gaming since 1997

Black

It was dark and very quiet. The objective was at the other end of the square and everyone could see it was being heavily guarded. There were searchlights in the watchtowers and numerous guards patrolling the area. The agent took off his goggles and had a grim expression on his face. This would not be an easy stealth operation. But first of all he needed to relocate. He saw the ammo truck at the gate and started crouching to it. He hid under the truck and started looking for a way to sneak through the square without being noticed. Suddenly he heared footsteps approaching and inches away from him was now a guard leaning onto the truck. The patrolling unit yawned a bit and a circling “ZzZZz” appeared above his head. The agent held his breath and crawled very slowly from under the truck. He took his combat knife and prepared to slit the guard’s throat. Slowly he approached his sleeping prey and he could see, even taste, the little drops of sweat in its neck. Just as he grabbed the guard’s head, the ammo truck exploded into a giant fireball and the secret agent was thrown into the sky and fell on the ground a couple of yards away. Suffering from severe burns but unable to access his cure menu, he saw a shadow appearing right into the searchlights. His heavy eyelids, covered in blood, made it difficult to see this strange newcomer clearly but to his astonishment he saw the operative slowly reloading an RPG and aiming it at one of the watchtowers. A siren started to fill the night sky but the operative seemed to ignore the guards coming out of almost every door and window. He fired onto the watch tower and moments later the whole place lit up like a christmas tree. Then he switched his RPG for an assault rifle and 45 bodies later he had crossed the square and threw a couple of hand grenades in a bunker. The secret agent looked at the black operative in awe and said to himself; “The Colonel is not going to like this.” Then he felt a time paradox coming up.

The main goal of Black is to be as unsubtle as possible, altough a little bit of stealth and a tactical approach can have his advantages. With a wide choice of heavy arms – from which you can carry only two at the same time – some fictious Eastern European country is waiting for you to be blown apart. Prepare to bring doom and destruction in 8 beatifully designed levels, good for a total of 7 hours pure fun. Which is a bit short indeed, but it will make you overlook the fact a bit that Black’s gameplay is quite limited. The levels are tied together with live action cut scenes of your character, Keller, who is being interrogated by a strange and mysterious man about the events that took place during the game. This means that you are playing the flashbacks of Keller, who – as a member of a secret organisation – has been deployed to Eastern Europe to eliminate a terrorist organization called Seventh Wave. But soon you’ll understand that a lot of intel was kept from you and that you might not have been fighting for those who you thought you were fighting for. Or you did, but not quite. Anyway, as in most action movies the story is not that important and the game focusses mainly on the weapons and the violence between the checpoints.

Violence that for the biggest part will be caused by you, due to the easy controls. R1 is your trigger and X reloads your weapon. There are more buttons but with those two, you will be able to make your way through the game for a long period of time. The controls are just perfect and aiming too is a piece of cake: Black is the ‘living’ proof that first person shooters on a console do work and that you don’t need a keyboard or mouse to collect a fair amount of headshots. And believe me; go for the head, because you will easily need 2 to 3 complete clips for each enemy if you concentrate your fire on the chest. They’re wearing some freaky kevlar, man.

But this game also has its downsides; 7 hours of gameplay is rather short and you’ll definitely notice some flaws in the graphics department like jumpy textures and a slow drop in the framerate if there’s a lot of action on the screen. The sound however is perfect, simply stunning and you will scare the shit out of your neighbour if you increase the volume when playing Black. My favourite sound was the little ‘plop’ everytime Keller selects his sniper rifle and opens the cap on his telescope. The AI of your enemies varies but is certainly challenging enough on the harder difficulties. Pay close attention to the reaction of enemy units with shields when you’re throwing hand grenades. If you throw them a bit strategically the will play right into your cards so keep your Magnum ready, that’s all I’ll say about it.

The absence of any form of multiplayer was a heavy point of criticism to some people but the developers have defended their choice and it is nice to see a game with a well produced single player campaign nowadays. (Or am I wrong, Master Chief?) Black is more or less perfect regarding technical aspects and has a unique look and feel on top of its beautiful graphics and stunning sound. The game does exactly what it meant to do: to shock and awe. This adrenaline shot is certainly worth a purchase in my opinion.

Our Score:
9.0
related game: Black
posted in: Electronic Arts, PS2, Reviews
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