Call of Duty: Black Ops III

Sam Raimi took the helm of Spider Man in 2002. Fans of The Evil Dead pondered what he would bring to the inaugural Marvel outing. In typical Hollywood fashion, the series’ success marked the beginning of Raimi’s rise to blank check status – fame which grants creatives access to larger budgets. Raimi took this and ran. Treyarch did the same after releasing Spider Man 2 three days after Raimi’s gem.

The world of videogames has a proverbial proving ground. Before getting access to big budget titles like Halo and Call of Duty, smaller dev teams are often trusted with titles bearing greater margin for error –  games which sell no matter what. Titles like this are often tied to larger entertainment releases (like Raimi’s Spider Man). In these cases, the standard two year development cycle is cut in half. The time difference, along with the immaturity and lack of creative control of the developers, often results in movie tie-ins suffering with critics.

So Treyarch confounded expectations with Spider Man 2. It managed an 80 on Metacritic and the final product shows. Treyarch took the age-old format perpetrated by previous offenders and turned it on its head. They borrowed the Grand Theft Auto formula and produced a huge metropolis. Players could swing from the Empire State Building to Central Park. It was the first game that made gamers feel like Spider-Man.

Not long after, Call of Duty’s reigns were turned over to Treyarch. The series had been handled by many teams in the past but after Spider-Man 2’s commercial success, Activision believed they were placing the franchise in safe hands. If Black Ops 3 is any indication, they made the right choice.

COD’s $10 billion in sales more than justify Black Ops 3’s royal treatment. The game is a masterpiece, Treyarch proving again what it means to develop quality first person shooters. Their titles are known for their liberal use of arcade mechanics that make COD multiplayer a cultural mainstay. The title looks and feels like the best gaming has to offer, with players making use of new weapons, maps and, of course, an overhauled Zombies mode.

Call of Duty Zombies is one of those rare game modes that makes its way into our lives and digs its claws in like a mountaineer on an overhang. The marriage of horror and addictive gameplay makes for wild fun as players plow through waves of the living dead. Players carry on because embedded reward systems prove so pervasive one can’t help but reach a little deeper for an extra hour. This process becomes even easier when players take advantage of online multiplayer.

Taking skills to the world stage can either weaken or strengthen the experience. With Treyarch’s impressive matchmaking protocol many more gamers will swing to the latter. It allows gamers the ability to link arms with fellow newbies (if that’s your purview), or go head to head with Zombie veterans.

It’s been a long journey to this point but Treyarch has more than proved their position as Activision’s team of choice for the Black Ops series. The single player narrative tells a compelling Hollywood-calibre tale of futuristic conspiracy and technology. The Academy’s going to hold off on any Oscars this time around, but players should keep a watchful eye out. The non-intrusive way gamers are taught the title’s mechanics also improves the overall character of single player, and the result is a prime example of how far the genre has come in recent years.

The third title in the Black Ops series offers fans a myriad of new features and game modes. As well as a refined focus on tropes they’ve come to know and love. Competitive multiplayer takes many a cue from Treyarch’s persistence in delivering solid gameplay.

The changes Treyarch made in its last few contributions to the series’ catalogue have catapulted the studio to superstardom. It goes without saying that fans of the first person shooter genre almost unanimously award Treyarch the medal of honor for a commitment to appeasing their desires and interests.

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