On the tidy lawns outside the Los Angeles Exposition Park, FHM asks one of the countless long-legged females handing out drinks to the world’s gaming press why they’re all wearing glasses. “Oh, it’s because there a lots of geeks here and we’re trying to fit in!” Another waitress leans over and gives her a ticking off: “Don’t say that. It’s because we’re supposed to be intelligence officers. Cocktail?”
Activision spared no expense as they revealed Call of Duty: Black Ops multiplayer details (out November 9) in LA. On a fittingly enormous IMAX screen, the crowds whooped, cheered and - slightly excessively - hugged each other as developers Treyarch talked through the stand-out new features they’ve added to Infinity Ward’s much-loved Modern Warfare 2 multiplayer mode.
The New Maps
While you can expect the shipped product to arrive with a feast of exciting maps, the four on show in LA were 'Cracked', 'Radiation', 'Summit' and 'Launch'.
Your standard ‘civilisation gone shit’ map, with an inner-city location reduced largely to rubble: burned-out cars, blown-out windows and anarchic graffiti. Lovely.
A reasonably intact Soviet nuclear facility, but definitely a sniper’s delight, with plenty of nifty hiding places as well as an underground tunnel system.
A snowy, open arena in which larger weapons get a chance to spread their wings. Wind blasts through the central command centre, while treacherous walkways lead to higher vantage points.
A much tighter map, where ammo’s exchanged between tall metallic structures surrounding a missile launch pad. Excellently, you can initiate blast-off yourself.
After research told them that some 30-40% of people that play through the single player CoD modes never touch the multiplayer, they’ve introduced a Multiplayer Tutorial option. Essentially it just let’s you practice multiplayer maps and gameplay modes against the computer AI, but it’s a clever way of convincing people of the many joys of multiplayer without the anxiety of getting sniped by a pre-pubescent racist.
Reckon you’re good at Call of Duty? Well, now you can bet on it, with a new in-game currency that you generate every time you play standard multiplayer mode. When you’ve got enough, it can be used to buy weapons, perks, killstreaks and equipment. To speed things up, there’s more on the table and more quickly in any of the three ‘Contract’ time challenge modes; ‘Mercenary’ (based on kills and killstreaks), ‘Operation’ (awards team play) and ‘Specialist’ (for unorthodox tasks requiring special skills).
But the really juicy new addition is ‘Wager’ mode; a high-risk, big-reward option in which you can put your CoD points on the table and bet on yourself finishing in the top three players. The modes:
Sticks and Stones: Armed only with explosive crossbows, ballistic knives and tomahawks, accuracy and timing is key. Kills with crossbows and knives generate points, while slaying someone with the tomahawk leaves them bankrupt. Haha.
One in the Chamber: Each player has three lives and a single bullet. If you miss, you’re left with only your hands to melee your way out of danger. Very. Tense.
Sharpshooter: Players start with a randomly generated weapon, then all switch, simultaneously and after a random amount of time, to another.
Gun Game: FHM’s favourite. Everyone starts with pistols, but you get upgraded with every kill. There are 20 to work through, ending with the ballistic knife and explosive crossbow. They’re not the best weapons, but that’s the point: you’re left vulnerable to the tiers immediately below, who’ll be frantically trying to end you with assault rifles and grenade launchers. It’s ace.
Killstreaks, New Weapons, Categories, Customisation
New killstreaks include the RC-XD remote control killing car, anti-aircraft (SAM) turrets, napalm strikes and the ominous-sounding gunship attacks. Awesome new additions to the arsenal are the ‘Death Machine’ (think the gatling gun from Predator), and the ‘Grim Reaper’ (a four-pronged rocket launcher).
In the‘Create a Class’ mode, there are new Tier 1 gear categories, making it much easier to identify the weaponry and likely gameplay tactics of your opponents. There’s the minimalist mercenary, Lightweight, then Scavenger, who wears a multi-pocketed jacket to pick up other enemies’ weapons, the Ghost – invisible to Spy Plane radar and runs around in a Fraggle Rock-y ghillie suit - and the Explosives Expert, who, sensibly, sports a flak jacket.
New customisation options let you create clan badges and cammo patterns, change the colour of the reticule on our gun and generally tinker with ways to make yourself look like a badass. Finally, the long-coveted Theatre Mode allows taggable kills and screenshots from first person, third person and free-roaming cameras.
The countdown begins. Call of Duty: Black Ops lands November 9