When you think Criterion, you think Burnout. No 2 ways about it. Now, we have here a new reason; EA and Criterion’s ‘BLACK’.

An FPS, from EA, which isn’t Medal of Honour? That’s right, and there’s no WWII in sight.
So, Criterion is diverting from it’s known field of racers and has taken on quite a feat, to launch an FPS on the Xbox (as well as other formats). So, is it any good?
You’ll soon find out.

The game is played throughout an interrogation session, playing through the situations the character is relaying to the interrogator.
This works well, as it gives you a gist of what the mission is about before you undertake it.
These cut-scene interrogations are film rather than renders which creates a greater immersion in the game, and keeps the player focused like they would if watching a movie.

Like a film, it has a ridiculously long intro-credits sequence that is non-skippable. Really frustrating, but it pales in significance when the playing starts.

We have to start somewhere, so lets start with the controls.
The movement and camera functions are perfectly weighted, it moves the distance you expect it will, it reacts in the way it should and responds ultra-quick.
My only niggle here is the slow reaction when you zoom in with a sniper rifle, then again, it’s nowhere near as bad as some of the other FPS’s in recent years.

The levels are huge, they are extremely easy to get lost in, and when you get lost, you end up facing an enemy patrol.
That’s the thing with this game, there are a lot of enemies. This is no problem, there are copious amounts of weapons and ammo for the pick up when the enemy is fallen.
There are also quite a number of health packs, which are dished out in two ways. First-aid packs can only be used when your health is less than 100%, in which case it will heal you by a small amount. Whereas the actual health packs you can keep (up to 3) until you need them, using them by pressing ‘down’.

When you have the luck of having a second person on the level, they aren’t there to take the hits either; their gun accuracy is surprisingly good, injuring their fair share of the villains. Also, on some missions you get a sniper to aid your progress, picking off people on higher ground.

That doesn’t mean that killing these enemies is hard. The range of most weapons is sufficient to kill most yourself, and they aren’t the best shots in the world, meaning you have enough time to get a 20 bullet spurt off before they have hit you once.
There are a large array of weapons to defeat your foe, from the humble silenced pistol to RPG’s and grenades. The most accessible is the variations on the assault rifle, there is almost always enough ammo around to get through the level, however when it’s out, you’ll have a hard time finding any. Sods law I’m afraid.

On the visual front its in the same line as the rest of the game, great.
The enemy models are all superb and the environments are superbly modelled, it’s almost a shame to destroy them. Oh yeah, almost every building in the game is destroyable.
Whether its from blowing down a door, or destroying the floor boards below an enemy so he falls down a storey, its exceptionally fun to use the RPG to blow shit up, basically. Doing this provides you with new holes to shoot out of, allowing a clearer shot of a patrol or fuel canister to blow up.
They are also very effective to kill people, if an enemy hides behind a fuel canister, just shoot their cover and they’ll be killed.
The enemy will also hide behind other things like headstones and boxes, which too are destructible, this is one of the small things about the game, the enemies will jump over boxes and hide behind, a small realistic touch that adds a lot to the immersion in the experience.

That’s the thing with BLACK, all the small things combine to make a truly superb game.

Some of the best visuals on the Xbox at the minute, and probably the last game to properly test the console.

Levels are expansive and provide a great atmosphere to undertake the huge missions.

Personal Opinion
There are thousands more words I could say about BLACK, now I’ll sum it up in eight.
You. Need. To. Play. This. Game. Nuff Said.

Platform: Xbox
Developer: Criterion
Publisher: EA
RRP: £29.99



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