Call of Duty: Black Ops for the Nintendo Wii is a hit-and-miss sort of game. The Wii’s light-gun control style is sometimes a joy to play with and sometimes a crippled, broken experience. Certain sections of the game are fantastic, action-packed fun, while others are frustrating and confusing.
If we ignore the poor design decisions, Black Ops is a great game that has high production value. Even on the Wii’s limited hardware, the graphics and sound are impressive. The guns throughout the campaign are varied and they all sound and feel great when firing. The settings are varied and interesting, though a few are cliché for the FPS genre. The story was surprisingly engaging and I found myself invested in the main characters. In the area of generic FPS games, the Call of Duty series never fails to deliver a predictable and fun game.
Even judging Black Ops with the knowledge that it’s a generic corridor FPS, I still found some huge issues with the game. The main issue was some very poor level design. This problem extends across all platforms because it’s a flaw in the core of the game. Basically, certain sections of the game were oddly difficult and frustrating. They didn’t give a good indication of where to go next and forced the player into areas with little cover. The worst section of the game involves infinitely spawning enemies and a maze-like level layout.
This painfully frustrating section was the fifth mission, called SOG. This mission takes place in Vietnam during a large scale battle. It starts with a maze-like running sequence while infinite waves of enemies are filling the trenches. This leads into the section that I consider the most poorly designed part of the game. The player starts at the top of a hill and has to blow up an unmarked brown barrel at the foot of the hill to stop the infinite flow of enemies.
The problem is that even on the easiest difficulty, the enemies are spawning faster than it’s possible to kill them. There’s no marker for the barrel and the only mention of this objective comes from audio of an unnamed soldier. If you miss this small piece of dialogue, then you’ll end up like me, struggling against impossible odds to “push back the enemy” (the objective shown in the pause menu). This is just bad game design.
Luckily not all of the missions in the game are bad. Black Ops features a great rooftop mission, an awesome prison escape, some Arctic warfare and a few simple vehicular segments. These are creative and work perfectly with the Wii’s controls. The key is use cover and consider the combat like a shooting gallery. The Wii’s controls focus on aiming, but fall short when trying to move quickly and precisely.
Black Ops features a great set of tools to improve gameplay control. There’s a menu for adjusting the aiming region to fit your screen and have a specific dead-zone. There are also multiple options for sensitivity that you can tweak to get that perfect feel. The pre-set control schemes work well and can be modified to suit your preferred button layout. There are also pre-sets for the Wii Zapper which work well with any peripheral. I found that the best peripheral for this game was the Nyko Perfect Shot.
Black Ops is a great game that demonstrates the capabilities of FPS games on the Wii. It has an extensive amount of features that are specific to the Wii. I was impressed by how well the Call of Duty series was brought to the Wii console. If you’re looking for a fun FPS to play over a weekend, then I recommend Black Ops for the Wii. It’s far from the best game, but for an FPS on the Wii, it really stands out. If you’re more into multiplayer or zombies, get this game for another console. The Wii doesn’t have continuous support or DLC.
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