The vehicle sections are appropriately hectic and a good way to break up the on-foot segments.
Riding along on this train of thought, however, we find that Black Ops is the two-ton caboose that Infinity Ward’s locomotive engine is still pulling up the hill. There is a good amount of new content here, but the bulk of the game’s mechanics have been heavily inspired by - and built upon - its Modern Warfare predecessors. This comes as no surprise: the proprietary engine used for Call of Duty 4 has been re-tooled and recycled for five full retail releases now (including Treyarch’s 007: Quantum of Solace). The gameplay is solid but worn. If you see nothing wrong with that, then you’re going to really enjoy this game. Otherwise, prepare for a lot of cool set pieces and plot surprises overlaid on what amounts to be a mundane gameplay experience.
Next we come to a personal gripe (this is a really nasty AI issue that plagued the Modern Warfare 2 campaign): if you die in the single-player campaign, the enemy AI does not “rewind” as you respawn. Enemies will go from being oblivious of your location to knowing when and where you will spawn. If you die two or three times in a row, you’re in for some real frustration. It’s not game breaking, but it’s every bit as annoying as grenade spam.
Okay folks; all aboard for multiplayer! Online versus is a mix of Modern Warfare 2’s scoring system and Halo: Reach’s upgrade progression. Instead of having to grind with each weapon to collect its upgrades, you use Credits to buy everything. Most guns and advanced options - like facepaint and custom reticles - must be unlocked by reaching a certain rank before they can be bought. As usual, five Create-A-Class slots are available...with five more that can be unlocked at various Prestige levels. You can also set your desired character skin (there are eight available). As far as the gameplay itself is concerned...you pretty much know what to expect by now. The biggest draw here is Treyarch’s prowess with making incredible multiplayer maps. All the stops are pulled out once again. It never ceases to amaze me how wonderfully detailed and varied these maps can be. You can also play versus offline via splitscreen for up to four players...but in a nice touch, the game can now be started with only one player in the lobby (have fun exploring!).
If versus isn’t your bag then you can hop over to Combat Training, which pits you and your friends against AI bots. From the outset you’re asked to choose a difficulty level. Warning: the Veteran AI is brutal, especially on small maps. Progression, ranks, and unlocks are stored exactly like the online mode, but on a completely separate table.