Codex Gamicus

Call of Duty: Black Ops (abbreviated as CoD: BlOps) is a first-person shooter video game developed by Treyarch, published by Activision and released worldwide on November 9, 2010 for Microsoft Windows, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii consoles, with a separate version for Nintendo DS developed by n-Space. Announced on April 30, 2010, the game is the seventh instalment of the Call of Duty series, and the first to be set during the Cold War. It is the third in the series to be developed by Treyarch, and is a sequel to the developer's Call of Duty: World at War. Call of Duty: Black Ops - Limited Edition was released on July 19, 2011 in North America.

Within 24 hours of going on sale, the game sold more than 7 million copies, 5.6 million in the U.S. and 1.4 million in the UK, breaking the record set by its predecessor Modern Warfare 2 by some 2.5 million copies. A subtitled version was released in Japan on November 18, 2010. A Japanese-dubbed version was released on December 16, 2010. After six weeks on release, Activision reported Black Ops has reached $1 Billion in sales.


Black Ops is a first-person shooter. The player assumes the role of a foot soldier and thus has access to various firearms, of which two can be carried, as well as explosives such as grenades and other equipment to fight enemies. When players are close enough to an enemy, they can perform a melee attack which ensures a one-hit-kill.

A character can be positioned in one of the three stances: standing, crouching, or prone; each affecting the character's rate of movement, accuracy, and stealth. The player can directly dive prone from a standing position. The player can momentarily run faster before getting tired. When the character has taken damage, the screen glows red. Health regenerates by avoiding damage. When the character is within the blast radius of a live grenade, a marker indicates the direction of the grenade, helping the player to either flee or throw it back.

The game features weapons like crossbows (with alternative explosive ammunition), Dragon's Breath rounds and ballistic knives. Brutality and gore are present, with a dismemberment feature.


The player assumes the role of various characters during the single-player campaign, changing perspectives throughout the story. The playable characters are special forces operatives conducting black operations behind enemy lines. In this way, the player's characters will have their own traits such as voices and shadows.

Each mission features a series of objectives that are displayed on the head up display, which marks the direction and distance towards and from such objectives. The player is accompanied by friendly troops who cannot be issued orders.

Although primarily a first-person shooter, the player will get to pilot a Hind helicopter and guide friendly troops from an SR-71 Blackbird reconnaissance aircraft.

The campaign is filled with scripted cinematic moments. One of them is a bullet time effect during the "Victor Charlie" level, activated when the player fires toward the last enemy of a Viet Cong squad.



A zombie cooperation mode, titled "Zombies", is included in the game. Originally featured in World at War, it

was revamped to be included into Black Ops. It is a four-player online and two-player split screen co-op mode (which can also be unlocked online). In the map "Five", players take the roles of John F. Kennedy, Richard Nixon, Robert McNamara, and Fidel Castroas they fight zombies at The Pentagon. There is one map based on the original game called Kino Der Toten ("Theater of the dead" or "Cinema of the dead" in German). This map features the characters from World at War—Edward Richtofen, Tank Dempsey, Takeo Masaki, and Nikolai Belinski. Limited editions of the game offers four zombie maps from World at War. There is an unlockable top-down, two-stick arcade-shooter version of Zombies known as Dead Ops Arcade.

Included in the First Strike Map Pack is Ascension. Ascension takes place in an abandoned Soviet Cosmodrome, and like Kino der Toten, features the characters from World at War. Additionally, it includes two new weapons (the Gersch Device and Matryoshka Dolls), as well as two new perks (PhD Flopper and Stamin-Up), and one new power-up (the Bottle), A new enemy, the Space Monkeys, appear in this map, replacing the Hellhounds and the Pentagon Thief.

Included in the Escalation Map Pack is Call of the Dead, which takes place on a movie set with director George A. Romero. The cast includes Sarah Michelle Gellar, Robert Englund, Michael Rooker, and Danny Trejo also the 8 foot tall director George A. Romeo. Although you do not play as George he will always be there on his set.


Multiplayer screenshot.

The online multiplayer mode of Black Ops retains the experience points and unlockable reward system that has been kept since Call of Duty 4. The game's multiplayer focuses on socialization and customization."Create-a-Class 2.0" will allow enhanced personalization with appearance items as well as upgradable perks: weapons will be extensively customizable with clan tag writing, emblems, attachments and camouflage painting. Even reticles can be modified. There will be more than one style for an attachment, which allows for a lot more personalized weaponry; For example the player can choose between a Red Dot Sight or a Reflex Sight, both of which share the same traits only visually look different. Character models will depend on the first tier perk instead of the weapon's type. Furthermore, face paints can be unlocked.

Players can now customize their weapons.

A currency system has been implemented allowing players to buy weapons, accessories and clothes. Players can gamble with their "COD Points" in a free-for-all based playlist called "Wager Match", which is composed of four game modes. Time limited objectives known as "Contracts" can be purchased to gain more currency and experience points. New custom killstreak rewards include RC explosive cars, guided missiles and controllable attack helicopters. For the first time in the series, clips from online gameplay can be recorded. Players will be able to play alone or with friends against AI opponents in "Combat Training" with a separate progression system.

Some PC specific features that were taken away from Infinity Ward's Modern Warfare 2 will return, such as lean, mod tools, the developer console and dedicated servers. Dedicated servers will be exclusively provided by GameServers. Steam will be the exclusive platform for Black Ops on PC, so the game will be protected by Valve Anti-Cheat.

There will be a distinct four-player online and two-player split screen co-op mode. It is said to be closer to Nazi Zombies of World at War than Modern Warfare 2's Special Ops. Limited editions of the game will offer the four Zombies maps from World at War for this mode


Call of Duty: Black Ops takes place during the Cold War. The player mainly controls two characters: Alex Mason and Jason Hudson who are Studies and Observations Group operatives on missions behind enemy lines, in locations such as the Ural Mountains, Laos, Cuba, and Vietnam.

The game begins in an interrogation room, strapped to a chair and surrounded by televisions and other electronics. A voice (Disguised, but obviously a man's voice) starts talking, and begins the interrogation. Mason is asked several questions, then begins to recall one of his first missions. This mission consists of Mason, Frank Woods, and Joseph Bowman attempting to assassinate Fidel Castro during the Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba as a part of Operation 40. Mason succeeds in the assassination, but their extraction goes awry, with Mason staying behind to protect the extraction plane. He is captured by the real Castro and the Cuban military. Having formed an alliance with the Russia, Castro hands Mason over to General Nikita Dragovich as a gift of their alliance. Mason is then held captive at Vorkuta Gulag, a Russian labor camp, for two years.

During his imprisonment, Mason befriends Viktor Reznov (a returning character from Call of Duty: World at War), a former Red Army soldier. Reznov recounts Mason the identities of those involved in Mason’s torture: Dragovich, Lev Kravchenko, and an ex-Nazi scientist who defected to the Soviet Union, Friedrich Steiner. All three share a connection to Reznov: in October 1945, Reznov, Dragovich, Kravchenko, and Dimitri Petrenko (protagonist of World at War Russia campaign) were a part of a unit sent to locate Steiner. Once Steiner is found, he leads Dragovich to a shipwrecked SS frigate, containing a nerve agent known as "Project Nova". Steiner tells the effects of the gas to Dragovich, but he wants to see first-hand what the gas does. Petrenko and two other Russian soldiers are locked in a room, then gassed while Reznov watches from a window. Reznov is spared when British SAS commandos attack. During the confusion, he destroys Project Nova. It is salvaged by the Russians, becoming known as "Nova-6." Shortly afterward, Reznov is imprisoned in Vorkuta for killing Russian soldiers during the escape from the ship. At Vorkuta, Mason and Reznov spark a prisoner uprising to escape the gulag, but only Mason manages to escape

One month later, Mason is taken to the Pentagon with his new handler, Hudson. Mason is taken to President John F. Kennedy, who authorizes the assassination of Dragovich. In November 1963, Mason, Woods and Bowman are dispatched to Baikonur Cosmodrome in the Kazakh SSR to disrupt the Soviet space program. Russian-born CIA agent Grigori Weaver is captured during the operation and Kravchenko slices his eye while torturing him (from here on Weaver wears a patch over his eye socket as his eye is lost). The team save Weaver and eliminate members of the Soviet Ascension program. Dragovich eludes assassination, prompting Mason to search for him over the next five years.

The player's view from the Hind during the campaign.

By 1968, the SOG is deployed in Vietnam to investigate the Soviets' presence. After defending Khe Sanh, the SOG is deployed to Huế during the Tet Offensive to recover a dossier with information on Dragovich from a Russian defector. The team recovers the dossier, while Mason encounters Reznov, who is revealed to be the defector. The team later penetrates Laos to recover a Nova-6 shipment from a downed Soviet plane. The mission goes awry and the team is captured. They are taken to a POW camp, and forced to play Russian Roulette. Bowman is killed by a Spetsnaz operative while there. Mason and Woods escape, and regroup with their team. When Kravchenko is caught, he arms a grenade in order to kill the rest of the SOG team along with himself. However, Woods tackles him through a window, and only those two are killed. Meanwhile, in Hong Kong, Hudson and Weaver interrogate Clarke, an engineer who stabilized Nova-6 in Kowloon. Clarke identifies Steiner as part of the conspiracy, and reveals the location of a hidden facility in Mount Yamantau before being killed by Dragovich's men. Hudson and Weaver head to Mount Yamantau to destroy the facility and apprehend Steiner]. During the mission, Hudson receives a transmission from Steiner requesting to meet him at Rebirth in the Aral Sea to learn how to halt a numbers broadcast with instructions to release Nova-6 gas in American cities. Meanwhile, Mason and Reznov head to Rebirth Island to assassinate Steiner. Mason believes he saw Reznov execute Steiner, but Hudson and Weaver witness Mason carrying out the deed. Hudson tackles him to the ground, and uses Mason's Makarov to pistol-whip him in the head, knocking him out cold. Although not seen, he is taken away to be interrogated, beginning the whole cycle of events from the start of the game.

At this point, Hudson and Weaver are revealed as Mason's interrogators. Hudson realizes that Dragovich brainwashed Mason to understand the numbers broadcasts, effectively becoming a Soviet sleeper agent. Out of options, Hudson deliberately sets Mason free in order to follow him. It is revealed that Reznov died during the Vorkuta break out, and Mason’s visions of Reznov are a result of a personality disorder, a byproduct of Reznov having sabotaged Mason’s brainwashing program. Mason was supposed to assassinate Kennedy, but Reznov reprogrammed him to track down and kill the three men responsible for Dimitri Petrenko's betrayal and death. Mason deciphers the numbers, revealing the location of the Russian cargo ship Rusalka off the coast of Cuba.

By dawn, the team launches an assault on the Rusalka, with Mason and Hudson infiltrating an underwater broadcast station protected by the ship, a Soviet submarine station intended to be used as a staging point for US invasion after the planned Nova-6 attack. Confirming that the Rusalka is the numbers station, Hudson calls in the US Navy to destroy the ship and its underwater base. Mason and Hudson finally kill Dragovich in the lower levels of the station, and swim for the surface during the destruction of the targets, while Reznov's disembodied voice congratulates Mason. Weaver declares victory, but Mason says it is only for now. The story then cuts to a numbers broadcast and then to archive footage of President Kennedy prior to his assassination, with the broadcaster narrating the number sequence and Mason narrating certain numbers and words. Mason's final sayings relate to the assassination of Kennedy, for example, he says "22" which was the day that Kennedy was killed, and "6.5", which was the caliber of the bullet used to kill Kennedy. After a second play-through of the archive footage, Mason’s final words, as well as his presence in the crowd greeting Kennedy's motorcade, suggest that he assassinated Kennedy or that he assisted Oswald in assassinating Kennedy. This theory is supported by Dragovich sarcastically asking "Tried?" before he is killed when Mason says he made him try to kill his President. Note that Kennedy's assassination happens before the events of S.O.G. and after Executive Order, when Mason spends 5 years hunting Dragovich.

Zombie Story Line[]

Dr. Maxis and his scientist team, Group 935, were tasked with creating an army of super soldiers and new technology for the government project christened "Der Riese" or "The Giant". In his experiments, Maxis used Element 115 to create the zombies. The zombies, however, couldn't be controlled and would always be killed when they went berserk. While this was going on, Richtofen was testing 115 on living test subjects to create his super soldiers at a Siberian facility. In his experiments, Richtofen used Takeo, Nikolai Belinski, and an unknown Mexican. When Richtofen accidentally killed the Mexican, he replaced him with Dempsey. Dempsey had recently been captured when he led a Marine Recon team to an abandoned asylum to rescue Dr. Peter McCain, an OSS spy sent to infiltrate Group 935. Peter, however, had already been discovered, along with Harvey Yena. The testing affected each of the subjects' minds, making Dempsey extremely aggressive, quieting Takeo into only reciting Japanese proverbs, and making Nikolai functionless without vodka. It also had the side effect of erasing their memories. Richtofen also did testing on Samantha behind her father's back.

The new weapons Group 935 created were also powered by 115. Maxis created the Ray Gun based on plans received from Shi No Numa. Richtofen created the Wunderwaffe DG-2 from 115 and the Monkey Bomb. Maxis promised to mass-produce the DG-2 to his superiors, but his growing infatuation with Sophia slowed his progress and infuriated Richtofen, who then plotted to overthrow him and take control of Group 935.

Maxis also created 115-powered teleporters, but they would always destroy anything sent through them. All of these experiments were done with his assistant, Dr. Richtofen. When he used his daughter Samantha's dog, Fluffy, as a teleporter test subject, he accidentally created the first hellhound. The dog was teleported, but instead of being destroyed like the past test subjects, she was zombified. When Samantha came running in and started questioning her dad about her dog, Richtofen left the room. Richtofen then followed through with his previously-planned betrayal by locking Maxis and his daughter in the room with the hellhound, which apparently killed Maxis and Samantha. Richtofen then proceeded to cover up his betrayal and unleashed the zombies.

Richtofen then took his super-soldiers from the Siberian facility to Shi No Numa, apparently to pick up element 115 from a meteor that had landed there and to get the Wunderwaffe DG-2. After this was done, the group went to Der Riese, which had been abandoned since the zombie takeover. The group used the Wunderwaffe DG-2's 115 to overcharge the Teleporter, making it capable of time travel. Richtofen was apparently unaware of this possibility until he tried it. He seems unconcerned that he and his partners have been teleported to an abandoned theater in Germany in an unknown year. Although he didn't know what year it was, Richtofen knew about the theater as it was the place Maxis would unveil the Teleporter to the German high command. Since Maxis was killed, the theater was abandoned.

Sometime prior to Ascension, Yuri Kravcheski was transferred to work on sending monkeys into space, much to his dismay. His transfer was caused by his superior, Gersch, who he holds a grudge against. As the radio messages progress, Yuri notices the teddy bear and the Matryoshka dolls and wonders how a child could be let into the station. A child then slowly drives Yuri insane. Yuri, in his state of insanity, finishes the Gersch Device and has Gersch activate it, letting in the zombies and seemingly killing Gersch. Yuri soon realizes his mistake and is heard screaming at the end of the last recording.

After the events of Kino der Toten, the main characters somehow reach the abandoned Soviet launch pad in Ascension, possibly by overcharging the Teleporter again, with the 115 meteor fragments found in the theater. When the game starts, the four are landing in the starting room on the lunar lander as the color turns to black and white (which the characters acknowledge). The characters then hear Gersch, who tells them that the mechanism must be repaired. He is referring to the Kassimir Mechanism, which must be repaired by completing different tasks. After all of the tasks are completed and the mechanism is repaired, Gersch is free and gives the characters 90-second death machines.

While the events of Ascension are occurring in Russia, the events of "Five" are also unfolding in the Pentagon. A piece of Intel reveals that all Wunderwaffe materials were to be moved to American-controlled installations. As a mainframe is visible behind one of the windows in "Five", it is apparent that it was moved there as per this order. The Pentagon Thief was a scientist who took Soviet brainwashing technology and traveled back in time with a Teleporter and attempted to control the Zombies. This plan backfired somehow, leaving the scientist zombified and the Pentagon open to attack. While John F. Kennedy, Robert McNamara, Fidel Castro, and Richard Nixon are negotiating, zombies break into the Pentagon with only the four of them left to fight them. While fighting, they call the characters in Ascension using three red telephones spread across the Pentagon.

As they continue fighting, the three super-soldier test subjects slowly regain their memories. Takeo is the first to remember, and remarks to himself that some day when the group is finished fighting zombies Richtofen will get what he deserves. He also shows his observations of the other two. He believes Nikolai drinks vodka because he wishes to forget the past and can't function when he remembers it, perhaps meaning Nikolai is beyond hope. Tank, on the other hand, is slowly making progress, as he remembers that he'd seen Richtofen before the fight at Shi No Numa. Takeo notes his shifting memories and believes Tank is finally remembering what Richtofen did.

Sometime in the present, George A. Romero stumbled upon Group 935's research while making a WWII film. He and the cast took a ship out to an abandoned lab in Siberia. After he and the ship's crew were zombified, only the cast, made up of Sarah Michelle Gellar, Robert Englund, Danny Trejo, and Michael Rooker, remained. This set the stage for Call of the Dead. After the Kassimir Mechanism was completed in Ascension, it overloaded the teleporter and sent the original characters to a Group 935 facility in Siberia, where they were trapped behind a locked door. The celebrities then helped them escape to Paradise. Escaping wasn't Richtofen's only goal, however, as he meant to travel to the Siberan facility to obtain the Golden Rod, which the celebrities found for him without knowing any better. Richtofen thanks the group by giving them the DG-2 to help them fight the zombies. In reality, the group could've escaped after the MDT security system was disabled. It is unknown what became of the celebrities after helping the group escape.

Shangri-La, however, does not live up to its name, as its inhabitants have all been zombified before the group's arrival. Richtofen states that this is the last step to controlling the world before he is teleported there. The temple houses a mining facility filled with Element 115, explaining the inhabitants' zombification.

Prior to the group's arrival to Shangri-La, two explorers, Brock and Gary went on an expedition to prove their theories on Argatha. Brock later figures out that the temple wasn't built by an ancient civilization, but by people in the modern era interpreting it. After investigating the temple, the pair accidentally activated the temple's time travel and died in the resulting Zombie attack. The group travels back in time and helps the pairs survive. The pair's changing fate is illustrated by the radio that changes message and location as the group helps them. When the group finally create the Focusing Stone, it lands on an altar with Richtofen's name on it, meaning the temple was in fact another Group 935 facility and explaining Richtofen's knowledge of its location. The two explorers are then sent back to the moment they discovered the temple, indicating that they're stuck in a never-ending loop. Now with both the Golden Rod and the Focusing Stone in hand, Richtofen claims that everything is going to plan.


In May 2009, publisher Activision was rumored to be looking for licensing regarding Vietnam War-era music which led to speculation that Call of Duty 7 would be set in Vietnam. In May 2009, Treyarch employee David Kim revealed on his LinkedIn profile that he will work as a senior animator on Call of Duty 7. In November 2009, only a few days before Modern Warfare 2's release, Activision officially announced a new Call of Duty title for 2010 through their third quarter financial call. In February 2010, a casting call for Call of Duty 7 led to speculation that the game would be taking place during the Cold War era with some battles taking place in South Vietnam. On April 30, 2010, Black Ops was officially announced.

For Black Ops, Treyarch is focusing only on this game unlike past practice. However, it has different teams, each working on separate game modes. Treyarch is using a motion capture technology similar to the one used in James Cameron's film Avatar, which allows accurate facial expressions, capturing the whole performance of the actor. The studio also consulted special forces veterans from both belligerents of the Cold War: Major John Plaster (US Army-Ret.) who served in the MACV-SOG during the Vietnam War, and former Soviet special forces operative Sonny Puzikas. The latter taught Treyarch how Spetsnaz soldiers would react in combat, such as rolling out of the line of fire. Spetsnaz AIs in the game have been modeled after him, from his tactics and his movements to his face. Although having a historical background, the classified aspect of these Cold War black operations allowed the studio to create its own fictional story.


The game runs on an enhanced World at War engine (which itself was improved from Call of Duty 4Template:'s) at 60 frames per second. It features a streaming texture technology (also seen in Modern Warfare 2), making bigger levels possible such as "Payback" where the player controls a helicopter. Lighting effects have been improved as well.



Within 24 hours of its release, Black Ops had sold a combined total of 5.6 million units in the US and UK market, surpassing that of Modern Warfare 2 and establishing a new record for largest entertainment launch. Compared to the much anticipated opening of Part one of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the game earned more than twice as much as the film, earning $360 million. Only five days after its release, sales from the game worldwide reached US$650 million, surpassing the previous record achieved by Modern Warfare 2 which earned $550 million in five days. As of November 22, the game remains the bestselling title in the United Kingdom, despite sales dropping by 85%.

Some estimates place sales of the game as reaching 18 million units sold, earning a revenue of $818 million. This would fall about 2 million copies and $182 million short of Modern Warfare 2. By December 22, worldwide revenue of Black Ops exceeded $1 billion. Sales remained strong months after the game's release, remaining at the top-seller list in February 2011. By March 2011, it became the best-selling game of all-time in the United States, surpassing Wii Play; 13.7 million copies of Call of Duty: Black Ops had been sold in the United States alone.

Critical response[]

Call of Duty: Black Ops has received generally positive reviews from critics. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the Xbox 360 version of the game has received an average score of 88, based on 65 reviews, which indicates "generally favorable reviews". GameSpot awarded it 9.0 out of ten and wrote "Call of Duty: Black Ops bears the series' standard superbly, delivering an engrossing campaign and exciting competitive multiplayer." Edge magazine was less positive, giving it a 7/10, writing that "As polished and pretty and fun as Black Ops often is, it feels more like a yearly update than a sequel which isn't distinct from its predecessors in any important way". Several reviewers also complained that the game felt too much like a rail shooter, with PC Gamer branding it "barely interactive".

Reviewers also noted that the PC version of the game was buggy and had "a number of frustrating problems", including a lag in multiplayer modes which for some players rendered the game almost "unplayable". Players have also reported serious bugs with the PS3 version, including compatibility issues with 3D televisions. PC World magazine noted that user reviews of the game were much less positive than those of critics. As of November 12, 2010, three days after the release, PS3, Xbox 360, and PC versions of the game held average user ratings of 3.1, 3.1, and 1.8 stars on, respectively (on a 1 to 5 scale), with many PC users complaining about lag, stuttering and bugs.<

In January 2011, to a player complaining about the remaining connection problems for the game on PlayStation 3, an Activision customer service representative threatened that they could shut down the servers for the game for the PlayStation Network at any time. After some days and following some game media heat, Dan Amrich, Activision Social Media Manager, declared that even if they could kill the servers, they did not plan currently to do it. The Daily Telegraph praised Black Ops as an superb experience of gameplay, "the meaty kick of the guns, the blistering pace of the action and the sterling soundtrack of explosions, gunshots and whistling bullets all serve to quicken the player's pulse and tighten their grip on the controller", and mentioned, it is beyond the overwhelming, chaotic action in the game's major gun battles, offers among other things, a stealthy infiltration of a substation in the snow-capped steppes, in which the slow down in action is compensated for by nail-shredding tension and creepy atmosphere.

Official Nintendo Magazine awarded the Wii version 90% and said "Black Ops on Wii is a fantastic shooter packed with all the features of its HD brothers, with the only exception being split-screen multiplayer." Martin Gaston at gave the Wii version 6 out of 10, complaining of Treyarch's reworking of in-game sequences as movies, poor AI, and gameplay problems from lower-resolution graphics.

In February 2011, the Xbox 360 version was named the Xbox Live's top title of 2010 by GameSpot.


Cuba has condemned the release of the game as it has special forces trying but failing to kill a young Fidel Castro, killing instead a body-double. The website Cubadebate said the game "encourages sociopathic attitudes of American children and adolescents, the main consumers of these virtual games". Adam Biessener questioned events depicted in the single-player campaign stating that they push "the lines of good taste." Specifically noted was the scene depicting the torture of a restrained prisoner. In Germany, the uncensored version was expected to be banned by the end of November due to graphic violence. The Federal Department of Media Harmful to Young Persons received an "urgent request" to ban all international versions of the game.