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Warning: Black may cause divorce

by Kenny Lindsay

KABOOM! would have been a more fitting title for this game but I guess in fear of a copyright lawsuit, Electronic Arts figured Black would be a more bulletproof name. The game places you in an undisclosed locations around the world as some sort of mercenary, special ops, fire-eating killing machine fighting against the Black Operation terror cells that are not so ironically spawned from our own beloved government. All right then, we’re off to good start for an utterly destructive gaming experience.

Black immediately throws you into a lead slinging frenzy of tracer rounds, with the explosive, demoralizing force of modern combat and intense firefights. What struck me the most, alongside the visual effects, was the sound detail. I played the game through a Yamaha RXV surround sound-system with the volume cranked up so loud the windows were rattling. I’m surprised my neighbors didn’t call the police’… hell, I’m surprised my wife didn’t call the police just to get me out of the house.

The acoustics are so well defined in this game that you can actually find an enemy by listening. Shots echo in the distance throughout alleys, trees, blown-out buildings and even tunnels. When the smoke is heavy and you’ve lost visual, hone in on the distinct sound of projectiles hitting Kevlar, toss a grenade and unload a couple clips. There is no shortage of ammo either, inspiring generosity as you slay your victims. Black also offers typical bonus features such as unlocking special skills that after beating the game on certain difficulty levels make round two of the game even easier than it already is. The challenge factor is a little weak but it adds to the overall fun of the short-lived title. I also felt a bit limited in the decision making and overall strategy factor, but the allowance of shorthand creativity makes up for it. For example some of the enemies are harder to take down than others. A heavily armored soldier carrying a shotgun can take almost a full clip from an AK-47, but if you’re crafty, a head shot with your pistol will knock his helmet off and before he has a chance to get up another execution-style pull of the trigger will finish the job. The storyline gets old really quick after being interrogated by some government official in a smoke filled room but it heightens the anxiety of getting back out on the battle field.

No matter how many games I play I’m always amazed at the advancements of technology and the growing power of cheaper graphic engines, surround sound systems, larger displays and the overall magnitude of what computers are offering us these days. I remember my fathers first TRS-80 color computer from Radio Shack where programs and games were purchased on a tape cassette. What turns me on the most is that game developers are able to concentrate more on storylines, gameplay and minute details that in the past were untouchable. EA Games spitting out the title Black is a sure-fire forecast of what’s to come of next-gen shooters on the PS3 and already released X-Box 360.

To comment on this column, e-mail Kenny Lindsay at kenny@yesweekly.com.

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