Only an idiot would play Call of Duty: Black Ops on Wii.
I’m one of them.
Why? Because I can. But more than that, because I wanted to see if it’s possible to fully enjoy a game, while knowing a better-looking version exists elsewhere. The answer? Undeniably yes.
Before I move on, some background. In 2007, I finished Call of Duty: Modern Warfare on Xbox 360. Great game. One of my favorites this generation. I also played a little on PC. I tested World at War on both PS3 and Wii. Neither version was as good as Modern Warfare, but the Nazi Zombie mode on HD consoles was really fun.
Modern Warfare 2? O-V-E-R-R-A-T-E-D. So much, in fact, I didn’t even have the desire to finish the single-player campaign. Admittedly, the multiplayer retained its spot as “The New Halo,” but everything else seemed forced and lacking freshness.
Black Ops, on the other hand, is a punch to the face of freshness. The story, the pacing, the level design, and first-person action variety all stick with you and evoke the feeling of “one more level.” From the moment the opening credits role on Wii, you’ll know you’re playing something special. It sort of even has a Half-Life feel to it. Sorta. But the overwhelming feeling of immersion, which I assume is on HD consoles as well, most definitely exists on Wii.
Online multiplayer, too, is choice on Wii. There are no friend codes. There is no lag. The Zombie mode is present. It’s like playing a lower-res version of Xbox Live, without high school freshmen working on their sailor mouth skills. Not only is Black Ops the best online shooter for Wii, it’s a great online shooter. Period. Regardless of platform.
As for the graphics, the Wii version has some nice graphical flares, even for this grizzled vet who’s been exposed to HD graphics since 2005. For the first time I can remember, smoke plumes actually look like smoke plumes on Wii, as opposed to airborne baby powder or fog stacks at ground level. Explosions and flames look uncharacteristically good as well. Like watching an HD console render an effect on a 480p TV set. The colors are a little washed out. The lighting is flat. But the feeling of immersion and scale remains. The blood red sky of the rocket level alone will stop you in your tracks. At least it did for me.
In other words, great art transcends pixel counts.
I’m not going to lie: Black Ops on HD consoles looks phenomenal. Most-impressive-looking and vibrant graphics I’ve ever seen. I know because I played a couple of isolated demos on Xbox 360. But that doesn’t keep the Wii version from being a great game in comparison. In fact, the motion-controlled version might have superior controls. Not as surgical as mouse and keyboard. But definitely faster than dual thumb sticks. (You can also play with the Classic Controller if you wish.)
So there you have it, Internet. Although I can’t speak for the DS version (haven’t played it), Call of Duty: Black Ops is a great game no matter the platform. If you like controlling shooters with motion controls, you’ll enjoy the Wii version as much as HD owners will likely enjoy their really good-looking version.
NOTE: In three hours of playing last night, I suffered a painful 15-20 seconds of slowdown on the first helicopter campaign level, seemingly in a place that didn’t have as many on screen items as latter levels, which ran fine. It didn’t cause me to die, but it was frustrating. Also, the game inexplicably froze the first time I selected Zombie mode from the menu. In no way a deal breaker. But I will update this story if problems persist.