If you think there’s something wrong with the Roman numerals, as I did, you’d be wrong. Apparently IIII is as acceptable as IV – and fits in better with the Black Ops logo.
Now, Call of Duty is one of the best-known, high-selling video games franchise in existence, so its gameplay style needs little introduction.
You spawn, run around a small-ish map and shoot people when you run into them. And you die. A lot. Normally at the hands of whiney American teenagers who haven’t seen their reflexes dulled by the cruel, relentless march of time.
In fact, you might question why they feel the need to release these betas for a game whose fans and haters already have their opinions carved in stone.
But from my time with the beta, which continues on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC from Friday (August 10) through to Monday (August 13), it’s obvious that developers Treyarch have made plenty of effort to make the game stand out from its Call of Duty predecessors.
There is a larger focus on specialists, with only one of each type allowed per team. Do you go for the reckon specialist and highlight enemy outlines through walls with your pulse vision darts, or pick the guy with a supply of trip mines and the ability to call in a Special Forces dog to help him take down opponents.
Treyarch have also rejigged the healing system that has been in Call of Duty games for yonks. After taking a few bullets, you no longer have to hide behind a wall for a few seconds until your health regenerates. You can now simply press a button to inject yourself with some magic “bullet-healing juice” and get back in the fight.
Realistic it ain’t. But in gameplay terms, it allows you to get back into the action quicker and spend less time hiding in a shed, which is what I would probably choose to do in real life if I ever found myself in a gunfight.
The scoring system has been altered too – and it’s amazing what a big change such a little tweak has made.
Usually, the end game scoreboard in Call of Duty is topped by the person with the most kills. If you have died 27 times in a match, then your shame is there for all to see.
But in Black Ops IIII, it’s ordered by points and objective score – and deaths aren’t even shown. You’d be amazed how much more likely people are to throw themselves into near-certain death to capture Point B when those deaths aren’t going to be public knowledge.
This results in people focusing more on playing the objective and less on camping in a corner, protecting the precious kill/death ratio.
So, all in all, the Black Ops IIII demo gets a thumbs-up from me. If you hate Call of Duty, this isn’t going to convince you to change your mind and grab the game when it’s released on October 12.
But if you have simply become a bit tired of the franchise’s formulaic and repetitive gameplay loop, this might have freshened things up enough to be worth looking into.
VIDEO games are rarely portrayed well in TV shows, despite the wide crossover of fans from both mediums.
A friend who works in TV said it was something of an inside joke in the industry to have actors using video game controllers in the most unconvincing way possible on screen. I can believe it.
So I was pleasantly surprised when I watched Sky One’s Sick Note, starring Rupert Grint of Harry Potter fame and Simon Pegg’s erstwhile sidekick Nick Frost.
The show itself can be a bit hit and miss but my interest was piqued by their use of video games.
Main Character Daniel Glass (played by Grint) is a PlayStation obsessive and plays so much of the game Destiny that he ends up quoting the game’s Awoken Queen character during a speech to work colleagues.
So I was a little disappointed when I started watching Season 2 last week when Grint’s Destiny gaming pal turns up on his doorstep demanding a place to stay.
Seeing Destiny on Grint’s TV, this American guest says “Destiny? Great. Have you got a second controller for me?”
At this moment every Destiny fan in the country probably turned off in disgust. You can’t play Destiny in split-screen on the same console. Anyone who owned the game could tell you that.
If TV scriptwriters are going to try and be down with the kids by shoehorning video games into the TV shows, at least have the decency to do a little research.