The Call of Duty franchise has turned out some of gaming's biggest releases for nearly a decade, and with today's release of Call of Duty: Black Ops, developer Treyarch is looking to push the envelope further to create an unrivaled multi-player experience.
In September, gaming journalists were treated to a sneak peek at the latest features at a special event in Los Angeles. Here is a taste of what they saw.
The major focus of Black Ops' multi-player system is customization. Starting with the Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare in 2007, the Call of Duty series became known for letting users tailor their online soldier to suit their interests.
Do you want to be the speed guy who sprints all around the level, ducking in and out of cover and leaving foes behind? How about the explosives expert, launching grenades and rockets at the enemy? Perhaps you are a stealthy sniper, picking off the opponent from behind a bush or up on a roof.
Modern Warfare helped introduce the concept of perks and classes to players. You could add different physical perks, such as extra running distance and more health, and weapon perks including extra bullet damage or steady aim.
This separated the game from the pack, as most previous online shooters gave everyone the same attributes and weapons.
The two subsequent Call of Duty titles, World at War and Modern Warfare 2, expanded on the perks and bonuses that players could earn, adding kill streak bonuses for getting consecutive kills without dying.
This would reward the player with small bonuses like a radar sweep of the map, all the way up to helicopters and fighter jets that could get the upper hand on the opponent, literally.
Modern Warfare 2's ultimate kill streak, if you were skilled enough to pull off an amazing 25 kills in a row, was a nuclear bomb that could be called in to destroy the entire level, ending the match! Black Ops is adding more rewards to the kill streak menu, notably a remote controlled car.
This isn't your little brother's RC car, though. You can pilot the toy around the map, and when an enemy is in sight, pull the trigger for a killer explosion!
Black Ops will also let you physically customize your character and gun. You can add sticker designs to your weapon of choice, making it look like a rock band's tour crates. Your character will also be customized based on the perks you choose, so the aforementioned explosives technician will end up looking like the guys from The Hurt Locker, and snipers will wear the cape full of leaves to help with disguise and to blend in to the surroundings.
Black Ops is introducing a cash system to the franchise. After each match, you earn virtual money that will then be used to purchase said perks and weapons once you get to the level required to unlock them. If you prefer to use shotguns, for example, you could ignore buying snipers and just get what you want. This cash can also be gambled in the all new "Wager Match", which pays out big bucks to the winning player.
Speaking of which, Treyarch announced four match types new to the series. First, "One in the Chamber" gives every player a gun with one bullet, a knife, and three lives.
You better hope you connect with the shot and score, because each kill gives you another bullet. Miss, and it's time to pray your knife skills are up to par. Next, "Gun Game" starts each player on the bottom of the totem pole of weapons.
Each time you get a kill, you are automatically switched to the next highest ranking weapon. If you die, however, you're knocked down a peg. It feels like a Survivor style challenge, and the first one to get to the top wins immunity at tribal council, er, wins the match.
"Sharp Shooter" randomly assigns each player the same weapon. You could play a round of shotguns, followed by a round of snipers, followed by machine guns... it's the computer's choice. Lastly, "Sticks and Stones" gives you cash upon getting kills, but if another player kills you with a tomahawk, it's bankrupt city.
There is also a new contract system that rewards you for what you've already been doing. You can accept a contract for X amount of points that tasks you with getting Y amount of kills in your next match, for example. Succeed, and you get a big payday. Fail, and you have to wait to try again.
Obviously, the ones with the biggest risks will pay the biggest rewards. Treyarch is looking to capitalize on the amazing success of Halo 3's theater mode with one of their own. Black Ops' theater will let you record matches, replay clips, and share highlights online with your friends.
Score an amazing one of a kind kill and you can cut it in to a short film to show off your glory.
Finally, if all this sounds awesome but you want to practice your skills without being humiliated and crushed by taunting enemies online, you can enter "Combat Training." This is a completely separate mode where you can duke it out with computerized players that you can adjust to be as easy or difficult as you like.
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