After the reveal, it was time to go hands-on with the game in team deathwatch and the four Wager Match modes. First off, the game is crisp and smooth, exactly what you'd expect from Call of Duty. Second, Black Ops seems a lot less hectic than MW2, but it's too early to tell how the balance will shake out.
Thankfully, killstreaks no longer chain together. That is, kills from killstreak rewards do not continue a player's streak. The killstreaks also seem more situational and should hopefully encourage a more varied selection of streaks across all of the gametypes. One this is for sure, people won't be attempting to rush to a game-ending nuke like in MW2.
Team Deathmatch is roughly what you'd expect. There are some neat new gadgets and create-a-class is pretty robust. As players will be unlocking guns via CoD Points (CP), there should also be less of a grind than MW2 since players can unlock what they want, when they want.
Wager matches, however, are the standouts. These gametypes are competitive, fun, and a nice change of pace from the standard deathwatch and objective gametypes of CoD. Since everyone playing is putting up their CP as a wager, the matches can get intense as only the top three players will get a payout.
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"One in the Chamber" is a lot of fun. Having only one bullet to start means that you'll have to carefully consider your shot or go for a melee kill--now you've got two bullets!. If you miss, you're left to weave and hope the other guy misses as well.
"Gun Game" is the other standout. Players will go through a progression of every gun type in the game in a race to see who can get a kill with all weapons the fastest. It requires proficiency with all weapon types and is extremely fast paced. As soon as you score a kill, your gun drops and you get a new one. You're vulnerable during this switch, too. A lot of players get stuck on the two sniper rifles before graduating to the explosive weapons, but in general, it's hard to catch up to the leader.
"Sharpshooter" is also a lot of fun as guns switch out every 45 seconds and everyone always has the same weapon. Camping isn't that worthwhile as the time limit is pretty low and you'll miss out on kills by waiting around. It's always fun when you and an enemy are firing at each other with akimbo pistols, missing wildly, only to both switch to assault rifles in front of each other.
I didn't get to play "Sticks and Stones," unfortunately, but the crossbow and ballistic knife are both awesome weapons. The crossbow sticks an enemy before finally exploding, giving it a Gears of War "Torque Bow" feel. The ballistic knife fires a one-hit blade straight forward with a small arc and can take a bit of skill, as it has travel time.
While the deathwatch in Black Ops doesn't have anything groundbreaking, it is closer to Modern Warfare 2 than World at War was to Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. The Wager Matches, however, are a much-needed addition to the game. It has a more sandbox or oldschool feel to it, reminding me a lot of Quake mods and Halo. I'll definitely be much more willing to jump into a Wager Match six months after the game releases than yet another Team Deathmatch game on the same set of maps.