What is Call of Duty: Black Ops 3?
Call of Duty Black Ops 3 is military/sci-fi themed first person shooter that comes with three distinct modes of play - a story-driven campaign, a round-based Zombies survival mode, and online competitive multiplayer. Those who are playing on the PS3 or Xbox 360 should be aware that while the Xbox One, PS4 and PC versions contain all three modes, the PS3 and Xbox 360 versions don't actually include the campaign mode, which is too technically challenging for the older machines to handle.
How do you play Call of Duty: Black Ops 3?
The campaign (or "story mode) in Black Ops 3 lets two players play together in split-screen, or up to four play together online, in a team based affair in which you're very rarely left alone to fend for yourself. Playing through plenty of story driven levels, you'll run, gun, and blow things up, along with making use of various abilities that give you special powers - like the ability to summon nano bees that attack enemy players. Imagine playing through a particularly explosive Hollywood blockbuster, and you'll be on the right track. While the story does technically follow on from Black Ops 2, you don't need to have played the last game to be able to follow what's going on here.
The online multiplayer part of the game is all about playing against other real life people, and as such, requires an internet connection as well as an Xbox Live/PSN subscription (unless you're playing on PS3). There are multiple different game modes to play, with plenty of variety on offer, including Capture the Flag, where you have to steal, and return the enemy's flag to your base while protecting your own; Team Deathmatch, which pits two teams against each other in a bid to clock up the most kills; and Domination, where teams fight for control of certain points on a map. In multiplayer, you can choose a particular 'specialist' class for your character, each of which has their own strengths and weaknesses. Each specialist has their own unique abilities and weapons, but each must also first be unlocked by either playing multiple games and earning in game currency to buy them, or by spending real life money.
Finally, the Zombies section is all about survival, and sees the player pitted against hordes of the undead. The aim is to kill off all the zombies in each wave, and survive for as long as you can, with each round becoming increasingly more difficult as you progress. It's worth noting that zombies aren't the only enemies that you'll have to deal with, either, as you'll also be faced with different types of flying insects and rolling bombs.
How easy is Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 to pick up and play?
In terms of accessibility, Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 is a game that's mostly aimed at experienced shooter players. The campaign is perhaps the most pick-up-and-play part, as there are plenty of tutorials to help you find your footing, and the game essentially walks you through what to do, with frequent instructions/tips on what to do next. As you're playing along with either a friend, or a team of computer controlled partners, you can always let them handle the tricky bits for you. The online sections, on the other hand, are very fast paced, with little to nothing in the way of a helping hand, and, as you'd likely expect, you'll have to be very comfortable with dual analogue controls to last long here. As the game doesn't try and group players together by their rank or experience, the online mode has a steep learning curve, making it best suited to experienced players.
Before this section begins, it's worth mentioning that the gore and blood present in all game modes can easily be turned on and off. In the main menu section, if you head to the options menu, you'll find a content filter. If it's enabled, all gore and blood will be removed from the game, uncomfortable scenes will be pixelated out, and any bad language will be replaced with "shoot" and "oh no!". If User Generated Content is also disabled, this also lets you filter out any player created emblems, as some may be rude/crude.
As a shooter, Call of Duty doesn't shy away from showing the effects of your weaponry. Bullets will cause spurts of blood to come out of enemies, staining the floor and the foe's clothes, while more powerful weaponry can tear limbs off. It's also worth noting that Call of Duty Black Ops 3 is the first Call of Duty game since Call of Duty World at War that features dismemberment, both in the campaign and in the multiplayer modes.
Very early on in the campaign, the player is made to flick through CCTV footage, and is met with scenes of torture and the sound of screams from wounded victims. The player has to watch what is happening before they are allowed to continue.
*MINOR SPOILERS AHEAD*
One particularly grizzly section of the game sees a robot pin the player character down, and start tearing at your body. The robot ends up ripping off every one of your limbs except a leg. This scene can be uncomfortable and frightening, as, like the rest of the game, it's seen from a first person "through the eyes" view, as you see first-hand the open wounds, and lack of limbs that your player has. Another uncomfortable example is when a comrade is tricked in to entering a compound that is filled with a chemical agent that is deadly. It appears to tear off their skin and results in them screaming and vomiting until they die.
Bad language is also coarse and frequent throughout the game, particularly the campaign mode, with f*ck, sh*t and ass being regular fixtures.
One thing parents can't control is the amount of swearing that happens online. As many people tend to play with a microphone, it's more likely than not that other players may shout down the microphone and swear. However, voice chat can be disabled through the parental settings on most consoles.
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Format Reviewed: Playstation 3