Tag Archive: black ops


With today’s teaser announcement basically confirming Call of Duty: Black Ops III being Treyarch’s entry this year in Activision’s billion-dollar franchise (sorry World at War fans), I got to thinking about what exactly we want to see from this newest installment in the Black Ops series.  With a three-year development cycle this go around, I imagine Treyarch has had plenty of time to mess with some new ideas, or—more than likely—refine some older ones. So, here are the top five things I’d like to see from Call of Duty: Black Ops III.

Editor’s Note: There will be references made to the endings and plot twists of the previous Black Ops games in the following piece. Consider this your only warning. 

1. Returning Characters

So the teaser trailer features a number of echoes from the past Black Ops games. The ones that stood out the most to me is Black Ops II villain Raul Menendez saying “Your life will be consumed by absolute loss” and Sgt. Frank Woods mentioning “You’ll always need men like us.” Now, there were four different endings in Black Ops II, and we don’t know which one will be considered canon to pick up the storyline—but the hope is that it will be one where it allows both of these characters to return in some form or another. Menendez made a great villain, and Woods has been a fan-favorite since the first Black Ops. It’d make a lot of sense if we saw some returning faces for the series’ third installment, and that’s especially true for these two guys—and using those particular lines from them in the teaser makes me think it’s not that far-fetched.

2. Parallel Storylines

Something that kept Black Ops II’s narrative feeling so fresh was the constant shift in perspective from the 1980s to 2025. And, again, depending on what becomes canonical for the series going forward, the return of Alex Mason in certain endings leaves a lot more questions on the table than answers. Why tell players where he was during all those years he was missing from his son David’s life, when instead you can show them? If Black Ops III goes with the ending where Alex lived in the end, then you can very easily have the game go back and forth between explaining where he was in the 1990s and dealing with the inevitable ripples caused by Menendez in the late 2020s—and still have it all tie together in an over-arcing plot line.

3. Remove Strike Force; add campaign co-op

The RTS element introduced via the special Strike Force chapters of Black Ops II was an inventive and interesting idea that just didn’t pan out as well as it could have. Often your ally AI would leave you to “super soldier” through missions, and considering how much of the plot relied on the outcomes of said missions, it ended up being more trouble than it was worth. The idea of special “metagame” operations with larger teams affecting the outcome of the plot wasn’t the worst idea in the world, though. When you also consider how much of Black Ops II saw you weaving your way through each level with an AI buddy, the obvious addition that needs to be implemented instead in Black Ops III is campaign co-op. Whether it’s Mason and Woods at it again in a flashback, David and a nameless squad member in 2025, or a pair of guys protecting key interests around the world with a small army of drones instead of a group of incompetent AI to replace the Strike Force missions, I think co-op could easily be doable as an option here.

4. Return to form in multiplayer

We know multiplayer is a bigger draw than the single-player narrative when it comes to Call of Duty. To me, Black Ops II remains the best multiplayer experience of the last generation of the franchise, and I’ll always go back to it over Ghosts or Advanced Warfare any day of the week. After all, Treyarch is the one who came up with the Pick-10 system, and it was at its best in terms of balance and implementation when in this team’s capable hands. I’d love for them to go back to it, especially with three years to tweak things. Plus, the power of new-gen consoles has me really pumped up for the future of multiplayer with Call of Duty—even if they do nothing but fix the Pick-10 system after Infinity Ward bumbled what Treyarch did the first time around.

5. Deepest Zombies mode ever

It’s Treyarch’s turn to shine, and that means one thing when it comes to Call of Duty: Zombies mode. After Black Ops II’s Zombies actually started to piece together a few elements from previous games, and paid homage to many of the theories put forth by the mode’s ravenous fanbase, you have to think that Black Ops III will offer not only a bigger and more robust experience with the mode, but maybe even finally provide players with that definitive narrative within itself. Since the constant speculation amongst players has helped turn this into one of Call of Duty’s most popular features, it feels like it’s time to finally be rewarded.

A surprising theme for this year’s DICE Summit 2015 has been about how a company’s employees, and not IP and bottom lines, are the most important thing in the gaming industry right now.

To help support this argument, Treyarch studio head Mark Lamia took the stage to tell the story of how the developer’s now beloved Zombies co-op mode for Call of Duty almost hit the cutting room floor.

Lamia reminisced about how the studio, their release date for World at War fast approaching, was behind in development and extremely stressed following up Infinity Ward’s record-setting Modern Warfare with a game that returned to the World War II setting.

Without his knowledge, a rogue team within Treyarch began working on a side project that featured Nazi zombies. Word quickly spread throughout the studio of this fun prototype that was being passed around and worked on during off-hours, and finally it got back to Lamia.

Initially, right then and there, Lamia thought of pulling the plug on this project due to the extreme crunch Treyarch was in. But instead, he decided to actually play the prototype and wait to pass judgment until afterwards. Luckily for all us fans of zombies, Lamia was pleasantly surprised that it was actually more fun than the co-op mode they already had in the game.

The approval from Lamia gave the development team a much-needed second wind, as he allowed them to continue to polish the mode in their spare time and stretch their creative wings a bit, rewarding them for their dedication and extra effort.

After a bit of time, Lamia himself then championed the mode to the higher ups at Activision, with the consensus indeed being that the prototype was immensely fun. But PR and marketing chimed in saying it would have been confusing and too far off brand to just promote outright. This is why World at War originally featured Zombies mode as an Easter egg reward for hardcore fans who beat the main campaign (it later became so popular it was unlocked from the beginning via a patch).

Somewhat surprisingly, the fans then that took the next steps with the mode. Writing fan fiction through message boards and forums, a story began to form around Zombies and why you had to fend off this horde of Nazi undead in a bunker. This led to Black Ops’ Zombies mode forgoing any sort of PR campaign as well, as it allowed the fans to continue to build the lore themselves, with Treyarch employees adding more special Easter eggs and callbacks in subsequent games and DLC to continue fanning the flames. Even during Lamia’s presentation, Treyarch game design director David Vonderhaar continued to play with fans via social media about what could be next for the mode.

Zombies mode now serves as Treyarch’s signature whenever it’s their turn in the development rotation of Call of Duty. And since they’re up to bat for this year’s Call of Duty, we’d be more than a little shocked if Zombies didn’t find a way to rear its head once more.

Back in December I had the chance to attend the 2010 SpikeTV VGAs and work the red carpet. It was here that I got a chance to speak with the man behind Call of Duty: Black Ops’s Sgt. Frank Woods, Mr. James C. Burns. We talked about how it was to voice a character who has quickly become somewhat iconic in the Call of Duty mythos and doing voiceover work in general.

Originally Published: November 25, 2010, on ClassicGameRoom.com and NationalLampoon.com

As a part of CGR Undertow, I reviewed the latest installment of the celebrated Call of Duty series, Black Ops. Take over as Alex Mason in the middle of the Cold War as you try to foil a Manchurian Candidate like plot in this first-person shooter.

Originally Published: November 16, 2010, on ClassicGameRoom.com

As a part of CGR Undertow, I reviewed Black Light: Tango Down for PSN from Ignition Entertainment.

The Best of E3

Originally Published: July 7, 2010, on Lundberg.me, Examiner.com, Original-Gamer.com, PlayerAffinity.com, and ESPNNewYork.com

I know that E3 was three weeks ago, but with the craziness of the World Cup, NBA Free Agency, and the approaching MLB All-Star break, to say we’ve been a little busy here at ESPN would be an understatement. But in our spare time, my expert cameraman/editor Jared Bodden and I, have been toiling away trying to finish these videos to show you some of the great games we saw at E3 and bring you some exclusive interviews with the people behind those games.

One of the most difficult things in this process has been whittling down what we felt were the most worthwhile games to look at, so we broke it down into four videos. The first video is a compilation featuring online and DLC games with the following three videos being a summary of the rest of the best from each day. For the games that we had to cut for the sake of time, I apologize tremendously. I also wish we could have given every game we did feature their own special video.

On that note, without further ado, below is the culmination of my three days at the L.A. Convention Center for E3 2010. I hope you all enjoy.

The first video was my online/DLC game special that features looks at the new Deadliest Warrior game from Spike Games that comes out next Tuesday, DCU Online from Sony Online Entertainment, QuickHit.com and their brand new NFL license, and Blacklight: Tango Down from Ignition Entertainment.

Our first day at E3 was a special day overall and had us see some spectacular looking games for consoles. Our video of Day 1 features Tron and Epic Mickey from Disney Entertainment, Castlevania: Lords of Shadow from Konami, and Test Drive Unlimited 2 from Atari.

On the second day of E3, console games and their peripherals were well represented once more as we looked at Vanquish from SEGA, Shaun White Skateboarding and Ghost Recon: Future Solider from Ubisoft, WWE All-Stars from THQ, and the new Wii Exercise Bike from Big Ben Interactive.

On the last day of E3, we had a chance to look at some of the most hyped games for consoles and some sweet accessories when we looked at Call of Duty: Black Ops and Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions from Activision and some sweet products from Nyko and iGUGU.

Videos by Jared Bodden

-Ray Carsillo

Originally Published: June 18, 2010, on Examiner.com, PlayerAffinity.com, and Lundberg.me

On my last day at E3 I had a chance to check out some games from Activision and Ignition Entertainment and I created a montage of booth babes for your viewing enjoyment.

E3 – Monday, June 14th, 2010

Originally Published: June 15th, 2010, on PlayerAffinity.com and Examiner.com

I give my rundown and unique perspective on the Xbox 360 and Ubisoft pressers, and the Activision concert showing off DJ Hero 2, Tony Hawk Shred, and Call of Duty: Black Ops.