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Call of Duty: Black Ops III: Pastiche with Panache
Company: Activision

Over the course of the last console generation, the most commercially successful entertainment franchise in history has seen its share of ups and downs. While there was no disputing that the games were all very well-made, several of them were content to wallow in sameness. And why not? Nothing was broken, so nothing needed fixing. Unfortunately, that also meant that there was precious little innovation in the time between Modern Warfare and Ghosts. 2014ís Advanced Warfare took a modest step into the future of both weaponry and shooter design. This yearís Call of Duty: Black Ops III looks poised to continue in this promising direction, though its innovations are more akin to inspirations Ė two of them in particular.

The first is Respawn and EAís Titanfall. This is a good choice, considering that it was by far my favorite game of 2014. Itís not a comprehensive ape job, though: instead, Black Ops III takes inspiration from Titanfallís best mechanic Ė enhanced mobility options. You can now wallrun on vertical surfaces, though without the speed and adherence to the laws of physics. When you jump at a angle into a wall, you will stick to it and proceed in a razor straight line. Interestingly, you can aim down the sights as you do so, which opens the door for some really crazy emergent moments.

The second and most notable inspiration is its sister series Destiny. And like it does with Titanfall, it appears to do it both well and in its own way. My antipathy towards Destiny has been well-documented up to this point, but Iíve never denied the gameís potential. Black Ops III seems set to make good on that potential by including Specialists. Each Specialist has a devastating power that he/she can use once in a while. Each player begins the match with a cooldown that can be chipped away at through good performance. Once the timer is up, itís up to you to determine the right timing for it. And though the Guardians in Destiny often save their abilities for giant clusters of enemies, thereís more strategy involved in how Black Ops III applies this mechanic.

Different Specialists mean different Power Weapons and Abilities. Game type should strongly affect which one you wish to take into battle; going into a Hardpoint match as Ruin holds the promise of a monster killstreak; his Gravity Spikes create an enormous area of effect explosion that effectively wipes out anyone in the immediate area. But if itís Capture the Flag, you might want to switch to Overdrive, which dramatically increases his speed. And these options are only for this one character. There appears to be quite a bit of variety in the selection of Specialists, and provided the number of ways any one soldier can contribute to the battle effort, this should prove to be a deep and enjoyable system.

Everything else I experienced in my time with the Call of Duty: Black Ops III multiplayer beta lead me to believe that this is still very much a Call of Duty game. Scorestreaks, Pick 10, weapon customization, and that classic arena shooter action are all intact. So yes, the wheel has yet to be reinvented, but as long as ideas keep getting introduced to the well-tread formula, the fans should always have something to be excited about. Call of Duty: Black Ops III launches on November 6th.

-FenixDown, GameVortex Communications
AKA Jon Carlos
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