You can keep Black Ops out from under the microscope after the high-profile departure of the creative minds that drove the Call of Duty franchise at Infinity Ward earlier this year. Can Treyarch come through with a blockbuster hit in the vein of Modern Warfare, not just a by-the-numbers off-year title like the studio has churned out in the past? Yes and no, but Black Ops is the best game Treyarch has made, and a hell of a good time no matter how you slice it.
Wager matches exist parallel to the standard XP-based progression. These lethal six-player free-for-all matches are throwbacks to the old days of Quake deathmatches in a lot of ways. All of the game types (each of which has unusual rules that work exceptionally well, like forced weapon cycling or one-shot kills with extremely limited ammo) put a huge emphasis on each kill. This breeds an intensity I haven’t felt since playing free-for-all railgun-only Quake. The titular wagering of the in-game currency that you use to buy weapon attachments, perks, and emblem elements only adds to the tension. The only knock is that wager matches are by nature incredibly lag-sensitive. If you get stuck with a bad host or your connection is being Comcastic, get ready for some frustration.