Call of Duty: Black Ops

December 22, 2013

Finished the single player campaign a while ago. According to Steam, took me 8 hours. So it’s on the short side of shooter campains. Didn’t feel too short, though; just about the right length for this kind of game.

The trailer is, of course, impressive. But before I talk about the game itself, let’s talk about (not) getting it to work on Mac. (tl;dr: didn’t work for me.)

Technical problems on the Mac

I could not get it to work correctly. I first bought it from Mac App Store. It installed and ran fine, but at some point in the game, when you got killed, the game just froze with a black screen. (It is supposed to continue from the previous checkpoint in this case.) It kept doing that, so I thought, maybe something is wrong with the MAS version, and I try the Steam version. I asked MAS for a refund, which I got.

One thing about Apple’s customer service which I don’t think is acknowledged enough, is that they have a generous refund policy that doesn’t treat all customers as potential fraudsters. If you ask nicely for a refund and explain it well enough, you just get it, no questions asked. Compare this to Steam’s policy of “no refunds whatsoever under any circumstances.”

Anyway. Many games on Steam are such that you buy it and can install on both Mac and Windows. Not so with Black Ops, which has a separate Mac and Windows version. I bought the Mac one, and sure enough, it misbehaved the same way as the faulty MAS version. Aspyr tech support asked me to try a few things, none of which helped, so I just gave up.

So, I just bought the Windows version, which did not have any technical problems. So unfortunately, Mac still is not up to par for AAA gaming, and performance may vary considerably across titles. (Max Payne 3 had many technical problems. On the other hand, Half-Life and Portal series worked flawlessly for me.)

The game itself

The most important fact about the game is that the single player version was not memorable to me in any way at all. I like to play FPS/adventure games that innovate or contribute something. CoD has by now turned into a mindless franchise that just pumps out a new version every year like clockwork, but they’re shallow and don’t contribute anything to the genre.

It’s not a bad game. It’s well produced. Pieces of it are interesting. Like the whole premise of black ops with different episodes was something new, and the sequence where you switch between guiding special ops team from a SR71 Blackbird, and being said team yourself, was something new. But overall, meh. I’m not sure who their audience is, but I’m not that. And multiplayer is probably very good for people who play it, but I don’t.

What’s my benchmark? I’m now playing Far Cry 3 and Crysis 3. Both of them are way more interesting, especially FC3.