Black Reader Review
Black is gun pornography. There is no subtlety; it flops it’s cheap thrills out from the very start and grinds your face in them until your clip is empty. And what thrills they are: visceral, brutish weapons, stunning visuals, and vast environs, most littered with explosives, filled with armies of troops suitably ignorant of that fact. Sound familiar? Of course it does - this is what nearly every movie tie-in in the last 10 years has aimed to achieve. The difference is this time it has been done well.
Black’s world is a blank canvas for violence. From abandoned mental asylums to oil refineries, these are the most polished shooting galleries this console generation. Polished, yet so destructible that they can be left virtually unrecognisable through bullet-holes and bloodstains. Half the fun is surveying the scene after a fierce battle - leaving these shotgun sandboxes in tatters with a calling card of piled bodies and shrapnel.
The guns themselves have received as much love as the locations. The sound in particular is noisily primeval, and gives you great confidence that when you storm into a room, you’re going to have the biggest, baddest, ugliest weapon in there. This is a game that promotes Hollywood heroism, a one-man whirlwind destroying entire armies before breakfast. Tactics? No thanks, I’ve got gum.
Enemies are plentiful and, though they use cover well, are not particularly difficult to defeat, on Normal setting at least. Ammunition is never in short supply, leaving you to worry about the more important tasks of aiming and firing your bullet-hose.
There are some great graphical flourishes – explosions in particular look wonderful, especially if accompanied by flying bodies, and low health is indicated by a woozy, blurred slow-motion effect which, while becoming something of a cliché, is terrifically useful.
One criticism is the placement of savegame checkpoints. While usually reliable, there is at least one instance where the first 15 minutes of a level contains no save points, and as such is extremely tedious to replay. On the whole it is a preferable system to quick-saving, which removes the element of danger, but it needs to be flawlessly implemented, which here it is not. The plot barely deserves words written about it, suffice to say it is dire but inobtrusive.
There is a great variety here, without resorting to vehicles or gimmicks, and in essence it distils everything that makes FPSs fun and is not shy about flaunting it. Black is an antidote to patient, ponderous stealth-em-ups and achieves what every FPS should aim to do: make destruction fun.
8 / 10