Co-Written by Riley Little & Rob Keyes
Last week it was officially announced by Activision that Call of Duty: Black Ops would be shipping with full 3D capabilities and on that same day, Game Rant was present at the Toronto PlayStation Holiday Preview Event to see the 3D first-hand at its unveiling. That behind-closed-curtains first look at two of the game's levels in 3D wasn't quite enough though, so Editor-in-Chief Rob Keyes and myself went downtown for a private demo of Black Ops in 3D with Jay Puryear, Senior Manager at Treyarch.
To start, the main menu is totally different from any of the past Call of Duty games. It's a television sitting in the middle of an interrogation room and it has several options. One that I picked up on immediately was "Zombies," and we casually suggested that we check that out (on a few occasions). That suggestion was shot down pretty quickly, and I'd be lying if I said I didn't see that coming. We'll come back to this later, but there's something special about this mode and its unveiling is being saved until closed to launch.
Puryear fired up one of the missions from the game's campaign and the 3D hit us instantly. The level starts the player off looking through the eyes of a soldier wearing a high altitude suit as he walks up to a plane and hops in. The level, having been displayed in 2D at E3 has undergone some changes and after launching the plane into semi-space, the player takes control of a thermal camera and commands a unit of four on the ground. You have to issue orders to direct these guys where to go so they can avoid being detected and tactically infiltrate areas. You can even tell the ground troops to hide themselves in the snow to avoid detection. The most exciting and interesting aspect of this mission is that once the squad engages or reaches certain areas, the camera zips down from the plane, goes through the clouds, and throws you into the shoes of one of the Black Ops soldiers you're commanding from above. This gameplay addition is very effective and provides not only another another perspective, but another level of immersing players into the overall experience.
After switching back and forth between the plane and the soldiers a couple of times, the story started to follow the team on the ground as they infiltrated a facility. The level was stopped here before we jumped to another section of the game, returning once again to the snowy landscape. This time, we begin laying in the snow and we watched as men unknowingly walked right by us. More importantly (and excitingly), the player is wielding a large crossbow as the primary weapon. I couldn't wait to see this thing in action and egged on the developer to shoot one of the men who was walking with his dog, and he obliged by shooting him in the side with an arrow. The dev said I was a bad influence, and then continued through the level.
We approached a fuel truck and our Treyarch guide tapped a button and swapped his pre-existing arrows to flashing ones. He promptly told us to "watch this" and he stuck the flashing arrow right into the tanker. There was a slight delay and then a massive explosion. The guards standing nearby perished and lost limbs, but there was still one guard left who began opening fire on us, hiding behind the debris. A simply explosive arrow behind the bogie's cover and after that went off he was no longer among the living.
The 3D looked very good, especially looking down the large crossbow sites and scope but an even better example of the 3D helping the player enjoy an enhanced experience was demonstrated next as we repel down the side of the building. Jay Puryear was kind enough to show us that if you get too cocky and try to zip down the side of the building too fast then you will plummet to your death. As you perform the action, your viewpoint is looking down over the side as you hold and release the rope, viewing the vast expanse below - this example presented in 3D was an easy selling point.
The following scene is straight from the trailer as the soldiers reach a platform and prepare to rope down again, except this time they stop, look over at each other, and then wish each other luck before jumping out and smashing through a window to kill the men inside, all in slow-motion so you can enjoy every broken glass fragment. This scene doesn't get old and it looks that much better with 3D.