Thursday, 24 March 2011

Call of Fight Club Now: Redux

Trailing behind just about everybody else who has the game under their console, I finally got around to playing through the single player campaign of Call of Duty: Black Ops. It’s very nice to see that the writers of the series’ plotlines are still drunk and like to pinch their ideas from multiple sources. This blog definitely will be spoiler centric, so if you don’t want to know certain bits about the ending, close your eyes and click optimistically for something else.

To mention anything would be quite a major spoiler as the game seems so random in its route through the story that the destination is not clear at all. I can’t believe that there was anyone sitting there thinking “I know exactly where this is going”. This statement is not to be mistaken as praise.

Unpredictability and plot twists are all good things to have in a story, but they need to make sense in order to be truly appreciated. During the course of Black Ops it would not have been out of place for the fantastic moustache of Captain Price to suddenly swoop down from orbit and get slapped across Gary Oldman’s forehead. This may be down to the fact that Gary Oldman’s character (whose name I forget) turns out to be your imaginary friend for the majority of the game, and everything that he has supposedly done past a point was actually you.

Now this seems fairly bonkers for a game series that has tried to at least pretend it meant serious business and put action heroes in a plausible setting. Perhaps they were trying to distance themselves from the ‘serious’ vein of story flowing through Modern Warfare 2, where all of Russia suddenly goes to war with the US because they find a dead, slightly guilty looking American in an airport full of dead, slightly guilty looking Russians.

I honestly believe that the stories for these games are the result of a night of drinking followed by frantic fever dreams induced by leaving whatever late night film is running on the SyFy channel on a TV screen in the same room. They make as much sense as cross breeding chickens with icing sugar and chocolate to try and get the distressed animals to lay Cream Eggs.

The ending sequence was what took it over the top for me though. Maybe I’m being a bit pedantic and SCUBA diving nerdish here, but to escape, the protagonist ascends through about fifty metres of water in 25 seconds. Considering that a safe ascent from depths shallower than that should not exceed 18 metres per minute, with a three minute stop five metres below the surface, it’s incredible that he doesn’t immediately die of decompression sickness, an arterial gas embolism and exploded lungs.

And what greets him at the surface? Five warships that can’t be parked more than 20 metres away from each other, each facing the opposite direction as if they rushed into the middle of the sea to find you. If the wind picks up it would be very easy for these things to drift into each other, not to mention the smaller craft weaving in and out of them.

The six aircraft that fly low over the top of you in synchronisation might as well be dragging a banner that says “America wins!”

I know I’m picking holes in the very serious case of a videogame storyline, but I can’t help but feel that Black Ops was actually a parody of the Call of Duty series. I thought that EA’s advergamesment Duty Calls was being a bit extreme in its piss taking, but I think the ending of Black Ops possibly out did it.

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