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Call of Duty: Black Ops


So I finally wrapped up the latest in the Call of Duty series and I'm left with a huge question mark.  This is the first game I've ever played where it ended with a NPC saying "We won!" and then the credits roll.  I mean, honestly, this is how one of the biggest developers wraps up one of the biggest games of the year?  What a joke.

The story to Black Ops is, to be put bluntly, a mess.  It follows the exploits of a character's name I can't remember across several countries though messy flashbacks and seizure inducing sequences.  Much like Modern Warfare 2, I felt no connection to any of the characters or what was happening.  Black Ops is a story full of cliches and surprises that can be seen coming miles away.  And to cap it all off, after saving the free world, you're greeted by half the armed forces and your NPC partner says "We won!"  Cue credits and my disbelief at this terrible ending.  The entire campaign feels rushed and there is no innovation.  This is the essentially the same game we've been playing for half a decade.

Speaking of which, Black Ops' multiplayer is the same old hat trick.  The only variation coming from earning credits and purchasing the weapons in addition to waiting to hitting a required level to unlock them.  Mulitplayer is much more balanced than MW2, with noob tubers and quick scoping a thing of the past.  My biggest complaint is that Sniper Rifles feel severely underpowered.  Even using the PSG1, the game's final unlockable sniper rifle, I find myself putting three rounds into someone's chest before they'll drop.  Maybe I'm just no good, but this is the first game where I've found it impossible to use the sniper rifle. 

Black Ops throws in Treyarch's classic Nazi Zombies, which much like World at War, is an absolute blast to play.  There's also a top down shooter that plays like a certain classic arcade game.  It's a nice addition, but I haven't found myself playing it a whole lot.

As a whole, Black Ops is a more stable and solid Call of Duty.  But it's still one that brings absolutely nothing new to the table.  But with a new Call of Duty being released every year, can one really expect any kind of innovation?

Sprecher's Breakfast Burger

Restaurant:  Sprecher's Restaurant & Pub
Location:  Lake Geneva, WI
Burger:  Breakfast Burger

Ingredients:  Cheddar cheese, bacon, fried egg

Verdict:  Lake Geneva and I do not have a good history when it comes to delicious burgers.  For whatever inexplicable reason, every burger I order comes soaked in grease and lacking in flavor.  Sprecher's had recently acquired a favored dining spot of mine, Houlihan's.  I was nervous, as anyone would be when one of their favorite eating spots comes under new management.  Being a firm believer that a burger defines the restaurant, I decided to go ahead with the Breakfast Burger.  Ever since trying Red Robin's Royal, I have searched long and far for another that can use a fried egg to such effect.

When I received my burger, it showed all the classic symptoms of being a "Lake Geneva burger".  It was coated in a fine layer of grease and adorned with fatty bacon that literally had plastic clinging to it.  The egg looked well enough until I pick up the burger and saw the yolk pop and drain along with the grease and cheese onto my plate.  The meat was charred and had no flavor on the inside.  I took three bland bites and had to put it into the puddle that had formed on my plate.

Why no establishment in Lake Geneva can get a burger right is beyond me.  But as it stands, I've lost all faith in that tourist town.

On the side:  A salty hash brown circle resting on a nest of grease.

0 out of 5 stars

Red Dead Horses

I've noticed something while playing the utterly fantastic Red Dead Redemption.  I kill horses.  A lot of horses.  Literally a horse every 10 minutes.  This poor bastard I ran off a cliff and into a tree.
I captured one of the legendary four horses of the Apocalypse, Pestilence, and ran it into the ground.  I kid you not, it just fell over dead while I was riding it.  I also tamed War, only to lose it to zombie cougars shortly thereafter. 

It's not that I go out of my way to kill the poor animals, I just have terrible luck with them.  God help that fabled unicorn when I finally tame it.

Over my years of gaming, I've built a level of trust with my virtual steers.  Epona bore me through many trials and tribulations.  Argo was my only companion and witness to the Colossi genocide.  Yet I can't build any kind of attachment for the horses of Red Dead simply because they don't live longer than a ride to another town.

So to the designers who crafted these magnificent animals and brought them to stunning life like animation, I am sorry.  I really don't mean to keep running your horses off cliffs.

Games to Beat: 2011

Looking back at my year in review for 2010, I realized that my percentage has fallen.  I'm not saying it's a bad thing that I played fewer games.  What is terrible, is that I didn't beat as many as I bought.  That's something i aim to rectify in 2011.  This year, I have 24 games to beat.  They are:

Alan Wake
Batman: Arkham Asylum
Bioshock
Blaz Blue: Continium Shift
Call of Duty: Black Ops
Castlevania: Lords of Shadow
Dead Space: Extraction
Divinity 2
Final Fantasy XIII
Just Cause 2
Kinect Adventures
Kinectimals
Left 4 Dead 2
Lego Rock Band
Monster Hunter Tri
Overlord 2
Phantasy Star Portable
Pokemon: Soul Silver
Portal
Prince of Persia
Red Dead Redemption
Rock Band 3
Star Ocean: The Last Hope
Tales of Vesperia
Trauma Center: Second Opinion

January 2011 Release Calendar

January 3:
Battle vs. Chess  (DS)
Get Fit with Mel B  (Wii)

January 4:
Lost in Shadow  (Wii)
Sherlock Holmes and the Mystery of Osborne House  (DS)

January 5:
Ilomilo  (360)
StarDrone  (PS3)
Emergency 2012  (PC)

January 11:
Kingdom Hearts Re:coded  (DS)
Ghost Trick:  Phantom Detective  (DS)
DC Universe Online  (PS3, PC)
Venetica  (360, PC, PS3)

January 18:
Mass Effect 2  (PS3)
The Mysterious Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde  (DS)
Mindjack  (PS3, 360)
Sackboy's Prehistoric Moves  (PS3)
Little Big Planet 2  (PS3)

January 25:
Dead Space 2  (PC, PS3, PC)
You Don't Know Jack  (Wii)
Lord of Arcana  (PSP)
Two Worlds 2  (PS3, PC, 360)

Top 10: 2010

It's the time of the year when everyone and their brother compiles a top 10 list for the previous year.  I'm a firm believer in top 10 lists myself.  They breed structure and stability in an uncertain world.  Without wasting anymore time...

1.  Mass Effect 2
2.  Bayonetta
3.  Red Dead Redemption
4.  Muramasa
5.  Rock Band 3
6.  Halo: Reach
7.  Fable 3
8.  Call of Duty: Black Ops
9.  Limbo
10.  Blur

The Year in Review: 2010

Stephen Totilo over at Kotaku tower introduced me to a new yearly ritual:  keeping a tally of the games I've played and beaten.  Here's how 2010 breaks down:

Total played:  43

Total beaten: 19
Aliens vs Predator
Army of Two: The 40th Day
Bayonetta
Borderlands
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
Crash Course
Dead or Alive 4
Dragonball: Raging Blast
Fable 3
Fallout 3
Halo: Reach
Limbo
Lost Planet 2
Mass Effect
Mass Effect 2
Monday Night Combat
Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare
Wet

Percentage: 44%

Compared to 2009, I'm slacking.  It also tells me that I buy too many games before beating the ones I have.  Time to turn that around in 2011.  But what about you?  How did you perform this year?