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Call of Duty : Black Ops – Cold War Review

Reading Time: 7 minutes

Call of Duty: Black Ops – Cold War

Developer: Treyarch, Beenox, Raven Software
Publisher: Activision
Website: Black Ops – Cold War
Genre: First Person Shooter
Platform: Playstation 4/5
Age Rating: 18+
Release Date: November 13, 2020
Price: £64.99 for Cross Gen Bundle

A code was provided for review purposes.

What a time to try and review a AAA game! Right between the (beginning of the end) of the PS4 and the exciting launch of the PS5. 

Either way, it’s time to “go dark” once more in Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War; read our redacted Rapid Review to find out more.

November 13 2020 Russell Adler

I started Cold War on the PS4 Pro (the review code was cross-gen), mainly to see how well it played. I personally didn’t notice any frame drops or gameplay issues. However, I did notice extended loading screen times and death respawn rates.

That said, I was very aggrieved to know I couldn’t transfer my save files and continue on the PS5, so I had to start again. I also noticed on both consoles a slight audio de-sync, but only in the first few missions.

Getting it started on the PS5 was a bit of an annoyance because you can easily download the PS4 version and play that, not knowing any different. It’s only when you select the sub-menu and opt for the PS5 game, that you realise you’ve been duped! There was also a few other issues, but I cannot decide whether they are console or game issues, but in some missions the console crashed with a memory error or black screen and lost all progress. So I chalked that up to being an early adopter and gave Cold War the benefit of the doubt. *there are many reports of PS5 memory crashes*

There are noticeably some artefacts missing in the different versions too, see the screen capture below for spot the difference.

January 20th 1981 US Embassy Tehran

The campaign starts as any Call of Duty game does, well and truly in the thick of it. You’re hunting Perseus, a Soviet spy whose goal is to subvert global power from the United States and shift the balance towards the Soviet Union. This run of missions sees you travel to East Berlin, Vietnam, Turkey and Soviet KGB Headquarters itself.

Cold War is the middle child in this series; it is the direct sequel to the famous “Call Of Duty Black Ops” (2010) and the prequel to the slightly less successful “Black Ops II” (2012). That means we see the return of fan favourites Alex Mason and Frank Woods, however in this instance; you play as Bell. A code name for a customisable character with different backgrounds, genders, skin tones, and particular traits that give you a slight edge in-game. I chose MI6 with “Violent Tendencies” giving increased bullet damage and “Paranoid” which grants 100% Aim Down Sight Speed (I play aggressive, so this was perfect for me, but there are so many options); you will either love or hate this option.

It would be amiss not to mention the history of the Cold War and the stories that inspired these run of games, which are lifted from the military tensions post World War 2 between the powers of the Western Bloc and the Eastern Bloc. The Cold War only ended officially (I’m sure there are always political battles) on December 26th 1991, when The Council of the Republics of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR recognised the dissolution of the Soviet Union, ending the Cold War.

Westmoreland 1968 Operation Fracture Jaw

I enjoyed the campaign thoroughly. The problem with most Black Ops (and Modern Warfare) games, is they are too short, and this was no exception.

The game is played mainly from a War Board, where you plan and execute missions, collecting intel in various missions to help you complete two side missions. These missions require you to do a bit of cryptography and evidence reading to continue, and these are randomised, so no cheating for you. I enjoyed these extra bits, it engaged you more in the game and made the game less “set” for me, however others I know hated it, so again, it’s a marmite moment.

Now, like the original Cold War, the development of this game was a little fractured. The tension between the two original studios meant that Activision stepped in and split the Campaign and Multiplayer development, giving Raven Software the campaign, and that shows because the campaign and multiplayer feel so different; movement and style feel the polar opposite, more on that shortly.

The primary campaign has some great qualities, the addition of small easter eggs in the form of arcade games, the nod to existing characters we already know and the history of the franchise is preserved. The music is fantastic, and I enjoyed the helpful objective area banner that pops up if you’re in the general proximity of a side objective, something you could miss in heavy gunfights.

However, why is there no mounting system? I mean, just because it’s 1981, they can still mount guns on window sills and wall mount to peek corners. This frustrated me more than it should have, especially after spending 2020 playing a lot of Warzone, which is now a running thread in the Call of Duty franchises… in which you can mount weapons.

The game offers you choices, which play a part in the end.

The campaign has three different endings, all of which I played, and I preferred the bad ending. It had more of an impact on the story and the relationships than the good one, which is canon technically. Also, I felt the good ending was pretty short and didn’t offer much in the way of resolution, it was a bit flat for me.

The third ending is neither a good or bad ending but imports more of a second option to the bad ending. 

I had an inkling through the game what the story might be revolving around, but played with a positive and balanced approach, doing the “right” thing. At the end however, I switched, and it didn’t fit well with the decisions I had made in-game. If I were to replay, I would take a different approach and complete the entire game differently. 

Dark Aether 1983 Requiem DIE MASCHINE

Like I mentioned earlier, multiplayer feels different, and not in the right way. It felt very snappy & clunky, without the fluidity I’ve come to love, and the arcade-style of the action is very evident. 

The multiplayer feels like a step back, rather than advancement, the animations and menus feel sluggish, and the map designs aren’t exciting. Some of the explosions and audio also remind me of a more retro time.

I’m also sure skill based matchmaking is active. I would either have an incredible game, or I would have a terrible time, mainly because the lobbies I got in after a few good games, were ridiculously hard, and then three bad games later, I was in a much easier lobby.

The multiplayer is much better than the Alpha and Beta because if I were to buy the game based on those experiences, I’d have waited for the discounted price.

But you’re not here for the multiplayer, you’re here for the Zombies, and this is where Black Ops has some extra fun. Now, the cinematic for this is pretty cool, and I enjoyed watching it, it adds some different thought from the developers and makes it more engaging from the beginning.

Some additional features make Zombies even more of a thrill ride; Weapons and Perks are here, Field Upgrades and craft mechanics are back, along with Speed Cola and Juggernog. Fancy a sentry turret or grenade launcher, they’re available, but so are explosive bows and chopper gunners. The most significant change in experience, is the cross-platform first-time co-op mode. Playing Zombies will also help you boost the Battle Pass when it launches, so you’re not missing out.

Now initially, when playing Zombies, I struggled to find matches and played solo, but as more people have picked up the game I’ve gotten into lobbies faster. I’d suggest cross-play for this, as you’ll find a lot more players ready to go. 

Will you destroy the station and close the dimensional rift, or will you die trying?

Look good boys, we’re on camera.

December 2020 Rapid Conclusion 

The saving grace of this game is the campaign and Zombies, although one is short and the other hectic, they offer something a little different. The campaign delivers narrative fans of the franchise will love, and the replay-ability is there, you always feel like you’re a part of an action movie when you play a COD game. However, the longevity of the product is through multiplayer, and that isn’t there, for me. I’ve already uninstalled the multiplayer and campaign (now that I’ve completed it) and returned to Warzone.

I also had the opportunity to review the Nacon PS4 Pro controller, included with a redeemable code for Cold War, find out more here.

Rapid Reviews Rating

You can purchase Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War for Playstation here.

You can find and read our reviews on OpenCritic.

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