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Call of Duty

Review: Call of Duty: Black Ops III: Awakening

Feb 02 // Chris Carter
Call of Duty: Black Ops III (PC, PS4 [reviewed], Xbox One)Developer: TreyarchPublisher: ActivisionReleased: February 2, 2016 (PS4) / TBA (PC, Xbox One)MSRP: $14.99 ($50 Season Pass for four packs) When it comes to map design, Treyarch is one of the best in the business. One of its go-to staples is the three-lane approach, which allows for all sorts of interesting firefights and strategies throughout every game type. It takes it to an extreme here with Gauntlet, as it hosts three unique themes in each lane -- tropical, arctic, and industrial. Each area evokes feelings of the past Black Ops maps, Jungle, Discovery, and Kowloon respectively, which is good company to be in. Gauntlet is instantly recognizable, and really feels like three maps in one. If anything it's a bit too tunnel-oriented as folks will no doubt have issues with a lack of elevation (especially in the arctic and jungle themes), but it gets the job done and I'm glad it's in the rotation. [embed]338194:62083:0[/embed] Splash (pictured up top) is typical Treyarch at its finest. It's an absurd water park map that wouldn't feel out of place at Disney World's Caribbean Beach Resort. It's bright, it's littered with shops and rides, and even has a Main Street area. Water slides dot the landscape, as do cute mascot signs that top the previous meta Burger Town franchise -- it would feel right at home in the wackier Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare games. It's crazy that you can consistently read the detail on individual signs now as well (a few of which made me laugh, like the "no selfie stick" one), instead of haphazardly trying to read blurry scrawls. It's one of my favorite maps in years, with a wide array of open areas and indoor close-quarters combat sections. Skyjacked, quite simply, is a remake of Hijacked from Black Ops II. This map was a bit divisive in the community due to its close-quarters focus and propensity to promote camping, so most of you have already made up your mind on it. Personally it was one of my favorites, so I'm glad to see Treyarch bringing it back here, and was happy to play it again. The new theme isn't a half-measure like some past remakes, as the entire affair now takes place in a floating fortress, set to the backdrop of an ongoing city battle. It's a remake of a good map that's made even better due to jumpjet and wallrunning capabilities. There's usually one map that I outright dislike in a pack, and this time it's Rise. It's far too gated and familiar for my tastes, and is nearly indistinguishable from a few industrial levels included in the base package (namely Exodus). There are times where you'd think a cool new area is just waiting around a corner, but then the game doesn't allow you to actually go there due to invisible walls. It's almost like they spent too much time building the other three to really put the proper amount of care in here. If it comes up in the rotation I usually cringe. Der Eisendrache (The Iron Dragon) caps off the DLC, which immediately adds more of an incentive to pick up Awakening. Peppering in one zombie (or alien) map is a strategy the other Call of Duty developers (Infinity Ward and Sledgehammer) have adopted for good reason -- the sheer amount of depth in these things keep people coming back for more. I really dig the whole castle theme, which basically goes full Wolfenstein from the start. I'm sad to see the Jeff Goldblum crew seemingly isn't returning for more, but the original cast is iconic enough to last, spearheaded by Steve Blum's Dempsey. The animated intro certainly helps give the level a different feel as well, and it's crazy that Treyarch is still building upon the lore it created so many years ago in World at War. Der Eisendrache surprised me as well with its open layout, with plenty of room to move, lots of teleporters, and tons of secrets that players will be tracking down weeks after launch. As Nikolai even remarks during Der Eisendrache, "will there ever be an end to this nightmare?" Not as long as Activision keeps selling DLC, there isn't! But one man's nightmare is another man's video game, and the good news is that each Call of Duty developer has been pushing itself harder in recent years to justify the price. If you still play Black Ops III, you can't really go wrong with Awakening -- especially since the new maps are now built into normal playlists from the get-go.
Call of Duty DLC review photo
Four maps and some zombies
It's still crazy to me that I'm loading up a Call of Duty DLC pack first on PlayStation 4. After years of Microsoft-dominated timed exclusivity Sony finally has its shot at heading it up, and it has perfect timing with Black Ops III. As one of the best Call of Duty games in years, it allows Awakening plenty of room to breathe, and lets Treyarch be its unconventional self.

Call of Duty photo
Call of Duty

Peter Stormare returns in Call of Duty's new ad campaign


'The Replacer'
Jan 29
// Chris Carter
Peter Stormare has entertained me for years, and is one of the greatest character actors of our time -- Fargo, Big Lebowski, Bad Boys II, Until Dawn, hell, even Prison Break -- classic performances. Now he's ba...
Call of Duty photo
Call of Duty

Call of Duty: Black Ops III's newest zombie map has Wolfenstein vibes


I'm in
Jan 27
// Chris Carter
I'm all in with the new zombie cast in Call of Duty: Black Ops III (headlined by Jeff Goldbum), but I'll take Der Eisendrache as well -- the newest map set to debut in the Awakening DLC. It brings back the original ...
Square Enix - Activision photo
Square Enix - Activision

Rise of the Tomb Raider director leaves Crystal Dynamics for Infinity Ward


Now art director at Call of Duty studio
Jan 16
// Kyle MacGregor
Tomb Raider Senior Art Director and Rise of the Tomb Raider Game Director Brian Horton has left Crystal Dynamics, the developer announced via the official Tomb Raider Tumblr account Friday. "It’s been a huge honor to be...

Call of Duty sales photo
Call of Duty sales

Call of Duty: Black Ops III is 2015's best-seller, series tops 250 million sold


Racking up quite a phone bill
Jan 15
// Steven Hansen
Call of Duty: Black Ops III launched November 6. That means that is was for sale for less than two months in 2015. Despite this, Black Ops III was the best-selling video game of 2015 according to NPD data. While NPD data only...
Jonas Savimbi photo
Jonas Savimbi

The family of an Angolan rebel is suing Activision for Black Ops 2


It really takes three years to notice?
Jan 15
// Joe Parlock
Jonas Savimbi played a pretty important role in Angola’s history. He regularly fought against the Portuguese, who had colonised the country, and then also fought against the new ruling political party, the MLPA, up unti...
Activision movies photo
Activision movies

Ex-Tarantino producer joins Activision Blizzard movie studio


The Hateful Skylanders
Jan 13
// Steven Hansen
Seeking new money-making avenues, Activision Blizzard announced it would start its own "film and television studio devoted to creating original content" for its series like Call of Duty, StarCraft, and Diablo. Activision Bliz...
Black Ops III photo
Black Ops III

Black Ops III multiplayer is free this weekend


May the Scorestreaks be with you
Dec 19
// Mike Cosimano
Once you're done with your obligatory two Star Wars viewings this weekend (one to get it in before the spoilers hit, and another to make sure it was really that good), maybe you should fire up your PC and play some ...
Call of Duty  photo
Call of Duty

Here's a Call of Duty Black Ops III PlayStation 4 bundle that isn't gross*


*my opinion may differ from yours. Maybe
Dec 16
// Vikki Blake
If you'd been hankering for a Call of Duty: Black Ops III-themed PlayStation 4 bundle, saw that orange thing and then nope'd so hard you vomited, pay attention - Sony's releasing another bundle just for you! Th...
Call of Duty photo
Call of Duty

Call of Duty: Black Ops III is having a double XP event this weekend


Plus, a Nuketown playlist
Dec 11
// Chris Carter
I'm still enjoying Call of Duty: Black Ops III, mostly due to the fact that there's so many game modes in tow. If I ever get bored of one gametype I can move on to the other, but the general multiplayer element is so strong t...
Call of Duty photo
Call of Duty

The first Call of Duty: Black Ops III DLC is coming in early 2016


PS4 first, of course
Dec 05
// Brett Makedonski
Black Ops III getting stale yet? It has only been out for a month so I'd hope not. But, if it is, reinforcement is coming soon. Toward the beginning of Sony's PlayStation Experience keynote, it was revealed that the Awakening add-on is slated for early 2016. Of course, Sony's getting its money's worth for its sizable investment and touting it as a 30-day exclusive to PS4. Money talks.
Call of Duty sales photo
Call of Duty sales

Call of Duty: Black Ops III tops Japanese charts


Two weeks and counting
Nov 21
// Kyle MacGregor
You typically don't see first-person shooters topping the Japanese software charts, but that's exactly what Treyach's Call of Duty: Black Ops III has done since its launch two weeks ago. The first-person shooter moved 18...
Blops Easter egg photo
Blops Easter egg

Call of Duty: Black Ops III Easter egg channels...Silent Hill?


Spooky scary mannequins
Nov 19
// Steven Hansen
People are saying Doctor Whom and that's fine, that's fine -- "Angels," innit, governor? -- but it still reads Silent Hill to me because they're like mannequins (by way of I, Robot), even if Super Mario Boos might be closer....
Blops makes bank photo
Blops makes bank

Call of Duty: Black Ops III biggest launch of 2015 at $550 million


Until Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Nov 11
// Steven Hansen
Call of Duty: Black Ops III made a lot of money in three days. And while that's not surprising, it is notable, given that the series sales had been in a bit of a decline with Ghosts and Advance Wars: Days of Ruin. I guess the...
Call of Duty photo
Call of Duty

91% of Black Ops 3 UK sales were on PS4 or Xbox One


Up from 67% for Advanced Warfare sales
Nov 09
// Vikki Blake
91% of all physical sales of Call of Duty: Black Ops III sold in the UK were for PlayStation 4 or Xbox One. According to UK chart company GfK Chart-Track, just 8% were picked up for last-gen consoles PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, leaving just 1% preferring to pick up the game on PC. The chart does not account for digital sales.
Deals photo
Deals

Cheaper Steam copies of Fallout 4 & Black Ops III in Weekend Deals


Open for business soon
Nov 07
// Dealzon
Another Saturday, another round up of usual gaming deals with nothing exciting-- holy shit Fallout 4 comes out next Tuesday. Holy shit I better prepare my goodbyes to the wife, daughter, gardener, guy down the street that wor...
Call of Jr. photo
Call of Jr.

Carl's Duty: eat an absurd burger and win a gross gun skin


You know, for the veterans
Nov 06
// Darren Nakamura
The United States of America, right? Where our burgers are big and our guns are bigger. And our heart failures are spectacular. Or something. Let's start over. Carl's Jr. (also known as Hardee's) is teaming up with Activision...
Activision Blizzard TV photo
Activision Blizzard TV

Activision Blizzard forms studio for TV and film


Skylanders Academy is up first
Nov 06
// Jordan Devore
Before long, we're going to start to see television shows and even movies based on Activision Blizzard properties. The company is putting together a new "film and television studio devoted to creating original content" for it...

Review: Call of Duty: Black Ops III

Nov 06 // Chris Carter
Call of Duty: Black Ops III (PC, PS3, PS4 [reviewed], Xbox 360, Xbox One)Developer: Treyarch (PC, PS4, Xbox One), Beenox/Mercenary Technology (PS3, Xbox 360)Publisher: ActivisionMSRP: $59.99Released: November 6, 2015 I'm just going to get right into it -- this is the weakest campaign yet from Treyarch. Right from the start you can see what it's going for, and things get way too heavy-handed and exposition-laden without actually saying anything. There's lots of talk about a "new Cold War" in the future, and after rescuing an Egyptian minister after an uprising in Cairo, it's off to the races. There's plenty of Terminator-esque "Man vs. Machine" going on with the 2065 backdrop and a touch of surrealism, but all of it has been seen before and done better. To boot, none of the characters are memorable or compelling in any way, and the dialogue is the most generic it's ever been. Part of it is because you're now "The Player" (male or female) instead of someone like Modern Warfare's Soap MacTavish, a character you can somewhat connect with while you're playing. You're kind of just there, and the relationships with each cast member never really have a chance to flourish across all 11 missions. Treyarch seems to have a knack for historical narratives, but I'm not really buying its grimdark sales pitch here. Now, that doesn't mean that the campaign is all bad. The powers that be have now implemented a system where you can choose any mission you want, right from the start, without having played any prior stages. That way if you get bored and want to see the ending, you can skip right to the end. Additionally, the hub center where you can switch your abilities, weapons, and loadout around is convenient, as is the progression system with full XP rewards to encourage multiplayer playthroughs. There's also an arena-based "combat immersion" center to test weapons out in, which looks a lot like Metal Gear's VR missions. [embed]318891:61008:0[/embed] Split-screen play (for two players) is also in, as is online play for the story, on top of a "Nightmare mode" that remixes every level with undead foes. With the recent removal of split-screen from Halo 5, support for multiple players on the same console is a breath of fresh air. Yes, the framerate does suffer as a result of playing couch co-op, but I'm very glad it's there, and that Treyarch is still actively pushing for it. Hell, LAN play is even supported on consoles -- in 2015, that's pretty damn rare. Now, we get to the good stuff -- all the other modes besides the campaign. Although light, the Freerun gametype is a cool way to show off all of the new mechanics (wallrunning and the toned-down jetpack). It's only playable solo and has a scant four maps, but it's really reminiscent of Mirror's Edge's abstract DLC packs, which were my favorite part of the game. Plus, it has leaderboards, which are a major plus for a mode like this. I don't want to spoil much, but the Smash TV-like Dead Ops Arcade is back, and it's better than it was before. Of course, it wouldn't be a Treyarch game without zombies, and I think it's assembled the best cast, alongside of the most interesting setting to date. I'm talking Jeff Goldblum, Heather Graham, Ron Perlman, and Neal McDonough in a Lovecraftian noir city unique. Seeing Goldblum play a washed-up scumbag magician is a treat, and the actors really give it their all for this new chapter of the zombie saga, "Shadows of Evil." While I did appreciate the campaign tie-in for Advanced Warfare's zombie mode, I like where this particular setting is going, and I hope it can keep this same cast going forward. It's also the most fully-featured from a gameplay perspective, with customizable weapon loadouts, individual upgrades, and a leveling system. You can also change up your "Gobblegum Gumballs," which are like miniature $500 soda machines that grant temporary perks. It's a tiny little thing, but it really helps you play the way you want, which is only a recent concept for zombies. In terms of secrets I think this is going to be the most challenging one yet for the community, as a lot of it hinges on changing into the "beast" (read: a Cthulian creature) to unlock specific areas and bonuses. I've spent nearly 15 hours in Shadows of Evil alone and I feel like I've only scratched the surface. What the campaign lacks in personality, zombies makes up for in spades, and that principle also goes for multiplayer. Now players will choose a "specialist," when playing traditional multiplayer, which operates a lot like a unique character skin, with an added ability in tow. For instance, the robot "Reaper" has access to a minigun power-up that comes out of his arm, or a skill that creates non-lethal clones of himself to run around the battlefield. One dude even looks like The Fury from Snake Eater, complete with a flamethrower special. They clearly had a lot of fun designing these creations, and it plays that way. Most of the powers feel balanced, especially when you consider the fact that they can only be used once you earn enough meter for them, which is typically only one or two times per match. This is on top of the classic scorestreak rewards -- but since those reset your meter upon death and the specialist powers don't, it's a way for casual players to engage without feeling like they're never earning anything. Wallrunning also adds a new depth to arenas (of which there are 12 at launch), where specific chokepoints can be circumvented by traversing raised platforms on the sides of some bases. Likewise, swimming, as simple of a mechanic as it is, bids a welcome return from Advanced Warfare, with a lot more freedom in terms of movement and combat. Those of you who found Advanced's crazy twitch movement system to be too frenetic will be pleased to hear that it's been toned down for Black Ops III, as the jetpack is now essentially a double jump, or a slide boost, and that's it. While I did like airdashing and all of the craziness that the last iteration entailed, I'm happy that each game has a distinctly different feel to it. Multiplayer has been overhauled from a features standpoint too, as there's now full support for streaming (including a cavalcade of spectator options), arena ranked playlists with seasons, and an even more convenient instant menu option for perma-muting anyone outside of your party. There have been hundreds of people populating Black Ops III's servers during this testing period without issues, but if anything changes we'll provide updates as needed on the front page. At this point, at least two of the Call of Duty developers (Treyarch and Sledgehammer), have it figured out. They now have a three-year development cycle, which means that technically, each individual game is not a rushed "annual" iteration. While the campaign could certainly be a lot stronger, Black Ops III is living proof of that concept. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Call of Duty review photo
Zombies...uh...zombies, find a way
Call of Duty campaigns are some of the most inconsistent storylines in all of gaming. While some entries are content with wowing you on a constant basis with new setpieces and unique sequences, a number of them (Ghosts&n...

Call of Duty photo
Call of Duty

Not all UK pre-orders of Black Ops III will get bonus Nuketown map


Turns out Nuketown is a GAME exclusive
Nov 06
// Vikki Blake
If you pre-ordered Call of Duty: Black Ops III in the UK, did you expect the Nuketown multiplayer map but a code hasn't turned up? You're not the only one. UKVGDeals.com (via VideoGamer) noticed that a rec...
PS4 giveaway photo
Courtesy of Amazon
The next few days are going to be very lucrative for Big Video Game. What with the release of Black Ops III, Fallout 4, and Rise of the Tomb Raider, these fat cats and big wigs are going to sit atop their wobbly ivory towers ...

Call of Duty: Black Ops III's Dead Ops Arcade II minigame is batshit crazy

Nov 05 // Chris Carter
[embed]319188:61007:0[/embed]
Call of Duty photo
Chicken love
Just like the original Black Ops, there's a hidden arcade game locked within Call of Duty: Black Ops III. It's actually quite easy to access (just select the top-left icon in the video on the mission hub screen), and like its...

Black Ops III photo
Black Ops III

Surprise! Black Ops III looks not great on last-gen, turns tanks into vans


Most likely will not care
Nov 05
// Brett Makedonski
Activision's in the fortuitous position with Call of Duty where the fanbase is so large that they haven't all adopted current-gen consoles yet. But, that means it's mostly obligated to keep releasing games on legacy sys...
Surprise Black Ops fact photo
Surprise Black Ops fact

Three-year-old Call of Duty: Black Ops II still has 12 million players a month


Called to duty, never called home
Nov 03
// Steven Hansen
Want to feel old? Call of Duty: Black Ops II is three years old. Want to feel, I don't know, surprised? Impressed? That "huh" feeling when you learn a moderately interesting but not too interesting or at all valuable piece of...
Black Ops III photo
Black Ops III

Amazon will hand-deliver you a copy of Black Ops III at midnight


But only if you live in a certain city
Nov 02
// Mike Cosimano
If you live in a city that supports Amazon's Prime Now app, you will be able to have another human being hand-deliver a copy of Call of Duty: Black Ops III directly to your door when the game launches on November 6. For ...
Call of Duty mods photo
Call of Duty mods

Black Ops III embracing mods on PC next year


Good show, Treyarch
Nov 02
// Jordan Devore
Call of Duty: Black Ops III is going to look a whole lot different next year on PC. Series fans have wanted robust mod support for years now, and Treyarch is listening. Players will be able to create not only maps in Black Op...
Paint it black photo
Paint it black

Call of Duty double dips its brush with live-action Black Ops III trailer


Paint it black
Nov 02
// Steven Hansen
It wouldn't be a Black Ops release without a celebrity-laden live-action trailer to air during the sports. This times its Michael "Where's Wallace?" Jordan telling the legend of Kevin, who kills people with cyber bees while ...
Call of Duty photo
Call of Duty

Call of Duty: Black Ops III's Nuketown looks like the coolest one yet


Digging the ReBoot vibe
Nov 01
// Chris Carter
Nuketown is a historical map in the Call of Duty franchise. It was first featured in Black Ops, then moved into Black Ops II, where it was also a zombie map, it was remade as "Nukehouse" in the ill-fated Declassified, an...
Call of Duty photo
Call of Duty

The history of Call of Duty


Uh, maybe war does change
Oct 30
// Jordan Devore
With Black Ops III only a week out, we got to thinking about the series at large. The first installment I played was Call of Duty 2, but the first one I loved was Modern Warfare. I'm hardly alone. Over the past decade, much h...
Black Ops Zombies photo
Black Ops Zombies

Der Riese returns for Call of Duty: Black Ops III


Not included in the standard game
Oct 23
// Jordan Devore
Treyarch sure has made good use of its "Der Riese" map. The Zombies level first appeared in Call of Duty: World at War, then it was revitalized for Black Ops, and now it's back again in Black Ops III (but only for folks who b...

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