‘s servers during this testing period without issues, but if anything changes we’ll provide updates as needed on the front page. At this point, at least two of the Call of Duty developers (Treyarch and Sledgehammer), have it figured out. They now have a three-year development cycle, which means that technically, each individual game is not a rushed “annual” iteration. While the campaign could certainly be a lot stronger, Black Ops III is living proof of that concept. (8.5/10)

Giant Bomb: Stuff. This game has a ton of stuff in it. The modes are there, they’re many, and they’re relatively diverse for a Call of Duty game. On paper, it might be the biggest Call of Duty package yet. But the devil’s in the details here, and various changes made to multiplayer feel like more wheel-spinning from a series that’s had a little too much wheel-spinning over the last few years. The movement options are nice, but I’d rather play this game with the movement controls found in last year’s game. Perhaps some pockets of the still-large Call of Duty fanbase will enjoy different parts of it more than I did, but as I add it all up, Black Ops III is a pretty even mix of positive and negatives. It’s OK. (3/5)

Follow Tom on Twitter @thomaskagar

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