April 9, 2006

My faith in the FPS genre was, to be quite honest, dying. [i]Far Cry: Instincts[/i] was rather disappointing, and [i]King Kong[/i] wasn’t mind-blowing either. Criterion, the makers of the ever awesome [i]Burnout[/i] series, have decided to do something different, yet equally awesome; [i]Black[/i]. [i]Black[/i] is an FPS of a kind that you never played before, and my God, it rocks.

The PS2 does not have as many (quality) first person shooters as on the Xbox, so naturally I was eager to pick this baby up. Just before I start the review, remember this: do not compare [i]Black[/i] with games such as [i]Half Life 2[/i], as it is stupid (they are totally different), and you will be disappointed.

“100% action, 100% of the time” is [i]Black[/i]’s motto. Is it true? Most definitely. A minute won’t pass (unless you are screwing around) without some adrenaline pumping gun fights, and explosions. What makes [i]Black[/i] stand out from the many mediocre FPS games, is the destructible environments. Seriously, you can destroy almost anything, be it cars, parts of buildings, and sometimes even whole buildings.

I don’t know what people were saying when they said the AI is poor. On the contrary, the AI is rather intelligent. They work in groups to kill you, try to ambush you, and take cover. This adds to the intensity in [i]Black[/i].

The graphics are simply amazing, and they seem to push the PS2 to its limits. Everything looks almost next-gen, and effects such as explosions are probably the best in any game I have played. Characters look pretty good too, although I never really had time to actually check them out, as I was busy gunning them down.

The audio, in every aspect is top notch. The music is fantastic; it totally suits the mood of the game, and the levels. The sound of weapons are superb as well, they greatly reminded me of the excellent weapons in [i]Killzone[/i]. If you can, hook the machine up to a surround sound system and turn it way up to get the most of the experience. Even if you can’t do that, you’ll find it pretty tense when five guys with MP5’s are trying to gun you down, yet you are trying to do the same, and meanwhile blowing up everything you see, hoping that some of those explosions will obliterate your enemies.

The story revolves around a man called Sgt. Keller, who happens to be the person you play as. The game is just a lot of flashbacks, as Sgt. Keller is being interrogated by a very unsympathetic fellow. Keller tells this man what he has done, and why. There are cut scenes (with real people) before every mission. These cut scenes have been very well done, and are a nice change from what we usually get. The ending is very open ended, and a sequel to next-gen systems is inevitable. Can you imagine this? Blow up entire buildings and houses if you wish. Just thinking of it will make people wet their pants, and knowing Criterion, it isn’t unlikely at all.

There is plenty to do, and plenty to come back for in [i]Black[/i]. I suggest playing on Normal, because it makes the game challenging, but not too hard. After beating it (about 10 hours), you will unlock “silver weapons”. Silver weapons are, well, silver and contain unlimited ammunition. I’m sure this is a plain calling for people to come back, and I simply can’t deny this invitation. With weapons such as the magnum, this will come very handy. Beating hard unlocks [i]Black[/i] Ops difficulty, and once you beat that (good luck), you get the mother of all weapons: the silver M16 A2 on all difficulties. If you are persistent enough, you will love to get this, and it will make your gaming experience a lot more fun. There are sometimes different routes, with hidden weapons and secondary objectives, which are worth trying to get and go back

I have to say, it is rather disappointing that there is no multiplayer what-so-ever. Even if not including online, co-op would have been nice. Oh well, maybe next time. Until then, you probably have the best single player FPS around.

Criterion has made yet another mind blowing game. To think that something like this will be attacking next generation consoles, I am excited already. [i]Black[/i] may be a busty blonde, but it is a busty blonde worth a few rides before dumping, and when you play this you will realize that I am right. It is essential to any FPS fan, as it is easily the best FPS on the PS2.

Score: 5/5

Questions? Check out our review guide.