A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Call of Duty: Black Ops is a very violent military-themed first person shooter in which players use a wide variety of weapons and explosives to kill hundreds of enemies in the campaign and countless more human-controlled avatars online. It features violent interrogations, graphic melee combat, and lots of blood. The visceral nature of the action combined with its complex Cold War narrative leave little doubt that it was designed for an adult audience. It is not appropriate for children. Note, too, the online portion of the game supports open voice chat, a feature that Common Sense Media does not recommend for pre-teens. Kids may be talking about this M-rated game because of the ad campaign, which features Kobe Bryant and Jimmy Kimmel holding guns and pretending to play the game.
What's it about?
CALL OF DUTY: BLACK OPS, the seventh entry in Activision’s blockbuster military shooter franchise, sets the action in an era the series has yet to explore: The Cold War of the 1960s. Much of the story is composed of the memories of a special ops soldier under brutal interrogation. Consequently, missions skip around the world, from the trenches of Vietnam to the skyline of Hong Kong to the wintery lands of the U.S.S.R. Outside the story players can hop online in multiplayer where they will increase in rank, unlock new weapons and equipment, and work through a wide variety of individual and team-based modes. Parents should note that both the bloody campaign and deep online play -- which includes open voice chat -- are geared for grown-ups.
Is it any good?
Black Ops’ single-player missions are perhaps the fastest-paced and most unpredictable of the franchise. Whether players are pulling down a helicopter with a harpoon, blowing up a massive missile mid-launch, or escaping a prison on a motorbike, monotony never has an opportunity to set in. It’s not quite as emotional as the series’ games set during the Second World War, but it is at least as exciting.
However, few players will spend as much time with the campaign as they will with the extraordinarily deep multiplayer functionality. In addition to all of the franchise’s usual modes, challenges, and unlockables, this game also offers a wager mode that allows players to put their hard-won credits on the line in small matches in which the top three players take all the loot. Another new mode, Combat Training, allows players new to online gaming to get their feet wet fighting computer-controlled baddies with their buddies. Adult gamers will enjoy the epic interactive experience.
Online interaction: This game supports open, non-moderated voice communication, which opens the door to inappropriate language and subjects of conversation, as well as the sharing of personal information.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about violence in games. How does watching violence affect you? Does the interactive nature of games make violence in this medium more intense than, say, watching it in a film?
Families can also discuss the depiction of controlled substances in games. Smoking plays a large role in this game, which is set in a time when smoking was not as taboo as it is today. Do you think the storytellers needed to show characters smoking in order to create a convincing Cold War-era atmosphere?
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.