Release Date: 11/5/2015
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Man, where do I begin? Call of Duty was one of my favorite franchises growing up, and Modern Warfare helped kickstart FPS games into a new cinematic next-generation universe. That Pripyat level in the first Modern Warfare still sticks with me to this day. After MW2 the series took a steep downhill slide and hasn’t stopped since. Here we are with Black Ops III, a futuristic military shooter that is a far cry from what the original Black Ops was, which was absolutely fantastic. You play as a squad of black op cybernetic soldiers who are trying to stop an all-powerful AI from destroying the world. See, the whole world is completely infused with tech that can read people’s minds and know our every move. The CIA has several operations around the world to keep this in check, but it all goes wrong one day. The actual concept is interesting and could have gone somewhere, but instead, we dredge through a sewer of boring, mediocre, and lame campaign levels that drag on way too long and overstay their welcome.
The game plays exactly like every other CoD since MW1. You run and gun your way through waves of enemies that are as dumb as dirt and you face unbalanced difficulty spikes and repeat about a million times. I have to point out that I really hate the new weapon system in this game. You can no longer pick up guns from enemies but instead run into mobile armories where you can swap your loadout. This is a campaign and not multiplayer. I want to pick up weapons from enemies and keep things constantly mixed up. Several times through one level I would need a shotgun or sniper rifle but was screwed because I couldn’t get to an armory. I can’t predict what’s going to happen next so this is a huge mistake and I really hated it.
Second, the enemies are as boring as ever with generic robots and super soldiers. You get the occasional mobile armor, but that’s about it. It’s so boring I just shrugged because I knew this was coming from a game like this. I mentioned the terrible weapon systems, but let’s talk about how terrible the actual weapons are. For one, there’s a small amount for a CoD game, and they all feel the same. Sure you have shotguns and assault rifles and pistols, but they just feel the same. They seem to have no weight, no bearing, and no personality. It’s futuristic shotgun A and futuristic assault rifle F. There are no real-world weapons anymore and it’s just a bore-fest due to a lack of personality. The entire game has zero personality or originality. It all feels like endless metal corridors and hallways and concrete. At least the first Black Ops felt original and had some personality and weight to it.
To make the game feel more like multiplayer you get dumped into a central hub after every level and can change your loadout, unlock weapons with fabrication kits, and customize your weapons. There’s a new concept introduced called cyber cores which are powers that you can use against enemies. I found these almost nearly worthless as the game offers no opportunities to change to the standard CoD gameplay to implement this. It just felt like something tacked on to say, “Hey! We did something different! SEE?!” which I didn’t fall for. The only useful power was stunning multiple robots at once, but that’s about it. For most of the campaign, I forgot these powers were even there. I just ran around shooting everything in sight like every other CoD. I wish the series would stop pretending to be sophisticated and complicated when really it’s a dumbed-down snoozefest with no personality. It has been years since CoD has put its own fingerprint on the FPS genre and this game doesn’t do it any favors.
I hated the campaign, but the multiplayer was at least fun for a while. It’s still the same old CoD MP that we’ve grown to either somehow still tolerate or completely hate. However, Black Ops III is much more grindy than any other CoD game and I gave up after around level 5. Even in single-player, it takes many levels before you can purchase decent weapons and load-outs. It’s part of the reason why the game gets so boring so quickly, the fast unlocks of the past are gone and it feels almost free to play which is a damn shame.
Graphics-wise, it’s nothing impressive except for how powerful of a PC you need to run something that shouldn’t push high-end systems. With the GTX 970, I used I had to turn down settings and still got massive slow down. It wasn’t until I used an overclocked 1070 that I got steady FPS with everything maxed out, and even then sometimes the game dropped down to 40 FPS for no apparent reason. The game is poorly optimized, has awful glitches that still exist after all the patches, and just doesn’t look all that original or impressive.
Overall, I can’t really recommend this game except for the hardcore CoD players, and fans of only the older games will hate this. The weapon system sucks, the campaign is boring, lame, tedious, full of glitches, and the unlocks are a grind fest. There’s so much wrong with Black Ops III that it took me over one year to finish the campaign. It’s just boring and not fun to play as there are plenty of other great shooters out there. I’d rather play Half-Life 2 for the 20th time or the Crysis trilogy than spend one more minute in this game. Now, that’s not to say I hate it to death, as the multiplayer can be pretty fun with new modes and playable heroes at a little depth, but it’s not enough to save the core gameplay. Zombie Mode is the final saving grace as it still provides entertainment, but like multiplayer it will only last so long with boring guns to use and average visuals.