This week, Yahtzee reviews Call of Duty: Black Ops 4.
I know Call of Duty and I have had our ups and downs - well, had our downs and downs and more downs, and just when we thought we couldn't go any further down, we broke new ground and discovered a sealed-off basement where a family of horny pigs were passing around the corpse of Modern Warfare 1 - but when I saw that CoD: BlOps 4 was coming out, I felt renewed vigor! After having to plow through so many RPGs and open worlds in very limited time, I was in the right mood for a nice, straightforward four-hour story campaign, and hell, as a white person, it'll be nice to see the genetic superiority of my race being confirmed for a little while.
That was when CoD: BlOps 4 laid its knob across my porridge for the first time: "No single-player campaign." Well, Activision, as Milorad Petrović said in response to the Invasion of Yugoslavia, "...The fuck?!" "We thought you'd be pleased, Yahtz! Every story campaign of every CoD game you've played in years, you've called racist and overblown and taken straight from what insecure NRA members see when they close their eyes and touch themselves; at least we didn't hire Kit Harington this time!" Granted, but having removed the single-player, are you going to charge less for the game? "Hohohoho, Yahtzee! I can see why people say you're a funny guy!" 130 bucks, the Deluxe Version costs!! As the water treatment engineer said of his favorite outflow pipe, "That's taking a lot of piss!" I can see why it's not on Steam; Steam has user reviews. There'd be a big, fat "Mostly Negative" next to the name before you can say, "Erik Prince".
Still, saying the game has no single-player content would, doubtless, annoy a few marketing types. "Of course there's single-player content!" they would say. "You can play the tutorial missions as many times as you like!" There are ten playable characters and a little tutorial for each, and they're worth going through just because the person narrating them is the most insecure man in the universe, and for Call of Duty, that's saying something. "Yeah, press that 'Grenade' key! Knock-knock, motherfuckers! It's your birthday, and the party clown's here! You're a stone-cold, brass-balled killer, and you're gonna have their ass for supper! I'd like to put your penis in my mouth-- I mean, take you to a steak restaurant and barbeque an entire cow, using nothing but the pressure-cooker effect of my giant balls!" He's great; it's like listening to Jeremy Clarkson's stream of consciousness while he's using the communal shower at the YMCA.
And by doing these missions, you also unlock the story, for the story had to be somewhere; without story, there's no context, and even a multiplayer game needs context. Shut up! Yes, it does! If you don't need context, there are literally hundreds of ways you can scratch your itch of wanting to shoot human-shaped things with a gun. (Although, maybe stick to video games if you're planning to do it more than once.)
Story cutscenes are gradually unlocked as you complete the character tutorials, so here's the story as I understood it: Very Rich White Lady is sad because her sister died in a gun battle and, in response, gathers ten elite mercenaries from around the world so that they can gun-battle in aid of... something. She says something about "ending war", but I don't think you do that with gun battles; that's like enlisting major game publishers in a campaign for reasonably-priced entertainment. Then she betrays the mercenaries for some reason, and... that's your lot. For the reasons described above, the ten mercenaries will now gun-battle an infinite number of clones of each other in various enclosed industrial environments for the rest of time. "Ooh, maybe they're all dead and in Purgatory, Yahtz!" Oh, shut up, viewer! You always say that! Just because Lost confirmed it, you think you know everything now!
There's an air of desperation about CoD: BlOps 4; if it had a subtitle - well, a sub-subtitle - it'd be "What the Fuck Do You People Want?" It's basically a collection of gameplay modes that several phenomenally-popular other games have all done before, and less blandly; its challenge is not so much finding an audience as it is luring that audience away from the games it already has. The ten playable characters in the, I hesitate to call it, "main" multiplayer mode smacks of Overwatch-style hero shooters, but the characters just aren't distinct enough; it takes more than different hairdos and a greater variety of accents than a French punctuation manual. They're all basically the same size and speed, and their unique weapons and abilities take time to warm up, so most of the time, you spend running around blasting assault rifles at each other. And again, there are plenty of games where you can do that, some of which don't run like complete garbage on graphics cards more than six months old.
And then, of course, there's the PUBG Mode! "We prefer you call it 'Blackout Mode', Yahtz." Well, that's very adorable of you, but it'll take more than terminology to disguise the fact that it's just PUBG. I suppose the lesson that Fortnite taught us was that PUBG's audience is completely up for grabs to anyone who can rip off PUBG without being quite so buggy and awful, but there's something particularly cynical about a big AAA franchise doing it; presumably, hoping a cozy and familiar name on the top will draw them in like a supermarket-owned brand packet of fish fingers. And the third gameplay mode is that co-op "Zombies" thing that's been hanging around Call of Duty for years now, like a friend-zoned nice guy constantly thinking they must be one more bad-mouthed boyfriend away from getting some of that.
Now, as you all know, not being into this whole "human society" thing, I'm not big on online multiplayer, and as such, don't have much constructive criticism for how the game actually plays; when I joined public matches, I'd do a quick poll of the other players and ask them for one small change they'd suggest to balance the game, and Treyarch will be pleased to know that I now have about... 85,000 suggestions for very simple changes, and they might also be interested to hear that they're all a bunch of cucks. However, there is one criticism I can make with complete confidence, and that's that the entire menu interface is complete dogshit.
You wouldn't think this would be difficult - "New Game", "Options", "Quit" - especially not when there's, like, 100 guys working on it, but that's it, isn't it? Boiling an egg is easy, but if you've got 100 guys in your kitchen trying to boil one egg, you won't achieve anything much beyond violating the fire code. You have to wade through screen after screen of shitty rectangles to do anything; I was trying to read all the dossiers for the ten characters, 'cos God knows I wasn't getting much context from playing as the fuckers, but I had to go three screens deep and back just to switch characters, and the text fucks up in every way it is possible to fuck up a simple text box. There's more than enough space to display all the text at once, but they put it in a tiny box anyway and auto-scroll it, and when it reaches the bottom, if you're not finished reading, fuck you, back to the top. It's like trying to read the side of a truck as it rolls down a hill into a burning slurry pit.
And I'm harping on it because it reflects the complacency and utter contempt for the audience with which this game thinks it can do nothing but present the box of scraps it rips off better games, and charge 100 bucks! I suppose the question is, "Would you prefer to plan a day out to do one specific thing, like scuba diving or seal clubbing, or go to Disneyland and do four or five shallow imitations of interesting things, all with this constant, nagging sense that someone's trying to steal all your money and children?"
- A case of too many cucks: Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw
- And I couldn't for the life of me figure out how to change what character I wanted to be in the zombie mode
- Cod Blops: stomach illness caused by eating too much saltwater fish
Extra: EGLX Edit
"Everyone's Got to Look eXcited", because I'm going to be appearing at the EGLX convention in Toronto, Canada, from October 26-28, so book your tickets now! Hope to see you there for "Entertainment, Gaiety, Laughter, and, uh... Xenophobia".