COD Black Ops Cold War review: In the Danger Zone

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9.8 Get Lit

Bring out the big guns (quite literally) with brilliant graphics, engaging multiplayer options, riveting zombies options and, of course, a capable campaign. Something we can really sink our teeth into. Something that won’t feel grindy and pull us back for more every day. A good story — that’s what we got in the COD title this year.

  • Graphics 10
  • Story 9
  • Next-gen integration 10
  • Multiplayer 10
  • Zombies 10
  • User Ratings (0 Votes) 0

Call of Duty takes a trip to the Cold-War era, bringing with it phenomenal neon lighting, Russian spies, ‘copter battles in Nam and nimble, intuitive gunplay.

Black Ops fell off the wagon a tad in 2019, when Black Ops IV forgot to produce a full-length campaign. Instead, Activision/Treyarch pushed its luck with all-online modes, including a battle royale, multiplayer and zombies. While two of those are important for any Black Ops title, it lacked that story deep-dive many fans love. With Cold War, the developers made up for all those losses with a great war simulator made specifically for next-gen. 

Dripping in next-gen

Running this bad boy on a PlayStation 5 is an absolute feast, from the 80’s neon lighting reflecting back at ya in rain puddles, thanks to RTX graphics, to the adaptive triggers tailored for each weapon. Pick up in a high-speed multiplayer match in one of the perfectly balanced maps or drop into an anxiety-inducing zombies mode and you’ll have access to all the next-gen leisures that come standard in the campaign. 

We’re betting developers opted for the ‘80s era, not just for the wacky Cold War story focus, but also for the brilliant lighting options. Neon signage across a variety of scenes look striking, while the calm, yet unsettling streets of Berlin stand out as so close to real we questioned our sanity. RTX capability really brought out the beauty in a game that’s never been particularly known for its high-end graphics.

Players slide into and out of cutscenes without a speck of load time. Graphics carry over well, and there’s no point in the campaign that feels lacklustre in terms of next-gen utilisation.

Dodging Soviet ammo

Although slightly short for our tastes, the campaign is balanced particularly well. Player choices have a significant impact on the outcome of the game and you should also choose your class wisely, as well as all the short dialogue options that follow — these may mean life or death for your newfound CIA buddies. All throughout, you visit a plethora of graphically beautiful settings, from Vietnam to Berlin and the KGB headquarters. 

Even though it’s set in the early 1980s, gunplay is fast and tactical. It doesn’t feel like your character is hauling around kilograms of equipment. It is here where you can feel it is a Black Ops game — nippy movement, great gunplay and engaging battles. One thing I was very sensitive to was the ttk (time to kill) — something a Call of Duty game either nails or fails. 

More than ever before, developers have managed to simulate an actual warzone (not that one). This is mainly due to smart graphics tweaks, brilliant handling and movement as well as exceptional audio — even when played through cheap in-ears. Frag grenades and gunshots sound so close to authentic that we forgot we were sitting in Joburg for a moment.  

COD Black Ops Cold War Final verdict

Treyarch brings out the big guns (quite literally) with brilliant graphics, engaging multiplayer options, riveting zombies options and, of course, a capable campaign. Something we can really sink our teeth into. Something that won’t feel grindy and pull us back for more every day. A good story — that’s what we got in the CoD title this year.

Switching through three playable characters, you get a chance to explore different segments of the US/Russian Cold War. The story is straightforward enough to keep up, all while dragging your character all over South-east Asia, Europe and Soviet-dominated Eastern Europe to put bullets into baddies. It features a good balance of straight-out battle, puzzles and stealth missions. We would have liked a slightly longer campaign, but that’s just us. 

As always, no-one will judge you for only buying Cold War for the Zombies mode. Couple terrifying waves of zombies with detailed maps and everything that makes COD Zombies good, and you’ve got a winning recipe.  Even though you go back to a bygone era, gameplay and gunplay feel responsive and immersive like just a Black Ops game can.

 

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Digital Editor at Stuff. Nevermind the fancy title, I like writing about things that are cool. Like games, gadgets and sometimes even software. Depending on how cool it is.

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