Call of Duty though, is made whole by its multiplayer – and in this regard Treyarch have made various welcome improvements. Treyarch have made a point, this time around of offering a wealth of player customisations. Through create-a-class 2.0 player models, guns, load-outs and even aiming reticules are subject to customisation. Kill streaks too are editable; you can select which bonuses you’ll be awarded at which intervals. For example, you can select whether a 3-streak kill gives you the traditional Spy Plane or the RC-XD – a remote controlled car equipped with explosives.

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They’ve also removed some of the more annoying aspects of Modern Warfare 2’s multiplayer. Secondary weapons are now restricted to traditional side-arms. No longer will you be mowed down by somebody sporting dual-wielded shotguns. The infuriating Martyrdom and Commando perks are thankfully removed – and should help Black Ops be more balanced and fair.

The standard multiplayer modes are all there: Free-For-All, Team Death match and Search & Destroy return, accompanied by their hardcore and barebones variants. Domination, Capture the Flag and other favourites like Headquarters and Sabotage help round out the numerous multiplayer options.

New to the multiplayer is the addition of an in-game currency, COD points. These points are earned through playing multiplayer, and are used to purchase new guns, ammo-types, perks and upgrades. COD points can be used to buy in to contracts – expansions of the traditional challenges – where completing specific objectives yields a pay-out. The COD points are also a vehicle for the game’s best multiplayer addition, wager matches.

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Wager matches introduce gambling to Call of Duty multiplayer – where the top three scorers earn COD points – making it even more addictive. Fail to place and you’ll be out of pocket, losing your ante. While in the long run, the community will gravitate towards the more traditional game types like team death match, I can guarantee that wager matches will be the game-type of choice for the next few months, until everybody has everything unlocked at least.

There are three categories within Wager matches; Ante up for smaller bets, Weekend gambler for those a little more daring, and High roller for those with enough COD points to match their testicular fortitude.

There are four game types available in the free-for-all wager matches.

· One in the Chamber gives each player 3 lives – and a pistol with a single bullet. You’d better be a good shot, because scoring a kill grants you an additional bullet; run out of bullets and you’ll have to rely on your knife skills. Exhaust your 3 lives and its game over. The limited number of lives and the importance of bullets make this an incredibly tense experience.

· Sharpshooter – each player is equipped with the same random weapon – which cycle every 45 seconds. Getting kills will award the player with perks and score multipliers.

· Sticks and Stones – each player receives only a crossbow with explosive bolts, a ballistic knife, and a Tomahawk. Scoring kills earns you COD points, but there’s a catch; get nailed with the tomahawk and you’ll be bankrupted.

· Gun Game – This mode will be familiar to counter-strike players. Each player starts out with a pistol. For each kill they move up a level, getting a bigger, more powerful weapon. The first person to achieve kills with all 20 weapons wins the round. Get knifed, and you’ll go down a tier. I found this mode particularly tricky as I’m notoriously rubbish with sniper rifles; once I’d gotten to that point, I’d stagnate – and whenever I’d progress somebody would inevitably take a knife to me.

Each unique wager match is exceptionally fun, and will no doubt help Black Ops stay at the top of activity charts until the next Call of Duty rolls along. Another addition to Treyarch’s multiplayer repertoire is Combat Training, essentially multiplayer with bots, with or without the addition of extra human players. Curiously, it’s a feature that does require online connectivity. Offline bot matches would go a long way in giving players without internet a taste of Call of duty’s excellent multiplayer. Still for those unfortunates, there’s 4 player split-screen multiplayer. Continuing the split-screen offerings, Treyarch have once again brought split-screen online – allowing for guest or Xbox Live Gold sign in.

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The best non-game mode addition to multiplayer is Theatre, which is quite similar to the theatre mode in Halo 3. Treyarch’s servers will record your last 30 matches, and you can save up to 6 of them permanently. You’ll be able to edit and distribute clips of your online pwnage too. It’s pretty robust – and an addition that’ll be very welcomed by players.

Last Updated: November 9, 2010

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Call of Duty : Black Ops
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