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September 07, 2016

Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 (Full Review)



Better late than never, eh?



Release Date: November 2015

Developer: Treyarch

Publisher: Activision

Platforms: Windows, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PlayStation 4, Xbox One

Genre: First-Person Shooter

Content Verdict: Mature Gamers Only For Strong Gory Violence and Frequent Strong Language

Quality Verdict: Good (B)



Intro:

We made some changes to our format, so be sure to gleam this section before moving onto the review... (07/09/2016)

KVR Gaming uses a clear, easy-to-understand format for content guides, so that the reader may take away information with accuracy. Nevertheless, for first time readers, it may take a while to understand the formula. So here's a quick explanation of our reviewing style:

The double hyphen (--) represents an individual piece of content or area of concern. These paragraphs are colour coded in order to represent the intensity of said content.

At the end of each mentioned piece of content is a number (1-10) in parentheses. The number is a more precise way of gauging content, with 1 being the lowest level of intensity and 10 being the highest.

--Green represents a low level of intensity. (1-2)

--Blue represents a moderate level of intensity. (3-5)


--Orange represents a high level of intensity. (6-8)

--Red indicates that the content is rather graphic and may be upsetting for some. (9-10)

A new addition to the format is Flagging, where a reviewer might "Flag" content he or she views as excessive or bothersome, and will be talked about in the Conclusion of the review. Flagged content is marked with a X in red, so as to clearly draw one's attention to the specific piece of content.

For any questions regarding content in a video game, feel free to leave a comment at the end of the appropriate review.

Yours sincerely,

KVR

Content Guide:

Violence/Intense Content:

Mild Moderate Heavy Very Heavy Intense Extreme 

General Violence:
 
--Black Ops 3 is a first-person shooter. As shooting is an integral gameplay mechanic, several people, civilians and soldiers, are shot during the course of the game. Bullets impact bodies with sprays of blood, reactive motions and cries of pain.

 
Blood stains the environment, around freshly killed enemies, and splattering across the floor when targets are injured. People fall over when killed, going limp and bleeding out on the floor.

 
High-powered weapons such as shotguns allow players to blow limbs off opponents, with a splatter of blood and gore. Tattered bones and bloody stumps are shown. (8)

 
-Knives are used in combat; players can stab and slice foes, with ribbons of blood, slicing sounds and cries of pain. Blood stains clothing and environments.


-Grenades are thrown, blowing victims in the blast radius apart, severing arms and legs with a splatter of blood.


--We see robots shaped like roller balls, with spikes which deploy to skewer targets; several soldiers are cut into pieces by these robots, severing their arms, legs and torsos, with splashes of blood and bursts of gore. (8)

--Vehicles, buildings and environments are destroyed by explosions resulting from bombs, grenades and projectiles. Wreckage is strewn all over the place. Vehicles disintegrate into several pieces. (7)


--Players acquire cybernetic abilities, with which they can wreak havoc on unsuspecting foes. (7)


-Firefly Swarm: A swarm of nanobots fly out and attack surrounding enemies, with sprays of blood and cries of pain as the victim is torn at by the swarm.


-Immolation: The enemy is set alight, flailing around whilst screaming, and becoming bloody and charred.

 
Storyline Violence:
--(X) A young character is punched in the face, with a crunch heard and blood splattering from his nose. A bomb is strapped to his neck and he is placed beside another young character. The bomb detonates, severing both of their heads from afar with a splash of blood. The bloody stump of the boy's neck is briefly shown in close-up. (10)

--(X) A couple of video feeds depict the torture of prisoners; a man is strung up and beaten several times, with cries of pain and bruises visible on his bare upper body. A man has water thrown into his throat, he struggles and gurgles violently. A man is burned by a blowtorch; he screams and thrashes around as his skin burns. (9)

--(X) The player character shoves a woman's face into a fire; we see in close-up how her flesh starts to melt, the skin falling off, bloody tissue becoming exposed as she screams. Her face burns off, the bloody skull visible, and she dies. (9)

-A woman is exposed to a chemical gas; her face develops boils and she throws up, fluids shown, chokes, and dies. This is shown in close-up.


--A man is brutalised by a robot, which tears both of his arms off with squirts of blood and screams of pain. We see the tattered bones and sinew sticking out of the wounds, as well as a lot of blood. (9)


--A civilian is thrown off a rooftop, and hits the ground, exploding into limbs and a massive blood splatter. This is shown from a distance, but seen very clearly. (8)

--In a simulation, a man is suspended by the branches of a tree. The tree is ordered to tear him apart; we briefly see the man's limbs come off and his body exploding into blood. (The latter is shown from afar.) (8)

--A couple of dead bodies are shown seated in chairs, some with their noses removed, blood and exposed tissue shown briefly. It is mentioned that the executions were performed while the victims were still alive. Later on, we see a flashback to the executions, with several people stabbing, cutting and slicing off ears, noses, and strangling people with fibre cords. However, this is not graphic, due to the scene flashing to black several times, right before an act of graphic violence. (7)


--A soldier slices a piece of wire out of the back of his head; we see the wire being pulled out with a crack heard and a spray of blood. (7)


--A man uses a laser to sever an unconscious woman's hand; we see smoke rising and the hand detaches from the body. It is shown a couple of times, without blood. (6)

Zombies:

 
--Zombies are featured in the game; their limbs are blown off, while they are still mobile, with sprays of dark blood and gore, tattered bone visible. (7)

 
--The entire zombie mode is filled with a sense of dread, with creepy noises and cries from the zombies and various other creatures of the night. Tense situations are common, with zombies closing in on your character(s) without mercy, killing them swiftly, making for incredibly scary gaming sessions. (7)


Sex/Nudity:

Mild Moderate Heavy Very Heavy Intense Extreme

--A few instances of male toplessness. (3)

Language:

Mild Moderate Heavy Very Heavy Intense Extreme

Frequent Strong Language. Uses of F**k, S**t, D**k, B**ch and other cuss words.

Spiritual Content:

Mild Moderate Heavy Very Heavy Intense Extreme

--A certain way of killing a person is said to be a "denial of reincarnation". (4)
 
--A dying woman has vivid hallucinations, at one point wondering out loud if she's in "hell". (4)


--(Spoilers) A man says that a simulation is sort of like an afterlife, allowing them to "live after death". (4)


Drugs/Alcohol/Smoking:

Mild Moderate Heavy Very Heavy Intense Extreme
 
--A scene features a group of characters smoking cigarettes and cigars in a bar. We see another group of people drinking bottles of alcohol. (5)


Morality:

Abysmal Bad So-So Okay Good Very Good

While some of the gruesome acts listed above are committed by your character, the morality of the game is pretty average in terms of war shooters. You're the good guy fighting against the bad guys and occasionally doing something morally sketchy in order to save lives.
 
Themes: Mentions of technology consuming people, invading their minds, brainwashing them, and even giving them a way to keep living after dying, in a sort of "technological afterlife".


Conclusion:




The violence in Black Ops 3 may be of concern to some, due to a few aforementioned scenes of violence, three in particular, as marked earlier.
 
The scene of torture on multiple prisoners is shown purely for shock value, and is put on repeat for continuous viewing. The context of the scene is to show the horrible conditions which real POWs face, but it is not mentioned again later in the story.


The player burns a woman to death, her face graphically melting off. The act was committed in self-defence, as she was trying to kill the player. However, the cruelty of the scene is hard to ignore, especially due to the sheer terror she faces once she is disfigured.


A scene depicts the graphic deaths of two young characters, which are only introduced in the story to be killed off. (A common technique known as the "red shirt", where a character is introduced in the narrative, only to be killed off shortly thereafter as a form of shock value or to rise the stakes of the story.) This scene may be upsetting to some, due to the respective ages of the victims.


All three of the previous scenes would not have stood out as much if they were given proper context and foreshadowing. The torture scenes and killing of young characters were out of place with the themes of technology and ascension. The developers were clearly trying to comment on the state of war, without giving the aforementioned scenes proper depth in order to make them more meaningful.


As such, the perception of the scenes will be skewed, due to their odd placement and lack of in-game pauses after these scenes, so that the player may fully absorb and process the traumatic images they just witnessed. If the game doesn't give us adequate time to process gruesomeness, it be might traumatic for the viewer due to the story asking us to ignore it in order to keep playing.


I'm not a psychologist, but often, after a shock, people need to given time to fully process an event before they can start to think logically again. Our subconscious believes all events in a game to be real, so a shocking act of violence will an impact on us. (Sure, not nearly as much as in real life, but it will still have a definite effect.) Therefore, if we see something like two kids being killed in a horrific manner, we need time to recover fully and mourn what we've seen, otherwise we'll be sent reeling from the image and not be able to focus on the game further, and some may even choose to stop playing.


We've gone quite a bit in-depth about these scenes, but I feel it's important for us to fully understand why these things might have an adverse affect on us. We should always be careful of what we witness on-screen so that it doesn't scar us for life.


Now, you may be rolling your eyes at what you just read, thinking that I'm some kind of "Moral Watchdog" trying to tell you what you're not allowed to play. Far from it. I'm simply asking that you be careful what you allow into your house, especially around family members, and to ruminate over a game's content before you make the decision to buy it.

It may be "hip and cool" to play all the most graphic games and not think twice about the content, but we need to be sure that we don't lead ourselves astray by ignoring these things. 
 

But okay, enough preaching. Let's sum things up: Black Ops 3 has gory violence through-and-through. I'll leave more details for the Content Guide above, since we've already taken up quite a bit of space above. Strong language peppers the dialogue. Spiritual references to the afterlife are featured.
 

To sum it up, Black Ops 3 continues the series' penchant for pushing the envelope. While nothing in the game pushes it too far over the line for me to recommend it for the mature gamer, we still urge caution in buying this game based on the aforementioned scenes listed above.
 
Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 has been rated 18 by KVR Gaming.

Content Verdict: 18+

For Strong Gory Violence and Frequent Strong Language

Review of Game:


Gameplay: Black Ops 3 features a few surprising alterations to the gameplay. While it's still Call of Duty, and the COD formula still shines through, the game features a few RPG-like elements such as powers, weapon customisations, and so forth.
The game also feels a lot less rigid this time around, with more open level design. It's still very linear, but less restrictively so.
 
We're also treated to a great variety of different level designs, par for the franchise, which is nice.
 
So it's still Call of Duty. It won't win any new fans, but for those who've been sticking around for long will still find something here to bring them back around. So yeah. Shortest review ever. Moving on...
 
Story: Hey, we've learned not to expect too much from the story ever since things went downhill from Modern Warfare 1. So with your expectations lowered, you may find that Black Ops 3 has a rather agreeable story.
 
Black Ops 3 genuinely tries to be different and make you think. It almost makes it, and that's worth commending. The ending mirrors Crysis 2's a bit too much, with the themes of nanotechnology and ascension and all, a comparison was inevitable. However, a direct copy of another game's ending is still going a bit far, which takes away big points from this one's otherwise decent storyline.
 
Audiovisual: Not bad at all. Easily the game's biggest drawing point. Treyarch gave the game a great overhaul. The FX and gunfire are satisfying as always, the character models realistically designed and seeing different animations is quite nice.

Quality Verdict: Good (B)

Black Ops 3 is nothing to write home about, and it won't win new fans to the series at all, but for what it is, it's pretty good. You get what you came for. Nothing more, nothing less.

Outro:
Better late than never, I guess. And we still don't have all the details in yet. Zombie mode still needs to be covered, but we'll get that to as soon as possible. Thank you very much for tuning in. Go well, God bless, and stay safe.

Happy gaming,


KVR

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