Black Reader Review
A hush falls over the crowd as the pianist walks onto the stage and seats himself, in what promises to be the defining moment of his promising young career. He looks focused as his hands touch the keys for the first time, a few notes ring out with startling beauty. The audience can tell already this is going to be something special. Then, without warning, he puts a hand on top of the piano, takes out a hammer, and starts hammering until every bone is broken. The following show is a disaster, the audience leaves in disgust, wondering all the while, "Why did he do that?"
Black. Its a game with allot of promise. Its setting and premise is hardly anything new, but the execution is so damn slick that itís hard to care. Mention must go out to the gorgeous graphics, which put some Xbox 360 games to shame. There is a boys-own adventure feeling to the missions, like reading commando comics as a kid. The weapons are loud, the explosions spectacular and plentiful, the enemy AI is smarter than average, its a fast moving, full-auto barrage of a game. At least, it is for the first couple of levels.
The problem is that Black seems to intentionally stop being fun very suddenly, and this is down to a single, easily correctable fault. Namely the enemies and their incredible hardiness. Where once you would flick over to single shot occasionally to hit that far-off baddie, it soon becomes a case of forgetting about full-auto fire completely. The combat becomes longer-range as the game progresses, and killing someone at that range with the assault rifles, (The guns you will be using most) is a slow and tedious task, unless you go for the headshot. This becomes the routine distressingly quickly. Bad guys show up, carefully line up headshot, fire. Line up another headshot, boom, another headshot, and another, and another. The only deviation to be made is if there is an explosive item nearby them. (And there are many) Special mention must go to the white masked shotgun guys. These cheery chappies can take a full clip from the AK47 to put down, and will hardly even flinch while you empty the mag at them.
Is this really the best we can do? Black makes an effort to be as movie-like as possible, and overwhelmingly succeeds, until you try to kill someone. Why can we not have enemies that go down easier, but are more plentiful? Or even a smaller health bar for the player, so they canít plow through the game too easily?
It seems cruel to mark Black down too much for a single fault, but thatís just what I intend to do. Itís a game that cripples itself, sucks the joy out of itself, and makes itself average. And lifeís too short to be playing something average.
Criterion had a noble aim to kick some life into the FPS genre, but succumbed to some age-old problems. Letís hope they see the light for Black 2!
4 / 10