Call Of Duty: Black Ops III is the latest instalment in Treyarch's long line of sci-fi military shooters.
The American studio has taken an "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" approach. Black Ops III has in-depth multi-player modes, a responsive and seamless combat experience, and a globetrotting story arc.
On top of that, Treyarch has fleshed out a holistic game that will please everyone - from the most hardcore multi-player gamers to those looking for offbeat fun.
Campaigns for the last few Call Of Duty (COD) games, Ghosts and Advanced Warfare, received flak for their tenuous storylines and sometimes flat characterisations.
The single-player missions for Black Ops III feel a lot tighter, with a well-paced chain of events that begins in Singapore.
There is something oddly thrilling about running around a hypothetical Singapore in 2065, fighting in the flaming wreckage of Gardens by the Bay's Supertree Grove, or seeing the hollowed-out shell of the Flyer come crashing down in front of you.
The separate Zombies mode, where players have to co-operate to fend off wave after wave of the undead, is hilariously fun.
The voice work is by Hollywood stars like Heather Graham, Ron Perlman, Jeff Goldblum and Neal McDonough.
Mechanics-wise, the new momentum-based movement system adds another layer of depth to the COD franchise. It allows players to chain together movements such as wall runs, double jumps and slides, all while firing a weapon.
The execution quickly becomes instinctive: I found myself whizzing around obstacles like a parkour genius and enjoying the possibilities that the new movement system has opened up for me.
The new movement system is not just a gimmick; it is very viable in combat. It ups the skill cap in multi- player gameplay - traditionally the centrepiece of any COD game.
Player-on-player action is predictably complex, with nine classes, 11 game types and a dozen maps.
Each character can wield a variety of different arms and skills, which meant that as a newbie, I was constantly surprised by the ways in which I would die - suddenly and painfully.
Despite not being particularly expert - and despite COD multi- player's somewhat-deserved reputation for being toxic - I found the game surprisingly accessible.
I quickly learnt how to use my class' unique power-ups to survive, and the amount of customisation available meant that I was able to eventually develop a loadout which suited my playstyle.
Verdict: Black Ops III is a great addition to the Call Of Duty franchise, and the new momentum-based movement system in particular adds another layer to combat.
PRICE: $76.90 (PC), $76.90 (Xbox One) and $85 (PlayStation 4, reviewed)
GENRE: First-person shooter
This article was first published on January 13, 2016.
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