Preview: Call of Duty: Black Ops in 3D

Call of Duty games have reached a sort of cult status in the last few years. Quickly becoming the Madden of first person shooters by having a new iteration every year, the series has expanded exponentially. The series is considered by many to be the most immersive of first-person shooters, and now they’re taking that to heart with Call of Duty: Black Ops, which has one new addition that I was able to see a few days ago — 3D implementation.

I know, I know, “3D this” and “3D that” lately, but bear with me on this one. I was skeptical going into it as I’m only familiar with 3D movies, which I am a fan of when done well like Avatar. But how would I feel about 3D in a video game? I mean, the setup alone to even be able to play a 3D game is quite expensive still, but for those who have made the plunge or will make the plunge, will Call of Duty: Black Ops be a different experience for you? Let’s put on our 3D glasses and find out!

Call of Duty: Black Ops (Xbox 360, PS3, Wii, Microsoft Windows, DS)
Developer: Treyarch
Publisher: Activision
To be released: November 9, 2010

As you may or may not know, Call of Duty: Black Ops revolves around a series of missions that take place mainly in the Cold War era in different locations around the world. I was shown two different missions of the story mode, “WMD” (which was shown off at E3) and a second mission entitled “Numbers” revolving around a weapons scientist who is now in Hong Kong and the many people that want him dead. Before playing, I put on a pair of 3D glasses and began to watch. The glasses that come with most TVs are fairly similar in weight and style to those you would receive at a movie theater, save for their active shuttering system, but the weight really isn’t noticeable at all.

As the “WMD” level was shown off to me, the 3D really took the game to a whole other level. Instead of playing through something that you clearly know is a game because you can see the borders of the TV screen, it feels like you’re acting in a movie firsthand or actually there due to the extra depth provided. In particular in the WMD level, there are moments where you’re repelling down a cliff and as you look behind you to see how far there is to go, the extra depth added really makes a difference. Another spot in this level that really shined with the 3D was the slow motion storming of the bunker where you and your comrades rappel down and shoot through the window and burst through a la Ghost in the Shell’s opening scene. The shards of glass really pop out of the screen around the player to offer an amazing effect.

Besides the main missions, I also was able to see a tad of what the multiplayer mode looked like. Running around, looking for the enemy was the same as ever and the 3D served to only aid in the fun, not hinder it. The HUD is on a plane closer to the player and the barrel of whatever gun you’re holding comes closer to the player as well whenever aiming through it. This offers an amazing effect that makes you feel like you, yourself, are in fact holding the gun instead of using a controller.

In the 45 minutes or so that I had my 3D glasses on while watching the game, not once did I feel any strain on my eyes, nor did I even notice that I had glasses on after the first few minutes they were on; they help to engage the player into an immersive experience so well that you’ll forget they’re even there. I was also told that the developers of the game had sat down and played through the entirety of the story mode in 3D without any strain or issues in regards to the glasses. Also, for all you techies out there, the game is said to run at around 60 frames per second when utilizing the 3D modes, and I experienced no problems with frame rate while watching.

If you currently have a 3D TV or are planning on getting one soon, you’ll be in for a treat with Call of Duty: Black Ops, and even if you don’t, you still will be as the 3D really only serves to enhance what appears to be an already well-rounded game. I’m also thankful that the 3D is in the game so that people down the line can use it if 3D TVs really do become the norm. Treyarch and Activision did a spot on job with the 3D addition to Call of Duty: Black Ops and if you have a 3D setup, do not pass up on picking up a copy on November 9th — you won’t regret it.

Stephen Donaldson