Much of the Call of Duty: Black Ops campaign is told through the eyes of SOG and CIA operative Alex Mason, primarily through flashbacks. Mason is asked questions by an unknown interrogator about a numbers broadcast which is being used to contact Soviet sleeper cells in the United States. These questions set the stage for the campaign missions. The first mission is a flashback to Mason’s participation in the Bay of Pigs Invasion, a doomed effort to assassinate Fidel Castro. At the end of this mission, Mason is captured by Castro’s soldiers and given to Nikita Dragovich as a ‘gift.’ He is held captive at the Vorkuta Gulag, a Russian labor camp, for two years. After further interrogation, Mason recounts how, during his imprisonment at Vorkuta, he befriended Viktor Reznov, a former Red Army soldier and a returning character from Call of Duty: World at War. Reznov assists Mason in sparking a prisoner uprising at Vorkuta, which facilitates Mason’s escape from the prison. One month after his escape, Mason is escorted to the Pentagon with his handler, Jason Hudson, where he receives authorization from President John F. Kennedy to assassinate Dragovich. He is then dispatched with Frank Woods and Joseph Bowman to Baikonur Cosmodrome in the Kazakh SSR to sabotage the Soviet space program. The team saves a captured operative and destroy the Soyuz 2 as it is launched. Dragovich, who is present at the launch, escapes alive, forcing Mason to spend the next five years searching for him. By 1968, the SOG, including Mason, is deployed in Vietnam to investigate the Soviet presence. After Mason helps defend the military camp at Khe Sanh, he is deployed to Huế during the Tet Offensive to recover a dossier with information on Dragovich from an unnamed defector. The team recovers the dossier, and Mason discovers that Reznov is the defector. After Mason escapes Hue City, the campaign shifts to a mission in Kowloon, Hong Kong, where Hudson is sent to find and interrogate Dr. Clarke, a scientist working under Dragovich. The mission goes awry, and Clarke is killed while Hudson seeks to escape Dragovich’s men. Then, after further interrogation, Mason reveals the story, as told to him by Reznov, of the history behind Dragovich, his associate, Lev Kravchenko, and German ally, Dr. Friedrich Steiner. These events take place shortly after World War II, and are told through the eyes of Viktor Reznov. They detail Dragovich’s discovery of the German chemical weapon, Nova 6, and illustrate his ruthlessness as he murders his own soldiers to witness the effects of the weapon, including Reznov’s close friend, Dimitri Petrenko. This mission ends with Reznov asking Mason to promise him that Petrenko’s death will be avenged, and Dragovich, along with his allies, Kravchenko and Steiner, will be killed. The interrogation moves back to 1968, and Mason describes how he and the rest of his squad from the SOG fight their way through Viet Cong-controlled territory in an ultimately futile attempt to chase an elusive Kravchenko, and are later sent to locate and investigate a downed Soviet plane containing Nova 6. During this investigation, Mason, Woods, and Bowman are captured by the Viet Cong. Again, the perspective switches to Agent Hudson, who is sent on a mission to infiltrate a Soviet base in the Ural Mountains, a suspected development center of Nova 6. The control room the facility is rigged with explosives in a trap set by Dragovich, but Hudson’s team is contacted remotely by Dr. Steiner, who gives his location and promises, in exchange for safety from Dragovich’s systematic elimination of “loose ends,” information on cracking the numbers broadcast. After this mission is completed, Mason describes to his interrogator how Bowman was killed while imprisoned, and how he and Woods escape from their Viet Cong captors. Mason fights across a vast swath of Vietnamese land in a stolen Mi-24 Hind to reach Kravchenko’s base. At this base, Mason again meets Reznov, who leads him through the base towards Kravchenko. When Mason reaches Kravchenko, Kravchenko (supposedly) commits suicide with his bandolier of grenades, seemingly killing Woods in the process. Mason and Reznov then recover documents that lead them to Rebirth Island. Mason’s story converges with Hudson’s at Rebirth Island, as both fight their way through a Soviet Nova 6 research and production facility to reach Dr. Steiner. Hudson engages in an all-out assault on the facility with light armor and a squad of CIA operatives, while Mason sneaks into the facility with Reznov. Mason reaches Steiner only shortly before Hudson, and watches as Reznov murders Steiner. However, when the same story is retold through Hudson’s eyes, it is revealed that it was, in fact, Mason alone who shot Steiner, while exclaiming that he was Reznov and would have revenge. The flashbacks end and the interrogation continues. Hudson reveals himself to be the interrogator and confronts Mason face-to-face in a desperate bid to break him free of his brainwashing. In this mission, it is revealed that, while at Vorkuta, Mason was subjected to severe mental reconditioning in order to turn him into a sleeper cell who would perform Soviet missions in America. However, Reznov ‘hijacked’ this conditioning and used it to instill in Mason an absolute devotion to complete Reznov’s vow for revenge. Reznov was actually killed in the escape from Vorkuta, and, therefore, all subsequent appearances of his character are merely a part of Mason’s imagination, brought on by the intense nature of the brainwashing Mason experienced. As the reprogramming of Mason’s brain is finally broken, Mason recalls the origin of the numbers broadcast, a ship off the shore of Cuba called the Rusalka. In a CIA raid on the ship and the underwater broadcast station over which it is anchored, Mason strangles Dragovich to his death and sinks the broadcast station, ending the threat that the sleeper agents presented to the United States.
The game was truly entertaining and very addictive at times. The characters are all very believable and somewhat damaged goods, which make them that much more interesting. I wanted to review this particular game because it does play into the fact that addiction is real and specific to gaming. I could not put the game down, unless I was very carefully persuaded to. The graphics, sounds, the action is undoubtedly attention grabbing. The storyline for me is unquestionably the attraction or addiction that caused hours of “gaming research.” I played and experienced this game on the Xbox 360 gaming console.
I do apologize for reviewing an older game, but to review anything else would’ve been agonizing.