| |

Black Review

Developer: Criterion Games Publisher: Electronic Arts
Release Date: February 27, 2006 Also On: PS2 and Xbox

With all this talk about what the next generation consoles are producing, people forget about what the current generation still has to offer. The driving force behind Burnout, Criterion aimed to show everyone that the Xbox and PS2 still have a lot of life in them. Not everyone will have a 360 or PS3 for a while because of they hefty price, so releasing games to appease the current-gen owners is a must. Black generated a lot of hype ever since the first videos were shown. The visuals and particle effects amazed everyone looking like a next-gen title at the same time. But, did Criterion create another winner like Burnout or is Black’s future truly gray?

Disclosure: We may earn a commission from links on this page

As expected, Black looks phenomenal. Taking the Burnout engine to the max, Criterion created large levels that span in all directions. The best looking part of Black would easily be the guns seeing how the game is all about them. Each part of these weapons move and feel like it should, creating the right weight and speed for the movement of the different weapon types. Belt clips on the weapons even swing around as you move showing off the extreme detail placed into each gun. There is a slight problem with the 5 different enemies faced in everyone level. It would have been nice to have some variety in the enemies, but that is the only real complaint here.

Every bullet stays loose in the game until it makes contact with a solid surface. Depending on the type of object you’re shooting at, they may even ricochet off the surface and shoot off in another direction. Even with the screen filled to the brim with bullets, the frame rate holds up very well. Explosions rival that of Burnout as the whole level is a giant fireworks display. Blowing up cars and barrels can create quite the show. Particle effects are mind blowing for the current generation. You can rip apart walls and buildings with ease thanks to your guns and grenades.

Black only has one volume setting…LOUD! During gameplay, the gunfire and explosions will rock a house down if blasted through your surround sound. Each gun has its own realistic sound that differs from most games. Usually you just get the Hollywood gun sound effects. Black however takes sounds from the guns actually fired at a range so the sound is as true to life as possible. The music is pretty for the few moments its heard at the beginning of each level before the action takes over. Voice talents are pretty good and tell the story rather well through the cut scenes. The bad part is that you have to watch these scenes and can’t skip them even if you played the level before.

In Black, you play as a Black Ops Special Forces soldier who is ordered to lead his team to take down a terrorist organization in Europe. When a mission goes wrong, your soldier was arrested by those who hired him and you will follow the story he tells in the interrogation room where all the cut scenes take place. Playing through a series of eight missions, you will unleash hell on your enemies with many different weapons ranging from sniper rifles, shotguns, assault rifles, pistols, and smaller machine guns. Most of the smaller weapons can be silenced to add a small stealth element to Black. For the most part, Black is just about running, gunning, and exploding everything in sight. Like Halo, you can only carry two at a time making your combination critical since you have no idea what is coming at you next.

If you could create a hybrid game with the realism of Rainbow Six and the speed of Halo, Black would be it. You will run through levels plowing clips of bullets into enemies, yet taking a few bullets will bring you low on health. You can pick up small health packs, but there are large health kits laying around you can pick up and use when needed. Body armor actually helps enemies since only a headshot will bring them down quickly. Shooting them in the chest would take about half a clip to bring them down. Their AI isn’t exactly the greatest, but they do close in on you at time and start some trouble against your efforts. While there isn’t much else to do other shoot everything, there are a bunch of secondary objectives to complete that will challenge you when you get on the Black Ops difficulty. Completing all goals in a level will be a challenge, but it is possible to do if you take the time to explore each massive level.

With only eight missions to play through, Black only lasts about 6-8 hours. You may want to play through twice to unlock all the weapons, but any more is just for the fun of blowing everything up. A huge downer is that there is no co-op play or even multiplayer to enjoy. With the highly destructible maps, Black would have been a blast to play with your friends in a death match. This wasn’t on Criterion’s agenda because they wanted to create the ultimate single player experience with a shooter that blew people away. Black is easily classified as gun porn for all shooter fans alike and is a must have for any PS2 and Xbox owner. Being written as a trilogy, many have high hopes for seeing Black in a next generation platform. We will have to wait and see where Criterion goes from here and what they have in store for their new baby in the future.

Graphics: 10
Sound: 10
Gameplay: 9
Creativity: 7
Replay Value/Game Length: 6
Final: 8.5
Written by Shawn Review Guide