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by Ethos

Call of Duty: Black Ops Review – Treyarch Has Their Revenge

Monday, November 22nd, 2010

Call of Duty: Black Ops needs no introduction. After Modern Warfare 2 set world-records in sales last year around this time, the world has been well aware of the franchise’s existence. Call of Duty is one of those games that even your non-gaming buddies know about, and even play from time to time.

However, Black Ops is not a game made by Infinity Ward, the people who brought us Modern Warfare. Rather, it’s from Treyarch – the World at War people. Y’know, the game that bridged the gap between Modern Warfare and Modern Warfare 2.

Let it be known straight away that Black Ops is a much better game than World at War. For that matter, it’s a better game than either of the Modern Warfares. Or, to put it simply, it’s the best Call of Duty yet. Yes, it’s built on the same foundations that made the previous CODs so good, and it largely shares the same mechanics and conventions. But even still, Black Ops features the most polished, robust multiplayer experience yet, as well as the most tightly-written and coherent campaign.


Like every Call of Duty, Black Ops’ campaign mode is intense. Set during the Cold War of the 60s, (territory largely untouched by videogames until now) you’re whisked from one intense, world-changing combat scenario to the next with breakneck speed. However, unlike previous games in the franchise, Black Ops actually knows how to pause – however briefly – to develop the events and characters that these bombastic battles and setpieces are based around. It’s for this reason alone that Black Ops has the most satisfying campaign mode ever seen in a Call of Duty game.

In Black Ops, you’re given a tangible protagonist to work with – Alex Mason, a SOG Operative. At the outset of the game, Mason finds himself strapped in a chair, in a creepy room with a bunch of TV screens flashing numbers. Two mysterious men with muffled voices are interrogating him, attempting to extract information that, supposedly, has the power to stop a war before it starts. From there, the story is pieced together by a series of flashbacks, as Alex is questioned about his history of clandestine operations during the Cold War. The method is effective, and character driven – rather than simply playing to see what fantastically high-energy sequence comes next, chances are that you’ll find yourself interested in knowing how the story develops.

Those who played through World at War’s campaign mode will be happy to see the continuities that Treyarch has preserved in Black Ops. A major player in the story of Black Ops is Viktor Reznov, who gamers will certainly remember as the German-hating Red Army soldier from the Soviet campaign in World At War. Dimitri Petrenko, who you actually controlled during the Soviet campaign, also makes a reappearance. Reznov is the best character in Black Ops by far – and his story is the most emotionally involving. My favorite part of the campaign is an eerie flashback to the final days of World War II, in which Reznov and his men are commissioned to take out a German military base in Russia. The sequence ends with a surprisingly gruesome and disturbing scene that I won’t spoil here – but suffice to say, it more than  justifies the actions of Reznov, as well as Alex Mason throughout the game. This sort of character-involved form of narrative is precisely what was missing from games such as Modern Warfare 2.


Obviously, when it comes to Call of Duty, gameplay is king. It’s no secret that the competitive multiplayer modes are where gamers will spend the majority of their time with the game. For those interested, I wrote a decent bit about Black Ops’ insanely addicting multiplayer suite about a week ago; for more detailed impressions, hit the link and have a read.

To sum up, the competitive Call of Duty experience is at its finest in Black Ops. It’s more or less what we’ve seen before, but added tweaks and adjustments make this the most polished. Those who spent any time with World at War’s online multiplayer will be glad to hear that kills earned through killstreak rewards (dogs, napalm strikes, et cet) no longer count towards a player’s overall killstreak. Those fresh off of Modern Warfare 2 will be happy to see that shotguns are now primary weapons, and dual-wielded shotguns are no longer game-breakers.

And once again, I have to give a shout-out to the four new Wager Modes. They are both a fun diversion from the normal straightforward hecticity of normal online matches, as well as fantastic and addicting in their own right.

The campaign mode, of course, features gameplay as well – albeit increasingly short segments tied together by dialog and scripted scenes. That’s not to say that it’s an entirely passive experience, though – especially on higher difficulty levels, your combat skills will be tested. Also, Black Ops does a better job of mixing in more objectives than simply mowing down wave after wave of enemies. One particularly interesting sequence puts you in the shoes of a CIA agent directing a small ground force of troops from the air above, using radar equipment. During this level, the gameplay shifts from above to the ground with very slick transitions, allowing you to play as a ground soldier as well as the directing agent above. Vehicle segments, which have remained absent from the Modern Warfare games, are back with vengeance in Black Ops, and they provide some of the game’s more intense moments.

Like World at War before it, Black Ops features an entirely unique game mode in the form of Zombies. Once again, you and up to three other people stake out in a run-down military base and fend off wave after wave of undead scum. The mode is almost exactly the same; you use the points you earn slaying zombies to buy weapons and ammo, as well as open up doors to new rooms, making the overall arena larger and larger over time. Weak barricades can be rebuilt, but essentially all their is between you and and the hoard is your trigger finger. It’s fun, intense, and undeniably addicting. And this time around, it features 100% more cheesy one-liners from the faceless soldiers you play as.

But oh, wait! There’s more still. Many reviewers across the interwebs have refused to “spoil” it, but I’d feel downright remiss if I didn’t mention Black Ops’ wonderful little easter egg: Dead Ops Arcade. It’s a top-down arcade rendition of Zombies, complete with charmingly MIDI arcade music, tons of power-ups, high scores to rank up, and a random gorilla who steals your shit at the end of every game. That is to say, it’s entirely and completely awesome. You’ll have to reference the internet to find out how to access it, but hey, we don’t have any problems with that in this day and age, now do we?

If you haven’t gathered, Black Ops packs in a ton of gameplay value for your buck. And it’s all quality.


Like every other aspect of the game, Treyarch has found a way to push the envelope a little further in the aesthetics department. Character models, for example, are notably more detailed and expressive. Textures are rich, water effects are fantastic, and the game never slows for a second, no matter how much is going on at one time. (During the campaign, at least.)

Also, like no Call of Duty before it, Treyarch has managed to put together some impressively atmospheric sequences in Black Ops. A particular sequence that comes to mind is when Alex Mason and his crew explore a downed ship carrying a chemical weapon – superb lighting effects, eerie music, and a copious amount of dead bodies make this one of the more memorable levels.


The sound of war is hot and heavy in Black Ops. Once again, the sound design is quite superb, and only enhances the bombastic action of the setpieces. Aside from sound design, Black Ops features very strong voice acting that keeps the action believable. There are plenty of voices you’ll recognize, even – Sam Worthington (the Avatar guy) voices Alex Mason, and does a fantastic job of it. Ed Harris is slightly less impressive as Mason’s CIA handler Jason Hudson. Other notable voices include Gary Oldman as Viktor Reznov (probably the best performance in the game) Topher Grace, and Ice Cube. (Not as obnoxious as you’d assume.)


You won’t find a much more complete entertainment package than Call of Duty: Black Ops. From the intensely engaging campaign mode to the insanely addictive multiplayer, from the cooperative mayhem of Zombies to the charmingly unexpected Dead Ops Arcade, this is a hell of a bang for your buck. Treyarch as outdone both themselves and a certain Infinity Ward with this one. If you’re a fan, don’t miss out. If you’re not a fan, this won’t change your mind. If you’ve never played, this is the best place to start.

Spam Comment Roundup #004

Wednesday, November 17th, 2010

Well, Riddles is late doing god-knows-what, so here’s that stored up Spam Comment Roundup.

Man, have I ever missed a lot of amazing comments by being lazy with this column.

It turns out that they auto-delete after a time, so all the amazing ones I had stored up are gone forever. The only one I kinda remember involves a robot named “pedo bear” posting something about how this site should be God. It was pretty great.

But it’s lost to the ether, so why don’t I give you guys a few others to work with?

1 – Marty Yeddo’s Confession -
Tried to post to “Life at the Descent of the Waggle: Shattered Dreams

During our surprisingly involved Waggle Week, Marty Yeddo decided to try and let everybody know the following:

Emma is so Hot.


2 – robots pour piscine’s Confession -
Tried to post to “Life for the Future of the Waggle: The Glorious “What If?”s

Also commenting during Waggle Week, this comment is a little more relevant.

I like to read nice things!

Hey, thanks! Although it doesn’t actually specify that the article was a nice thing that it liked reading. It could be a completely irrelevant comment. Also, its name roughly translates to “robots for pools” so I feel like the thing is a little suicidal as well…

3 – ninja 650 lady’s Lesson for the Day -
Tried to post to “Welcome to Black Ops Week

Despite its badass name, ninja 650 lady decided to drop a really lame knowledge bomb on us.

A metaphor is like a simile.


Soldier’s Journal – Five Days with Black Ops

Tuesday, November 16th, 2010

Whew boy. Here I am, late and barely within the timeframe of relevance – yet again!

It’s alright, though, I kinda like it here. (I couldn’t help but get used to it.)

So, this is Black Ops week. Well, it’s supposed to be over, but the banner’s still there. (Because I didn’t make the new one yet, ha ha!) As most of you know, I did, in fact, acquire a copy of the game. It was Thursday, right after I wrote the most recent HLL. If you recall, my balls were about to burst from anticipation – it’s been a long time since I wanted a game so badly.

So, the question is begged: if I’ve had it since Thursday, why the hell haven’t I written a damn thing about it? Two simple reasons:

1. The six-day work week recently made a dramatic return to my life. Time-consuming stuff.

2. During what free time I had, I couldn’t stop playing Black Ops long enough to actually write about it.

So yes. I’ve been playing lots of Black Ops. My time has mainly been spent with the game’s online multiplayer modes, but I’ve also played through a large chunk of the campaign, and dabbled in some Zombies. Wanna know what I think of it all so far? Well too bad, because here it is.

The Multiplayer

Amigad. The multiplayer, man. The fucking incredibly addictive multiplayer. It may all feel pretty damn familiar, but I’m perfectly fine with that. Call of Duty has been the showcase for console FPS gameplay, and Black Ops solidifies this fact.

Anyone familiar with previous CoDs since Modern Warfare will feel right at home in Black Ops. The same, finely-tuned focus-and-shoot gunplay is here, with melee attacks and grenades, both lethal and tactical, to back you up. There are some familiar weapons and some new weapons; the same goes for killstreaks and perks.

Some tweaks and adjustments have been implemented here and there; for example, you can’t equip a shotgun as a secondary weapon. As disappointing as this was to me, personally, I understand why – shotguns are more than powerful enough to function as primary weapons. As devestating as my ACR/SPAS-12 combo may have been in Modern Warfare 2, it was, perhaps, a little unbalanced.

There are some fun new killstreaks in Black Ops, such as the oft-discussed explosive RC car. The car is indeed a fun little device, although you may actually become bored of using it after a while. The Tactical Nuke perk from Modern Warfare 2 has been removed, which is good news for everyone aside from the lifeless wankers who can actually rack up a 25-kill streak and rub our faces in it with a fucking nuke.

Oh, yeah, and there’s a crossbow in the game. And ballistic knives. And tomahawkes. All entirely made of win, let me tell you. The maps are colorful and dynamic, the game runs fantastically, the matchmaking is top-notch – it’s all shining with the same level of polish we’ve come to expect from the Call of Duty franchise.

So while Black Ops is the same basic formula we’ve all grown used to,  Treyarch has made enough additions and tweaks to make the game worth your while. And I haven’t even talked about the most brilliant new addition to Black Ops: Wager Mode.

We’ve talked about Wager Mode before. Oh yes, some months ago I believe, when the game’s multiplayer modes were finally revealed to the world. Reference HLL #60 for detailed explanations of the four different Wager Modes if need be, or simply take my word that they are awesome. And incredibly, incredibly addicting.

Or, I should say that two of the four modes are. “One in the Chamber” and “Sticks and Stones” are both incredibly addicting and fun. One in the Chamber throws you in a map with five other players, three lives, and a pistol with a single bullet. Kill an enemy, and you take his bullet. One shot kills, and it’s a fight to survive the longest. It’s a tense, adrenaline-fueled distraction from the normal chaos of an online deathmatch.

Stick and Stones equips you with a crossbow, ballistic knives, and a tomahawk. Suffice to say, this primitive array of weaponry makes for some very unique, up-close and personal battles. Players kill eachother for points, and the top three at the end of the time limit win COD points. Hit someone with a tomahawk (which is damn hard to do) and you reset their score to zero, or “bankrupt” them.

The other two modes, Gun Game and Sharpshooter are fun as well, though not as impressive. Gun Game rewards you with a more powerful weapon every time you kill an enemy; first to cycle through them all wins. Sharpshooter simply gives you a random weapon every 45 seconds, which keeps things varied and interesting.

So yes. The multiplayer is still fantastic, and even more robust than before. I could go on about it if I chose to, but I will not. Perhaps we should briefly turn our attention to…

The Campaign

It’s funny how my own interests have shifted. When I first played Call of Duty, I had no interest in competitive multiplayer. I didn’t seriously start playing with Modern Warfare 2’s multiplayer modes until months after the game’s release – and it took me a long, grueling time to get to a point where I didn’t die the moment my feet hit the ground. But, while my love and appreciation for the Campaign Mode may now be overshadowed by my addiction to the multiplayer, I’ve still found some time to spend with the campaign mode in Black Ops – and that time has been rewarding.

First and foremost, the way the game tells the story is unique and intriguing. You’re Alex Mason, a government Black Operative being held by captors with hidden faces and muffled voices. As they interrogate Mason about his missions as a government Black Operative, you’re placed in Mason’s shoes to re-live his hellish  history of covert warfare. It’s an effective technique, and it brings a much-needed tangible protagonist to the story. Unlike Modern Warfare 2, Black Ops actually knows how to take a breath every so often and develop some characters and plot points. The result is the most coherent and enjoyable storyline I’ve seen from the series.

So far, at least. I have not finished the campaign as of yet. Which is why I didn’t just write a review for the game. I can’t help but wonder if a review is redundant at this point.

Well, I guess I could talk about Zombies then. Because I haven’t really done anything with the Zombie mode. I can never kill the stupid undead dogs that come in on wave 5. It’s actually somewhat humiliating.

Well. We’ll see, I guess. Apparently a new Assassin’s Creed game comes out tomorrow. I’d be more excited, but I honestly don’t want to put Black Ops down for a second.

I suppose I’ll do what must be done. But, before we close out this week, let me go on the record saying that Black Ops is a fantastically enjoyable shooter on every level, and you should own it if you’re a Call of Duty fan. K? Thx. Bai.


Dirty Words: War and its Mythology in Videogames

Monday, November 15th, 2010

From what popular media has taught me of WAR, I know that it is an environment where in two or more groups of people make proficient use of both large and small machines that were invented for the sole purpose of impeding the existence of individuals other than themselves. They do this so that they can get their way. “Their way” most often includes their own comfort and survival, as well as the comfort and survival of their friends. I also know that it appeals to a lot of males because it is a perpetual opportunity to flex nuts. The millennia have conditioned us to savor the domination of others, ensuring that the strongest lead and ensure the perpetuation of the species. There are many paths to the visceral satisfaction of domination: Intellectual duals, inebriated high-decibel arguments, passive aggressive notes left for your roommates above your infested sink, and so on. The most direct and clear route, however, is violent confrontation. There can be no greater clarity in designating the alpha status then the exertion of control over another living thing’s very existence.  If domination were a drug, I imagine the violence of war would be like spiking a pulsing, juicy, blue vein before collapsing in to a four-post, king-size bed made entirely of breasts.

Unfortunately, WAR is not a bed of breasts. It is a thoroughly pre-meditated and meticulously executed orgy of endings. I could never succeed in an accurate mental replication. I would never and have never tried. In my opinion, neither has any videogame.

The now canonical controversy surrounding violence in videogames often makes the argument that they glorify WAR. Videogames have a unique relationship with WAR so far as they are very particular about what sorts of experiences they chose to simulate. The discrepancies between what goes on in WAR and what is presented in videogames suggests to me that no developer has ever attempted to “realistically” simulate it. A game in which the player spends six months in a desert masturbating and being yelled at before getting their legs blown off by an IED on a routine patrol would not sell well. Videogames have always instead concerned themselves with the “mythology” of WAR, which pre-dates the invention of the medium. A mythology takes shape when a particular practice or institution exists long enough for characteristic details to filter through the bulk of affairs and be circulated as a popular, if not always accurate, archetype. In this case, stories of showing remarkable competence and ability in hostile environments: War stories.

They’ve existed as long as men and women have returned from war to tell them. Their legitimacy is irrelevant. We delight in their telling and they inspire great works of art in all mediums. It is these narratives that contemporary videogame developers strive to simulate. The controversy arises from inarticulate differentiation. I doubt the developers would even know where to divide fact from fiction, nor would they want to.  Any disclaimer outright refuting the game’s factuality would be suicidal. The audience’s delight is built on the plausibility of truth, however remote. It is for this reason that I place the onus for violent behaviour in any way resulting from videogames on the audience. In the cultivation of their maturity, functional adults should have at some point developed the ability to discern between fantasy and reality. They should educate their children to do so.  If they deem the child is not yet mentally capable of the differentiation, appropriate censorship should be implemented.

James Joyce writes in Stephen Hero, ‘the artist who could disentangle the subtle soul of the image from its mesh of defining circumstances chosen as the most exact for it in its new office, he was the supreme artist.’ This is the province of the WAR game developer. For a parent or guardian to not educate their dependents as to the nature of their art is criminal and can more than likely lead to catastrophic misinterpretation, but with the release of Call of Duty: Black Ops, we have seen the careful and committed hand of a few very talented artists. To otherwise know them would be equally criminal.


“Dirty Words” will be the handle for all subsequent written work from Mr. Lameish. Kay?

What Riddles has written about Black Ops so far

Sunday, November 14th, 2010

“Black Ops – Day 1

The Multiplayer
-Finds matches quickly
-Works quite well on PSN right now; few dropped matches.”

And that’s it. Whattaprick. I know I owe you guys a TTKL and a Scatter Storming like there’s no tomorrow, but c’mon!

I might not be playing Black Ops, but I can entertain you

Thursday, November 11th, 2010

Hey! Look! Listen! #66 – Your Prompt Attention is (not) Required

Thursday, November 11th, 2010

How do I come up with these titles?

Well, in this particular instance, I glanced to my left, and saw a billing notice from the Murfreesboro Electric Department. About halfway down the page, there’s a black bar with large white text that says “LATE NOTICE  - YOUR PROMPT ATTENTION IS REQUIRED.”

So I put that in the title. Then I realized that it wasn’t true, so I put the “not” in parentheses. And that’s the story of how I came up with the title for Hey! Look! Listen! #66.

For those of you who are wondering, I did, in fact, pay my electric bill. Before they shut off my electricity, even. If I hadn’t, I wouldn’t be typing this right now, because laptops require electricity to function. Mine, particularly, because my stupid battery doesn’t work.

Anyway. That’s enough of this nonsense. I ramble because there isn’t a terrible amount of interesting things going on in the world this week. However, this column is also the only thing standing in between me and my acquisition of Black Ops. So, let’s get to it, shall we?

Because Ethos is Canadian: Kevin Butler Brings Good News and Tired Jokes

I’ve always been somewhat hesitant to join in the fun of berating, belittling, and otherwise laughing at the expense of our red-headed cousins up North. Why? Well, two fairly obvious reasons; for one, Ethos is Canadian. But that’s not really a reason, now that I think about it. The main reason is that I actually kinda like Canada, (or at least Toronto) and making jokes at the country’s expense tends to ring somewhat hollow in my ears.

Regardless, I recognize Canada as a concept with a wealth of comedic opportunity, and I can hardly fault those who capitalize on said opportunities. Like Kevin Butler, here. Apparently Canadians finally get access to Sony’s overpriced video store, and they decided it was a big enough deal to make a Kevin Butler video about it.

What he fails to mention is that, despite their lack of overpriced movies, Canadians have had disc-less Netflix streaming for a year now. We just now graduated to that luxury here in the states. So… yeah.

Also, I really want pancakes now. Really… badly.

Black Ops is Here, What Does the World Think?

A new Call of Duty game is one of the single largest gaming events of any given year, or so has become the case in the last four years or so. Modern Warfare 2 set records, stirred controversies, and sparked all kinds of discussions last year – and now Black Ops is here to do the same thing. It’s only been a few days, but what has the world thought of Black Ops so far?

Well, for starters, the game currently holds a 90.54% aggregate score on GameRankings.com. That’s for the Xbox 360 version of the game, by the by; which, according to this awesomely in-depth Digital Foundry article, is the technically superior version. (I swear, every time I read something by Digital Foundry, it makes me wonder why I don’t visit that site every day.)

By and large, reviewers are calling this the best Call of Duty yet. Or that’s what I’m piecing together, at least; almost all of the reviews hail Black Ops as having both the most cohesive storyline of the franchise, as well as the most fully-featured multiplayer suite. Seeing that the campaign and the multiplayer are (essentially) the two main components of the game, I take that as a concession that Black Ops is the best so far. That’s the general opinion at least.

Also, several reviewers touch on the game’s extreme, brutal violence. Being the sadistic son of a bitch that I am, I’m intrigued to see if I find it as offensive as certain reviewers did.

But really, who cares about the critical reception? Activision doesn’t, I can tell you that. Why not? Because they’re too busy swimming in all their damn money. Last year, Modern Warfare 2 brought in $310 million on its opening day, and became literally the largest entertainment product launch in history. This year, Black Ops has broken even that insane record, with Activision reporting that the game generated an estimated $360 million on launch day. That’s 5.6 million copies.

That’s a lot. A lot. A lot. Shortly after wiping his ass with a Benjamin, Activision head Bobby Kotick had this to say: “There has never been another entertainment franchise that has set opening day records for two consecutive years and we are on track to outperform last year’s five-day global sales record of $550 million.”

But, oh. Wait. Not everyone’s happy. Gamers are happy, retailers are happy, Bobby Kotick is using $20 bills as jizzrags, but as per always, with so many happy people around someone has to come balance the karma. So, who’s un-happy? Some damn crochety veteran. Go figure. Vietnam veteran and Winnipeg resident Ron Parkes thinks it’s “tacky” that Activision released Black Ops on Remembrance Day.

“Remembrance Day is not a consumer advocate’s day and this company is clearly using the date as a marketing strategy.

“War is always a miserable experience and the movies or video games depicting these wars never really do catch how bad it really is.”

Yes. War is bad. Very, very bad. Awful, really. That’s why I’ve never fought in one, personally. But, that being the case, two things:

1. I can see no evidence whatsoever that Activision is using Remembrance Day as a marketing tactic

2. What the fuck is Remembrance Day? Don’t we already have a Memorial Day?

I’m a patriot, for sure. I’ll be bringing you my own thoughts of Black Ops soon enough.

God Damn It, A New Assassin’s Creed is Out Next Week?

Apparently so. It feels like Assassin’s Creed II just came out a year ago, and now Brotherhood is here. And it looks good. Really good, actually; and early word on the street is that the appearances aren’t deceiving.

Since it was first introduced to the world, the Assassin’s Creed franchise has always been graced with very stellar, creative marketing campaigns. Some of the trailers for the original game remain my favorite of all time. And now, this eerie live-action trailer for Brotherhood is likely to receive similar honors. Whether or not you enjoy Assassin’s Creed, if you have an appreciation for good videogame trailers, check this one out.

(Shut up, Ethos.)

Nintendo Trademarks “It’s On Like Donkey Kong”

Okay… sorry, but just how full of yourself do you have to be to trademark pop culture catchphrases based on your brand names?

The thing is, this isn’t a first, but part of a pattern when it comes to Nintendo. Apparently, they’ve already trademarked the phrases “It’s a-me, Mario,” “Wii would like to play,” and “Gotta catch ‘em all.”

I mean, come on. You don’t see me filing trademarks for “there is no exploration in Metroid,” do you?

Although, now that I think about it, that’s sort of an interesting idea. I could make Shawn and all the other denizens of Lusipurr.com pay licensing fees to use it. Given the immense popularity of the phrase, I feel like a reasonable compromise could be reached.

Here’s the First Nine Minutes of Prince of Persia HD

Of course, unless you live in Europe, this will only serve to infuriate you further. That’s what it did to me. The Prince cleans up pretty damn well, it seems. I’m surprised how much less shitty his character model from Sands of Time looks when upscaled; but I’m even more impressed with the level of detail that the environments now have the ability to display. Of all the franchises that have been given/are getting an HD facelift, Prince of Persia is by far the most deserving.

And it’s only going to be released in Europe.

God damn you, Sony. Hear my cantankerous grumblings, and give me this damn trilogy.

And that’s it. I’m off to buy Black Ops. I can’t wait any longer. Byyeee.

Black Ops TV Commercial, Examined

Wednesday, November 10th, 2010

This is an interesting commercial.

Not to mention fucking hilarious.

Lets check it out.

We are presented with an almost entirely indiscriminate cross-section of the first world populous. People from opposite ends of every demographic spectrum are present. Everyone from the attractive black businesswoman to the scruffy white construction worker belongs to an identifiable group that starkly contrasts the ones that precede it. Care is taken to include a chubby young white female that would otherwise be considered aesthetically unacceptable for television, save for some situation in which it was her definitive characteristic. Too much of a generalization for you? Exhibit One. Your move.

Individuals with varying degrees of social recognition are some of the most notably featured. Kobe Bryant and Jimmy Kimmel are easily picked out amidst the din as opposed to the fry cook to whom goes the climactic moment of badassery: as a luminous inferno violently blooms in the background, he blind fires his pistols at his sides before letting them fall to the rubble, without ever breaking a cold, camera bound stare. It’s also worth noting that he commands possibly the most badass manstache ever to grace television, or any other visual medium, for that matter.

The sentiment being, it would seem, that no matter who you are, how you are categorized in society, and whatever restrictions that may impose on you, this game makes the glory of war accessible to you. Unless you happen to be a white male between the ages of 10 and 15, the only demographic noticeably absent from this commercial. Now I ask anyone who’s ever spent more than 30 seconds in a Call of Duty multiplayer game, does that sound right? Have you ever been able to endure a single team deathmatch without at least having to silence the nasal, pre-testicular descent, baying of the household variety American teen male?

I didn’t think so.

I had my critical can(n)on loaded and was ready to call some serious bullshit, but I realize there must be certain legal stipulations regarding the depiction/suggestion of anyone under the age 18 enjoying a game that is rated Mature by the ESRB. How fortunate for you, Treyarch. The commercial’s closing tag line is “There’s a soldier in all of us”, which sounds more to me like the marketing department’s wishful thinking than an accurate insight in to the nature of the human condition. A more accurate tagline might have been “There’s a soldier in every hormone-addled American teenager that will buy our game no matter what we advertise. In the meantime, the rest of you should buy it too!”

Using the Stones’ “Gimme Shelter”, one of the most iconic anti-war anthems in American history, certainly isn’t targeting the youth of today, (with their Bieber fever and their Lady Gaga, and various other pop stars that sound as though they were named after an infant’s first audible gurglings.) No, it speaks to an older generation, the one who bought videogames for their kids. The ones abundantly depicted in the commercial proper. Treyarch is after big people money now, because they really don’t have to worry about the young stuff, and based on what I can only imagine the astronomical royalty fees must be on a song like that, I’d say they want it pretty bad. I’d conventionally condemn Treyarch’s attempts at expanding their consumer demographic, were it not for the fact that their massive financial success with MW2 gave them the security they needed to try something this risky, and Black Ops is exactly that: risky, but that’s a conversation for another article. In any case, the rest of us are free to Pew! Pew! to our hearts’ content, because war is fun as long as you’re not actually in a war.


That sounds worth talking about. The topic of this week’s upcoming Call Me Lameish will be videogames and their relationship with the North American mythology of war. Mark the date. Tell your friends.


Welcome to Black Ops Week

Tuesday, November 9th, 2010

We seem to be on a bit of a roll here at Riddlethos.com, but instead of congratulating ourselves, we’re just gonna keep on keepin’ on.

As you can tell by that gorgeous and atmospheric banner up above, it is Black Ops week here at Riddlethos.com, in which I’ll be taking the time to ask: has it really been a year since Modern Warfare 2 was released? Christ. It’s a year later, things are more or less the same, and I still haven’t prestiged in that game. And now that Black Ops is here, I probably never will.

That said, I don’t actually possess a copy of Black Ops at the moment. I get paid tomorrow, meaning I’ll be able to pick up a copy on Thursday, most likely.

As for what you can expect from this week: well, I doubt it’ll be quite as cohesive as last week, given the fact that I’ll be the only one playing the game. But, I’ll be doing my level best to keep you informed of my thoughts as I progress through the game. Given the initial reactions – reviews claiming it’s the best story seen in the franchise, as well as the highest concentrated level of brutal violence – I’m sure we’ll have some interesting things to talk about. Eh?