Call of Duty: Black Ops

Call of Duty: Black Ops
Call of Duty: Black Ops
CoD Black Ops cover.png
Box art
Developer(s) Treyarch
n-Space (DS)[1]
Publisher(s) Activision
Square Enix (Japan)
Designer(s) Corky Lehmukuhl (creative director)
David Vonderhaar (multiplayer design director)
Joe Chiang (lead designer)
Writer(s) Craig Houston
Dave Anthony
David S. Goyer (consultant)[2]
Composer(s) Sean Murray
Series Call of Duty
Engine IW engine (improved from World at War)[3]
Version 1.13 (PS3)
1.13 (Xbox 360)
Platform(s) Microsoft Windows
PlayStation 3
Xbox 360
Nintendo DS[4]
Release date(s)
  • JP November 18, 2010 (Sub)
    December 16, 2010 (Dub)
Genre(s) First-person shooter[6]
Mode(s) Single-player
  • ACB: MA15+ (PS3, X360, Wii & PC version),[8] M (DS version)
  • BBFC: 18[9]
  • CERO: Z
  • ESRB: M / T (DS version)
  • PEGI: 18 / 16 (DS version)
  • USK: 18 (Edited)
Media/distribution Optical disc, download

Call of Duty: Black Ops is a first-person shooter video game[6] developed by Treyarch, published by Activision and released worldwide on November 9, 2010 for Microsoft Windows, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3,[5] Wii consoles,[10] with a separate version for Nintendo DS developed by n-Space.[1] Announced on April 30, 2010, the game is the seventh installment of the Call of Duty series. It is also the first to be set in the Cold War and the fifth to be set in World War II. It is the third in the series to be developed by Treyarch, and is a sequel to the developer's Call of Duty: World at War.[11]

Within 24 hours of going on sale, the game sold more than 5.6 million copies, 4.2 million in the U.S. and 1.4 million in the UK, breaking the record set by its predecessor Modern Warfare 2 by some 2.3 million copies.[12][13] A subtitled version was released in Japan on November 18, 2010. A Japanese-dubbed version was released on December 16, 2010. After six weeks on release, Activision reported Black Ops had earned $1 billion in sales.[14] On August 3, 2011, Activision confirmed that the game had sold over 25 million copies worldwide. [15]




Black Ops is a first-person shooter, retaining the same gameplay mechanics as previous Call of Duty titles. The player assumes the role of a foot soldier who can wield various firearms, of which two at a time can be carried; throw grenades and other explosives; and use other equipment as weapons. A player close enough to an enemy can kill with one knife blow. A character can take three stances: standing, crouching or prone; each affects rate of movement, accuracy, and stealth. The player can dive to prone from a standing position while running, and can momentarily sprint before having to stop. The screen glows red to indicate damage to a player's health, which regenerates over time. When the character is within the blast radius of a live grenade, an on-screen marker indicates where it is in relation to the player, helping the player to move away or to throw it back. Among the weapons new to the series in Black Ops are crossbows with bolts and explosive ammunition, Dragon's Breath rounds and ballistic knives.


The player assumes the role of various characters during the single-player campaign, changing perspectives throughout the story. The playable characters are special forces operatives conducting black operations behind enemy lines. In this way, the player's characters have their own traits such as voices and shadows.[11] Each mission features a series of objectives that are displayed on the heads-up display, which marks the direction and distance towards and from such objectives. The player is accompanied by friendly troops throughout the game. Although primarily a first-person shooter, the player pilots a Hind helicopter and guides friendly troops from a SR-71 Blackbird reconnaissance aircraft.[16][17][18] The campaign features several scripted cinematic moments. One of them is a bullet time effect during the "Victor Charlie" level, activated when the player fires toward the last enemy of a Viet Cong squad.[19]


Players can customize their weaponry in the game, as seen with this customized FAMAS.

The online multiplayer mode of Black Ops usually revolves around two teams on a specific mission. For example in Team Deathmatch the team with the most kills wins, while in Capture the Flag, players take the other team's flags and return it to their own base. Additionally, there is Free For All in which players aren't separated into teams.[20] Not including Downloadable maps, there are 14 different maps.[21]

Black Ops retains the experience points and unlockable reward system that has been kept since Call of Duty 4. The game's multiplayer focuses on socialization and customization.[11] "Create-a-Class 2.0" allows enhanced personalization with appearance items as well as upgradable perks;[17] weapons are extensively customizable with writing, emblems, attachments and camouflage painting. Even reticles can be modified. There are more than one style for an attachment, which allows for a lot more personalized weaponry; for example, the player can choose between a red dot sight or a reflex sight, both of which share many of the same traits, although the red dot fills up less of the screen (something desired by many players). Character models depend on the first tier perk instead of the weapon's type. Furthermore, face paints can be unlocked.[22] New custom killstreak rewards include explosive R/C cars, guided missiles and controllable attack helicopters.[23]

A currency system has been implemented allowing players to buy weapons, accessories and clothes. Players can gamble with their "COD Points" in a free-for-all based playlist called "Wager Match", which is composed of four game modes.[24] Time limited objectives known as "Contracts" can be purchased to gain more currency and experience points.[22] The progression system is not featured in local split-screen multiplayer. In local split-screen play, all character customization options are already unlocked. Players can no longer define game rules such as win conditions.

Players can play alone or with friends against AI opponents in "Combat Training" with a separate progression system.[25] Online split-screen is re-introduced on Xbox 360 and PS3. The guest account can rank up but is reset after each sign out. Only on Xbox 360, a second Gold Xbox Live account can be used to keep the second player's progression.[26] Aside from the Combat Training mode, Xbox users can also have up to four players in split-screen mode play against AI opponents even without having an Xbox Live account. This is done by configuring the Local Split Screen settings and setting the number of enemies to a value greater than zero.[27]

For the first time in the series, clips from online gameplay can be recorded. Some specific features that have been removed from the PC version of Infinity Ward's Modern Warfare 2 return, such as lean,[28] mod tools, the developer console[29] and dedicated servers.[30] Dedicated servers are exclusively provided by Game Servers.[31] Steam is the exclusive platform for Black Ops on PC, and the game is protected by Valve Anti-Cheat.[32]

The Wii version of the game includes in-game voice chat. This is the first Call of Duty title to include the voice chat feature for the Wii. Nintendo and PDP have partnered to release the first headset to be used with the Wii known as PDP's Headbanger Headset.[33]


A zombie cooperation mode, titled "Zombies", is included in the game. Originally featured in World at War, it was revamped to be included into Black Ops.[34] It is a four-player online and two-player split screen co-op mode (which can also be unlocked online). In the map "Five", players take the roles of John F. Kennedy, Richard Nixon, Robert McNamara, and Fidel Castro as they fight zombies at The Pentagon.[35][36] There is one map based on the original game called Kino der Toten ("Theater/Cinema of the Dead" in German). This map features the characters from World at War -- Edward Richtofen the German, Tank Dempsey the American, Takeo Masaki the Japanese , and Nikolai Belinski the Russian. Limited editions of the game offers four zombie maps from World at War.[37] There is an unlockable top-down, two-stick arcade-shooter version of Zombies known as Dead Ops Arcade.[38]

Included in the First Strike Map Pack is the Zombie map Ascension. Ascension takes place in an abandoned Soviet Cosmodrome, and like Kino der Toten, features the characters from World at War. Additionally, it includes two new weapons (the Gersch Device and Matryoshka Dolls), as well as two new perks (PhD Flopper and Stamin-Up), and one new power-up (the Bottle).[39] A new enemy, the Space Monkeys, appear in this map, replacing the Hellhounds and the Pentagon Thief.[40]

Included in the Escalation Map Pack is the Zombie map Call of The Dead. Call of the Dead takes place in an abandoned part of the Soviet Union, in which is in an arctic environment. This map features new characters. They are: Danny Trejo, Robert Englund, Sarah Michelle Gellar, and Michael Rooker.[41] It includes new weapons (the Vr-11 and the Scavenger), and a new perk called Deadshot Daiquiri. Another new enemy, George Romero, replaces the Hellhounds, Pentagon Thief, and Space Monkeys of previous maps.

The fourth and latest map pack, Rezurrection, is made up of only zombie maps. The Rezurrection Map Pack includes the first 4 maps from Call of Duty: World at War (Shi No Numa/"Swamp", Nacht Der Untoten/"Night", Verruckt/"Asylum", Der Riese/"Factory") and a new map called "Moon."[42]


Characters and setting

From left to right: Mason, Hudson and McNamara.

Call of Duty: Black Ops takes place during the Cold War, in the 1960s. The story focuses on the CIA-backed clandestine black operations carried out behind enemy lines. These missions take place in various locations around the globe such as the Ural Mountains in central Russia, Cuba, Kazakhstan, Hong Kong, Laos, Vietnam and the Arctic circle. The single-player campaign revolves around an experimental chemical weapon codenamed "Nova-6".

The player mainly controls SAD/SOG special forces operative Alex Mason and occasionally CIA agent Jason Hudson, as well as other characters. Mason often works with Frank Woods and Joseph Bowman, while Hudson teams up with Grigori Weaver, a Russian-born field operative. Viktor Reznov, a key character from the Soviet campaign in World at War returns. Its Russian protagonist Dimitri Petrenko also makes an appearance. Black Ops features several historical figures: Mason meets John F. Kennedy, Robert McNamara, and Fidel Castro.


On February 25, 1968, SAD/SOG operative Alex Mason is strapped to a chair in an interrogation room. Unaware of his whereabouts, he is bombarded with questions by his unseen captors about the location of a numbers station. Most of the missions in the game are presented as the flashbacks of Mason between 1961 and 1968.

In 1961, Mason, Woods, and Bowman attempt to assassinate Fidel Castro during the Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba as a part of Operation 40. Mason apparently succeeds in the assassination, but their exfiltration goes awry, with Mason staying behind to protect the extraction plane. He is captured by the real Castro, having shot a double. Because of an alliance with the Soviet Union, Castro hands Mason over to General Nikita Dragovich. Mason is then held captive at Vorkuta Gulag for two years. During his imprisonment, Mason befriends Viktor Reznov, a former Red Army soldier. Reznov recounts to Mason the identities of those involved in Mason’s torture: Dragovich, Lev Kravchenko (his right-hand man) and Friedrich Steiner, an ex-Nazi scientist who defected to the Soviet Union. All three share a connection to Reznov: in October 1945, Reznov, Dragovich, Kravchenko, and Dimitri Petrenko were a part of a unit sent to locate Steiner, hiding with a unit of the SS in the Arctic Circle. During the operation, Reznov was betrayed by Dragovich, who used Steiner's creation, a nerve agent known as "Nova-6" on Petrenko. Reznov was spared the same fate when British commandos attacked the Russians. During the confusion, he destroys Nova-6. However, it was later recreated by Steiner and a British scientist named Daniel Clarke for the Soviets. Shortly afterward, Reznov is imprisoned in Vorkuta. Mason and Reznov spark a prisoner uprising to escape the gulag, but only Mason escapes.

One month later, President John F. Kennedy authorizes the assassination of Dragovich.

In November 1963, Mason, Woods, Bowman and Weaver are dispatched to Baikonur Cosmodrome in the Kazakh SSR to disrupt the Soviet space program and eliminate members of the Soviet Ascension program, Nazis who had been given sanctuary in Russia in exchange for their knowledge. At the start of the operation, Weaver is captured and Mason sees Kravchenko torture him, stabbing his left eye, but Mason and his team later rescue him, while still destroying the Soyuz spacecraft as well. Dragovich eludes assassination, prompting Mason to search for him over the next five years. By 1968, the MACV-SOG was established in Vietnam to investigate the Soviets' presence. After defending Khe Sanh, the SOG is deployed to Hue during the Tet Offensive to recover a dossier with information on Dragovich from a Russian defector. The team recovers the dossier, while Mason encounters Reznov, who is revealed to be the defector. The SOG then penetrates Laos to recover a Nova-6 shipment from a downed Soviet plane. At the crash site, they are overwhelmed by waves of Viet Cong and Spetznaz soldiers, eventually getting captured. Mason and Reznov escape, but Bowman is executed and Woods dies while killing Kravchenko.

Meanwhile, Hudson and Weaver interrogate Dr. Daniel Clarke, the engineer who stabilized Nova-6, in Kowloon. Clarke identifies Steiner as part of the conspiracy, and reveals the location of a hidden facility in Mount Yamantau before being killed by Dragovich's men. Hudson and Weaver head to Mount Yamantau to destroy the facility and apprehend Steiner. During the mission, Hudson receives a transmission from Steiner requesting to meet him at Rebirth Island in the Aral Sea to learn how to halt a numbers broadcast that would send instructions to sleeper agents to release Nova-6 gas in American cities. Mason and Reznov head to Rebirth Island to assassinate Steiner. In the present, Mason is adamant that Reznov executed Steiner, but Hudson had witnessed Mason carrying out the deed. At this point, Hudson and Weaver are revealed as Mason's interrogators. Hudson realizes that Dragovich brainwashed Mason to understand the numbers broadcasts, effectively becoming a Soviet sleeper agent. Out of options, Hudson deliberately sets Mason free in order to follow him. It is revealed that the real Reznov died during the Vorkuta break out, and Mason’s visions of Reznov are a result of a dissociative disorder caused by the traumatic brainwashing program. Reznov had, in fact, reprogrammed Mason to assassinate Dragovich, Kravchenko and Steiner instead of President Kennedy prior to the Vorkuta breakout. Hudson plays the numbers recording for Mason a final time, prompting him to remember the location of the Russian cargo ship Rusalka off the coast of Cuba.

By dawn, the team launches an assault on the Rusalka, with Mason and Hudson infiltrating an underwater broadcast station protected by the ship, a Soviet submarine station intended to be used as a staging point for US invasion after the planned Nova-6 attack. Confirming that the Rusalka is the numbers station, Hudson calls in the US Navy to destroy the ship and its underwater base. Mason and Hudson finally find Dragovich in the lower levels of the facility and manage to kill him before the destruction of the base, swimming for the surface during the destruction of the targets. Weaver declares victory, but Mason is unsure, haunted by his last conversation with Dragovich.

Archive footage of President Kennedy prior to his assassination are shown, with the broadcaster and Mason narrating random numbers. After a second play-through of the archive footage, Mason's appearance in the crowd, as well as Dragovich's final words, suggest that Mason followed his original programming.

Customization of violence and profanity

The game allows players to turn down the blood and turn off the profanity.[43]


In May 2009, publisher Activision was rumored to be looking for licensing regarding Vietnam War-era music which led to speculation that Call of Duty 7 would be set in Vietnam.[45] In May 2009, Treyarch employee David Kim revealed on his LinkedIn profile that he would work as a senior animator on Call of Duty 7.[46] In November 2009, only a few days before Modern Warfare 2's release, Activision officially announced a new Call of Duty title for 2010 through their third quarter financial call.[47] In February 2010, a casting call for Call of Duty 7 led to speculation that the game would be taking place during the Cold War era with some battles taking place in South Vietnam.[48] On April 30, 2010, Black Ops was officially announced.[5]

The game runs on an enhanced World at War engine (which itself was improved from Call of Duty 4's) at 60 frames per second on consoles.[3] It features a streaming texture technology (also seen in Modern Warfare 2), making bigger levels possible such as "Payback" where the player controls a helicopter. Lighting effects have been improved as well.[49] Call of Duty: Black Ops supports 3-D imaging rendered by the engine itself.[50] This feature is available on the PC, PS3, and Xbox 360 versions.[51]

For Black Ops, Treyarch focused only on this game unlike past practice. However, it had different teams, each working on separate game modes.[52] Treyarch used a motion capture technology similar to the one used in James Cameron's film Avatar, which allows accurate facial expressions, capturing the whole performance of the actor.[7] The studio also consulted special forces veterans from both belligerents of the Cold War: Major John Plaster (US Army-Ret.) who served in the MACV-SOG during the Vietnam War, and former Soviet special forces operative Sonny Puzikas.[53] The latter taught Treyarch how Spetsnaz soldiers would react in combat, such as rolling out of the line of fire. Spetsnaz AIs in the game have been modeled after him, from his tactics and his movements to his face.[54][55] Although having a historical background, the classified aspect of these Cold War black operations allowed the studio to create its own fictional story.[56]


Black Ops features the voices of Sam Worthington as Alex Mason,[57] Ed Harris as Jason Hudson,[58] Gary Oldman reprises his role as Viktor Reznov from World at War and also voices Dr. Clarke,[57] James C. Burns voices and provides performance capture for Frank Woods[59][60] and Ice Cube voices Joseph Bowman, who is also the multiplayer announcer for the SOG faction.[61][62] Gene Farber voices Grigori Weaver,[63] Emmanuelle Chriqui plays a live-action character called Numbers,[64][65] Eamon Hunt voices Nikita Dragovich,[63] Andrew Divoff voices Lev Kravchenko and [63] Robert Picardo voices Secretary Robert McNamara.[63]

Call of Duty: Black Ops features Vietnam War era music including "Sympathy for the Devil" by The Rolling Stones[66] (played during a gameplay sequence and the credits) and Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Fortunate Son".[67] Eminem's "Won't Back Down" (featuring Pink) is used for the credits as well, and additionally appears as an Easter Egg in the Zombie map "Five". The original music was composed by Sean Murray, who also composed Call of Duty: World at War. The soundtrack was released on November 9. The use of The Rolling Stones' music in the game has seen a significant increase in the band's music sales since launch. "Gimme Shelter" sold 2,000 copies in the week before the launch trailer was revealed, 5,000 the week after, and 11,000 the week after the game's release. "Sympathy for the Devil" experienced a similar boost as gamers discovered the band's music.[68]


Black Ops was first officially unveiled when the website for the game went live on April 30, 2010[5] prior to the release of its debut teaser trailer on GameTrailers TV Episode 310.[69] In early April 2010, an unmarked envelope was sent to various gaming news publications as well as high profile Call of Duty fans via mail. It contained a USB flash drive with sound and text files. These files were codes to be decrypted, only to find a mysterious teaser site for an unknown game. Other codes were updated periodically. Much evidence proving that the site is related to Call of Duty: Black Ops and Treyarch were found as the codes were decrypted.[70]

Similarly to Modern Warfare 2's marketing, the first full-length trailer of Black Ops was aired after the 3rd Quarter on ESPN during the NBA Eastern Conference Finals on May 18, 2010.[71] During E3 2010, studio head Mark Lamia opened the Microsoft conference by playing Black Ops on stage.[72] It was also announced that the timed Xbox 360 exclusivity for additional content of Call of Duty titles, which began with Modern Warfare 2, extends until 2012.[73] A remixed version of the ESPN trailer with Eminem's "Won't Back Down" was released on June 14,[74] prior to the E3 Activision conference for which he also performed.[75] A multiplayer teaser trailer was released on August 9, 2010 revealing killstreaks, weapons, and other in-game multiplayer features. A full multiplayer reveal took place on September 1, 2010, and revealed many multiplayer features from the game.[76]

Chrysler produced a limited-edition Call of Duty Jeep as the Wrangler is featured in Black Ops.[77] In late September, viral site GKNOVA6 was updated revealing fuzzy footages of zombies.[78] On October 11, a single player trailer aired on ESPN during the New York Jets versus Minnesota Vikings NFL Monday Night Football game.[79] The same trailer was aired the next day in the United Kingdom at half time of the England versus Montenegro 2012 European Football Championship qualifying game. On October 29, the official launch trailer was released online. The same trailer aired on October 31 during the New Orleans Saints versus Pittsburgh Steelers NFL Sunday Night Football game. The trailer features the song "Gimme Shelter" by The Rolling Stones.[80]

Retail versions

Like Modern Warfare 2, "Hardened" and "Prestige" limited editions are available: the Hardened Edition includes a SteelBook case, a medal with its display case, four exclusive co-op levels and an Xbox Live or PlayStation Home avatar outfit. The Prestige Edition offers, in addition to the Hardened Edition's content, a real RC-XD remote-control vehicle modeled after the in-game killstreak reward, which gives video and audio feedback to its controller.[81] In Japan, the game is distributed by Square Enix. Two versions are available: subtitled or dubbed,[82] released respectively on November 18, 2010 and December 16, 2010. Both have dismemberment censored.[83] Gore is censored as well in Germany in addition to the removal of "Sympathy for the Devil" and symbols considered "anti-constitutional" in the country.[66]

Downloadable content

Treyarch released the "First Strike" Map Pack on February 1, 2011 for the Xbox 360. The PlayStation 3 received the map pack on March 3, 2011 and the PC version was released on March 25, 2011 through Steam.[84] The Map Pack includes additional maps that can be played in the Multiplayer. These maps include "Berlin Wall", "Discovery", "Kowloon" and "Stadium" and a map for the Zombie mode titled "Ascension" which takes place in a Soviet launch site.[85]

On April 11, 2011, a second map pack called "Escalation" was announced by Activison and Microsoft. It features 4 new multiplayer maps named "Zoo", "Hotel", "Convoy", "Stockpile" and one new zombie map named 'Call of the Dead'. This map is based on the movies by George A. Romero, the revolutionary epic-zombie-horror director. The trailer for this map shows the four playable characters: Danny Trejo, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Robert Englund and Michael Rooker. The name is a reference to the immensely popular Dead Series created and directed by Romero. The trailer also offers a sneak-peak of a zombiefied version of George A. Romero himself, lurking out of water. The map is set on a ship, with instead of Nazi zombies, shipcrew zombies. It was released on May 3, 2011 for the Xbox 360, June 2 on the PC and June 10 for the PlayStation 3.[86]

A third map pack called "Annihilation" was released for the Xbox 360 on June 28, 2011, and on July 28, 2011 for the PlayStation 3 and PC. It contains four new multiplayer maps named "Hangar 18", "Hazard", "Drive-In", "Silo", and a new zombie map named "Shangri La", which takes place in a legendary shrine lost in a exotic jungle.[87][88]

The fourth map pack, "Rezurrection" was released on August 23, 2011 for the Xbox 360 and September 22, 2011 on PlayStation 3 and PC. The Rezurrection Map Pack is made up of 5 only zombie mode maps. It includes the first 4 maps from Call of Duty: World at War (Shi No Numa/"Swamp", Nacht Der Untoten/"Night", Verruckt/"Asylum", Der Riese/"Factory") and a new map called "Moon." "Moon" will allow players to fight zombies in zero gravity with both the player and the zombies under zero gravity influence.[42]



Within 24 hours of its release, Black Ops had sold a combined total of 5.6 million units in the US and UK market, surpassing that of Modern Warfare 2 and establishing a new record for largest entertainment launch.[89] Compared to the much anticipated opening of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1, the game earned more than twice as much as the film, earning $360 million.[90] Only five days after its release, sales from the game worldwide reached US$650 million, surpassing the previous record achieved by Modern Warfare 2 which earned $550 million in five days.[91] By November 22, the game remained the bestselling title in the United Kingdom, despite sales dropping by 85%.[92]

Some estimates place sales of the game as reaching 18 million units sold, earning a revenue of $818 million. This would fall about 2 million copies and $182 million short of Modern Warfare 2.[93] By December 22, worldwide revenue of Black Ops exceeded $1 billion.[94][95] Sales remained strong months after the game's release, remaining at the top-seller list in February 2011.[96] On March 3, 2011 also reported the news magazine The Hollywood Reporter on the best selling video games ever. It was announced that Call of Duty: Black Ops, the best-selling game ever in the United States of America.[97] It became the best-selling game of all-time in the United States, surpassing Wii Play; 13.7 million copies of Call of Duty: Black Ops had been sold in the United States alone.[98]

Critical response

 Call of Duty: Black Ops
Aggregate scores
Aggregator Score
GameRankings (PS3) 88.14%[99]
(X360) 87.60%[100]
(Wii) 81.47%[101]
(PC) 78.19%[102]
(NDS) 73.09%[103]
Metacritic (PS3) 88/100[104]
(X360) 87/100[105]
(PC) 81/100[106]
(Wii) 80/100[107]
(NDS) 74/100[108]
Review scores
Publication Score (PS3) A-[109]
(X360) A-[110]
Edge 7/10[111]
Eurogamer 8/10[112]
Famitsu 39/40[113]
Game Informer 9/10[114]
GamePro 5/5 stars[115]
GameSpot 9/10[116]
GameSpy 4/5 stars [117]
GamesRadar 9/10[118]
GameTrailers 9.3/10[119]
IGN (PS3) 8.5/10[120]
(X360) 8.5/10[121]
(PC) 8.5/10[122]
(Wii) 7.5/10[123]
Official Xbox Magazine 9.5/10[124]
Official Xbox Magazine (UK) 9/10[125] 6/10[126]
X-Play 5/5 stars[127]
PC Gamer 64/100[128]
The Escapist 3/5 stars [129]
The Daily Telegraph 10/10[130]
The Guardian 5/5 stars[131]
Destructoid 6/10[132]
Game Rant 4/5 stars[133]
GamesWeasel 9/10 stars[134]

Call of Duty: Black Ops has received generally positive reviews from critics. GameSpot awarded it 9.0 out of ten and wrote "Call of Duty: Black Ops bears the series' standard superbly, delivering an engrossing campaign and exciting competitive multiplayer."[116] Edge magazine was less positive, giving it a 7/10, writing that "As polished and pretty and fun as Black Ops often is, it feels more like a yearly update than a sequel [which] isn't distinct from its predecessors in any important way".[135] Several reviewers also complained that the game felt too much like a rail shooter, with PC Gamer branding it "barely interactive".[133][136][137][138]

Reviewers also noted that the PC version of the game was buggy and had "a number of frustrating problems", including a lag in multiplayer modes which for some players rendered the game almost "unplayable".[139][140][141] Players have also reported serious bugs with the PS3 version, including compatibility issues with 3D televisions.[142] PC World magazine noted that user reviews of the game were much less positive than those of critics.[143] As of November 12, 2010, three days after the release, PS3, Xbox 360, and PC versions of the game held average user ratings of 3.1, 3.1, and 1.8 stars on, respectively (on a 1 to 5 scale),[144] with many PC users complaining about lag, stuttering and bugs.

In January 2011, to a player complaining about the remaining connection problems for the game on PlayStation 3, an Activision customer service representative threatened that they could shut down the servers for the game for the PlayStation Network at any time.[145][146][147] After some days and following some game media heat,[148] Dan Amrich, Activision Social Media Manager, declared that even if they could kill the servers, they did not plan currently to do it.[149] The Daily Telegraph praised Black Ops as a superb experience of gameplay, "the meaty kick of the guns, the blistering pace of the action and the sterling soundtrack of explosions, gunshots and whistling bullets all serve to quicken the player's pulse and tighten their grip on the controller",[130] and mentioned, it is beyond the overwhelming, chaotic action in the game's major gun battles, offers among other things, a stealthy infiltration of a substation in the snow-capped steppes, in which the slow down in action is compensated for by nail-shredding tension and creepy atmosphere.[130]

Official Nintendo Magazine awarded the Wii version 90% and said "Black Ops on Wii is a fantastic shooter packed with all the features of its HD brothers, with the only exception being split-screen multiplayer."[150] Martin Gaston at gave the Wii version 6 out of 10, complaining of Treyarch's reworking of in-game sequences as movies, poor AI, and gameplay problems from lower-resolution graphics.[126]

In February 2011, the Xbox 360 version was named the Xbox Live's top title of 2010 by GameSpot.[151]


Cuba has condemned the release of the game as it has special forces trying but failing to kill a young Fidel Castro, killing instead a body-double.[152][153] The website Cubadebate said the game "encourages sociopathic attitudes of American children and adolescents, the main consumers of these virtual games".[152][154][155] Adam Biessener questioned events depicted in the single-player campaign stating that they push "the lines of good taste."[156] Specifically noted was the scene depicting the torture of a restrained prisoner.[156] In Germany, the uncensored version was expected to be banned by the end of November due to graphic violence. The Federal Department of Media Harmful to Young Persons received an "urgent request" to ban all international versions of the game.[157]

Mobile phone version

Black Ops was also released for both mobile phones and smartphones, and it is set to be one of the biggest entertainment events of the year.[158] This version is a third-person side-scrolling shooter. It features a different storyline, a different set of characters, and is set only in the Vietnam War in 1967. The game was developed by Glu Mobile and published by Activision.[158][159]


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