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Call of Duty: Black Ops

Comparison:

Censored Version
Rating: MA 15+
Region: Australia/Germany

Uncensored Version
Rating: BBFC 18
Region: UK

Release: Oct 16, 2013 - Author: FreshDudel - Translator: Tony Montana



Duty calls

Cuba is resentful, upholder of moral standards are upset and approx. 7 million people are having enjoying themselves: at least since the fourth installment Modern Warfare, the Call of Duty series is a phenomenon. Since 2003, at least one new installment has been released every single year. Publisher Activision Blizzard has made billions of US dollar so far.
The latest installment is no exception, Black Ops alone has already made 650 million USD with is more than the previous record holder Modern Warfare 2 (550 million USD)reached.
Now, it's November again and "duty calls" for the seventh time.

The Game

Black Ops, so the name of the latest Call of Duty, has something the prequels didn't have in that extent resp. what they didn't have at all: a decent story arc. It's even more surprising because the designer team Treyarch delivered a perfect example of how it shouldn't be done when programming World at War. Only the last missions were capable of building a suspenseful atmosphere for which the character Victor Reznov is the main reason. Speaking of which, Reznov isn't the only one who will return in Black Ops.

Vicious communists, operatives and bio weapons... What sounds like a Tom Clancy novel is actually the content of the latest Call of Duty installment.
The year is 1968 and we're right in the middle of the Cold War. One plays the character of Alex Mason who wakes up in a sleazy room full of monitors with his hand tied. He's being tortured with electricity. An ominous voice demands to know the meaning of a numerical code. Just like Mason, one is completely clueless at first.
Flashback that explain the origin of the numbers and why Mason is being hold captive in the first place follow. It turns out that Mason was part of an assassination attempt of Fidel Castro in 1961. With Viktor Reznov, Mason could escape from a Russian prison camp. He's getting orders from President John F. Kennedy himself. With the help of his friends Woods, Bowman and CIA agent Hudson, he's supposed to take out a Russian General called Nikita Dragovich who threatens to attack the US with a new kind of weapon.

Although Treyarch mixed any kind of possible Cold War clichés, Black Ops is quite thrilling. Thanks to the fact that main character Alex Mason now has a face and a voice (terrific voice acting by Sam Worthington), the Call of Duty series has finally reached the current standard of storytelling. The confusing plots from the previous installments are in the past.

The gameplay remains unchanged though. In well scripted assignments, one has to shoot its way through a bunch of asinine goons (I recommend the difficulty level Veteran because the hostiles are ridiculously persistent here). Variety is the primary goal here: whether one needs to escape from a Russian Gulag including a bike chase, stealth passages or spectacular chopper fights, Treyarch made sure that there aren't any repetitive assignments whatsoever.
But then again, I sure hope that the next installment, which will probably be relased in November, will have a different, an improved gameplay. Though Black Ops is quite entertaining from the beginning until the end, I'm getting tired of the linear nonstop action. Personally, I enjoyed much more than Modern Warfare 2 but I take it that the next installment won't be as satisfactory as the previous ones were. The engine could get an update as well. Don't get me wrong, Black Ops doesn't look bad. But when Killzone 3Crysis 2 are going to be released next year, the aged "IW" engine simply can't keep up with the competition anymore.

For many people, the motivation to buy the game is the multiplayer mode which is really amazing. The basic principle from Modern Warfare 2 remains unchanged but Treyarch made sensible alterations when required. The biggest difference is the ranking system.
The game character can now be adjusted individually. Gear, weapon upgrades and perks are being financed with CoD points which are available after a ranking game - in addition to the experience points. To unlock new weapons, a particular rank is still required though. Thanks to modes like "Gun Game", the new "wager matches" give variety.
Completed games can be watched and edited in the new "Theater Mode".

The Zombie Mode has been expanded as well. On three maps, as much as 4 players can join forces to battle the vast quantities of zombies. The difficulty level automatically raises with every new zombie wave that's coming up. Like in World at War, this mode is quite motivating and entertaining.

Bottom line: there are no innovative gameplay elements at all in Call of Duty: Black Ops. But thanks to the thrilling campaign and the expanded multiplayer mode, I believe it's more entertaining than Modern Warfare 2.


Censoring

The actual reason for this comparison is the censoring in Black Ops. The only reason for the above text is the intention to make the intro look longer than it really is. :-)

Black Ops is brutal. Heads are being chopped off, sleeping hostiles stabbed violently, humans take their last breath in anguish due to toxic gas and soldiers who surrendered can be executed without any repercussions. The censorings almost seems ludicrous, considering all the violent and vicious things that remained unchanged. Nevertheless, things were censored for some reason. An entire sequence has been removed, splatter effects have been censored. Even the Rolling Stones sond Sympathy for the Devil has been removed. Except for the missing song, the alterations are standard procedure.
Last but not least, I'd like to point out that the uncensored version of Black Ops is not as bloody as World at War. There are no huge stomach wounds or exploding heads anymore.

The voice acting is very well but that's not really surprising because stars like Sam Worthington, Gary Oldman, Ed Harris and Ice Cube are involved. As a result, the atmosmphere is incredibly sinister.

Please note: As a quick check showed are the differences in the Australian Version equal to the censored German Version, except for the Nazi symbols which only the German version is lacking. However, this comparison was done with the German version. So if you find any things listed here, that are different to the Australian version please tell us. For now, we assume the Australian version is identical to the German version regarding the censorship of the violence. Also note that the Australian Classification Board was not responsible for the censorship. It looks like Activision directly handed in the edited version which then was classified MA 15+ without problems.

Table of Contents

1. Removed Torture Sequence

2. Blood and Splatter

3. Dead Ops Arcade

4. Burning Hostiles

5. Levelspecific Alterations
1. Removed Torture Sequence
At the begining of the mission "Numbers", one needs to get important intel out of Dr. Daniel Clarke. In order to reach that goal, one has to smash a window by pushing the controller button (LT button on the Xbox 360 controller). Subsequently, a glass fragment is being put in the victim's mouth. Then one can punch him twice by pushing the controller button again (RT button).
Dr. Clarke is spitting blood and glass fragments. But that's pretty much it. "Real" torture doesn't take place and he's not getting killed either; neither by the player nor by his partner Grigori Weaver. On the contrary, Dr. Clarke seems to be doing surprisingly well because he teams up with the player and kills Russian goons without hesitation.

And yet, that sequence has been removed from the Australian Version in which the mission begins with a blank screen. Only one of the two punches plus Dr. Clarke spitting out pieces of glass is audible from the off but the actual mission doesn't start before Dr. Clarke begins to talk.


Uncensored UK VersionCensored Australian Version




2. Blood and Splatter
Only the single and zombie mode offer the option to sever body parts. The blood splatter is missing as well but any other bloody effects remain unchanged.

Splatter Effects for Humans
When the hostile is human, only hands, arms and legs can be chopped off. This happens way less often than it does in Call of Duty: World at War though. There are no exploding heads or bursted bellies this time. But the censoring is pretty sloppy here because the goons are reaching for the spot where body are supposed to be missing in the Australian Version which isn't only inconsequent but also weird if one doesn't know why.

(screenshots only for the Uncensored Version)

Hand



Arm



Single Leg



Both Legs



Splatter Effects for Zombies
When under fire, almost any kind of weapon makes zombies lose a body part. Contrary to human hostiles, their heads can explode and the vicious belly wounds can be caused, too.


(screenshots only for the Uncensored Version)

Head



Arm



Leg



Both Legs / Feet



Belly



Impact on Quick Time Events
In the mission S.O.G, one is being attacked by an NVA soldier in close combat. By repetitive pushing of the X-button, one first removes the pin from the grenade. Then the hostile is being pushed backwards. Only in the Uncensored Version, he loses his legs in the explosion.

Uncensored UK VersionCensored Australian Version



3. Dead Ops Arcade
This funny mini game has been censored, too. The splatter effects are missing which decreased the amount of blood.

(To make the screenshots more recognizable, they have been brightened up)

Uncensored UK VersionCensored Australian Version




4. Burning Hostiles
There are no burning people in the Australian Version. Not anymore. When they get hit by the flawthrower, they simply drop dead with little burn marks on their bodies.
In the Uncensored Version on the other hand, one can watch the bodies burn for quite some time. Some of them die in agonizing pain while rolling on the floor.

In scripted sequences (e.g. a Vietcong who's burning some soldiers in the trench), the Australian Version contains burn marks as well.

Uncensored UK VersionCensored Australian Version



5. Levelspecific Alterations
In the Uncensored Version, the level "Revirth" contains sliced humans in the labs. In the Australian Version, there are scars on the bodies of the vivisection victims an that's it.

Uncensored UK VersionCensored Australian Version

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