"Wham, Bam, Shot You Ma'am" school of design
gives you plenty to destroy, but Criterion actually
gives the player too much, too fast and its a lesser
game because of it. That being said, it's a tour de
force entry for Criterion in the FPS market. by
click here to read our other Black Review
7, 2006 - Black
is a one-trick pony. It's a pony that does amazing
tricks but we all know that a pony show has limited
entertainment value, not to mention that there's usually
quite a mess to clean up afterwards.
would be an absolutely fantastic game if it only lasted
half-an-hour. There's an old show-biz axiom that states:
Leave them wanting more. The problem with Black is
that it starts off in high gear and has nowhere else
to go from there. It's packed with action and some
of the best explosions ever presented on the PS2/
Xbox, but after an hour of play you've seen everything
the game has to offer - twice.
is a secret terrorist-busting squad. Like SWAT, its
name is an acronym, but from here on in I'm not going
to capitalize all the letters. It will just be known
as black because I'm just too lazy to reach for the
Caps Lock button. I'm also too lazy to tell you what
the letters stand for. I can't remember if it was
even explained in the game but in any case I'm not
dragging my fat ass all the way home to look it up.
Sure I could look it up on net but then I would have
to close one of my windows containing free porn. How
I wish I could get a job reviewing porn instead of
videogames. At least I would be doing something that
I'm really good at.
All I can tell you about Black is that they answer
to no one. They are so secretive that even the American
government denies their existence. They protect the
interest of America around the world and can use as
much force as necessary to get the job done. The game
begins with one member, Kelly, being tortured and
interrogated by a terrorist organization known as
the Seventh Wave. Missions take place leading up to
this ugly situation. The entire story is short and
sweet - in a manner of speaking. It's like a ten-minute
wedding in which not much is said but the job got
done without a lot of useless hoopla. I can really
appreciate not having to sit through a lot of lame
cutscenes, especially if they aren't relevant to the
storyline. There are lots of really good games where
I don't even pay attention to the storyline, but then
the journalist in me kicks in and I force myself to
watch. But I have to acknowledge that the gamer in
me could care less about some of these cutscenes and
I have to assume there are many gamers out there like
me. It's up to the developer to make them interesting.
At least Criterion Games opted to keep the action
is a first-person shooter that takes place in mostly
abandoned warehouses and factories. The areas are
huge and there is plenty of action as the enemy will
have swarms of security and general thugs deposited
in pockets within these installations. These environments
conveniently explain why barrels of explosive chemicals
are so prominent. Like I said, the explosions in this
game are amazing and there always seem to be a can
of danger in proximity to the enemy. It's like there
is a directive from head office stating that all newly-hired
terrorists must congregate at the nearest explosive
material container. It makes for a great cinematic
effect but after a while it just seems so forced that
it takes away from the realism.
are not very intelligent, as you could already tell.
It's only their sheer numbers that really pose a threat
to you. They don't take cover, except behind barrels
of explosives like the coyote from the roadrunner
cartoon. They always expose their heads which gives
you a better opportunity at making headshots.
will be restricted, at times, by the weapons that
are available. The most coveted of weapons are ranged
weapons such as the sniper rifle and the M16, but
these are rare as they won't always be up for grabs.
Other weapons include a shotgun, Uzi, Mac10 MP5, grenades
and rocket launcher. The grenades cause the enemies
to scatter but you can blow them up quickly by shooting
them with your gun.
can only carry two weapons with you and you'll have
to do your best with what's offered although you always
seem to get the right weapon at the right time. It
feels like you're being patronized, like Big Daddy,
or in this case Big Mama, is looking out for you by
getting you the weapons needed to clear a specific
area and take care of a situation. All of the guns
seem very similar. They only really vary in their
range, but when used within their range they are very
accurate and highly effective. Ammo is plentiful as
you can scavenge it from dead enemies.
guns and explosives leave their mark on the environment.
Whether it's shattered windows or a grouping of holes
on a plasterboard wall, there is a sense of connection
between you, your gun and the environment - so why
not destroy it? There are reload animations for all
of the guns which looks very realistic with shell
casings covering the floor when you empty them. The
sound effects of the guns take center stage. They
are incredibly powerful and loud, almost as loud as
the colorful explosions that they help to create.
The gun models themselves are extremely detailed and
display recoil animations commensurate with each gun's
couldn't be much more simplified. The character's
moves are limited. There are no jumping or roll moves.
There isn't even an action button to open doors. You
simply use your weapons to blast your way into new
areas leaving bodies and chunks of metal and concrete
in your wake. Black just reeks of testosterone.
are only 8 levels and they take about an hour each.
There are secondary objectives such as collecting
things and blowing up other things. Replaying the
game, even on higher difficulty settings, won't result
in much replay value. With no other modes or multi-player
capabilities, Black will begin to fade to black after
one or two plays. As a PS2 owner you'll be blown away
by the visuals and destruction, as an Xbox owner you'll
recognize a very cool game (albeit) short one, when
you see it. As an Xbox 360 owner, you'll be extremely
annoyed that you currently cannot play it on your
shiny new system. Let's hope that changes. Criterion
is definitely off to a great start here, with their
first non-Burnout game in years and considering the
complete genre switcheroo, they should be commended
for their efforts. I can't wait to see what they can
pull off on the next gen systems and hope they continue
the Black franchise for years to come.
Action BLACK operatives do not hide in shadows or
sneak behind walls waiting for the right time to
engage their foethey destroy the wall, the enemy,
and anything else that gets in their way.
Guns Are the StarsAn explosive arsenal of bleeding-edge
weaponry lets you experience the awe-inspiring power
of the world's most exotic lethal firepower.
You Can See It, You Can Shoot It
· Reduce cities to rubble in a world where
virtually nothing is impervious to your bullets.
Your Blood Pumping: Adrenaline is your friend. Visceral,
destructive action sucks you deep into the gameplay
as you blaze and blast your own path through open-ended
Kills: Use destructible worlds and explosive objects
to take out enemies in cover, frag multiple enemies
at once, or just wreak massive destruction for its