Black – EA/Criterion - Black is the highly anticipated first person shooter from EA that has been touted as 'gun porn' – Does the game live up to the hype and XXX billing?? Well lock, cock and get ready to unload because Black is action all the way!!
You take on the role of special operative Jack Keller through a murky story filled with terrorists, political intrigue and lots of twists and turns along the way – The story sets the scene well and is played out through live action cut scenes of Jack retelling the events of the last few days filling his superiors in on what has gone down in each of the missions. While the story is not essential, it is entertaining and adds to the experience setting up the background to each of the missions you undertake as the action quickly shifts between various locations.
The graphics in the game are definitely a huge talking point of the game – mainly because they are superb!!! When I saw that Criterion (of Burnout fame) were behind this game I was expecting a crisp, slick game that moved at the speed of light – and the Criterion boys did not let me down – it is a miracle that the game looks so good on the ageing PS2 – you will probably not see a better looking more detailed game on during the remainder of the PS2's life. This is made even more impressive when you take into account that pretty much everything that you can see you can interact with and the sheer amount of action on the screen during the hectic gun battles. When the action kicks off, chunks will fly out of walls, car will be riddled with bullet holes and at times your vision will be obstructed by the dust and smoke created by the gunfire and grenades exploding around you. The frame rate stays constantly high throughout and only in extremely frantic melees does it noticeably fall.
The excellent graphics are backed up by equally excellent sound effects and score – gun effects, explosions and voices all hit the spot. This is the sort of game that will make the neighbours think that they are in the middle of a gang war – gunfire is loud and non-stop from start to finish.
The PS2 is not inundated by many great FPS – however Black redresses the balance. Black is an all action game however, taking a gung-ho approach will end up getting you filled with lead. You have to use all of the available cover and the surroundings to your advantage. This introduces an element of strategy to the game and also you have access to silencers if you want to take a stealth approach – very helpful on the harder difficulties.
The guns in the game are varied and all fun to use – all guns are real life weapons and react as you would imagine. One feature that I liked about Black is that you can't carry an endless supply of guns; you are limited to one pistol and one larger weapon – making you decide what weapon to carry until others become available from dispatched enemies. Ammo and guns are plentiful throughout which is useful as most enemies take a good pounding before they hit the deck. Enemy AI is decent leading to challenging situations throughout the game.
Two of the major criticisms levelled at the game are that it is too short and that there is no multiplayer – For me theses are minor quibbles – Yes, the game will only take 6-8 hours to complete, however there are 4 difficulty levels including the insanely hard Black Ops which will offer you a challenge if you want it. I would rather play a game that is short but superb than trawl through a 15 hour game that is only average. In terms of multiplayer, again it is a big omission but I think it would detract from the overall integrity of the game if a rushed, tacked on multiplayer game was included which really isn't the focus of the game – the single player is good enough for the game to standalone – if you want a decent FPS to play your mates, get Timesplitters Future Perfect, if you want an awesome FPS single player that will absorb you and entertain you start to finish - buy Black.
Controls are tight and fully customisable – for me a key feature with any FPS – nothing destroys the fun of a FPS if the preset controls are not to an individuals liking – however the default controls are as sensible as any but it is a useful feature anyhow.
Black is an awesomely enjoyable experience – while a little short it is superb throughout. Maybe this is why it has been referred to as gun porn, it is sheer bliss to play but no-one wants to watch a 12 hour porno? Do they??? Anyway back to the game – get it, you will not be disappointed!!! Overall I give Black………………………………..
9 out of 10