The Call of Duty franchise has now put out enough sequels to make Hollywood blush. Easy to understand why, as the famed video game series has generated a the most reliable revenue stream in entertainment. This year, the annual release is entitled Call of Duty: Black Ops III, which sort of makes it a sequel of a sequel of a sequel.
For purposes of this review, only the online multiplayer mode was tested. Those who say they buy Call of Duty games for the campaign mode are like those who say they read Maxim Magazine for the informative articles. The online multiplayer has been the heart and soul of the franchise for many years now, so to help keep this review brief, it is the only mode of gameplay that was explored. Activision provided a copy of the Xbox One version of the game for this review.
By this point in time, the Call of Duty franchise has gone so far into the future that it looks and feels less like a military first-person shooter and more like an offshoot of Halo or Titanfall. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as it allows for the programmers to be more creative with weapons, abilities and maps than they were when limited only to past or present technology. Good use of it is made here, providing content that is both futuristic yet still feels grounded in reality. None of the future tech is so over-the-top that it no longer feels like Call of Duty.
If you’ve played previous Call of Duty game in online multiplayer, especially other games in the Black Ops series, your hands will know what to do the moment you enter those modes here. Getting into the action is quick and painless and requires very little learning curve. Some might argue that this means Black Ops III is just another spoke on the wheel of annual releases, but in this case it is done right. Call of Duty: Black Ops III in multiplayer mode isn’t just another Call of Duty game, it is a very good new Call of Duty game. Yes, there will be some maps you like more than others, some deaths that you feel were unfair and spots on the map where players annoy you by camping out and/or sniping you from afar. However, the fluidity and balance in Black Ops III is the best in the franchise in many years. When the game feels frustrating it feels frustrating for all the right reasons, stemming more from the intensity of your online battle than some silly connection issue or seemingly rushed in-game feature.
The only real question that surrounds the idea of purchasing Call of Duty: Black Ops III as a holiday gift involves who you are buying it for. If they aren’t a fan of the CoD franchise, there isn’t going to be enough here to change their mind, at least not a full purchase price. However, if they are a continuing fan of the series, or they were a fan of it in the past who hasn’t picked one up in a couple of years, Black Ops III is a solid choice for under the tree. It is the best in the franchise since the last console generation and continues to be one of the best video games on the market for playing with friends.