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Black Review

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the bang-bang-bang-you're-dead-no-i'm-not dept.

154

Console First-Person Shooters have come a long way in the last few years. While titles like Resident Evil 4 and FarCry Instincts were moving the genre forward for gamers with joypads, Criterion Games was working on the FPS title simply called Black. Touted as 'gun porn', the game offers a fully destructible world where every bullet's trajectory is a story of its own. While such precision is laudable, the focus on the game's physics and mechanical feel has resulted in mediocrity elsewhere in the title. Read on for my impression of the good and the blah in Criterion's Black.

  • Title: Black
  • Developer: Criterion Games
  • Publisher: EA
  • System:PS2 (Xbox)
If you've seen any ads for this title, you know that the marketers are upfront about the realities of this game. Your purpose in Black is to shoot things. There's no mention of the plot (which is weak) or the graphics (which are only so-so for the current generation); The title offers gunplay as a form of zen experience, a purity of purpose which most games don't attempt. With good reason, I think. Black is essentially a moving shooting range with animated target dummies and scrolling scenery.

Before you get to the shooting, though, you'll need to get past the required plot elements. Live-action segments shot in a smoky briefing room introduce you to the forgettable backstory that punctuates each mission. You're a 'black' operative, pulled from a jail cell where you were awaiting judgment in the wake of some highly questionable actions. A superior officer grills your character under the swinging light of a naked bulb, and the missions you undertake are flashbacks; They are moments remembered by the men in the smoky room rather than ongoing events. Like everything not involving the trajectory of a bullet, this plot feels tacked on after the fact. The live action scenes are an excuse for your movement through the game rather than a force driving your advancement. Given the purpose of the title, I didn't expect much from the plot and so wasn't terribly disappointed. That said, I find it kind of sad that game companies are still willing to okay this thin-mint of a plot; Titles like Half-Life 2 and Halo have more than proven the value of frosting with your wheat.

Gameplay itself is the height of simplicity. Level maps allow for occasional stealth moments, but for the most part you'll know there are enemies about because they start shooting at you. Once you've identified the points in space you need to click on, you'll notice the numerous explosive crates and gasoline-filled vehicles nearby. In an effort to show off their work on the game's physics, the designers provided flammable cover for your enemies. After you've exploded the obvious targets, you can move out among the wreckage and take down the remaining stragglers. Aside from an understandable desire to flee a thrown grenade, the enemy AI is only slightly more advanced than that utilized by some witty mailboxes. Their most confusing move is the 'don't fire at the player' maneuver. While they're more than willing to take badly aimed shots at you from afar, if you do enough juking around up close they seem to get tired and give up. Firing a gun can be confusing when you're that dumb. Maybe they're confused by the boring sameness of the weapons. Despite the concentration on what happens once the trigger is pulled, the weapons themselves are all pretty much the same. You've got your AK, your shotgun, your silenced pistol, etc. None of them feel appreciably different, and the result is that you'll be switching weapons as soon as you find a new one just to keep your ammo levels up. Strategy is hard to come by on pretty much every level of this title.

Beyond that, the game's focus does result in some fairly impressive gunfights. Bullets spatter and spark off of every metal surfaces, throw up clods of dirt as you walk a burst into an enemy combatant, and chew convincingly through the scenery. The term 'fully destructible environment' is not just marketing; The AI never seems to fully grasp that hiding behind stuff isn't that helpful. When you can break up a downed tree into lumber with a few well-aimed bursts, it's easy to get to take out cowering bad guys. It's even easier when the terrorists shoot out their own cover, but that's another story. Other physical elements are just as convincing. Explosions bloom outwards with smoke and fire, and leave noticeable marks on the environment. Bodies fly heavenward when prompted by a grenade or vaporizing vehicle. Criterion chose to make virtually every other element of this game a secondary priority, and it shows. Black's physical environs are one of the most impressive in any shooter I've played.

That physical environment could have looked better, though. In the graphics department, the game looks merely adequate. Screenshots of the Xbox version seem quite polished, but I had to play the PS2 version. I sold my Xbox to offset my purchase of a 360, which won't play this game at all. The PS2 version of Black has the jaggies problem that plagues many titles on that console. Though that distracted from the experience, the quality of the textures throughout the title match up with the best the PS2 has to offer. The game also moved with a very crisp speed. Even when explosions were dominating the screen, there was little to no slowdown. My only real peeve was the monochromatic color pallete used in many of the environments. Urban areas all trend towards a grey sameness, and more naturalistic maps are dominated by simple greens and browns. On the PS2 the drab colors and jagged pixels made navigating through areas like dense jungle somewhat disorienting.

On the other hand, the aural elements of Black are extremely well developed. The detail found in actually firing a weapon is here, with every weapon managing to sound unique. Their watery action prevents a real differentiation, but you can always tell what your opponents are firing merely by the sound their weapons make. All the sound elements are well-crafted, resulting in very satisfying explosions and gunfights that at least sound exciting. Curiously, the occasional musical stings are nowhere near as polished. Ostensibly used to heighten tension, they come across as mostly annoying. After the first few levels I turned them off, and didn't miss them a bit.

Black is a title that could have captured some of the core of gaming fun. There is absolutely nothing wrong with a stripped down shooter that focuses on the gunplay element of the genre. I reviewed two games that captured that quite well at the end of last year, in fact. What makes me dislike this title over those is the immaturity of the game's language. Whereas Quake IV was a military game, focused on the business of shooting, Black feels more like some cynical kids playing at war. The 'bad guys' do dumb things because they're bad. The good guy always has a ton of ammo at hand, and there are copious explosions. Occasional radio chatter with HQ is so loud I can literally hear the sound of the radio's feedback echoing off of the surrounding terrain. The impression I get from the game is that this secret, stealthy agent is working way through the jungle when suddenly you hear "KSHHHHH AGENT BE AWARE OF POSSIBLE TARGETS INCOMING!!!" The fact that your opponents don't react to this loud and obvious element of their surroundings may indicate that you are listening to your radio through earbuds or headphones. I just think it means their AI wasn't programmed to react to that part of the game. The most interesting and telling element of the game's language, though, is that there is no 'use' button. You want to open a door? You shoot it. You want to destroy information on a laptop? You shoot it. Compared to the nuance of another 'black ops' title such as Splinter Cell, the childlike stupidity of the gameworld is almost embarrassing.

To me, that's what makes Black ultimately unappealing. I could tolerate the sameness of the weapons and the flimsy plot. A lack of sophistication can be appealing sometimes, but even Full Auto is a more grown-up game than this particular title. In focusing on one singular aspect of the game, Black's developers have created a title that falls short of its audience. Criterion's other well known franchise, Burnout, manages to bring the zen experience they were aiming for here to the racing genre. I applaud their effort to distill the FPS down to its most basic elements as well, but the result is an uninteresting mess that I have to work to enjoy. If you're an Xbox owner and just need something to take the edge off of the Halo 3 wait, Black will be a great rental for you. Otherwise, you can feel free to give this one a pass.

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154 comments

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fp? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14892849)

I don't think this'll get FP

fuck de white man, thoug

That Was A Short Review.... (5, Funny)

BRock97 (17460) | more than 8 years ago | (#14892853)

"Nothing to see here. Please move along."

Wow, it was that bad, eh?

Re:That Was A Short Review.... (1)

CmdrTaco (troll) (578383) | more than 8 years ago | (#14893278)

That summarizes 95% of Zonk's drivel.

Nothing to see here... (3, Funny)

Thud457 (234763) | more than 8 years ago | (#14894093)

"Black"? I thought that was "Doom 3"!



Be careful, you may be eaten by a grue.

This has possibilities (1)

abb3w (696381) | more than 8 years ago | (#14892867)

a fully destructible world

Ooooh! A chance for a Trial Run [qntm.org] ?

Re:This has possibilities (3, Funny)

SamSim (630795) | more than 8 years ago | (#14894535)

Feh. You Slashdotters and your shameless self-promotion.

...Wait, that's my site!

Blah, Blah, Blah (0)

JohnnyDoesLinux (19195) | more than 8 years ago | (#14892894)

I got to blow the crap out of everything.

'Nuff said.

Re:Blah, Blah, Blah (1)

Goldberg's Pants (139800) | more than 8 years ago | (#14894601)

The game has so many flaws it's not even funny. (No indication as to how far until the end of the missions, no map, no indicator as to where the secondary objectives are, no in-game save etc...)

And to see OPSM pimping it as "THE LAST GREAT PS2 GAME" just makes me sick. So many people are gonna fall for that, when Black is, at best a mediocre game, and at worse, one of the dullest FPS games ever released.

Re:Blah, Blah, Blah (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14894695)

"So many people are gonna fall for that, when Black is, at best a mediocre game, and at worse, one of the dullest FPS games ever released."

In other words...it's a Halo killer...

Thank you, thank you!

The who with the what now? (-1, Offtopic)

slashrogue (775436) | more than 8 years ago | (#14892929)

The value of frosting with your wheat? I lol'd. So terrible.

Are you playing the same game that I am? (3, Interesting)

Demon-Xanth (100910) | more than 8 years ago | (#14892930)

"Level maps allow for occasional stealth moments, but for the most part you'll know there are enemies about because they start shooting at you." ...after level three, I had taken down 345 enemies, 161 with head shots. And I'm not good at first person shooters when the shooting gets quick. If you proceed carefully, you can sneak up on the enemy more often than not. Scout out where they are. And the graphics are quite nice.

Remember, tracers work both ways.

subj (-1, Offtopic)

endrue (927487) | more than 8 years ago | (#14892942)

proven the value of frosting with your wheat

Rest assured that slashdotters are very aware of the value of frosting their wheat.

Give it up Zonk (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14892960)

No one cares about your game reviews. This is no place for them. Try applying for a job at Gamespot and quit annoying us.

Re:Give it up Zonk (-1, Troll)

Nerdfest (867930) | more than 8 years ago | (#14893072)

We've been through this before. Nerds are interested in programming, linux, hardware hacking, games, and pr0n. You don't need to compete in all the events to qualify though.

There needs to be a "Fun" score in every review. (5, Insightful)

Ectospheno (724239) | more than 8 years ago | (#14892967)

I have to disagree with this review as well as the other reviews on gaming sites. This game is fun. Period.

I don't give a rats ass about how the graphics compare to other shooters, whether or not every region of my brain is being properly stimulated, or if the plot is "weak". It's just a fun game. Why don't reviews talk about that anymore?

This game is fun in much the same way Mercenaries is fun and if you let reviews like this keep you from buying it then you are an even bigger idiot than the reviewers.

Fun != ... uh... anything standard. (5, Insightful)

torchdragon (816357) | more than 8 years ago | (#14893070)

Your scale of fun doesn't relate to my scale of fun. Some of us require cortex stimulation for fun. Blowing stuff up was cool in Mercenaries, Serious Sam 2, Serious Sam, Grand Thef Auto, Half-Life 2, Half-Life, Quake, Quake 2, Doom, Wolfenstein 3D, etc, etc. There are some of us now who would like to have a little more to our games than a spoon and a jar of frosting. Some of us actually want the cake.

Re:Fun != ... uh... anything standard. (3, Insightful)

NitsujTPU (19263) | more than 8 years ago | (#14893540)

I eat unfrosted cake all day. I like it that way, it's called work. When I get home, gun porn sounds cool, and fully destructible terrain makes the game that much more interesting, since, believe it or not, the real world is fully destructible.

Re:Fun != ... uh... anything standard. (1)

Captain Splendid (673276) | more than 8 years ago | (#14894563)

Have you tried Enemy Territory?

Did you read the review? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14893113)

Most of the review is spent bemoaning that he did not, in fact, find the game fun.

Re:There needs to be a "Fun" score in every review (0, Troll)

rk (6314) | more than 8 years ago | (#14893162)

Because if we talk about just in terms of "fun" it shows that we're reviewing mere games. Didn't you get the memo? Games aren't supposed to be fun anymore. They're high art now, like cinemahr.

Re:There needs to be a "Fun" score in every review (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14893243)

Most review I read consider this rate the fun factor as "gameplay"

Re:There needs to be a "Fun" score in every review (3, Insightful)

Lisandro (799651) | more than 8 years ago | (#14893398)

I don't give a rats ass about how the graphics compare to other shooters, whether or not every region of my brain is being properly stimulated, or if the plot is "weak". It's just a fun game. Why don't reviews talk about that anymore?

    Much agreed. I have the same issue with movie reviews - i mean, i can enjoy a well crafted, meaningful movie as much as i can enjoy turning my brain off to watch a B-action movie on TV or the latest summer blockbuster. Some reviewers seem to be insulted by the idea that simple entertainment can be, well, entertaining. I have no idea why it is so damn hard to find reviews that can ignore the cheezynees and focus on the fun value. Roger Ebert has been getting better at it though.

    Never mind. Commando [imdb.com] will always be sitting next to Citizen Kane and Dr. Strangelove in my DVD collection.

Re:There needs to be a "Fun" score in every review (3, Informative)

blanktek (177640) | more than 8 years ago | (#14893469)

I have to agree, halfway. This is a fun game. I've been playing it for a while. I stopped, however, because I felt the saving was too difficult. I'm not a hard-core gamer so I don't want to spend time doing over the same scenario. If you are a casual gamer, you will do this over and over. Sometimes, you cant save to disk until you finish several checkpoints. Again, some gamers like a challenge.

I think this game would have been great if it wasn't for this. The graphics are incredible and it would have been the perfect game to just start up and kick ass without getting into plots and reading dialog etc. Another annoyting thing: you have to watch an intro movie every time you start the level. Its like a minute long. It gets annoying.

Re:There needs to be a "Fun" score in every review (1)

pant (814786) | more than 8 years ago | (#14893943)

Limited saves are a copout for hardcore gamers to make themselves feel better. For the most part, the people that don't want them don't need them, and, for the most part, the people that want them need them, or at least want insurance so that they won't have to shoot their way through the same part of the level that is a bitch several times just to progress. Hard drive space isn't much of an issue to most people these days, especially to those who game.

It pisses me off to no end that the folks willing to spend 5+ hours a day to devote to a game cry for limited save options. By definition, games with save options are single player games. Why should they give much of a shit how I play a game offline?

saves a two-edged sword (2, Insightful)

GunFodder (208805) | more than 8 years ago | (#14894611)

I basically agree with you, but unlimited saves is a two-edged sword. Unlimited saves adds a non-fun element to gaming - saved-game management. If you save frequently enough then you get to the point where the UI hiccups when displaying your save game snapshots. So then you have to pick savegames to delete. And unlimited saves also opens the door to perfectionism, where you feel compelled to repeat a section until you feel you've done it well enough to make it worth saving. It can be quite frustrating to make it through a particularly harrowing section of an FPS, only to realize that you are low on health and ammo, so you feel compelled to try it again.

Re:There needs to be a "Fun" score in every review (1)

Damek (515688) | more than 8 years ago | (#14894444)

Because such a review is useless in a world where everyone's idea of "fun" is different.

A more involved review attempts to describe the experience and the reviewer's reaction to it. Good reviews try to do so in a way that let's the reader figure out if they would agree.

I thought this review was pretty good because it outlined what the game was about, some things the reviewer thought were good, some he thought were bad, and even better, he explained why he thought so, so I could decide to some extent whether I would agree with him or not, and thereby decide whether I care to go get the game or not.

If he'd just said "it's fun" - A) it seems to me like that wouldn't necessarily be accurate for him, and B) even if it was fun for him, just saying "I give it a thumbs up" is useless to everyone.

What Do You mean? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14893011)

People are chewing his ass for posting a game review, stating this is not the place? But in the last posted article "How to Clear/Find bottlenecks" in a gaming system is fine... You cant have one without the other... Geeks Play games... whats the problem?

My take on black (0, Redundant)

Data Link Layer (743774) | more than 8 years ago | (#14893024)

After playing black for 10 minutes I quit because it was an awful over hyped game.

Re:My take on black (1)

Kohath (38547) | more than 8 years ago | (#14893476)

This is a great example of useless criticism.

Why would anyone take you seriously if you only played it for 10 minutes? Does the hype for the game change the fun of the gameplay?

Re:My take on black (1)

Cheapy (809643) | more than 8 years ago | (#14893543)

The overhype of games leads to higher expectations. Surely for some people this hype will be true: The game will be great to them. But to others, the game isn't what they thought it was going to be and they leave deeply disappointed.

Re:My take on black (1)

Cheapy (809643) | more than 8 years ago | (#14893504)

"After playing black for 10 minutes I quit because it was an awful over hyped game."

Are you talking about Black or just games in general today?

Re:My take on black (1)

Data Link Layer (743774) | more than 8 years ago | (#14894031)

It would seem that companies are spending more money on marketing then game development. Maybe I just get bored of games easier or my expectations are way too high.

Emergent gameplay (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14893030)

The AI never seems to fully grasp that hiding behind stuff isn't that helpful.
 
...when the terrorists shoot out their own cover...

Seems to me, they realise that too well!

fun (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14893058)

yeah, this game is undeniably fun. The fluid shift in focus from distance to guns when reloading is cool, the slow motion heartbeat and fading to black and white when you are near death is cool, and it's overall a game that's gotten more of my play time lately than anything else except guitar hero. It's a fun shooter with enough realism and enough challenge to make me come back for more, something I can't say about a lot of games these days. But then again, I'm playing games to have fun, not to pick them apart and think about what they could have done better.

Re:fun (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14893733)

Thank you Criterion astroturfer guy for your candid opinion.

You shoot it (5, Funny)

Bromskloss (750445) | more than 8 years ago | (#14893066)

You want to open a door? You shoot it. You want to destroy information on a laptop? You shoot it.

You want to steal the information on that computer? You shoo... Gah!

Re:You shoot it (2, Insightful)

Josiah_Bradley (867692) | more than 8 years ago | (#14893808)

You want to open a door? You shoot it. You want to destroy information on a laptop? You shoot it.

That's how it is in real life. When a cop needs to open a locked door he blows the handle off with a shotgun.

I've Always hated running up to a locked door in a game and it means, oh no you can't go this way please follow the linear game play. Even in games like gta that are supposed to be open ended, you can not simply open a wooden door because it was locked. I think opening doors this way should be included into every new game. It opens a whole new level of game play and options. Like shooting down a big metaphorical door with a shotgun.

Which RE4 did he play? (3, Informative)

GweeDo (127172) | more than 8 years ago | (#14893069)

While titles like Resident Evil 4

Resident Evil 4 was a third person action/horror adventure game, not an FPS...

Re:Which RE4 did he play? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14893456)

That's where I stopped reading.

Re:Which RE4 did he play? (1)

duerra (684053) | more than 8 years ago | (#14893901)

Resident Evil 4 was a third person action/horror adventure game

I wonder if RE4 could accurately be described as second-person, since the camera is fixed and all, unlike what you would normally expect a third-person to be.

Re:Which RE4 did he play? (1)

Shadarr (11622) | more than 8 years ago | (#14894082)

RE4 is the most innovative first person shooter ever! It's so innovative it's neither first person nor a shooter!

Loving that 360? (3, Funny)

Khakionion (544166) | more than 8 years ago | (#14893108)

I had to play the PS2 version. I sold my Xbox to offset my purchase of a 360, which won't play this game at all.

Must be nice living in the next generation of gaming.

...oh, wait.

Re:Loving that 360? (0, Troll)

stupidfoo (836212) | more than 8 years ago | (#14893283)

Since Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter makes Black its bitch, I don't think anyone is really complaining.

For co-op fans out there: drool over GRAW:
4 player split screen co-op
2-16 player co-op online

Re:Loving that 360? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14893515)

You did not just talk smack about Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter???

GRAW is a graphical abortion.

Oh wait, you were bragging about the bogus marketing material released for the game like all the other 360 games...

The only thing notable about GRAW is the sickening overuse of every current pc graphics card effect TURNED UP TO ELEVEN!!!!

GRAW has hideous tearing with an terrible frame rate like most other of the crap on the 360.

And I don't have time to go into the massive texturing problems the game(or 360 has)...

Re:Loving that 360? (1)

stupidfoo (836212) | more than 8 years ago | (#14893858)

Yes I did!!! (does the extra punctuation add to my insightfulnes???)

Clearly you haven't played GRAW and most likely don't have a 360. But that's fine. There's nothing wrong with that. Trying to act like you do is strange, but oh well.

What bogus marketing? Please enlighten me. Online co-op was pretty damn good as was playing 4 player splitscreen co-op. So, what did they lie to me about? Everything in the game seems to be exactly as it was described.

Terrible frame rate? Tearing? Wrong on both accounts.

Re:Loving that 360? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14893979)

> Terrible frame rate? Tearing? Wrong on both accounts.

Oh come on!

Putting aside the overall graphics of the game:

1) The game is running with vsync off - obviously they can't maintain a constant framerate

2) Perhaps it has a good frame rate FOR A 360 GAME, but that isn't saying much

3) There are major texturing problems. Low rez textures all over the place. And there is something wrong with the anisotropic filtering, actually complete lack of, that other 360 games are plauged with. 360 developers must be struggling to get their games running at 30fps and 720p if they are being forced to ship games with such simple things turned off.

Shameful for a game that is supposed to be the showcase for the 360 and when the pc version has no such problems.

Re:Loving that 360? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14893797)

4 player split screen co-op

Ooohhhh, that's so GoldenEye circa 1998.

Re:Loving that 360? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14894121)

No, Goldeneye did not have four player co-op.

Deathmatch, yes. Co-op, no.

I did, however, really enjoy Goldeneye's 16 player online play.

Bad graphics?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14893124)

Maybe you should label your screenshots. Where did the screenshots come from? You say the graphics are bad, but then the shots accompanying the review are gorgeous. I don't know what to think. Either you put Xbox 360 screenshots with a PS2 review, or you're jaded beyond belief.

Which is it?

No Wonder The 360 Is Selling So Poorly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14893128)

With awesome looking games like this coming out on the PS2, along with RE4, the latest Burnout, God of War, and Shadow of the Colossus, it's no wonder no one outside of diehard Xbox owners care about the Xbox 360.

Nothing but props to the Sony engineers whose hardware was designed back in late 1997 making something that looks this good.

Along with DQVIII, games like this will keep us busy until the PS3 arrives in the June-September timeframe.

Re:No Wonder The 360 Is Selling So Poorly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14893454)

Black looks horrible on the PS2 compared to the Xbox version and especially compared to the 360 version. Black has the same problem on the PS2 that practically every other game on the PS2 has, jaggies everywhere. The screen shots that are posted above are clearly from the Xbox 360 version.

Re:No Wonder The 360 Is Selling So Poorly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14893553)

You have to be joking...

Just like Burnout the PS2 version spanks the Xbox version.

It is a good thing Microsoft shit canned the thing because the pathetic fillrate of the Xbox is just embarrassing in 2006.

Re:No Wonder The 360 Is Selling So Poorly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14893824)

That's funny considering that almost every review for this game mentions that the graphics on the PS2 version suck and are filled with jaggies, including the one written above.

Re:No Wonder The 360 Is Selling So Poorly (1)

Osty (16825) | more than 8 years ago | (#14894392)

Black looks horrible on the PS2 compared to the Xbox version and especially compared to the 360 version. Black has the same problem on the PS2 that practically every other game on the PS2 has, jaggies everywhere. The screen shots that are posted above are clearly from the Xbox 360 version.

What? There is no Xbox 360 version of Black, and according to the developers there won't be. It's up to Microsoft to make the game run in backwards compatibility on the 360, if they're going to do that at all. Most likely, the screens are high-resolution promo screens (rendered in-game, but at 4x the normal resolution), if they're not from the Xbox or PS2 version.

Re:No Wonder The 360 Is Selling So Poorly (1)

apoc06 (853263) | more than 8 years ago | (#14894434)

wow, people are so rampant to tear down another system that they make up stuff. there is no black for the x360, nor will there be one. criterion themselves said they will not release a 360 version unless microsoft starts making their titles backwards compatible. so obviously, you dont know WTF youre talking about.

if you actually knew a thing or two, nearly EVERY prominent review site says that graphically the two versions [xbox and ps2] are about equal. [reference reviews at ign or gamespot] the ps2 version isnt "plagued with jaggies all over the place" as people here claim. i admit that the ps2 has a slight bit of random slowdown, but its rare wnough that it definitely is not something worthy of ruining the game. the game is good, period. not the best ever, but a pretty good game overall. stop listening to the hype and just enjoy the game.

Re:No Wonder The 360 Is Selling So Poorly (1)

Thrymm (662097) | more than 8 years ago | (#14893577)

Try maybe end of this year, or later. No mid year unless you are getting the Japanese version.

i've played it (5, Interesting)

ActionAL (260721) | more than 8 years ago | (#14893142)

i've played it, and it's not as bad as reviewers make it out to be. the first 1 and 1/2 stages are pretty boring and uninspiring BUT! it gets much better.

i have to say i love playing some of the latter stages over and over again because sometimes some games create great classic fun scenarios that you find yourself wanting to play that part over and over again. black definately has those stages.

while black's graphics may be great to look at they truly add to the experience, there's a stage where u hide from a sniper behind gravestones and suddenly the gravestones are shattered by the bullet from the sniper! now you find yourself running and ducking for cover as gravestones shatter around you from sniper fire.

two words: mine field, you'll come across mine fields more than once in the game, and it is abundantly fun.

also have you ever wanted to take a heavy machine gun and just stand up like rambo and unload on an entire building, several cars, dozens of enemeies in front of you and have the whole screen explode and go insane for 15 minutes? well black can give you that.

for those types of scenarios, it's a fantasy well lived.

Re:i've played it (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 8 years ago | (#14893873)

also have you ever wanted to take a heavy machine gun and just stand up like rambo and unload on an entire building, several cars, dozens of enemeies in front of you and have the whole screen explode and go insane for 15 minutes? well black can give you that.

for those types of scenarios, it's a fantasy well lived.
I always get a kick out of levels where you get to man a turret/machine gun and just mow down the opposition.

It's kinda fun.

On the other hand, I didn't really enjoy Serious Sam 1 or 2. The waves of enemies came off as arbitrarily excessive. It's fun in short chunks, but too much was (IMHO) a bad thing.

Plot nazis (5, Insightful)

Cereal Box (4286) | more than 8 years ago | (#14893223)

I can't get over the fact that guys like the reviewer will condemn games for not having an intricate, engrossing plot on one hand and on the other hand cry about the lack of "fun" games. As far as I can remember, games like Pacman and Super Mario Brothers didn't really have much of a plot at all (far less than Black, I'm sure), but nobody cared then, and nobody cares now. They're fun games. If you're looking for mental stimulation in video games, you're not doing enough thinking in your day-to-day life. Graduate high school and enter the real world and maybe you'll come to appreciate mindless entertertainment.

A little personality goes a long way (2, Interesting)

wuffalicious (896539) | more than 8 years ago | (#14893694)

He also cites Half Life 2 as a good example of a game with a plot. If I recall, the plot of Half Life 2 was kind of flat as well. You're a guy who kicks ass, on a mission to take down an evil dictator and his alien chums. In a twist from the original Duke Nukem, you are a doctor. What made Half Life 2 more immersive than your average shooter wasn't the plot, so much as the characters. Especially with the care and patience Valve took to get the expressions just right on everyone's faces, the people you encountered in Half Life 2 ended up having much more personality than your average video game characters. That was one of the things that really impressed me about the game - all to often artists end up making everyone in the game look either constipated or slightly stoned.

Some games don't need plots. (3, Funny)

Demon-Xanth (100910) | more than 8 years ago | (#14893811)

When I saw reviews of games like Metropolis Street Racer, having people complain about the lack of plot, I just had to say "WTF?". It's a racing game. The only plot I care about is the land that the track is on.

If I ever see someone complain that Tetris doesn't have a plot, I don't know when the beating will end.

He cant even afford an xbox-1 (0, Troll)

cheekyboy (598084) | more than 8 years ago | (#14894307)

Hes so poor, he cant even afford an xbox thats less than $150.

Surely doing this review he could have at least RENTED an xbox, and if he had any friends
gone to their house.

reviews? (0, Offtopic)

jedimasta (854265) | more than 8 years ago | (#14893270)

Maybe I've been a teency bit out of it for some time, but when were game reviews valid content for SlashDot?

Max Payne (1)

OverlordQ (264228) | more than 8 years ago | (#14893309)

A superior officer grills your character under the swinging light of a naked bulb, and the missions you undertake are flashbacks; They are moments remembered by the men in the smoky room rather than ongoing events.

Wasn't Max Payne the exact same way? Everything but like the very last level was you being interrogated in a jail cell, and then the final level was you running around the jail shooting things?

Re:Max Payne (1)

oneils (934770) | more than 8 years ago | (#14893920)

No. There were no interrogations in jail in Max Payne.

Re:Max Payne (1)

OverlordQ (264228) | more than 8 years ago | (#14893982)

DOH you're right, I was thinking of The Punisher

Re:Max Payne (1)

oneils (934770) | more than 8 years ago | (#14894149)

Cool, is the Punisher any good?

Re:Max Payne (1)

engagebot (941678) | more than 8 years ago | (#14894255)

Dead to Rights possibly? Didn't have the 'swinging' lights like max payne, but there was a whole prison sequence.

Re:Max Payne (1)

Aptiva (846539) | more than 8 years ago | (#14894300)

No, I'm afraid it wasn't

Uh, hello...it's EA... (0, Troll)

trepan (593758) | more than 8 years ago | (#14893335)

I can't say I'm shocked to learn that EA produced crap. When was the last time they cared about anything but the money they can make with a quickly produced game?

(It could be that I'm just jaded that there are still so many bugs in Battlefield 2)

Did he play it for more than 5 minutes? (3, Interesting)

dinskeep (657760) | more than 8 years ago | (#14893373)

"I applaud their effort to distill the FPS down to its most basic elements as well, but the result is an uninteresting mess that I have to work to enjoy." He applauds their goal but criticizes their success at achieving that goal? That doesn't make sense. Like he said, this game is aimed at people who just like to shoot the crap out of everything in sight. It's great for that. Plots are for books and movies. I also question his assessment that the weapons are boring and all the same. I'm guessing he's never fired a real gun. As you'd expect, the AK-47 is powerful but not very accurate; the HK G36 is both; the submachine gun is neither. The sniper rifle, rocket launcher, and and grenade launcher are fun for their special purpose. Maybe he played it on "easy" and never got the first level, and is pissed?

Re:Did he play it for more than 5 minutes? (1)

nurd68 (235535) | more than 8 years ago | (#14893659)

Of course, it ticked me off that the weapons models were wrong. Just taking the AK:

(1) I've never seen a left hand eject AK, let alone picking one up randomly.
(2) Silencer? What?
(3) I've never seen a 60 round box mag for an AK. 50, 75, and 100, sure, but never 60, and not as an issued thing.
(4) 3 round burst AK's are pretty rare.

Don't get me started on the other guns.

Re:Did he play it for more than 5 minutes? (2, Interesting)

deacon (40533) | more than 8 years ago | (#14893941)

Don't forget the copper jacketed lead bullets sparking when they hit things.

If they wanted to be realistic, they would give you loads where every other bullet was a tracer round.

Israeli defense doctrine is to load a magazine so that tracer rounds alternate with regular rounds. In operation, the personnel aim by walking the tracers onto the target.

Linky:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uzi_submachine_gun [wikipedia.org]

Re:Did he play it for more than 5 minutes? (1)

nurd68 (235535) | more than 8 years ago | (#14894074)

No one said that they are copper jacketed lead. Indeed, with an AK used by terrorists, they're likely Wolf, which is (if I remember) a steel-washed copper jacket, and they do spark sometimes when they hit the backstop at the range.

I think US doctrine is every third round, but I'm not sure.

Besides, remember - a lot of these are being taken from terrorists, so who knows what their combat doctrine is.

As Gun Porn, this sucks (1)

kahrhoff (580438) | more than 8 years ago | (#14893411)

A few things, Suppressors don't always suppress. AK's eject out the right in real life, AK's don't lock back on an empty mag. Lots of mistakes beyond this (these immediately come to mind) for someone seriously looking for gun porn.

Re:As Gun Porn, this sucks (1)

Mancat (831487) | more than 8 years ago | (#14893717)

I didn't see any AK-47 in the screenshots, but yes.. Why is the gun ejecting to the left in a right-handed configuration?

It would be nice to see a game implement stuff like first round pop in a suppressor. But if a game was that realistic, you'd also have to remove the suppressor once it's dry, wet it, and start again.

So this game is not really gun porn if you're a real gun nerd. Yeah it might be gun porn for Counter-Strike players, but what do they know about guns anyway?

Gah! (5, Funny)

sootman (158191) | more than 8 years ago | (#14893412)

"The term 'fully destructible environment' is not just marketing; The AI never seems to fully grasp that hiding behind stuff isn't that helpful. When you can break up a downed tree into lumber with a few well-aimed bursts, it's easy to get to take out cowering bad guys. It's even easier when the terrorists shoot out their own cover..."

Same thing used to happen to me playing Space Invaders.

My take (5, Interesting)

payndz (589033) | more than 8 years ago | (#14893452)

I actually returned it (and swapped it for the Seinfeld season 4 DVDs, which are almost infinitely more entertaining) because I'd seen everything there was to see in three days.

The main problems I had with it were:
* Bizarre definition of 'headshots' - sometimes I could hit a guy five or six times in the face with an M-16 from close range, and he'd just shrug it off rather than dying.
* For a game that was touted as being like a Hollywood blockbuster (I was thinking Commando, Rambo, Die Hard, The Rock), there was a distinct lack of gleeful mayhem and carnage - it very rapidly became 'shoot each guy 30 times to make sure they die. Unless they're armoured, in which case shoot them 60 times.'
* Unskippable (and boring, and irrelevant to gameplay) FMV before each level - if for whatever reason you power down before finishing a level, you have to sit through the whole thing again next time you play. And unskippable credits? Which are just white text on a black background? What the fuck is that all about?
* Several levels were tedious attrition rather than all out action. I hated the bridge level. For a start it was almost the same as a level in some WW2 FPS I played last year. And the gameplay was just 'advance slightly. Take cover. Deal with bad guys hiding behind cars. Wait as more bad guys run up to take their places. Advance slightly. Take cover. Deal with bad guys hiding in a bus. Wait as more bad guys run up to take their places. Advance slightly. Take cover. Deal with bad guy with rocket launcher shooting at you from some angle you can't quite figure. Advance slightly...'

I was hoping it would be the Burnout Revenge of FPS games. Unfortunately, it was just the Burnout. Wait until Black 2 or 3, and they'll probably have got the right amount of fun into the game. But all the tedious advance/cover/shoot stuff made it exactly the same as any other 'realistic' console FPS.

If you're going to have a game that's 'gun porn', why not treat it like an OTT action movie and just throw in hundreds of disposable, easily-killed goons coming at you from all angles a la Arnie's Commando? I mean, Jesus, why does it take 12-15 bullets to the chest just to put one generic bad guy down? I want a hilarious blood-spurting ragdoll death spasm if I hit him in the toe!

Re:My take (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 8 years ago | (#14894762)

* Bizarre definition of 'headshots' - sometimes I could hit a guy five or six times in the face with an M-16 from close range, and he'd just shrug it off rather than dying.

People don't always die from M16 headshots. Now, use something heavier, like an FN, and there's no question. But it's quite possible if you don't get the target right, that a headshot wouldn't stop them.

NO, NO, NO, NO! (1)

nurd68 (235535) | more than 8 years ago | (#14893636)

Above review is bad and stupid.

My review:
"Piss poor save point design make this game unplayable".

(1) Bought this game when it came out.
(2) Tried to return 3 hours later.
(3) Went through corporate customer service to finally get the store to take it back.

Problems:

(1) Game marketed for people 17+ (M rating). Not really a problem, but....
(2) Levels are so long that some of them take almost an hour to complete - unless you die.
(3) If you die, you go back to a checkpoint (level 2 has 6 of them, each one taking about 15-20 mins each).
(4) However, you cannot save game at checkpoints, only between levels.
(5) This means you need multiple contiguous hours in order to be able to play this game.
(6) I don't know of most folks 17+ that can play games for 3+ hours straight on a regular basis. I know I can't.

Re:NO, NO, NO, NO! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14894092)

You just described Halo...

Black Review ? (4, Funny)

smoker2 (750216) | more than 8 years ago | (#14893681)

After we've just read this ( Blizzard CEO Lays Gay Guild Issue To Rest ) surely this should be entitled " Review of Colour " ?

Red Faction (1)

Daetrin (576516) | more than 8 years ago | (#14893702)

the game offers a fully destructible world where every bullet's trajectory is a story of its own.

By "fully destructible" do they/you mean in the same manner as Red Faction? Can i blast my way through any wall i choose rather than using the door? Can i did giant holes in the ground with rockets for other players/NPCs to fall in? Can i find secret rooms with cool stuff by tunneling through rock in a similar manner?

I thought Red Faction was great, if Black is similar to that in the gameplay elements i'd probably be interested, otherwise i'll most likely pass.

Re:Red Faction (1)

Warlock7 (531656) | more than 8 years ago | (#14894185)

Not to that extent. You can blow your way through certain plaster walls, but not the tunneling like in Red Faction...

Re:Red Faction (1)

Gogo0 (877020) | more than 8 years ago | (#14894390)

Unfortunately not.

In purchasing this game, I was hoping for sort of a F.E.A.R. + Red Faction kind of experience. It is kind of a little brother of that collaboration. Not bad, and it takes some time to get there (level 1 is so short, and level 2 is basically an FPS version of Metal Gear Solid 3), but it picks up on level 3.

Mind that it is only $40 MSRP, so if you have a few bucks to spare and are looking for something just to occupy some time, its a decent buy.

Maybe you make too many stupid assumptions. (1)

Warlock7 (531656) | more than 8 years ago | (#14893758)

The impression I get from the game is that this secret, stealthy agent is working way through the jungle when suddenly you hear "KSHHHHH AGENT BE AWARE OF POSSIBLE TARGETS INCOMING!!!" The fact that your opponents don't react to this loud and obvious element of their surroundings may indicate that you are listening to your radio through earbuds or headphones. I just think it means their AI wasn't programmed to react to that part of the game.
While the rest of us understand that a "stealth" agent would be wearing earbuds on a covert mission like the one in the game.

This game does FPS right. They didn't add in all the unecessary crap like you get in Perfect Dark.

The attention to detail in the layout of this game is great.

Re:Maybe you make too many stupid assumptions. (1)

But Who's Counting (703446) | more than 8 years ago | (#14894606)

I think you misunderstood him. If he's listening to it through earbuds, then how come it's so loud that he can hear it echo off the walls of the environment? At the very least, it betrays a definite lack of attention to detail.

The game is actually pretty good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14893795)

Of all the FPS's released this is actually one of the better ones. Graphics are as good as it gets for 480p on an xbox. The reviewer used a PS2 which apples to apples always looks worse than the xbox, complete with all the problems the reviewer described. Graphically, this title stood out by realistic use of smoke, flames, lighting with bits a debris flying around. It felt like an interactive action movie. When enemies are strongly backlit, all you see is faint silhouettes which slowly emerge as they approach. I don't need a good story for a FPS, but I wish you could skip the scenes you are forced to sit through. My complaints are the game is somewhat short and I expect multiplayer modes with my FPS games.

The game must have damaged the reviewer... (1)

LiquidAvatar (772805) | more than 8 years ago | (#14893838)

That said, I find it kind of sad that game companies are still willing to okay this thin-mint of a plot; Titles like Half-Life 2 and Halo have more than proven the value of frosting with your wheat.

What does that even mean? Frosting with your wheat? Is he talking about some twisted yet seductive frosting sandwich [mnstate.edu] , the likes of which can only be safely handled via robot? I can't even tell what kind of value judgement he is trying to levy against (for?) Half-Life 2 and Halo!

No no no... (1)

misfit13b (572861) | more than 8 years ago | (#14894271)

He meant frosting with your MEAT [go.com] .

Re:The game must have damaged the reviewer... (1)

engagebot (941678) | more than 8 years ago | (#14894302)

Granted, it was a crappy reference, but he's making a reference to the breakfast cereal Frosted Mini-Wheats. In other words, users like the little sugary extra with their normal bland whatever.

has its moments (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14893886)

i've read a couple of reviews on this game, and i can see where the reviewers are coming from. At fist the plot sounded cool and I couldn't wait to find out where it was going, but now later in the game it's just an annoying sequence that i can't skip so i can get to the gunning. I'm not wholy sure who I'm shooting at, or why. Objectives just kind of pop up in between me killing things and running around. There is no interaction with the world other than with bullets. But, all in all, it is a fun game! This game comes across as something like Fable for me. Fable was touted to be the best RPG ever, and I was hoping to see the game that would put Morrowind to shame. But then it came out very neutered and felt held back from its true potential, but it was fun and enjoyable nonetheless. If Black were fleshed out with more plot and interaction with the environment I think it'd blow me away. Instead it feels like it came out a few months too early or something. But, when you're down in a trench with a sniper firing on you and you finally blow his head off, only to have a rocket launcher start blowing shit up all around you and guys running up on your flanks, and the bullets flying everywhere, well, it has its moments... my first reaction to the game was that it was a lot like goldeneye for the N64. Sorry, but even with Half-Life 2, Goldeneye is still my gold standard for FPS :) Only, Black doesn't have multiplayer. Plot aside, the missing multiplayer segment for it is what really kills it for me. Killing nameless european militants can be a gas, but really what i want to do is shoot my friends with an rpg, man, don't you understand this?! I have the XBox version, and I found the visuals very impressive. One of the first boards is a boarder crossing. You start off on high ground and have to make your way down and across the boarder. When I first saw it I thought it was all just background shots, but the I turned a corner and realized that the depth I had seen was really there, and I had to walk down into it... very nice. All in all, though, it's a renter, not a keeper. Unless you have a mod chip, of course ;)

Poor choice of title? (1)

dtremenak (893336) | more than 8 years ago | (#14893995)

Does anyone else hate it when companies name games things like "Black"? Look, guys, if I want to see something about a game, I should be able to Google for the title. Searching for "Black" is not going to get me anything about this game. I even have to go to the second page if I search for "Black +game", because of the proliferance of "Black & White" and Half-Life ("Black Mesa") references. Not to mention that I'd feel more than a little stupid walking into a store and asking "Do you have Black in stock?"...I'd expect to be directed to the paint isle. It can't possibly be that expensive to come up with a unique title, and it makes it a lot easier for people to recognize, find, and purchase your product.

Re:Poor choice of title? (1)

Gogo0 (877020) | more than 8 years ago | (#14894400)

Try searching for Driver. Yeesh!

Target for banning (1)

sl70 (9796) | more than 8 years ago | (#14894227)

I guess this one will be banned in Tennesee [slashdot.org] .

yeah right. Here's MY review... (0)

t0mt0m (902935) | more than 8 years ago | (#14894594)

This game was simply awesome. I loved Halo and Half-Life 2 but neither one can COME CLOSE to the action in this game. Seriously - Black has all out gun fights that you are _really_ into. Kind of like some choice Halo moments only the entire game long.

The graphics were incredible on Xbox. Probably one of the best looking games ever for the current generation, and I've played all the 'best' ones.

I have yet to play a game with better sound. I have the full surround setup (as any self-respecting FPS fan should) and it was unbelievable. The explosion s were worth the price of admission alone.

Length was about right. Not too long not too short. Farcry Instincts was longer, but had a good story so I didn't mind the length. But, that game had a LOT of slow parts in the jungle while you are getting from point A --> point B. Black condenses all that action into a bunch of individually lengthy levels.

Obviously the plot only exists to setup the action - we aren't supposed to stick it on the same level as HL2 or Splinter Cell (a whole different genre anyway). You know that going in. I will say the fact it had no sci-fi, fantasy, or alien references was a welcome change!

The feel, sound, graphics, damage of the weapons were all unique, especially the audio. For example, the kick and travel of the AK was completely different than the G36C or MAC10. Maybe the reviewer just used one weapon through the whole game...

I recommended this game to all my buddies who love action and just want to unwind with some good ol' fashioned down-home killin'. Do yourself a favor and play it on an Xbox with surround - a whole different experience.

Re:yeah right. Here's MY review... (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 8 years ago | (#14894745)

Thank god I've got an xBox. I'm looking forward to trying out some of the weapons I've used in real life, to see how good a job they did. Hope they have some of the FN series ...

Anyone remember (1)

Kelz (611260) | more than 8 years ago | (#14894610)

Red Faction? Man I really wish they implemented that system a bit better. Geomod FTW.

Pearl Jam Black (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 8 years ago | (#14894718)

when I get my copy, I'm gonna crank my Pearl Jam CD up to 11 and play Black on my speakers while I blow away all the opposition.

I don't like FPS, but this one sounds FUN!

And the worst part is... (1)

Hiawatha (13285) | more than 8 years ago | (#14894750)

The game's way, way too short. I was shocked at how little game there was to this game. I remember how long it took to play all the levels of both Halo games. Black has maybe one-third as many maps. Just as you really get good at it, it's over. What a drag.
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