It’s also all kinds of fucked up!
***WARNING: Massive spoilers are contained in this article***
So I got my copy of the game yesterday and as I always do with Call of Duty games, I start off with the Campaign mode, because unlike most players, I apparently actually enjoy a good story and not just screaming at 12 year-olds or being a screaming 12 year-old. I’ve always loved the Campaigns in the Call of Duty games, except Ghosts, it was the biggest pile of shit I’ve ever played.
But Treyarch never fails when it comes to their games, I’ve never had much of a cross word to say about any of the games they’ve produced, especially the Black Ops series. They’re totally different from the seemingly cookie-cutter modern day military shooters we usually get from Infinity Ward (Sledgehammer gets a pass for Kevin Spacey) where it’s all “Support our troops! ‘Merica!” kind of feeling.
But this year’s campaign…holy shit.
It starts off relatively normal, rescue a guy and escape. Except you get left behind and robots rip off both your arms and pretty much breaks every other bone in your body. How’s that for a start, eh? In response, you are found by operative John Taylor who makes the call to admit you into a special cybernetic program that ultimately saves your life…and makes you a total badass. The next few missions are really cool, you get to explore the capabilities of your new body and it’s awesome to play through.
Then the second half of the campaign starts and shit gets all kinds of fucked up.
You discover a CIA team brutally murdered in the style of a certain gang’s style, however the last people in the room before you broke in was not the gang, rather John Taylor and his team. Doubting what your told, you try to find out what happened with them as you also can no longer track them. From this point on, you’re going down the rabbit hole here. You return to their last known mission and discover a secret CIA operation that had been buried for years now, one that was an illegal experiment related to your new cybernetic body and when something went very wrong, 300,000 people died in the process. It’s then you realize that Taylor’s team is behind everything and you are now seeking them out to stop them.
After killing one of the group you learn of a place they’re looking for known as the “Frozen Forest”. This might as well be code for “the fucked up shit”, but we’ll get to that soon enough. A surviving doctor from the experiments reveals to you and your pals that it’s nothing more than a picture put in the minds of the test subjects to calm them down, that Taylor and company are searching for somewhere that doesn’t exist. So when you down another of Taylor’s team and dig into their mind to find Taylor’s location, shit goes down.
You go full acid trip into the soldier’s mind, somehow ending up back in an old Call of Duty setting of World War II and fighting your way through to the deepest parts of her mind. It’s like Inception, except even more fucked up. During this process as well, you have a brief Zombies session, minus barricade, ray guns, all that cool shit. I was genuinely freaking out when this portion of the mission took place. It’s one of the most memorable moments in any Call of Duty game that isn’t a nuclear explosion or an airport massacre. Which would be topped an hour or so later.
Skipping to near the end of the game, everyone’s been thwarted and you’ve discovered that the experiments was for an AI program that would be integrated into everyone so they could discover who would be bad guys in the future (like Minority Report), except it failed and the AI has become self-aware, trying to figure out what it’s supposed to be. It’s not very happy when it discovers it’s just a failure, a mistake and kills off the remaining person behind the project. And in the end, you’re the only one left and you’re infected too with this AI virus. So you choose to end your own life to stop it from spreading. Thus begins our final acid trip.
This sequence is probably the coolest, craziest, holy fuck this is intense moment I’ve experienced in a Call of Duty and I’m counting the nuke from Modern Warfare. You spend the final hour of the game in your own head trying to free yourself from the AI. The closer you get to ending it, the more the AI pushes in, the more trippy visions you see. The most compelling thing during this whole sequence is your character repeating the same comforting words that were spoken by the AI:
“Listen only to the sound of my voice. Let your mind relax. Let your thoughts drift. Let the bad memories fade. Let peace be upon you. Surrender yourself to your dreams. Let them wash over you like the gentle waves of the bluest ocean. Let them envelop you. Comfort you.
Imagine somewhere calm. Imagine somewhere safe. Imagine yourself in a frozen forest. You’re standing in a clearing. Trees around you so tall, they touch the sky. Pure white snowflakes fall all around. You can feel them melt on your skin. You are not cold. It cannot overcome the warmth of your beating heart. Can you hear it? You only have to listen.
You hear it slowing? You’re slowing it. You are in control. Calm. At peace.”
The further into this level you get, the more emotional your character gets. I played the female version during this and by the last portion of the level she sounds like she’s crying up a storm as she repeats these words. She sounds broken, desperate, wanting everything to end. When finally, it does.
The game ends with you seemingly still alive, yet uttering your name as “Taylor”. We also now know that through pausing to read all the loading screens for the levels that actually your character has been dead since the first level, presumably after the robots tore you to pieces. Most of the campaign is presumed to be altered versions (the dying dreams of the player) of events experienced by Taylor before his recruitment into the DNI cybernetic program. The last notable piece is that the first letter of each mission name ends up as follows: ORWEARETAYL which when re-ordered becomes WE ARE TAYLOR.
I was not anticipated this level of complexity and sheer awesome writing that Black Ops 3’s campaign featured. Man am I impressed with Treyarch on this one.
If you’re still on the fence about getting Black Ops 3, maybe the amazing campaign won’t sway the majority of you since most treat the game as a multiplayer game. But man was this one ever good.
If it makes me go “Hooooooooooooly shit.” and it has nothing to do with horrifying images like a child being blown up, you’ve written some good stories.