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Video Game / Black (2006)
aka: Black

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Black is a First-Person Shooter released on the PlayStation 2 and Xbox in 2006. Coming out during the transition between The Sixth Generation of Console Video Games and The Seventh Generation of Console Video Games, it was one of the final major FPS games of the 6th console generation (barring multi-gen releases such as Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter). It was made by Criterion Games, who also developed the Burnout series. Black follows the story of Sergeant First Class Jack Keller, a 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 Lennox, the new leader of the Seventh Wave, across a variety of locations in Chechnya.

Black received good to lukewarm reviews criticizing its paper-thin plot, short length, and lack of multiplayer but praising it for its explosive action, detailed guns and impressive technology. It even picked up awards for its sound design.

Received a Spiritual Sequel in the form of Bodycount (2011).

This game provides examples of:

  • Action Girl: Lt. MacCarver assists you in-game as a friendly NPC in a few missions.
  • A.K.A.-47: Largely averted, although some weapons are simply given generic names instead (the RPG is simply called "RPG"), and there's the "DC3 Elite" handgun that appears to be a cross between the real-world Beretta 92FS and the Desert Eagle. 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 is 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 Brilliance: The A.I. is smart enough to turn and retreat when rushed, and can take cover on the correct side of various objects based on which direction you're relative to them (in an unscripted manner). On the whole, while the A.I. might be below average compared to PC FPS games of the time or Halo, it's above average by the standards of PS2 FPS games.
  • Artificial Stupidity: The enemies in the game, among other things, won't notice when someone standing right beside them gets murdered (provided it was from a silenced headshot), will charge the player in single file, won't take cover to reload, or will take cover behind explosive barrels. Even the player character's support squad might as well not be there.
  • Bang, Bang, BANG: Deliberately used. The guns are all sampled from films such as Die Hard and amped to increase the bass and punchiness.
  • 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). Instead of blood, shot enemies emit white hitsparks (presumably implying bullets striking armor).
  • Boom, Headshot!: Aiming for the head deals imcreased damage, which is good since enemies take a lot of bullets to kill otherwise. 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.
  • Checkpoint 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.
  • Depth of Field: Reloading causes the screen to blur, mimicking an extremely large depth-of-field effect.
  • 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.
  • Elite Mooks: Appear in the last few missions wielding SMGs and wearing black balaclavas and blue uniforms; they can soak about 14 bullets before dropping, compared to about 8-9 bullets for standard enemies with body armor and about 3 bullets for unarmored enemies. Headshots still drop them immediately, thankfully.
  • 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
  • Gameplay Ally Immortality: The player character's support squad cannot be killed or even downed in combat. However, they're only with you in a handful of sections of the game, and tend to hang back and let you clear the way forward.
  • 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. Ironically though, actual gun enthusiasts have criticized the game for its firearm models, which they deemed incredibly exaggerated and unrealistic to their real-world counterparts.
  • Heavily Armored Mook: Commandos wield shotguns and are equipped with heavy body armor that lets them soak about 30 bullets before going down. They also wear metal ballistic masks that need to be shot off with a few bullets before you can headshot them.
  • 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.
  • Incredibly Durable Enemies: Enemies wearing body armor (who are the most common type after the first couple of missions) can take quite a lot of bullets to bring down, about 8-9 torso shots on Normal difficulty. This is reasonable at close range, but quite annoying at long range considering how inaccurate the game's automatic weapons are. In the last couple of missions you fight Elite Mooks who are even tougher. Then there are the Heavily Armored Mook enemies that appear throughout the entire game.
  • Live-Action Cutscene: 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.
  • Multi-Mook Melee: The game uses these instead of boss fights for climactic confrontations.
  • 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.
  • New Game Plus: After beating the game, you can replay any of the missions with special silver/gold weapons that have infinite ammo. Oddly, there's no way to turn these off and replay the missions normally.
  • 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 egregious (in the "loading more rounds than the player actually has" sense).
  • One-Man Army: Keller comes across as one, as per usual for FPS protagonists. Lennox is also indicated to be one in the cutscenes, on two occasions singlehandedly slaughtering entire squads of American special ops soldiers sent in to kill him.
  • 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.
  • Punch-Packing Pistol: The game's 2 semi-auto pistols, the DC3 Elite (which has the bottom half of a Beretta 92 and the top half of a Desert Eagle) and the Glock 19, might not be the absolute beast the magnum revolver is, but they're no slouch either. Both deal about 3 times the damage per bullet of an assault rifle and can kill standard flak vest enemies with just 3 shots. Even the Heavily Armored Mook enemies can be brought down with as few as 7 shots. The pistols are also much more accurate than any automatic weapon, and can be used as a Sniper Pistol. The only drawbacks are the relatively low mag sizes (unlike other weapons they don't have exaggeratedly high mag capacities) and the fact ammo for them is relatively rare. Putting a silencer on them also reduces their stopping power somewhat.
  • Regenerating Health: To a minor extent. If your health is at only one bar, the screen will flash black and white with a fast thumping heartbeat sound. Take cover and wait for about ten seconds and the meter rises back up to two bars, the monochrome flashes fade, and the heartbeat calms down a tad.
  • Renegade Russian: All the 7th wave soldiers you fight seem to be these, as they all speak exclusively in Russian. This does sort of make sense as the game appears to take place in Russia.
  • 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. Even the Heavily Armored Mook enemies go down in two shots or one headshot. Having one is almost essential to winning the incredibly hard final fight.
    • Sniper Pistol: As well as dealing about as much damage as a sniper rifle, the magnum is also extremely accurate too, allowing you to use it similar to a sniper rifle.
  • Right-Handed Left-Handed Guns: Some weapons like the AK-47 are deliberately modeled this way. Of course, that's so that the player can watch the reloading process from start to finish.
  • Rogue Agent: Lennox was apparently an American black ops agent running U.S.-backed wetwork under the guise of a terrorist cell. He either went rogue after being burned or faked his own death to go into business for himself. The protagonist himself makes the hunt for Lennox personal... and the interrogation is essentially an excuse for the American government to "disavow" him, while allowing him to hunt Lennox down undercover.
  • Rule of Cool: The guns in the game aren't an accurate reflection of their real-life inspirations. Almost all of them carry way more bullets than they realistically should (the M16 has a 95 round magazine, for example), and many of the operational details of the guns have been animated to "look cool" rather than be accurate or realistic.
  • Shield-Bearing Mook: Encountered about midway through the game, they wield a riot shield in one hand and a smg in the other, and are slightly better armored than regular flak vest enemies. They receive a massive upgrade in the final level, wielding revolvers and wearing heavy armor that puts them on par with Heavily Armored Mook enemies in terms of durability. They're best dispatched either with explosives or high-powered weaponry.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Sniper Rifle: A very incorrectnote  rendition of the WA-2000 (probably best known from the Hitman series) with a 2x/5x scope appears as the game's only sniper rifle, which appears in a few missions. It's extremely powerful, killing even a Heavily Armored Mook with a single bodyshot, but ammo for it is very rare except in Nazran Town (which features a Sniping Mission).
  • 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 assault rifles, a light machine gun, 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.
  • Unexpectedly Realistic Gameplay: Despite the game openly reveling in Hollywood gunplay tropes, there's some surprisingly realistic touches to how the game handles weapons. Bullets in general avert hitscan, taking time to reach long-distance targets. Ricochets are also modeled somewhat accurately, with bullets bouncing off surfaces at certain angles. Explosions deal damage not just by the explosion itself, but also by the concussive force emitted. For example, you'll take a small amount of damage if a rocket hits a wall you are standing behind.
  • 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 in-level story being so disjointed and almost non-existent, as the fine print doesn't matter to Keller as much as 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.
  • 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. The in-game cutscenes establish early on that MacCarver and Solomon are still alive but have disavowed Keller due to his actions.

Alternative Title(s): Black