Call of Duty: Black Ops vs Modern Warfare 2

This comparison review is a follow on from my full review of Black Ops, and again focuses purely on the single player experience. After finishing Black Ops last week I returned to Modern Warfare 2 after a break of nearly twelve months. The game was a Christmas pressie last year which I played and completed disappointingly quickly but found very enjoyable. So how does the older game stack up against it’s younger rival?

If ever there was a way to prove how average and overhyped Black Ops is, it’s to go back and play MW2 again. It’s a considerably better experience in almost every way. The presentation is far better – the story interludes are a fictional computer user interface that projects satellite tracking information onto maps, while narration in the background explains the story. It’s very professional and polished, although at times it can be a bit difficult to follow the story as it jumps around the globe and frequently changes from one character to another.

Amazingly, the graphics are signficantly better than Black Ops. The second mission in particular (cliffhanger) demonstrates some superb blizzard effects that reduce visibility, and in general this part of the game looks gorgeous all round. Throughout the entire game, enemy characters look better drawn and more detailed, and the splatter of blood when they take a hit provides an effective confirmation that your shot has hit the target – something that I found lacking in Black Ops.

The overall flow of the game is far better – scripted sequences integrate well with the main action and feel less jarring than some of the Black Ops equivalents. One standout sequence has you exiting a dry deck shelter on a US submarine and using an SDV to rise up underneath an oil rig and take it by force. Brilliant stuff.

My main criticism of Black Ops was the hopeless enemy AI, and while MW2 doesn’t compare to the very best examples out there such as the Halo franchise, it is good enough to not draw attention to itself and provides a satisfying challenge, with enemies hiding in cover properly and ambushing you during some of the missions.

Although I can’t comment on the multiplayer element, MW2 is a much better single player game. Black Ops had so much promise because of the inspired setting – the Cold War era is rich in opportunities to provide compelling missions, but this time round I can’t help feeling it was a slightly wasted opportunity.

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