Two years ago we released an in-depth performance review of the fifth major episode in the Call of Duty series, World at War. Since then, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 has been released almost exactly a year ago. Now for a successive and very successful annual release of Call of Duty: Black Ops that paves the way for even more games in the series.
Call of Duty: Black Ops debuts a new theme centered around the Cold War conflict, while previous titles related to either World War II or modern warfare. Black Ops was developed by Treyarch, but it seems to have a lot more in common with the older World at War than Modern Warfare 2.
Aside from the fact that it's from the same development team, Black Ops essentially uses the older Call of Duty 4 game engine. To be precise, the game runs on an improved World at War engine, which in itself is an improved version of Call of Duty 4 from 2008. This new version of the engine has streaming texture technology, which is also supported in Modern Warfare 2, enables larger levels, for example the "Payback" level, at which the player controls a helicopter. In addition, the lighting effects have been improved and the game supports 3D images that are rendered using the right hardware.
Before we dive into benchmarking to see how different hardware configurations handle this game, here's a quick summary of what goes on (courtesy of Wikipedia). As mentioned earlier, Black Ops take place during the Cold War. The player mainly controls two characters: special forces agent Alex Mason and CIA agent Jason Hudson. The single player campaign revolves around an experimental Soviet chemical weapon, code-named "Nova-6". The game includes locations such as the Urals in central Russia, Cuba, Laos and Vietnam. It has been confirmed that Viktor Reznov, a key figure from the Soviet campaign in World at War, is returning for Black Ops, joining Mason and the SOG in Vietnam. Dimitri Petrenko, the Russian protagonist from World at War, also appears.
Black Ops' online multiplayer mode retains the experience points and unlockable reward system that have been retained since Call of Duty 4. "Create-a-Class 2.0" enables improved personalization with appearance items as well as upgradeable advantages: Weapons can be comprehensively customized. Clan tag writing, emblems, attachments and camouflage painting.
For the first time in the series, clips can be recorded from online gameplay. Some PC-specific features that have been removed from Infinity Ward's Modern Warfare 2 return like Lean, Mod Tools, the Developer Console, and Dedicated Servers. Dedicated servers are provided exclusively by game servers. Steam is the exclusive platform for Black Ops on PC, so the game is protected by Valve Anti-Cheat.