You may be surprised when I tell you that with Call of Duty: Black Ops, there is more than just multiplayer. Let’s start off with what most of us play first, the campaign. Without giving too much of the plot away, you are Alex Mason a soldier who becomes enveloped in a conflict that spans through different time periods and different parts of the globe. One minute you will be fighting in Vietnam and then you will be in Hong Kong sliding down rooftops. Don’t be fooled though, the infamous soldier-swap that has been in COD forever is still present. Players will even meet a familiar face from World at War.

The plot involves lots of crazy Michael Bay style action with some very beautiful and well designed set pieces as well as a little something called Nova 6. To say the least, Black Ops’ story is the best in the series in my opinion. It is very clear that Treyarch has kept that same epic and cinematic experience from World at War and brought it to a more modern day setting. Don’t let past COD games trick you into thinking that the story isn’t worth playing because it most certainly is. However, the series stays its course with a campaign you can beat within 8 to 10 hours.

The game features some amazing body work which I am positive they got with motion capture. Make sure to really watch Woods’ body language and mouth movement in the beginning of the Nam’ level, it is very well done. It also has some amazing voicework that is almost odd for a game so action driven. With the voices of stars like Sam Worthington, Gary Oldman, Ice Cube, James Burns, Ed Harris and Topher Grace, it’s easy to see where the awesome talent comes from.

Even with a great story that will keep you playing to see the conclusion we all know what we all bought the game for, multiplayer. The uber-popular and addictive online gameplay of the COD series returns. This time there are a few twists and additions. It seems that Treyarch took a tip from Bungie and now lets a second player play splitscreen online just like in Halo, a very welcome addition. The gameplay and setup remains mostly the same but they have tweaked a few things. The first thing you’ll notice is the new COD points. These are earned by almost everything: kills, leveling up, completing contracts, and competing in wager matches. They are annoying to a certain degree as you don’t get very much and everything costs COD points. The way it works is you start out with all perks and equipment available for purchase. Weapons are unlocked at higher ranks and pro perks are unlocked by meeting certain requirements. The catch is once you unlock a pro perk or a gun you must also buy it. This is troublesome as you must also buy the attachments, tags, custom sights etc. This stresses you to think about your choice and make sure it is worthwhile and not just an impulse buy.

The perks also have a new look as the first tier has different outfit types for certain perks while the second and third are regular. This new setup allows you to get your desired loadout pretty quickly save the later unlocked weapons. Another small addition is being able to add your customizable playercard picture to your gun along with your clan tag. There are a number of new maps, all of which are pretty well rounded and shouldn’t get on players’ nerves. All the same match types return with classics such as the Core modes like Team Deathmatch, Domination and Sabotage. With the addition of the new Bare Bones tier. What stands out most is the Wager Match. This allows players to go into a match either low, medium or high wager, and bet COD points that they will place in the top 3.

There are 4 match types: Sticks and Stones, where players get a tomahawk, crossbow and a knife but if you are killed with a tomahawk you lose all your kills. Gun Game gives you a predetermined weapon and as you get kills you gain better and better guns. If you are killed with a melee or commit suicide you drop down to a lower weapon. Sharpshooter cycles through weapons every so often, making you get familiar with almost all the weapons in the game. One in the Chamber gives you the knife, a pistol with one shot and 3 lives. Each kill grants you a bullet, so ammo conservation is essential.

The multiplayer is what will keep players coming back for more in the long run but if you thought that was all Treyarch packed in you are very wrong. Along with the campaign and multiplayer they have added the instant classic zombie mode. Playable with up to two players offline and up to four online, the zombie mode is a fun and difficult game mode that requires players to work together or die alone. With an unlockable second map for the mode once the campaign is beaten, it offers a lot of replay value as well as the fun factor.

Still, in addition to all that is the unlockable Dead Ops Arcade, a coop top down shooter in the style of Smash TV. Usually, killing zombies with your friends like this required you to by an arcade game from the Xbox Marketplace, but here it is an all-in-one package.

There is no doubt that the Call of Duty series has once again sold millions and has given gamers a reason to stay in their rooms until Christmas. With such a fantastic game it’s hard to imagine how the next inevitable installment will try to top the charts this time.

* Title : Call of Duty: Black Ops
* Format : Multiplatform
* Developer : Treyarch
* Publisher : Activision
* Release Date : 11/09/10