The Call of Duty Phenomenon - Black Ops Breaks Sales Records

You'd think stop, drop and roll would work better than firing a gun. But what do we know?

In case you've been living under a rock, the newest Call of Duty video game, Black Ops, released last week. And to say that it's been a success would not quite do it justice. Here are some numbers:

  • In five days, the game set a new worldwide sell through record of $650 million, which is better than any movie, book or video game sale, ever. That bests a record that Activision set last year with Modern Warfare 2.

  • By the end of the first day, 5.9 million hours had been logged in the game's multi-player mode.

  • And this is truly amazing, 2.6 million different people played Black Ops in the first 24 hours it was available.

And those are just estimates.

The point is, Black Ops (and Call of Duty in general) is a sensation. Kobe Bryant even appeared in a commercial for the game brandishing an assault rifle.

So what makes this Call of Duty game different from all the other Call of Duty games?

An Even Deeper Multiplayer Mode
Modern Warfare 2 was a phenomenon in its own right, released as a follow up to Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. Treyarch was able to go a step further with Black Ops, offering a ton of different customization options for the game's most-played multi-player mode. Everything from guns, to perks, to face paint are unlockable as you level up through the game, allowing you to trade in currency to purchase those items. You get points for winning matches and getting high scores, so there's an incentive to keep unlocking stuff in the game. Once you unlock a weapon, you can buy it and immediately upgrade to whatever attachments you want. The process is very addictive.

Combined with new wager matches, where you can bet those points on yourself, as well as contracts, which offer challenges with odds for completing them, you always feel like there's something else to unlock. And with theater mode, which lets you watch past matches in their entirety, you'll be able to see why you keep getting knifed coming around that corner. You're going to need all the help you can get. PRO TIP: Stop running so much.

A Really Solid Campaign
In the first few Call of Duty games, the setting was World War II. Eventually, the series moved into modern times, with games at least partially set in the Middle East. But the project had to move on, and using the Cold War as a vague back drop makes perfect sense for Black Ops. There's a good mix of real life history, stretched with fiction to create a fast-paced, big-budget action movie style of game. It's fairly linear, so you have to move through it in one specific way, but the cut scenes, art style, and diverse challenges make it a campaign you want to plow through - even though most people will spend their time grinding through multi-player. I was hooked from the first mission, where you have to shoot Castro in the head. Sweet pulpy fiction goodness.

Zombies
When aren't zombies a good idea? This mode offers Nazi zombies (no, really) that you take on either solo or with friends. They move slower - because they're zombies - and it's a nice change of pace from the fast-moving single or multi-player modes. And there's a top-secret, hidden arcade-style game that you have to unlock that offers even more zombies. HINT: Try looking around at the menu screen.

Call of Duty: Black Ops is available for XBox 360 and Playstation 3.

For more info, click here.

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