Call of Duty points also enable two cool new mechanics, the first of which is contracts. These are like the many multiplayer challenges that reward you with experience points for completing combat goals, only you have to pay to complete them. If you do so within the allotted time period, you receive a tidy payout. For example, if you pay 50 points for the stab-a-guy-in-the-back contract and make good, you'll earn 100 points for your troubles. If time expires before you get stabby, you're out 50 points. Tougher contracts cost more, but they also have bigger payouts (get five headshots without dying, cost: 250 points; payout: 3,500 points and 3,500 experience). You can have up to three contracts active at a time across three different categories, and the available contracts change regularly, potentially ensuring a good amount of variety as the weeks pass. Contracts offer a nicely incentivized version of challenges and can give you something fun to strive for if you get in a rut, but don't expect these small gambles to make you rich.
6283804NoneShooting down aircraft is not generally considered a basement activity, but hey, whatever works.
If contracts are gambling against the house, then wager matches are gambling against other players. In these matches, you pay an entrance fee of 10, 1,000, or 10,000 points, depending on how deep your pockets are, and then you get to play the most unique game modes that Black Ops has to offer. One mode gives you progressively better weapons for each kill you tally, while another gives you a pistol with one bullet and only three lives to live. At the end of the match, the pot is split proportionally among the top three finishers, and everyone else comes away empty handed. Wager matches are as exotic as Call of Duty multiplayer gets, and they offer a great change of pace to the familiar frantic firefights.
And for those who hanker for something completely different, the popular four-player cooperative zombie-killing mode that debuted in Call of Duty: World at War has returned. The fight to stay alive against wave after wave of shambling undead is still a tense and bizarre endeavor, and new maps and playable characters take the oddball humor of the situation to a whole new level. Nevertheless, at its core, this is the same frenzied action as found in its predecessor, and each play-through quickly begins to feel much like the last. This is the only proper cooperative mode in Call of Duty: Black Ops, supporting four players online or two locally. Two local players can also play split-screen competitive multiplayer online, while four can divide the screen equally among them and set up competitive local matches.
There are two new modes that help make Black Ops the most fully featured Call of Duty game yet. Combat Training simulates a competitive multiplayer environment with AI opponents and allows you to set the enemy difficulty to match your skill level. You gain experience and unlock gear in the same way, and though this progress only applies within Combat Training, it's a great way to get the excitement and challenge of competitive multiplayer without submitting to the vicious predations of actual humans. The other new mode is the Theater, which lets you view replays of your games, take screenshots, and edit clips to share with the community. You can string together a number of different segements from a given game, and even render a video lasting up to 30 seconds for upload to the web, though the rendering feature is not fully functional at launch. Reliving moments--both glorious and shameful--is a lot of fun, and the community has already started cranking out content for your viewing pleasure. And though it may only apply to a small percentage of the population at this point, you can also play Call of Duty: Black Ops in stereoscopic 3D, providing you have the proper cables, required glasses, and a compatible television. The effect is novel and fairly intriguing, though it takes a significant mental adjustment and may not be comfortable for many players.
While it may not take the signature Call of Duty action to dizzying new heights, Black Ops is a thoroughly excellent game. New modes and mechanics give a jolt of energy to the lively competitive multiplayer, and the engrossing new campaign develops into one of the best in the series. Combat training allows anyone to enjoy the thrills of arena combat and the satisfaction of leveling up, and the opportunities for cooperative play, local competition, and community video creation provide even more outlets for entertainment. Call of Duty: Black Ops lives up to the top-notch pedigree that the series has earned, giving players an awesome new shooter to enjoy just in time for the holidays.