It's hard to believe we’ve been playing Call of Duty (CoD) games for some 17 years now.
But, if ever there was a year where the hours of escapism were needed, it is during this pandemic-ruined 2020.
CoD Black Ops Cold War is the sixth instalment in the Black Ops series and the 17th CoD game overall. It is actually the direct sequel to COD: Black Ops from 10 years ago, and the direct prequel to Call of Duty: Black Ops II (2012).
Set during the early 1980s of the Cold War, the brilliant campaign follows CIA officer, Russell Adler, as he pursues Perseus, an alleged Soviet spy, whose stated goal is to subvert the United States and tilt the balance of power toward the Soviet Union.
But, when it comes to CoD, we know that multiplayer is where it is at. And there are new game modes, more customisation options, dynamics and elements.
'A lot of bang for your buck'
The first thing to say about Cold War is that you get a hell of a lot of bang for your buck.
The campaign, multiplayer and zombie modes could be independent releases all on their own. And, for that, we must be grateful.
I did have the common issue on PS5 when first installing Cold War, that it defaulted to the PS4 version and then bricked my PS5 when I deleted said PS4 version. Those issues were quickly resolved, though, and it has been plain sailing since. I have 100mbs broadband running on wifi, and I’ve had no real lag issues in online multiplayer worth noting.
As with any franchise that hits consoles with the regularity CoD does, it's sometimes difficult to differentiate between them.
In terms of campaign, Cold War trounces Modern Warfare’s offering from last year - Ronald Reagan in at the centre of a fantastical plot that wouldn’t be out of place in a James Bond movie. And that is meant as a compliment. This is video gaming, after all, and I personally lose interest very quickly when CoD takes itself too seriously.
Zombies also surpasses Modern Warfare's Spec Ops but has a steep difficulty curve.
Multiplayer has received some criticism. But it was always going to be tough to match the benchmark set by MW’s Warzone.
I can see why there has been criticism. The differences between MW’s multiplayer and Black Ops’s is glaring. And with MW considered the gold standard, that does not bode well for Black Ops.
When you have COD BO Cold War on PS5, you can download Warzone for free and play cross-gen with PS4 and PS5 gamers.
It’s almost as if the developers are holding their hands up and admitting defeat from the off. It says to gamers, "We know you’re going to want to play Warzone still, so here you go."
On PS5 the DualSense controller’s adaptive triggers give more depth to each gun and is a real game changer in that respect. Lengthy stints will drain your battery, though, as is to be expected.
Overall, judging Black Ops Cold War as a standalone game, there’s so much to love.
Comparing it to the high multiplayer benchmark set in previous CoDs - with MW looming large over proceedings - multiplayer does not compare favourably. Campaign is excellent and Zombies, once you’re a red hot marksman, is a great option for co-op.
We never truly see how a franchise like CoD will look on next generation until the second year. And there is plenty of promise here for the future too.