Game Name: Black
Game Developer: Criterion Games
PAL Release: 24/02/06
Game Type: FPS
Game Description: Black is a first person shoot-em-up which is heavily inspired by Hollywood blockbuster action films and thus puts action packed and elaborate set pieces over realism or long drawn out dialogue or cut-scenes during the missions.
Black is widely considered to be one of the best First-Person-Shooters on the PS2 and with good reason as it’s very well made and very fun for the most part. With that said if you are the kind of person who likes the single player offerings of Modern Warfare or the new Battlefields then you might find one or two things in this game that might annoy you in retrospect when you consider all the luxuries that modern FPS games give the gamer these days.
First of all the enemies do tend to be bullet sponges. The only really effective way of killing them is to shoot them in the head. Hitting them in the body does not seem to do that much damage even on the normal difficulty setting. Also each mission requires you to find a certain number of hidden items which seems counter productive in a game which is based solely around franticly shooting dudes in the more elaborate ways possible. Then there is the checkpoints, simply put they are too far away from each other and you can save the game and come back to it later using a checkpoint. You have to beat the level in one sitting which for most people who are used to modern FPS’s is a major drawback but that was a big problem with a lot of the FPS’s released around this time, very few games got it right.
While Black’s design is a little archaic by today’s standard the gameplay really does hold up and the presentation is unlike anything seen on the PS2 and really feels like you are in a Holywood film thanks to the way the levels are laid out and the fantastic musical score. You can tell a lot of time, money and effort went in to this one which is not surprising since this game was made by the same development team behind the Burnout series.
The levels themselves are varied and for the most part challenging and they take the player all over the world. Since this game is supposed to inspired by a gritty Holywood movie the levels are set in lifelike locations and the enemies look like regular military goons that you might see in such a action film. There are cut-scenes in the game but only at the beginning of the mission and apparently it was a complete afterthought of the development team so if you are looking for a strong narrative then this game is not for you.
The graphics on this game are very good, especially the gun’s reloading animations. You can tell the makers of this game took their time to perfect it. Speaking of guns, the guns feel like they have a real weight in this game and each feeling very different from the other. The controls are also well done and aiming is not an issue in this game. There does not seem to be a massive amount of aiming assist either so it will require at least some skill to get those headshots.
Overall I enjoyed the game. It took me about ten hours to beat the game although I am not very good at FPS’s normally and I also had to retread some of the levels due to missing a “collectable intel” or two. If you can look past it’s archaic gameplay structure (which I am sure was the result of the limited hardware of the time!) you will find a fantastic shoot-em-up that is totality worth your time with some creative set pieces and visceral combat just make sure you have enough time to beat the mission in one sitting.
Best Bit: Playing though some of the more explosive set pieces in the game. The weapon foundry springs to mind here…
Worst Bit: The check points can be a little to far apart from each other sometimes…
Most Memorable Line: “The guy is a real hot head, does not know the meaning of the word collateral damage…” ~ Your old Sargent’s description of you when he was asked about you during your interrogation.