Call of Duty: Black Ops III
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 III is a violent, tense, and sometimes scary shooter played from the first-person perspective. Players not only shoot enemies but can also attack them with explosives or smack them with their guns. Such killings are often shown in graphic detail, as are scenes where people are tortured and killed, sometimes brutally. Your fellow soldiers use a wide variety of curse words, including "s--t," "f--k," and various combinations; so will your online competitors, since the multiplayer modes aren't moderated. Though the main story has you fighting terrorists and robots, there are also two scary modes where you battle gross-looking zombies. There are scenes where characters smoke cigars or cigarettes, drink alcohol, and ingest a knockout drug, as well as one where a woman straddles a guy, handcuffs him to the bedpost, and gyrates briefly before stabbing him with scissors. There is an option to avoid the game's more graphic content.
- Parents say
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What's it about?
In CALL OF DUTY: BLACK OPS III -- the story mode isn't available in the PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360 versions -- you play as a cybernetically enhanced special-ops soldier on the hunt for a former commander gone rogue and a criminal organization trying to kill all of you. But unlike in previous games, you're not only fighting terrorists but also Terminator-like robots. This is fitting because not only does the game's story mode have all the explosive action and plot twists of a great action movie, but it also has a lot of sci-fi flavor. Along with the regular campaign, there's a second version that swaps the terrorists for zombies, as well as a second zombie mode that has four criminals trying to escape a city overrun by the undead.
Is it any good?
By adding cyberpunk seasonings to this series' patented mix of smooth controls, frantic firefights, cinematic action, and addictive multiplayer, this first-person shooter takes a bold new step. Though you're still shooting terrorists during missions that feel like scenes from a big-budget action movie, you also use an arsenal of futuristic weapons against autonomous robots. You also have a variety of cyberweapons that allow you to hack drones or auto-turrets, scan the environment to tag enemies, dispatch a swarm of tiny killer robots, and run along walls like a certain Persian prince used to do. And these new abilities come into play whether you're playing the story-driven campaign, its zombie version that you unlock after you've beaten the story, another co-op mode where you and three pals fight zombies, or any of the game's numerous competitive multiplayer modes. But while this makes Call of Duty: Black Ops III the most radically different Call of Duty game ever, it also makes it the least Call of Duty-esque as well. This feels more like a cross between a great Terminator game and a cool Ghost in the Shell game when you're using your cybertech to kill robots and a great Walking Dead game when you're facing zombies.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about violence in video games. Is there any difference between earlier Call of Duty games, in which you only shot other people, and this one, where you're shooting zombies and robots just as often?
Discuss the depiction of women in games. Since the hero of this game can be a man or a woman, does this inclusion empower women?
Talk about humanity and technology. At what point does augmenting our bodies make us less human? Is our humanity less about what we're made of and more about what we do?
- Platforms: PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Windows, Xbox 360, Xbox One
- Price: $59.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Not available online
- Developer: Activision
- Release date: November 9, 2015
- Genre: First Person Shooter
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- ESRB rating: M for Blood and Gore, Drug Reference, Intense Violence, Strong Language
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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.