Welcome to the next article in our Countdown Series. As you can see, we are now only 4 days from the release of what potentially could be another record-breaking game, following in the footsteps of Modern Warfare 2 which was released only one year ago. The excitement we are feeling is much the same as this time last year, when we were so close to the release of Infinity Ward’s Modern Warfare 2. Before we kick off with this article, let’s remind ourselves of the success of last year’s Call of Duty game. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 was certainly one of the most hyped games in history. In the build up to release, you couldn’t watch TV or use the Internet without adverts and commercials enticing you to buy the game. As a result, many, many millions of people were enticed. In the first 5 days of release, Modern Warfare 2 had smashed Grand Theft Auto IV’s previous record, earning a revenue of around $550 million. By January 2010, it had taken over $1 billion in sales. So, with the game being such a massive hit with the entire world, is it possible that these records and benchmarks set by Infinity Ward could be met, or possibly even improved upon? Well, it was reported a while back that Black Ops had surpassed Modern Warfare 2′s pre-order numbers, and while this hints at a possible record-breaker, pre-orders officially account for nothing. However, even though the huge sales would not suggest this, Modern Warfare 2 quickly fell out of favour with many players. Whilst the game itself was undeniably excellent, after a few weeks, several new issues became apparent as players moved through the levels, including weapon imbalances, killstreak and perk combinations, and of course, boosting. Infinity Ward did begin to combat these problems, but after a dispute with producers Activision, many of the staff were fired or quit, meaning there was not much of a team remaining to release patches. Now, on with the article. As the title suggests, we are going to look at four of the main ways that Black Ops may improve on Modern Warfare 2, not necessarily in sales, but more likely in gameplay. 1. Balance One of the key issues that arose in Modern Warfare 2 is Multiplayer balance. Several weapons were, and still are, deemed as being ‘overpowered’, and some perk and killstreak combinations can frustrate players. Treyarch seems to have taken the community’s views into account when designing their Multiplayer, and this is reflected in several changes that they have made. * Weapon balance – David Vonderhaar has stated that every gun has it’s own advantages and disadvantages, and that higher levelled players who have access to more guns will not have any clear advantage based on the weapons they can choose. * Killstreak balance – Remember the infamous Predator-Harrier-Chopper Gunner killstreak combo in Modern Warfare 2? Many players did not like the fact that when someone got a 5-killstreak, they just went and camped and let their Predator and Harrier jet do the work for them to get their Chopper Gunner or AC-130. Say goodbye to this in Black Ops, as kills you earn from killstreak rewards to do count to your killstreak, meaning that you must kill with your weapons or equipment to advance to the next killstreak reward. * Perk balance – There were a fair few perks, and perk combinations, that received a lot of negative comments from the CoD community. Commando is one in particular, which enables the player to have an abnormally large knifing distance. The One Man Arm & Danger Close combination was also hated my many, which allowed users to constantly refill their explosives supply. The Black Ops perks have been reworked by a team at Treyarch Studios to ensure balance is retained. Notable factors that will please many people are; Commando, One Man Army, and Danger Close have all been removed, Scavenger now only replaces ammunition and equipment (no Grenade Launchers!), and Flak Jacket will protect you from most explosions. Get suited up with Flak Jacket! 2. Customisation Most people should now know about the new level of customisation is Black Ops. However, for the few people who are not aware of this, let’s recap. Treyarch have gone to new lengths to find suitable customisation options for their new Call of Duty title. Let’s have a look in a bit more detail at what we can expect to see in Black Ops; * First of all, the Perk One tier decides how your character looks, rather than the gun you choose. So if you choose Ghost, you will be wearing a ghillie suit, regardless of what gun you select. This now allows someone who wants to use an assault rifle to crawl around in long grass undetected. * Titles and emblems are now gone. However, fully customisable emblems will be introduced, and a wide selection of backgrounds will be available, so your Player Card can be truly unique. * Level 16 – The emblem you create can be stamped onto your gun. * Level 19 – Your clan tag can be etched onto your weapon once you reach. * Level 22 – All of Black Ops’ new camouflages are unlocked, and can be purchased in any order – no headshot challenges required. The golden camouflage makes a return. * Level 25 – Red-dot and Reflex sights can be customised – both the reticle (dot) shape and the reticle colour can be customised. There are 7 reticle colours and over 30 different reticle shapes to choose from. * Level 28 – The lens colour of your sight can also be changed. There are 6 lens colours * Level 31 – Facepaints for your character are unlocked, and can be purchased in any order. There are over 20 different patterns. All of this customisation will cost you your hard-earned CoD Points though, so make sure you spend them wisely! If you decide to Prestige, then you will lose everything except for any emblems you have created, including all of your CoD Points. Before Modern Warfare 2, many people were calling for a character customisation, but did not receive it – only customisable killstreaks and the regular headshot challenge camouflages were featured. Black Ops has seemingly answered this call. A customised sight on an AUG 3. Zombies! When it was announced that zombies would not make a reappearance in Modern Warfare 2, many players were disappointed, as the mode was certainly one of the most popular features of Call of Duty: World at War. However, we were promised a brand new co-op mode, called ‘Spec-Ops’, which could be played alone or with a friend online or via splitscreen. Many people enjoyed this game mode, but it did not have much replayability – once every mission was completed on Veteran, most people never played Spec-Ops again, because it seemed to lack the fun element that zombies had. Zombies are back in Black Ops though, and they’re bigger than ever before! Three brand new zombie maps will ship with every edition of the game, including the brand new Dead Ops Arcade mode. Also, the Hardened and Prestige Editions will ship with a code that enables you to download the four World at War zombie maps, which have been updated to work with Treyarch’s improved game engine, and also features the new Black Ops weapons. Please note that there has been a lot of leaked footage containing a significant number of spoilers regarding zombies, zombie maps and the Dead Ops Arcade mode. This site does not report on leaked footage. So if you have seen leaked footage, or have read spoilers, then we would appreciate it if comments regarding this could be kept off the front page. Thank you Nazi Zombies Return to Black Ops Back to the article..! 4. Anti-boosting Probably the biggest problem in Modern Warfare 2 was boosting. Players were able to use a Tactical Insertion to spawn wherever they choose, therefore being able to spawn right next to a friend on the other team, who would headshot the ‘Tactical Insertor’ to gain killstreaks, camouflages, or just boost their Killeath ratio. Players would often hide in twos or three in low-traffic areas maps to boost quickly. When it was announced that the Tactical Insertion would be featured in Black Ops, there was an initial uproar from a lot of fans. The Multiplayer design directors were barraged with questions about boosting, but Treyarch responded calmly. They told the community of the measures that have been taken to ensure that players cannot use the Tactical Insertion to boost. * Tactical Insertions cannot be used in Free For All, where the majority of boosting was performed * Boosting for CoD Points in Wager Matches will be almost impossible, because all players are randomly selected, meaning no parties allowed. * Players cannot invite friends into certain game modes where boosting could be commonplace, such as Free For All. * Most interestingly, players can report boosters in Black Ops to Treyarch, who will use the new Theatre mode to see if the reported player was indeed boosting. The booster’s 10 most recent games can be viewed by the team at Treyarch Studios, and if somebody is deemed to be boosting, they will be banned immediately. After looking at this, Treyarch seem to have taken the right steps towards kicking boosting out of Call of Duty. Boosting ruined Modern Warfare 2′s online leaderboards, which meant that your rank was not representative of your skill level, as most of the players towards the top of the leaderboards boosted to get their score. Say goodbye to boosting! So there you have it, four reasons why Black Ops could potentially be a better game than Modern Warfare, and possibly even surpass it’s sales records. For now, we can only look at what Treyarch and Activision have showed us, but Black Ops sure looks to take all the best features of Modern Warfare 2, such as gameplay, fun, and intensity, and remove all of the features that many people feel ruined the biggest entertainment launch of all time. We will have to wait until November 9th and beyond to see if Call of Duty: Black Ops is as balanced and fair as Treyarch say it is, but if I were you, I wouldn’t be too surprised if they were exactly right! Remember to look out for tomorrow’s entry in the Countdown Series, and past articles can be viewed here. Also, check out the Forum where we have ongoing discussion about the upcoming Black Ops! Thank you for taking the time to read this article, we hope you come back soon!