Black
Game Info
Platform(s)
Xbox, PS2
Publisher
EA Games
Developer
Criterion Games
Genre
FPS
Official Website
ESRB Rating
Strong Language, Violence
 
Grade
The Good

• Awesome Graphics
• Intense action
• Only 39.99
• Killer sound

The Bad

• Lack of story
• Length is short
• Where's the multiplayer?

 
Grade
B+

Black is the highly anticipated first person shooter by Criterion, the makers of the wonderful Burnout series. Can the company that has changed the face of arcade racers do the same to the FPS genre?

Black begins with a video introduction that features live actors and sees your main character being questioned by a mysterious man. He wants information and claims that if you tell him what he wants to hear, you just might be saved from going to prison for the rest of your life. While the story that is there is suitable, don't expect to be blown away by the revelations in the game. This game is all about the intense, adrenaline pumping, hands sweating action. Black delivers this in spades and must be commended for the insane action that is seen and heard onscreen while you play.

As the man questions your character you relive past events and see what unfolded. This is how the story progresses and you will find out while you are being questioned. You're a no-holds barred man and do whatever it takes to get to the bottom of the problem. You start the game off in what could seem like a city under attack. The enemy has made you and all hell breaks loose and once it starts it hardly lets up. You are allowed to hold two weapons at a time in and there is always plenty of ammo around. Enemies drop health packs, grenades, and ammo. While making your way through the eight levels, you will experience moments that seem pulled right from the biggest action movies seen. Crumbling buildings, explosions, cars blowing up, shrapnel going everywhere, dust flying in the air, and debris being scattered all over is just about all that will be left when your done with the levels. This game focuses all on the action and does it so well that you can't help but be in amazement and it definitely helps cover up some of Blacks other problems, which I'll get to in a bit.

The game looks and runs amazing for current gen systems. This is easily one of the better looking FPS on Xbox and I wouldn't be surprised if some people thought the game could almost be next gen. The guns all look very realistic and have a nice shine effect to them went moving around and reloading. The reloading animations are done quite well and really show the time and effort that Criterion really put into the look and feel of this game. Enemies look good but they unfortunately don't have too many different looking ones. You're stuck with about 3-4 of the same looking enemies the whole way. Levels are varied and wide. Urban streets, dark forest, and old cemetery are just some of the places you will travel through while fighting your way through many enemies.

What adds to Blacks great feeling of action is the sound. Sound plays a key role in delivering the intense action experience and giving you yet another reason to play this game. Explosions will rock your speakers to the max. You hear the deafening sound of the concussion shock wave from grenades and RPG's. When things explode you know it and the game constantly keeps you on your toes. The enemies constantly taunt you in their foreign language and they go screaming when you throw a grenade. The soundtrack, while not constantly playing, chimes in at the right time to add that extra feeling of being in an action movie. All the guns give off a unique sound and even when equipped with a silence they give a piercing, silent yet deadly effect.

Control-wise, the game plays like most first person shooters. At first the aiming seemed a little different and unfortunately there isn't anyway to calibrate the sensitivity for it. After a while though I became used to it and was killing soldiers left and right. If you've played one FPS before then you'll get the controls down just fine.

Now where Black seems to fault is in a few key choices and I do believe if they had just mixed the game up a little bit more they would have had a greater title on their hands. First thing that comes to mind if the fact that there is no multiplayer, off-line or online. For a shooter this is just strange since these games practically all require multiplayer in some form. The story is an interesting one but just when things are heating up, the game ends. Also, aside from all the shooting, well you will shoot and shoot and shoot some more. The game revolves around pure and constant action and that's about it. Considering the game only has eight levels and the action is fast, don't expect this game to last you more then six to eight hours, if that - I clocked in about four myself.

While Black does a lot of things great it took a few steps back and didn't really add anything new to the FPS genre. Interesting mission objectives and story really lacks. What Black does do right is the fact that you are almost guaranteed to not find another game this action intense in a long time. I've never played a FPS with this much going on and stuff flying around on the screen. So while the game may be shallow in some ways if you're a hardcore action buff then you should enjoy Black immensely. Does killing nonstop and blowing everything to smithereens interest you? Then give Black a try.

- - Justin Celani

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