“Black Ops Cold War”: Breath of Fresh Air for the Series

by Tom Athron ’21

Source: IGN

Published Mar. 26th, 2021

When it comes to video game series, very few come anywhere near the recognition and success of the Call of Duty franchise. 

Within the Call of Duty world, the game “Black Ops” is enormously popular. Previous versions of “Black Ops” took place in the future, moving away from the series’ origins as a 1960s Cold War thriller.

With that understanding, developer Treyarch decided to bring the series back to its roots with “Black Ops: Cold War.” Set in the early 1980s, Cold War combines iconic series characters with franchise newcomers to create a new story set after the events of the original game.

In terms of the story, it’s a tale best experienced blind, but the story itself is consistently engaging and features a primary plot twist that’s simultaneously incredibly difficult to predict and foreshadowed perfectly.

It must be said that the amount of decisions that the player is able to make provide a good amount of replayability to both individual missions and the campaign as a whole. One example is the multiple ways the player can obtain a KGB keycard for a CIA team in the mission “Desperate Measures.”

The lighting and graphics are also consistently inspiring, easily transporting players to 1981 East Berlin or 1968 Vietnam. The sound design and environments never fail to impress.

However, weapon design feels very hit-and-miss. Some of the game’s assault rifles contain the power of Odin, whereas several sniper rifles can’t seem to penetrate a balsa wood plank. 

On a more negative side, Treyarch’s decision to not bring back the original voice actors for the game’s character shows in the worst possible way. This is especially apparent in the character Frank Woods, voiced by Damon Victor Allen. Allen seems desperate to impersonate the previous voice actor, James C. Burns, rather than bring something new to the character.

On the multiplayer side, fans have voiced their displeasure with the skill-based matchmaking system (SBMM). It’s clear the system doesn’t work as intended, prioritizing performance in the previous game over actual skill level, leaving you either fighting against noobs or complete pros with no in between.

Still, the map design is decent. One of the most iconic maps in the game involves a CIA strike team mission in a random New Jersey mall.

Regardless, Cold War is definitely a game one can have a lot of fun with. Whether or not it is more enjoyable than “Modern Warfare” is a matter of taste. As to where Treyarch will end up taking their next projects, fans can only wait and see.

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