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‘Call Of Duty: Black Ops Cold War’ review: Stealth warfare with a Tarantino edge

Screenshot from ‘Call of Duty: Cold War Black Ops’   | Photo Credit: Activision

Just like the COVID-19 pandemic, the Cold War years were an uncertain phase in history, with the looming scare of nuclear annihilation. Without the Internet, one did not know what was going on in the world. The Cold War was fought predominantly in the shadows.

This is the setting of the new Call of Duty game from developers Treyarch.

Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War
  • Developer: Treyarch
  • Publisher: Treyarch, Raven Software, High Moon Studios, Beenox, Sledgehammer Games
  • Price: ₹3,999 on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC ; starting at ₹ 5000 (US$69) on PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X

You play as a character — codenamed Bell — whom you can customise. You can modify the skin tone, ethnicity and other personality traits. You are recruited by Russell Adler, a mysterious senior CIA operative, who eerily resembles actor Robert Redford. The target is a Soviet agent called Perseus, a mastermind who plans to upset the tenuous balance of the Cold War.

Screenshot from ‘Call of Duty: Cold War Black Ops’ featuring Russell Adler

Screenshot from ‘Call of Duty: Cold War Black Ops’ featuring Russell Adler   | Photo Credit: Activision

Styled like an ‘80s political spy thriller, the game jumps across different locations — the dark streets of Europe, neon-clad arcades, jungles of Vietnam and the KGB headquarters. Call of Duty games pull no punches with their narratives. While this one feels like a bunch of separate missions tied together by a narrative, it is still an exciting experience.

There are firefights aplenty in Black Ops Cold War that are reminiscent of Michael Bay’s action sequences. But the game also has many Tarantino-esque nail-biting moments. The campaign is largely linear with side missions and collectables. There are points in the game where you are required to choose your words or actions. This, however, is just an illusion, for the story is largely a predestined set of events.

Screenshot from ‘Call of Duty: Cold War Black Ops’

Screenshot from ‘Call of Duty: Cold War Black Ops’   | Photo Credit: Activision

Most of the gameplay is based on stealth, which is understandable as you are a spy. Instead of the usual high-tech gadgets we find in Call of Duty games, we get simpler ones in Black Ops Cold War (I especially liked the mini camera). They accentuate the thrill of the game, when you are picking locks, searching drawers or hiding bodies. The tension of getting caught looms all the time.

Ode to the 80s

The game captures the era well; the 80s leather clothing, indoor smoking, neon lights, videos on CRT TVs and even minor details like the lines you see on old VHS tapes. The sound design is outstanding. If you own a good sound system or pair of headphones, prepare to be blown away.

Call of Duty games are known for their multi-player modes. This one has a cross-platform multi-player mode. Gamers familiar with the previous titles in the series will be able to jump into the gameplay. Also, check out the hallmark Zombie mode, which makes a return.

Screenshot from the Zombie Mode in ‘Call of Duty: Cold War Black Ops’

Screenshot from the Zombie Mode in ‘Call of Duty: Cold War Black Ops’   | Photo Credit: Activision

Cold War is an excellent addition to the Call of Duty franchise. While the story tries to be smart and falls a bit short, the real hero here is the setting — kudos to the studios for nailing the look of the era.

The game is available for current and next gen. But watch out for the new $69 price, which is too much if you are buying it only for the single-player mode.

The writer is a tech and gaming enthusiast who hopes to one day finish his sci-fi novel

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Printable version | Jan 17, 2021 6:38:36 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/gamespot-review-call-of-duty-black-ops-cold-war-video-game/article33160216.ece

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