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Video Game: Black

Black is a First-Person Shooter released on the Playstation 2 and Xbox in 2006. It was made by Criterion Games, who also developed the Burnout series. Black follows the story of Sergeant First Class Jack Keller, an black ops soldier being interrogated about a terrorist organization known as 'Seventh Wave'. The in-game missions begin four days before the interrogation and soon revolve around Jack searching for William Lenox, the new leader of the Seventh Wave, across a variety of locations in Chechnya.

Black received good to lukewarm reviews for its explosive action, detailed guns and impressive technology, even picking up awards for its sound design.

Received a Spiritual Sequel in the form of Bodycount.


This game provides examples of:

  • A.K.A.-47: Largely averted, although some weapons are simply given generic names instead (the RPG is simply called "RPG"). Curiously, in spite of this many of the actual models for the guns are different from their real-life counterparts.
  • And the Adventure Continues: At the end of the game, the guy you spent most of the game trying to find it still alive. The authorities knew of Lennox's defection, and they knew Jack would disobey orders to pursue Lennox to the end - so they helped him along and faked his death for him, so that he can continue to pursue Lennox in secrecy.
  • Artificial Stupidity: The enemies in the game, among other things, won't notice when someone standing right beside them gets murdered, will charge the player in single file, won't take cover to reload, or will take cover behind explosive barrels. Even the own player character's support squad might as well not be there.
  • Badass: How you should feel when playing this game.
  • Bang, Bang, BANG: Deliberately used. The guns are all sampled from films such as Die Hard.
  • Big Bad: William Lennox.
  • Black and Gray Morality: William Lennox and Seventh Wave are a bunch of vicious, brutal terrorists - but the black ops team are running illegal international missions without any official government sanction, and are perfectly willing to utilize some pretty nasty methods to accomplish their goals.
  • Bloodless Carnage: Especially strange considering the fairly large amount of swearing in the game (it received an M rating in the US one way or the other).
  • Boom, Headshot: The last gun you unlock, the M16A2, can one-shot any mook as long as you hit them in the head. Even the ones with masks, which you'd normally have to knock off with two or three shots beforehand.
  • Bragging Rights Reward: The M16A2, available on the Harder Than Hard Black Ops difficulty and unlocked for all others after you beat it. It has an integrated M203 grenade launcher (the only gun in the game to have one), can One-Hit Kill anything as long as it's a headshot (see Boom, Headshot above), and reloads faster than the M203-less M16 under any circumstances. But you don't really need this gun if you've beaten Hard difficulty already, which is actually harder than Black Ops.
  • Check Point Starvation: There's always one after a point of no return (normally an Insurmountable Waist High Fence you can jump over to proceed). Problem is, there are between two and five of those for every mission, and starting from the second one, those are very large. The second-to-last leg of the final level alone is more than twenty minutes of pure gunfighting.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: Keller himself tortures a Seventh Wave member in a cutscene in order to garner information about Lennox.
  • Crate Expectations: They show up fairly quickly.
  • Critical Annoyance: A typical Heartbeat Soundtrack when health is low.
  • Die, Chair! Die!: A lot of the buildings and structures are partly destructible to help the chaos and cinematic feel of the game.
  • Elites Are More Glamorous: You play as US Black Ops, but don't have any discernible branch.
  • Escort Mission: Inverted - there's a sequence where the player character has to make their way through an industrial plant while a support character provides sniper fire.
  • Excuse Plot: The developers admit the plot was added at the very last minute, after all the levels had already been made. The plot is certainly there, although it's completely divorced from the gameplay and in-mission design.
  • Exploding Barrels: Most of the levels are full to the brim with exploding barrels, and are often placed so the destructible environments can be shown off.
  • Faking the Dead: The main villain, William Lennox, does this to throw off suspicion, enough for him to take command of the Seventh Wave. Jack gets this at the very end also, to aid his continued pursuit of Lennox.
  • First-Person Ghost
  • Full Motion Video: All the cutscenes are done this way, although the cutscene visuals are so heavily stylized that there isn't a huge disparity between them and the gameplay.
  • Gameplay Ally Immortality: The player character's support squad.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: While the pre-mission cinematics weave a rather complicated, Tom Clancy-esque plot rife with character interaction, gameplay is all about tossing bullets left and right and blowing shit up, sometimes with your squadmates watching or helping a little bit. In fact, the game didn't even have a story for most of development - cutscenes, dialogue etc., were a last-minute addition. This is why, for example, most of the important characters like MacCarver, Solomon, Valencio and Lennox only appear in cutscenes.
  • The Ghost: Lennox. The guy Keller thought was Lennox was an impostor.
  • Gotta Catch Them All: The secondary objectives, which include getting rid of incriminating evidence from your side's activities, collecting incriminating evidence from the enemies' activities, recon, which contains information about an area where the next level takes place, and Armament, consisting of finding a hidden gun. Black Ops difficulty also includes Demolition, which essentially amounts to "blow up anything that makes your reticle turn black when you point at it". The trope is in full effect on said difficulty, where finishing the level while missing so much as one single secondary objective is an automatic mission failure.
  • Gun Porn: This was the game's tagline in ads, by the by. The gun models are all incredibly detailed, and the loading screens show guns firing and empty shells ejecting in slow motion. Many of the sounds of taken from or inspired by action films, and used a system dubbed 'chorus of gunfire' in which each gun is given a different pitch. So a group of enemies firing would create a harmony of different sounds.
  • How We Got Here: The levels are flashbacks, starting four days before the interrogation cutscenes.
  • Hyperspace Arsenal: Averted, surprisingly for a game as over-the-top as this. Instead, it uses a two weapon limit.
  • More Dakka: Many of the guns have had their rates of fire and ammo capacity bumped up from their real-life versions, purposefully to emulate the Bottomless Magazines of action movies.
  • No Name Given: The man interrogating Keller.
  • One Bullet Clips: Averted with the shotguns in the game, which load shell-by-shell and can be interrupted at any time, but otherwise played straight. The Magnum speedloader is particularly egregrious (in the "loading more rounds than the player actually has" sense).
  • Pistol-Whipping: You can strike enemies with the butt of any gun. Striking them from behind is a One-Hit Kill.
  • Post-9/11 Terrorism Movie: The game's time period, though it doesn't figure much in the plot and Seventh Wave tends to fund and sell arms to terrorists than engage in them... or so we're told. The game's enemies aren't even Jihadi - they're Russians and (supposedly) Americans.
  • Revolvers Are Just Better: The Magnum is one of the most powerful guns in the game, a guaranteed One-Hit Kill on Normal difficulty for all but the strongest enemies.
  • Right-Handed Left-Handed Guns: Somehow every, weapon you pick up is configured for a left-handed shooter, despite Keller being right handed. Of course, that's so that the player can watch the reloading process from start to finish.
  • Shout-Out: One of the game's locations is based on the shower room from The Rock. Many of the game's gun sound effects were sampled from other movies and TV series too, such as Die Hard, 24, and True Lies.
  • Sniping Mission: The third mission features a protracted sniping section.
  • Standard FPS Guns: Several pistols of varying strength, a couple of shotguns, a variety of sub-machine guns, a few automatic weapons, sniper rifles, a grenade launcher, RPGs - nothing you wouldn't expect from a typical FPS.
  • Stealth-Based Mission: There are parts of the game where taking a stealthy approach is beneficial, but they're never obligatory.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: Yes. The Demolition objectives in the Black Ops difficulty are all about this.
  • Terrorists Without a Cause: Very little information is provided about Seventh Wave, besides the fact that they are terrorists, wanted by the Chinese and Israelis, and are mostly arms dealers who supply other terrorist groups.
  • Unorthodox Reload: Sort of. The way the guns are reloaded is pretty standard, but when you do reload, the screen blurs as an exaggeration of depth of field. There's also a difference in reload time depending on whether you're taking fire or not - if you aren't, the reload is a lot slower and more meticulous, with Keller doing things such as checking the ammo before inserting the magazine/moon clip into the gun.
  • Unreliable Narrator: The intensity of the game is a reflection of Keller's recollection of combat under intense psychological pressure - both in the battlefield and in the interrogation room. So the winding levels, seeming endlessly respawning enemies that take a lot of damage to kill, ambushes, useless/missing squadmates that randomly drop in and out with no mention of where they went, labyrinthine level design, etc. are just how Keller recalls each mission, not how it actually was. This also explains the disjointed, almost non-existent story, as that doesn't matter to Keller as much as the accomplishing the mission does.
  • Video Game Objectives: On the harder difficulties, there are more objectives to complete, but this usually translates to "more stuff to pick up/destroy".
  • Voice with an Internet Connection: Mostly from another female black ops soldier, MacCarver.
  • Walk It Off: If your health is very low the screen will flash black and white with a thumping heartbeat sound. The player has to take cover and wait for their health to go back up slightly.
  • Western Terrorists: Despite the post-9/11 setting, Seventh Wave appears to have exclusively Eurasian members. Their leader is even an American.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: The other two members of your team disappear and appear at random, especially towards the end.

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