I'm David. Today, I'm going to tell you all about one the earliest games I pre-ordered and loved to death, Black. It wasn't my first pre-order - That prize is with Resident Evil: Outbreak. But let's try and forget about that mess. Onto Black, if you please? Thanks.
Black is a game where your main concern is shooting dudes square in their face, usually in Eastern-Europe & Russian locales. You run along a bit, sometimes under the guise of stealth, but you can quickly ignore that and just run and shoot. The first thing you have to do in the game is shoot a door off it's hinges with a huge shotgun. And that's what I want to talk about - How the game makes you feel.
It's the first game that really ticked all the boxes of "Cinematic Action" for me, and I think even things like the limitation of hardware assisted that. Criterion adapted the Burnout engine for a first person shooter, and managed to really squeeze some great looking environments and assets out of that. When bullets hit walls and the like, it threw up a lot of dust - I imagine this was exaggerated fpr effect rather than create something realistic, but this Hollywood-esque, over-the-top feel they placed over the entire game really gave me that action movie vibe.
Totally ridiculous reloading sequences often took up the entire screen, placing a depth of field effect that blurred out the action behind, forcing you to watch a clip being slammed home or shotgun shells thumbed into the chamber. This is bananas. But in the context of it being totally nuts, putting so much showmanship on simply reloading seems totally fine.
Hiding behind a wall as dust and bullet hits are flying around you everywhere, and as you pop up and fire at barrels / cars / whole oil refineries that explode in glorious sunglazed technicolour. Rudimentary building destruction also felt far more like you had an impact on the world than anything like Red Faction ever did. Little bizarre side collectables that hinted at things like Area 51. Levels that actually took a whole hour to complete. Shells that come out of totally wrong side of the gun because the developers thought "that looked cooler".
Black allowed me to live out some action movie fantasies (and what I still believe to be a far better mockup of "the bathroom from The Rock" than Modern Warfare) on the Playstation 2 that I haven't encountered such a feeling since, as close as Battlefield does. However, when I purchased it on the XBox Originals service online, something didn't feel right. Maybe it takes a while to get going. Or has Battlefield and Call of Duty spoiled me with better mechanics? It's a shame that Bodycount was a lacklustre spiritual successor, as there's still scope for a mindless modern military shooter that doesn't say "Weapons Free" every half hour.