BLACK PS2 Review

Emptying magazine after magazine out of the chamber of a gun must cause quite a mess to not only the unfortunate victims, but also the surrounding environment. There’s not many games that truly convince in the aftermath of a gun battle, with only stray bullets lodging themselves in walls, whilst the rest of the level and its inhabitant objects are seemingly immune to gunfire. The release of BLACK shakes the FPS foundations a little and perfectly showcases what guns are capable of doing besides from killing people.

Lets cut to the chase early, BLACK is about causing a mess of demolition proportions. Spent bullets turn completely innocent environments into unpredictable hazards for both you and your enemies, blowing off plaster from the walls, decimating pillars, gravestones, walkways and buildings, whilst cars and other combustible objects explode into gigantic fireballs – it’s really quite a thrill to be in amongst it all. When the quiet eventually arrives the makeover of the area matches that of a war zone, with scarred walls, burning debris, gaping holes and other tourist-deterring eyesores.

The guns have often been touted as BLACK’s big thing, and we found ourselves suitably impressed by the detail in each of the weapons as well as the overall noise that is produced with every bullet fired (noise suppressors can be found on the game, but you‘ll want to make as much noise as possible!). However, we were disappointed to learn that dual wielding was never an option, and carrying a mere two weapons at a time is a trick that the game could have done without as it’s certainly not a title that encourages you to stop and think about your weapon selection, because you simply won’t want to be stationary for long, such is the cracking pace of the game.

As for lobbing grenades, the impact of each and every one can be felt and heard as glass spills to the ground leaving empty window frames and those lucky enough to have survived the blast are subsequently shook by the ground beneath their feet. The guns are arguably the games main event, but the exploding pineapples are spot on here and react as you’d expect, making the flushing out of rooms a guilty gaming pleasure.

There’s never a dull moment to be had, although some of the levels do fail to match up to others, this was an inevitable event, but unfortunately makes some pass quite disappointedly rendering the game as not quite living up to expectations. One of the games defining moments is definitely the Asylum level, which is chock full of things to destroy, including the unavoidable opportunity to redecorate a toilet with your weaponry and at the closing stage of the level there’s even a lobby with destructible pillars, which could have been ripped straight out of the Matrix . It’s just a shame that the entire game couldn’t have matched this level for exhilaration, although BLACK still offers a-thrill-a-second, which makes some other shooters appear like a placid walk in the countryside.

The game can be one that tests your patience, as things expectedly are constantly chaotic and checkpoints are spaced curiously far from one another in many cases. This leads to gritted teeth as your death often leads you far backwards in your travels, and the lack of a save option between checkpoints is also a devilish design decision.

Much kudos must go to Criterion for carving out a game that you’d only expect to find on an Xbox 360, such is the visual prowess that BLACK possesses. If the game had been released without the capability of shooting things to bits it would have still been a technical marvel, but being able to do this too is testament to the talented folk at the UK development studio responsible.

Sadly the game is over all too soon, but even after completion you may find yourself returning to it to seek something new to blow up, or for some less sad reasons! We still demand some multiplayer options to keep games off the shelf though, and BLACK just doesn’t deliver anything other then its single player experience.

Does the game offer any real substance apart from constantly dwindling environments? Of course it doesn’t, if you are looking for something substantial then BLACK isn’t for you as it just so happens to be the gaming equivalent to those movies that only got off the drawing board, because they were granted the overblown financial wizardry to match that of their explosions. This means the AI is passable, but hardly tremendous, the story irrelevant and flat, and smoke, explosions and breakable environments the biggest attraction.