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YMMV / Call of Duty: Black Ops

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  • Abridged Arena Array:
    • Nuketown is probably the most played map. The fact that it's the smallest map is probably not a coincidence.
    • Firing Range is another popular map — and it's frequently chosen whenever Nuketown isn't available.
  • Anvilicious: Killing Castro in the first mission (or rather, his double) causes you to get the achievement "Death to Dictators", and the killing shot goes into slow motion while heavenly music plays. It's pretty heavy-handed, especially considering that Castro was a living leader of a modern country (at the time of the game's release, anyway). The Cuban government was not pleased when they found out. They even accused the US of trying to do virtually what they failed to do in Real Life.
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  • Breather Level: Project Nova, which also doubles as a Nostalgia Level. Until the end.
  • Complacent Gaming Syndrome: Treyarch appeased the NUKETOWNNUKETOWNNUKETOWN crowd with a playlist that rotates on that map alone, though it's only available during double-experience weekends on consoles.
  • Complete Monster:
    • General Nikita Dragovich is a sociopath who creates the "numbers" program that brainwashes captive American soldiers into sleeper agents to kill their own people. Dragovich first demonstrated his untrustworthy and callous nature at Stalingrad, when he deserted his own men and left them to be butchered by the German forces. After the war, Dragovich would lead an operation on the Arctic to retrieve the biochemical weapon, Nova 6, from the Germans. To test its effectiveness, Dragovich and the below-mentioned Colonel Lev Krevchenko used it on Russian soldiers. Dragovich would later become one of the Soviet Union's most powerful members, where he would capture Alex Mason and brainwash him into becoming a presidential assassin. Dragovich's ultimate plan was to use his sleeper agents to release Nova 6 on the entire United States.
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    • Colonel Lev Kravchenko, the sadistic right-hand man to the aforementioned Nikita Dragovich, once mutilated and murdered his own sister when she rejected Dragovich's advances. Hunting down remaining German forces on the Arctic, Kravchenko would execute all the German prisoners before he and Dragovich use the lethal Nova 6 on the Russian soldiers. Kravchenko would later brainwash several American soldiers for Dragovich's "numbers" program and tortures Grigoi Weaver when he learns of his ties to the CIA, before gouging one of his eyes out. Kravchenko would also subject numerous people to Nova 6 at Vietnam, including American POWs, his own men, innocent women, and children—even infants—and later sends Frank Woods to the Hanoi Hilton prison camp after surviving his attack. Appearing in the sequel, Kravchenko becomes an Arms Dealer selling Soviet weaponry to the highest bidder, denouncing his allegiance to the Soviet Union and declaring loyalty only to himself.
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    • Dr. Friedrich Steiner is an ex-Nazi scientist responsible for the creation of Nova 6 who, like his two superiors, has no loyalty and only seeks self-preservation. Originally an officer in the SS, he immediately defects to the Soviets through secret radio contact with Dragovich once the war in Europe is hopelessly lost to the Allies and Soviets. When the latter's troops arrive, he "helps" them by killing several of his own SS bodyguards, and later turns a blind eye to the rest of his surviving men being executed by Kravchenko. When Dragovich asks for a live test of the Nova 6, he complies without hesitation, and helps in the execution of Dimitri Petrenko. Years later, under Dragovich's command, he partakes in human experimentation and torture through the Numbers brainwashing program, with Alex Mason being one such guinea pig. When Dragovich comes close to pushing through with his plan to attack the US, he begins to see the German scientist as a liability for knowing too much, and attempts to defect to the CIA to save his own skin.
  • Even Better Sequel: To World at War.
  • Evil Is Cool: The Spetsnaz Elite Mooks, it helps they were mo-capped by an actual ex-Spetsnaz operator Sonny Puzikas. Their monstrous, yet charismatic CO Nikita Dragovich also qualified, as he was ranked #7 on Game Informer's list of Top 10 Villains of 2010.
  • Good Bad Bugs: If afflicted by a Nova Gas grenade, the player's character will call out a warning. If they stay in it, they'll call it out again later. Wearing a Tactical Mask makes a player immune to the effects of Nova Gas, thus causing a player using it that decides to stand in the gas whatever reason to be yelling something like "GAS, INCOMING!" to Department of Redundancy Department-levels for their allies to hear and be amused by.
  • Harsher in Hindsight:
    • Black Ops is on both sides of this trope. One one side, the final level of World at War has Reznov stating that he and Petrenko will return to Russia as heroes. In Black Ops, they are betrayed by Dragovich. Petrenko gets a brutal Cruel and Unusual Death and Reznov spends the next 18 years locked up in a Hellhole Prison. Also, one of the lyrics in the game's closing theme Won't Back Down is "I'll drink gasoline and eat a lit match". In Black Ops II, if Karma dies and you spare Menendez, then Menendez will do exactly that.
    • Happens again with the release of Black Ops III. At the end of Project Nova, Reznov asks Mason if he can trust his leaders to destroy Nova-6, or if he thinks they will keep it for themselves. Naturally, they keep it, and naturally, a containment failure causes 300,000 deaths in Singapore.
    • An In-Universe example in the form of a letter in the game. If the player checks the mailbox for Bruce Harris in the terminal, they can read a letter from Harris's wife telling him not to climb the Eiffel Tower due to his fear of heights. In "WMD", falling off a catwalk after it was hit with an RPG is how he dies.
  • Iron Woobie: Mason. Hell, he starts the game tied to a chair suffering Cold-Blooded Torture. Reznov also qualifies.
  • Love to Hate: Dragovich and Kravchenko are both horrific monsters for villains, but Dragovich's dark charisma and Kravchenko's badass moments have made them very popular within the COD fanbase.
  • Magnificent Bastard: Victor Reznov is a charismatic soldier for the Russian Red Army who drove the Nazis out of Stalingrad and lead the charge to Berlin during World War II, showing utter ruthlessness to his enemies while inspiring loyalty from his allies. After being betrayed by his superior Nikita Dragovich, Reznov would plot his revenge against Dragovich and his cohorts for killing his friends. Getting himself locked up in the Russian gulag Vorkuta, Reznov would orchestrate a prison-break and sacrifice himself so Alex Mason can escape. It would be revealed that Reznov brainwashed Mason to kill all of his enemies, appearing in his mind to guide him throughout, successfully using the American soldier to complete his revenge.
  • Memetic Mutation:
  • Most Annoying Sound: Barking dogs during a multiplayer match. Made even more annoying when they've been brought in by an enemy player.
  • Narm: The Russian Roulette scene in Payback, between Bowman's "communist piece of shit", Mason's sudden accent shift, and Woods' overacting — "YOU CAN'T KILL ME!".
  • One-Scene Wonder: Dimitri Petrenko. Probably has something to do with, giving a personality and voice to a Playable Character from a rather well-liked campaign.
  • Player Punch:
    • Dimitri Petrenko's death.
    • Reznov being Dead All Along.
    • Watching Bowman getting horribly murdered in front of you can count.
  • Rewatch Bonus: The little details about Reznov stand out much more on a second playthrough. Why is he continuously going on separate missions with Mason's MACV-SOG unit? Why is he looking healthy and squared away like one of the American Marines, even wearing an American uniform? The answer to the first question is because he's not really there. The answer to the second question is likely because Mason is replacing an actual American on each mission with Reznov in his mind. It would be Foreshadowing, except it's cleverly hidden by Weaver's presence; because Mason describes him as being absolutely trustworthy despite being Russian in a short throwaway line, we assume the unit has some sort of policy that lets defectors serve with them. The first time through, the player assumes it's just a weak excuse to keep Reznov around for more of the game, and since most players like him, it's not even thought of as a problem. Even Reznov's appearance in the tunnel isn't true Foreshadowing, because it's made to look like Mason's buddy is chastising him for being startled, hiding the fact that he's just seen Mason talk to someone who isn't there.
    • Additionally, Mason's fanatical need to kill Dragovich and the others can easily be explained on a first playthrough by revenge and the fact that he was directly ordered to by John F. Kennedy himself. On a second run, you can see the compulsion programmed in by Reznov.
  • Scrappy Mechanic:
    • Lag compensation. This is the game that started it all. With all the misplaced fan complaints about lag ruining their games, Treyarch decided to redo the netcode from the ground up. Unfortunately, the changes they made came with some rather negative effects on the gameplay experience. They added in something that attempted to "equalize" everyone's connection when the game starts, but this made the experience comparable to having a host from across the world. In addition, host advantage, which was virtually unnoticeable in earlier games, became very noticeable due to the changes. Having host was practically a requirement to use killstreaks such as the Chopper Gunner because, more often than not, if you're not the host you won't be able to kill anyone with it.
    • Respawn point placement — particularly on the Firing Range and Nuketown maps when playing either Capture the Flag or Demolition. Respawn points for each team are restricted to very small portions of these maps, and they rarely have any vertical cover. It's not too difficult for a team of experienced players to trap the other team into a corner, racking up kills as quickly as the other team's players respawn. Making this matter even worse, if the dominant team has a Chopper Gunner overhead and attack dogs on the ground at the same time, players on the weaker team are better off putting their controllers down for the next sixty seconds.
  • Special Effect Failure: In "U.S.D.D.", there's a brief scene during the meeting with JFK where Mason hallucinates a 1911 pistol in his hand, turning to face him and aiming it at his face before things go back to normal. Much later in the game, when it's glossing over the possibility that Mason really did shoot JFK, rather than reusing that bit of animation... they simply put a still picture of JFK from that cutscene and overlay the 1911's regular in-game drawing and aiming animations over it.
  • Spiritual Licensee: To The Rock. Modern Warfare had already tried their hand at a homage to the movie with its rescue of Price heavily based on Mason's infiltration of Alcatraz. Black Ops, however, is almost a prequel showing Hummel before staging his blackmail attempt, with Hudson voiced by Harris, a deadly chemical weapon serving as a precursor to VX and a character named Mason who had Been There, Shaped History.
  • That One Level:
    • SOG is usually considered of the hardest missions due to Respawning Enemies. Specifically, respawning enemies with various heavy weapons, that you have to stand up in front of three separate times to pass a certain evil check point.
    • Infinite enemies also appear at the very end of "Executive Order". Fans of the game have nicknamed that part of the level "the Hallway of Death" because of the endless, aggressive enemy spawns.
  • The Un-Twist: It's actually not that hard to figure out that Reznov was dead the whole time before the big reveal, even on the first playthrough, if you pay enough attention.
    • You'll figure out that it's Hudson and Weaver interrogating you pretty early on.
  • Vindicated by History: When the game was first released, Treyarch was often considered the franchise's "B-team", and so Black Ops was occasionally overlooked by the Modern Warfare games it was sandwiched between. In retrospectives however, Black Ops is often ranked as one of the franchise's best entries. Its single player campaign is praised for being a genuinely interesting Conspiracy Thriller that is in tone reminiscent of the first Modern Warfare. In addition, its slower paced multiplayer, controversial at the time, is now seen as preferable to the large number of gimmicks and breakneck pacing of future games.
  • What an Idiot!: In "Numbers", Hudson decides that it's a good idea to question Clarke about the meaning of the titular numbers while he and Weaver are struggling to hold onto him several stories above the ground and all three of them are under heavy fire from Spetznaz. No surprise when Clarke gets Killed Mid-Sentence.
  • Win Back the Crowd: After the dedicated server brouhaha with Modern Warfare 2, Black Ops came to PC with dedicated servers and a server browser again. Not to mention the return of everybody's favorite gamemode from World at War.

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