Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War is the latest entry in this world-renown saga. It's one of the few franchises that stays true to campaign-based, single-player gameplay, in a time and era where every other company is trying to be the next battle royale sensation. All those looking for a simple FPS should give Cold War a try, especially if you love pop culture references from the '80s and a good old 'Soviets are evil' plot.
What to Expect
We'll assume you haven't been living under a rock, so you probably already know what to expect when it comes to a Call of Duty game—hint: a lot of killing and explosions. If you ever watched a movie based on the Cold War era, then you also know how these stories tend to involve spies, corrupt CIA agents, diabolical Russians, and the like.
In terms of gameplay, what you can expect from this game are a lot of new additions and tweaks to the Call of Duty formula. That's not necessarily good or bad, so we'll save that for later so you can be the judge.
When you release games almost back to back, you better at least update the graphics. Black Ops Cold War is indeed a graphical spectacle, but it's far from being a genre-defining masterpiece. There's almost no difference when you compare the PS4 and PS5 versions and, hardware aside, that's in part because Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War never tries to be hyperrealistic. Some things look incredibly detailed at first, but then you get closer to them, and you start noticing all these flaws, like how they handle the characters' hair or some vehicle animations. All things considered, lightning is really good and helps to set the mood, and the overall graphics are a strong 8 out of 10.
We truly enjoyed the sound aspects of Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War, as they are as immersive as we need them to be. Voice acting is cheesy, and there are several cringe-worthy lines here and there, but that's exactly what we want to see in a movie-like story set in the '80s, right? Oh, and the game uses some classic songs to remind you what time we are in, like Billy Squier's 'The Stroke' or Norman Greenbaum's 'Spirit in the Sky.' Other than licensed tunes, we also have a lot of original tracks featuring synthesizers, epic electric guitars and bass lines, some choir-based tracks, and several music pieces inspired by local sounds from Cuba, Russia, and Turkey.
Let's talk about the main campaign. Here you play as a man simply known as 'Bell,' whose background and characteristics you can customize. That's a nice touch since you can now feel more attached to your character, whether you create them in your likeness or not. One of the things you can change, for example, is Bell's psychological profile, which is nothing but a special perk that will help you in combat. It's nothing new, as it works as most perks in RPG games, yet it forces you to take a minute to meditate about your gameplay style: do you want to enhance your advantages, or compensate for your weaknesses? Truth be told, it doesn't make much of an impact, but at least it gives you the illusion.
Once your version of Bell is ready for some action, you met one of the best characters of the game, Special Officer Russell Adler. He will be your mentor through most of the campaign, and he's the one who wants to eliminate Perseus the most, which gives you a reason to fight this elusive Soviet spy.
The story, however, is pretty bland. The worst part, though, is that it's too short. Missions are too simple, and if you know what you're doing, you'll rush through them... to compensate for that, some sections are there to stop you and make the story feel more complex than it actually is. Again, that's just an illusion. And do you want to know what else is an illusion? Sometimes you'll be prompted with dialogue options that might seem impactful at first, like sparing someone's life or saving someone who you don't actually know and could easily betray you a mere seconds later. After closer inspection, that's just a way of forcing you to replay the game to unlock more achievements or see what happens if you do things differently. No matter what you do, there are 2 endings—3, if you count a variant of the same plot-twist—and they both are rather predictable.
Once you finish the story, or if you get bored with it, you can always try a multiplayer match or the Zombies mode. In our experience, multiplayer matches are definitely fun if you're lucky and the match-making gods are on your side, but Black Ops Cold War is not the best FPS out there... at least at the time of writing this review. Hopefully, DLC could change that in the near future!
Zombies received a few tweaks too, and now it's less complicated than earlier iterations. As of now, there's only 1 map available, so we won't blame you for getting tired of it... but you could try the arcade mode!
Honey's Gameplay Consensus:
All in all, Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War flirts with a lot of brand new mechanics and situations for a CoD game, most of them tied to it being a spy versus spy setting. Sadly, it's never bold enough to embrace these changes, so we end up with a timid idea of what it could have been. That, in addition to a bland plot and the lack of realism when it comes to how some weapons feel upon using them, held us back from truly enjoying this game.
It's an okay FPS, but that's it.
Teaming-up with some friends to obliterate zombies.
The campaign story features some cool missions and dialogues. We just love Russell Adler and Perseus playing cat and mouse.
Campaign mode is too bland and short, and most choices are meaningless.
Weirdly enough, weapons feel less real than in previous games...
We need more Multiplayer/Zombies maps!
Honey's Final Verdict:
Black Ops Cold War is not a bad game, yet it has too many small flaws that are hard to justify. Nevertheless, our biggest issue with this game is how it doesn't feel like a step forward but a step aside, even if there have been too many Call of Duty games in the past to take notes from.
The campaign is too short, so maybe in the future we get more maps and Multiplayer keeps the game alive? Sadly, Modern Warfare could be its own worst enemy, and only time will tell...
Author: Rod Locksley
Hey! I'm Rod, and when I'm not watching anime or playing video games I'm probably writing about them, but I'm also a graphic and web designer, and I even published a comic book and worked like 4 years for a well-known MMORPG. Curiously, my favorite series are quite different from each other, so I'm still trying to understand what I really like in an anime...