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Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 review



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Call of Duty: Black Ops 3
  • Call of Duty: Black Ops 3
  • Call of Duty: Black Ops 3
  • Call of Duty: Black Ops 3
  • Call of Duty: Black Ops 3
  • Call of Duty: Black Ops 3
  • Call of Duty: Black Ops 3
  • Call of Duty: Black Ops 3
  • Black Ops III
  • Black Ops III
  • Black Ops III
  • Black Ops III
  • Black Ops III
  • Black Ops III
  • Black Ops III


Our Score:



  • Cyber-powers and enhanced movement are great additions
  • The best CoD multiplayer in years
  • Stylish and entertaining Zombies mode
  • Vibrant sci-fi style


  • A campaign full of rollercoaster ups and downs
  • Awful dialogue woefully delivered
  • Too much bombast for too little impact

Available on Xbox One, PS4, PC (PS4 and PC reviewed)

Oddly for a game so focused on brutality, betrayal, violence, techno-fear and man’s inhumanity to man, generosity is Call of Duty: Black Ops 3’s biggest asset. This is a mountainous all-you-can-eat buffet of a Call of Duty, its steaming heated trays crammed with game modes, options and hidden features. It adds enough to the core gameplay to make it feel like more than just another lazy retread, and it’s easily the best-looking CoD to date.

The only problem is that, as with all all-you-can-eat buffets, some portions are a lot tastier than others, leaving you wondering whether a little more focus might have created something really exceptional.

Black Ops 3 is a solid installment that will please the series’ hardcore fans, but it’s not a mainstream crowd-pleaser in the way that last year’s Advanced Warfare was.

In a way, it suffers because of Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare. The first Black Ops bought a very distinctive flavour to Call of Duty; one born of conspiracy theory, spy thrillers and darker style of storytelling. The second mixed that up with a sci-fi techno-thriller, splitting the action between interleaved, branching past and near-future storylines and bringing bots and drones into the mix. Black Ops 3’s focuses entirely on the sci-fi stuff, loses most of its conspiracy theory trappings and brings augmented super-soldiers in. The result sometimes feels less like a third Black Ops game than Call of Duty: Even More Advanced Warfare. It leaves you wondering whether it’s time Call of Duty looked back to the past for inspiration.

Related: Black Ops 3 Weapons Guide

Black Ops III

It’s not that the sci-fi stuff isn’t cool. Just as Advanced Warfare’s exosuits shook up the tired Modern Warfare-style formula, so Black Ops 3's various cyber-core abilities add some much-needed punch to this game. They’re divided into three types, Martial, Chaos and Control, only one of which is available in any mission load-out.

Broadly speaking, Martial capabilities give you speed and enhanced melee attacks, transforming you into a whirling dervish of destruction on the battlefield. Control capabilities allow you to disrupt or hack bots and turrets, either weakening them, bringing them to your side or putting them under your direct control.

And the Chaos capabilities? These allow you to wreck bots and turrets remotely, but also disrupt the enemy at range or whittle down their numbers when they threaten to overwhelm you. Between a power that transforms enemy bots into walking grenades and one that sends out swarms of lethal nano-drones, the Chaos core can be incredibly useful in the early stages of the main campaign.

Related: Black Ops 3 tips and tricks

Black Ops III

There are times in Black Ops 3’s campaign where level design, atmosphere and your new cybernetic powers come together in an explosion of general awesomeness.

You’re barreling through corridors full of military bots, tugging the energy core from one and hurling it grenade-like at another, chuckling as it blows on impact. You’re leaping down from rooftops into gangs of enemy soldiers, smashing some into the scenery, surging through others like a tidal wave. I had a fantastic time taking over flying drones and roving turrets, slaughtering the snipers lying in wait for me and mowing down grunts by the half-dozen.

There’s some genuinely smart stuff going on here.

And while this is still very much a restrictive, heavily orchestrated shooter – at one point, my progress was temporarily barred by a chainlink gate – it does open out at times. When it does, we get Halo-like bubbles of combat where you can try out different tactics or make the most of your current cyber-core. Black Ops 3’s campaign has been designed for both solo and co-op play and it’s best when it delivers spaces where four players and any CPU-controlled buddies can tear things up, vying to out-do each other with feats of marksmanship and cybernetic warfare.

It doesn’t hurt that movement also benefits, with Titanfall-style wall-running and ledge-grabbing manoeuvres now added to the repertory of jumps, mantles, dives and slides.

Related: Fallout 4 tips and tricks

Black Ops III

The campaign itself is nothing short of bonkers, with sections that owe more to Dead Space, Crysis 2, the movie Source Code or Deus Ex than any normal Call of Duty game.

You also can’t fault Treyarch on the grounds of set-pieces or scale. This is a game where giant waves rip through flooded city streets, vast structures come crushing down around you, underground bases are drowned by the seas while you’re in them and you’re expected to navigate a series of towers while they’re burning or collapsing – and sometimes both at the same time.

It has some fantastic exotic locations in Egypt and Singapore, and some wonderfully destructive weapons – who can’t love a gun that launches giant spikes which explode on demand? You’d struggle to find a game that delivers more bangs for your buck without becoming an end-to-end cacophony of bangs.

This is also a great-looking Call of Duty. Real effort has gone into the production, architecture and character design, and when you combine the sci-fi scenery, the Far-East and Middle-East locations and the lavish use of colourful dynamic lighting you get the most vibrant Call of Duty since, well, ever. Sure, we’re not short of the standard browns and greys, but when I look back on Black Ops 3 I’ll remember its explosions of blues, greens, crimsons and blinding whites.

Related: PS4 vs Xbox One

Black Ops III

Yet, throughout the campaign, Treyarch seems hell-bent on messing up all its good work, struggling with the pacing, consistency and flow. Some sections are plain awful, Call of Duty-by-the-numbers efforts that can’t be elevated by any cyber-powered twist. The whole first level is probably the worst and most tedious I’ve encountered in any recent CoD. All too often scale and bombast is mistaken for ambition, resulting in moments of what should be amazing spectacle that have curiously no impact whatsoever.

Meanwhile, bots and heavily-armoured troops become boring bullet-sponges, and there are long sections where you’re facing so many enemies from so many different directions that the action just becomes confusing and weirdly monotonous.

Who exactly is sniping you from where? Why does stepping one foot in that direction result in insta-death? Can anyone just turn down the noise?

Augmented vision can help you locate enemies and avoid incoming grenades, but it’s annoying that Black Ops 3 only gets really challenging when you die, respawn, get blasted to kingdom come in seconds, then respawn again. Hit a bad spot and this happens over and over again until you hit a lucky streak.

Related: Best PS4 Games 2015

Black Ops III

Nor does it help that the plot varies between predictable, clichéd variations on established themes and sections so weird and incomprehensible that you’ll be baffled as to what Treyarch were thinking. Wouldn’t it be great to have a CoD where we’re not betrayed by a mentor figure or close ally? Why are there so many different factions with so many different acronyms? What on Earth is going on?

Meanwhile, the script is borderline hilarious for all the wrong reasons. Seriously. If it wasn’t for the horrors of THQ’s Homefront, I wouldn’t have heard dialogue this over-ripe since Team America: World Police. In fact, that’s where the actors seem to have taken their inspiration, seemingly competing to deliver each line with more OTT macho vim and vigour than the line preceding. It’s risible stuff.

On balance, this isn’t the worst CoD campaign – Ghosts, CoD3 and Modern Warfare 3 are still tussling over that one – but it’s certainly not up there with Modern Warfare, Black Ops or Advanced Warfare. There are ideas and enthusiasm at work here, plus some superb visual design, but not enough attention to detail or control.

Related: Best Xbox One Games 2015

Call of Duty: Black Ops 3

Luckily, this isn’t the be-all and end-all of Black Ops 3. For a start, the multiplayer is the strongest it’s been in years, with clean, good-looking, thoroughly polished maps, a great set of weapons and killstreaks that are powerful without being teeth-grindingly annoying. The new movement options actually add to the flow of gameplay, while giving the most skilled players new ways to show off their murderous prowess. In its Hardpoint and Confirmed Kill modes it has what I believe to be the most enjoyable competitive twitch shooter experiences around, partly because both modes discourage cheap, cowardly custard camp and snipe behaviour and push a more open, active style of play.

While it’s easy to overstate the significance of the new Specialist roles, these add a new colour and variety to the action. Each Specialist comes with a signature ability or weapon, doled out as a reward for good play. New specialists unlock as you level up, and whether you’re fighting with the Outrider and her radar-like vision and compound bow or as Prophet with his glitch, backtrack move and arcing, kill-chaining electrified bolt-launcher, there’s a real pleasure in seeing the prompt come up, unleashing your specialist weapon and grabbing a signature kill. Plus, you’re free to customize and level up your specialists just as you can everyone else.

Related: Xbox One backwards compatibility – Can I play Xbox 360 games on Xbox One?

Black Ops III

Zombies mode also makes a welcome return, and while it’s not my favourite variation on the wave-based, co-op horde mode, it’s never looked or played better than it does here. Treyarch has gone for a 1940’s film noir feel, with great voicework from Jeff Goldblum and Ron Pearlman, a jazzy score and four protagonists covering familiar boxer/gumshoe/showgirl clichés. With objectives drip-fed in by a mysterious figure, there’s a distinctive HP Lovecraft vibe, which only becomes more obvious when you see some of the power-ups and enemies involved. It’s no Left4Dead, but there’s more to this one than repairing barriers and blasting a bunch of shambling brain-munchers in the head. Plus, the neon-lit city setting wouldn’t have disgraced a next-gen Bioshock game.

What’s more, while the campaign as a whole is far from perfect, you’re free to return to your favourite missions in co-op campaign mode and switch the difficulty, chase down trophy-like accolades and even try different load-outs on for size.

Grab some friends and it's a hoot, as you forget all about the storyline, whatever that is, and simply focus on creating as much mayhem as humanly possible. The game actively encourages this approach, enabling you to unlock all the missions from the off.

Long-term, this might be a more rewarding way to play Black Ops 3 than slogging through it level by level. Throw in the Freerun race mode, where you can sprint, double-jump, slide and wall-run through a series of timed levels, plus a secondary, VR-styled horde mode where you battle virtual bots in stripped back arenas, and there’s no way you can complain about a lack of content. Black Ops III is practically bursting with the stuff.


How you feel about Black Ops 3 as a package will depend on what you’re looking for in a shooter. If your focus is on competitive play, then this will be your favourite CoD of recent years. If you and your mates love to smash things up in co-op, Black Ops III gives you plenty of opportunity, so get stuck in. Yet it’s hard to escape the nagging feeling that this would have been a better CoD had Treyarch focused less on the co-op and the extras, and a little more on delivering their best CoD campaign to date.

When it’s good, Black Ops 3 is very, very good. When it’s not, it’s rather disappointing.

Overall Score



June 22, 2015, 10:24 pm

Never been interested in most shooter games as they are all pretty much the same - point click shoot - reload - runaround do some pointless mission, die rez die rez, throw a grenade use a rocket launcher, die rez die rez again. Run around point click shoot...Ohh new game out try that, ah its yep you guessed - point click shoot die... hehe

Okay I am being tad silly, it looks interesting and for once I might give it ago although I probably will not have a clue what I am doing but I know I can point click shoot :-)

Dead Words

August 6, 2015, 12:17 am

If you want an interesting first-person shooter...Titanfall. For once it's not about how good you are with aiming. It's about strategy and placement. You have true choice. You can build up serious moment, scale any obstacle and get into any position you need. It completely rebuilds the traditional model for movement in first-person shooters and makes Advanced Warfare characters look like slow-moving cardboard cutouts of stereotypical soldiers.

Dead Words

August 6, 2015, 12:19 am

My questions:
Is it colorful? It would be great to have a Call of Duty game that actually provides us with vivid, beautiful scenery rather than bland, mostly grey colors. Every Call of Duty ever just doesn't look colorful. I'll give this game a looking if it actually changes how Call of Duty LOOKS not just how it plays.
How is the movement compared to Titanfall? I love the fluidity and momentum in Titanfall and the ability to get anywhere and with speed.


August 6, 2015, 3:04 am

Thanks for tip and will have a look into it :)

Dead Words

August 6, 2015, 3:37 am

If you want a second opinion go look up NerdCubed on YouTube or go to his website www.nerdcubed.co.uk. He did two videos on Titanfall.
His Plays video is his comedy video.
His FW video is his review video.

Shane Cattell

August 26, 2015, 6:01 am

oh look another paid review that dont have a bad word to say about this joke of a game. well heres mine..

ok so ive played about 6 hours worth, and my review. 0 out 10. it
looks like aw feels like aw. jumps like aw. guns feel and sound like aw.
the classes are like aw. and considering i think aw is dogshit that
shouldnt have the call of duty title, this is just more titanfall
dogshit to prove call of duty really is dead.

again boost jumping has no
place in a call of duty game. its not halo and just trashs s&d.

oh and the killstreaks are dogshit and that weired extra shit they put in is rubbish and all useless

so yes considering alot people was hoping bo3 was going to save call of duty and go back to the ww2 time with real guns and no jumping bullshit. your out of luck as they just went and gave aw a paint job

Garrett Stephens

September 3, 2015, 1:47 pm

I'm completely with you on the sentiment that Advanced Warfare was TERRIBLE. I hated it. But after a week of playing the BO3 beta, I can say it feels nothing like advanced warfare. It's MUCH smoother, less lag (but still kind of laggy), and nowhere near as hectic with the ex suits and what not.

Shane Cattell

September 5, 2015, 6:06 am

i layed the beta too, and i disagree with you. the double jumping crap makes it no different that advanced warfare, all they done is taken the side boosting away and renamed it. guns feel same as aw. wall running is silly. and that new extra perk system they put in is just another thing to kill s&d for people.so i disagree with you. its just titanfalls advance warfare with a paintjob. if anything it be the last time they do a beta know that millions people know to avoid the game

Ben Dover Kuntz

November 8, 2015, 10:37 pm



November 10, 2015, 7:29 pm

Whilst I haven't played it,I agree the jumping shit in MP games is so annoying.And,yes COD needs to go back to either WW2,or present day.


November 13, 2015, 9:55 pm

this is by far the worst Call of duty game I ever play, Is like a bad mix of Deus Ex, deus ex human revolution, crysis and a drunk group of developers. Even a scene is very similar to the end of Deus ex Classic where a guy is connected to the Helios Super computer. In call of duty BOIII also there is a very similar almost exact scene.
Shitty game

Shaun Jones

November 18, 2015, 4:13 pm

i had mixed feelings about this game, advanced warfare left a sour taste in my mouth as bad as ghosts did, but heres the thing about black ops 3 its interesting, as a sci fi genre game, its almost how id imagine a reboot of terminator to look if it looked good and had great casting, i felt like with all the motion capture and great acting this could have been a great MOVIE but as a game it seems pointless an A to B to see the next cutscene type of game, there are too many special abilities too i found myself infront of a hoard of robots in my face taking a few seconds just to find the right ability i wanted within the 3 catagories, but i did like the imagary, i liked the parts where the maps collided and mixed together upside down and almost like the nightmare of someone who has been through an awful lot of war and bad memories, but it did show us how and old time war game could look now and im hoping thats what theyre going for, end this whole thing off with black ops 3 and then start rebooting using the classic games, world war 2 popping up was a nice touch, robert patrick was an awesome choice as was the rest of the casting, an unlikely mix of actors that actually seem like theyd work together perfectly in a movie, but it wasnt call of duty or what id come to love about call of duty years back, the ending itself was a little.... disappointing too "taylor" fade to black.... i thought "SPOILER" you where taylor all along or taylor has now basically taken over the DNI and in a sense posesses the players body/soul however you wana look at it, or that the player was actually just the what was left of the players mind in taylors head, the one who had his arms and legs ripped off at the start, but the end needed a little more to really complete it, such a small quick twist was unsatisfying but overall i didnt hate the game, i just wanted more at the end and dont think its much of a COD game in all

heres the first 10 minutes of the game for those who have not played yet



November 25, 2015, 2:58 am

This is the most disappointed I've been with the franchise to date. In my mind they might as well have not even called this black ops 3. They should have left out zombies and rebranded this installment with a wholly new title all together. The fact that no split screen is available at all on the 360 platform and PS3 is just unexceptable. The price should be 1/2 what the other platform copies cost not just 10$ cheaper. There easily more than half the game and experience missing. I am finally so tired of the let downs since black ops 2 that I'm done wasting time and money. I'll just move on to something else. Seems so sad that these developers can't understand why people like their games and continue to provide those core elements. No they have to deviate have to tinker and tweak major structural peices of what could be amazing entertainment for loyal fans. They provide only disappointment.

John Youwer

November 29, 2015, 6:33 pm

This game sucks and will NEVER buy another call of duty game again. I didn't buy the last two cause friends said they sucked. So I thought I would buy this one. Major disappointment. The Story line is stupid, online, multiplayer mode is annoying. The wall jumping and running is annoying and has no place in the game. AND to top off the Zombie mode, I have been waiting 20 minutes to play a game. According to the game there are 40 matches, yet I have been sitting here for 20 minutes waiting on 3 other players to join online so I can finally play a game. Taking this game back to gamestop to turn it in and tell them this game sucks tomorrow. What a waste of 60 bucks. So if you are going to waste money and buy this hunk of shit game, buy it used. Still waiting for zombies to start. Total junk

Ken Dunkin

December 21, 2015, 12:20 pm

that dude is way to annoying to watch. Gives me a headache everytime hahaha

Ben Dover Kuntz

December 21, 2015, 9:18 pm

give the guy a chance he have a few good videos that is worth a watch :)

emarkjones .

December 27, 2015, 6:18 pm

It beggars belief that this game can get 8/10. I have spent more time trying to find out how to make the game actually work than the game will take to actually play.

Terry Ryno

January 7, 2016, 2:42 am

COD just keeps going down hill. This is by far the worst of the bunch. More movie then game. More frills then thrills. Mostly just crap

Kevin Davis

January 7, 2016, 8:04 am

Worst call of duty in franchise in terms of multiplayer. Spawn system is completely random and I can't tell you how many times I've spawned with an enemy behind me causing me to be killed the second I spawn in. Hit detection is off, with snipers especially so often in final kill cams you see a shot that's off by an inch or too somehow get a hit marker although that's in every call of duty and probably has to do with lag compensation system. That's also a problem when running around corner where you'll run around a corner for cover before dying and killcam won't even show you running around corner instead dropping dead just before it. Also the maps are the least inspiring of the series and not designed to implement wall running to its full potential. The controls feel really clunky too after playing advanced warfare and so often I'll press O to boost slide but instead my character will duck or I'll jump and end up wall running to my death. Also the game is designed for camping. A lot of places to hide and more ways then any other cod to locate your enemy so they can't flank you. I'm more of an aggressive player and I like to flank and outmaneuver my opponent but it's difficult sometimes when so often they are waiting with their gun scoped in always knowing exactly where I am on the map.

Tim Tupman

March 23, 2016, 1:10 am

This game is by far the worst ever. And when you think they are gonna try and fix some of their fuck ups on destroying this game with the new map pack to buy all they did was make it even worse. whoever came up with the idea of doing this whole future bullshit is a complete dumbass. I cant believe i wasted my money on something that is a complete piece of shit. people of treyarch and activision are top of line idiots.

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