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File:CoDBO 300x168 2549.jpg

Splitting the difference between World War II and The Present Day since 2010.

"Your name is Alex Mason. You were born in Fairbanks, Alaska. In 1961, you served in a CIA assassination team known as Operation 40. Is that correct?"

And thus begins Black Ops.

Call of Duty: Black Ops, like Modern Warfare, is a Spin-Off of the World War II-themed FPS series Call of Duty, but unlike Modern Warfare, it takes place during the height of the Cold War. You play as Alex Mason, a CIA operative being interrogated about his involvement in various operations, from an assassination attempt on Fidel Castro to The Vietnam War and beyond. The bulk of the game plays out in a series of Flashbacks that recall the many operations Mason participated in.

A sequel, set in the year 2025, with flashbacks in the 80s has been released in 2012, and a third one came out in 2015.

Tropes used in Call of Duty: Black Ops include:

General Tropes

  • Alternative Foreign Theme Song: "ROCK U" by Namie Amuro was used as the theme song in the Japanese version.
  • Anachronism Stew: Black Ops has an alarming amount of weapons that weren't even patented, let alone produced during the setting the game is in. Even if they were the earliest weapon prototypes that the CIA could utilize (and they do Hand Wave it as such), they're still considered to be pretty damned early for its time.
    • Taken to Ludicrous levels with the FAMAS. The model used in the game (the FAMAS F1 FELIN) wasn't developed until 2001, in a game set in the 1960s! Handwaved with being a prototype, just like the MP5K and several other guns, and it shows (for example: the Enfield, G11, and Commando use the same iron sights, the MP5K has its prototype foregrip, etc).
      • Although those folding rear sights are Troy Battle Sights, which also did not exist until the 2000s.
    • The Heckler & Koch G11 was developed over a period of twenty years, from the late '60s to 1990. It was a technical success, but never made it to mass production.
    • The CZ-75 pistol makes an appearance, even serving as a starting weapon in one of the missions. Production started in 1975. Hence, the name CZ-75.
    • The ASP pistol was designed and produced in the 70s, and so would not have been around for the assassination attempt on Castro. A more appropriate choice would have been the Smith & Wesson Model 39, which the ASP was based on.
    • The MAC-11 was developed in 1972, and hence is also anachronistic. Like the above, its predecessor, developed in 1965, would have been a better choice.
    • The MP5K "prototype" is hilariously anachronistic; the standard MP5 was not developed until 1966, and the MP5K was prototyped in 1976, but it appears in a level set in 1963.
    • The AKS-74U was first produced in 1979, the base model having been produced in 1974. The RPK-74 also did not enter production until 1974 - again, the earlier 7.62mm version would have fit just fine.
    • The M203 just barely fits the bill; it entered service in 1969, but there is a documented history of special forces (MACV-SOG) using similar prototype underbarrel grenade launchers. However, the GP-30 is way off base - not even the earlier GP-25 was around until the 70's.
    • The Spectre M4 was developed in the '80s. See a trend here?
    • The Franchi SPAS-12 was developed in 1982, and yet it shows up in the hands of Soviet special forces in 1968 Hong Kong. That same year, it also appears being used (with incendiary rounds, no less) by the suspiciously well-equipped North Vietnamese Army.
    • The AUG was developed in 1978, a decade after when it shows up in-game.
    • The BGM-71 TOW from "S.O.G." is a triple-whammy - it was not developed until 1970, none of them ever made it to Vietnam until 1972, and some writing visible on the actual tube indicates it's actually the TOW 2B version developed in 1991. For added anachronism, it's mounted on a 2011 Jeep Wrangler.
    • There are numerous other anachronisms, but they are relatively minor compared to the ones above. For example, the AK-47 isn't an AK-47. It's a mishmash of several Kalashnikov variants.
    • Also, "Fortunate Son" is being played on the radio in 1968, a year before it was released; "Sympathy for the Devil" at least got the year right, but was months too early.
    • The Soviet Mi-24 Hind helicopter did not have its first flight until September 19, 1969 and did not enter military service until 1972, but that doesn't stop the helicopters from appearing in multiple missions set in 1968.
    • The computer terminals where in you can play Zork and/or access emails from various individuals appear to be running on a variant of Unix, and yet the operating system itself was released in 1969, a year after the game takes place.
  • BFG: This game features the the Death Machine and Grim Reaper, respectively a man-portable gatling gun and a quad-barreled, incendiary rocket launcher. Both appear briefly in the single player and are obtainable from care packages/random powerups in multi-player and zombies mode.
  • Completely Missing the Point: Certain groups got mad at the celebrities who are depicted shooting each other in the "Soldier in all of us" commercial--for said glorifying war. (Ironically, no one is directly hit or obviously harmed in the ad, because of broadcast restrictions.)
  • The Dev Team Thinks of Everything: To counter people using modded controllers in Black Ops, the semiautomatic battle rifles will actually jam if the trigger is pressed too fast. It is possible to fire fast enough without the aid of controller mods to trigger this as well, typically with high amounts of lag.
    • At the main menu, Mason can escape his chair and access the computer terminal behind him. Most players will only use the terminal to play Zork or play Dead Ops Arcade, but you can also look at Mason's e-mail and other things such as concept art and music. The kicker? Initially, you are logged on as Alex Mason. You can also log on as any other major character in the game, including presidents, and access their e-mail and files (as long as you know their usernames and passwords). They went so far as to include Directors of the CIA and Henry Kissinger in there, as well as Macbeth's monologue before killing Duncan (they even use what actors call Macbeth, namely "Mackers") in there. To reiterate: Treyarch took the time to add a myriad of Easter Eggs to an area that many players wouldn't even look at, let alone try to access. Damn.
  • Easter Egg: Black Ops has a playable version of Zork, as well as a Smash TV-esque zombie mode.
    • To access the former, at the main menu, hit spacebar repeatedly/mash the triggers to break out of your chair, then turn around, go to the computer and type "zork" in the command bar.
    • For the latter, type in DOA, and you'll access Dead Ops Arcade, an extremely fun Smash TV like game.
    • Shooting off all the heads on the Multi-player map "Nuketown" within fifteen seconds of the round's beginning causes "Sympathy for the Devil" to play over the level's loudspeakers.
    • You can get the Thundergun in the Kowloon mission, similar to World at War's hidden raygun.
  • Elites Are More Glamorous - The only non-elite faction in the game are the NVA/Viet Cong and the Cuban Army.
  • Gatling Good: The Death Machine.
  • Genre Shift: The Easter Egg Dead Ops Arcade, a top-down arcade-style shooter.
    • The game becomes an arcadey vehicle simulator at one point, and one mission has you leading Hudson's squad through a blizzard, RTS-style.
  • Guns Akimbo: Available for some weapons, though if you do, you get an accuracy penalty as well as unable to use the sights.
  • I Call It Vera: As shown by the cover and by an in-game achievement, Mason owns a pair of Colt M1911's, one called "Sally", and the other called "Mustang" (as revealed in Nazi Zombies).
    • The player can scratch their clan tags onto their guns in multi-player, allowing you to actually have a gun named "Vera".
  • Isn't It Ironic?: Ads for the game had The Rolling Stones' "Gimme Shelter" playing in them; a song about the horror and ugliness of war.
  • Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: Jason Hudson is a fan of this, employing it on both Clarke and Mason. The latter is the framing device for the entire game.
  • Kill It with Fire: The above-mentioned Grim Reaper, as well as an under-barrel flamethrower attachment for assault rifles. There's also a Kill Streak in multi-player that calls in a flight of F4 Phantoms to drop napalm.
    • Also, the Dragon's Breath rounds in the SPAS-12 in the single-player mission.
  • Limited Special Collectors' Ultimate Edition: Availible in standard, hardened and prestige editions. The prestige edition includes a working replica of the RC-XD, which is essentially an RC toy car with the frame removed and explosives added. Presumably the replica doesn't blow up.
  • Obvious Beta: in case of PC version. Released game featured insane CPU usage (caused FPS stuttering), too low network rate (caused multi-player stuttering even if the FPS is good), LOD bugs (objects appearing a couple steps in front of you)... and that's not counting content unavailable to PC users for unknown reasons: can't change loadout between matches and raise stakes in the money matches. These problems are so omnipresent many players consider game hasn't been beta-tested on PC at all.
    • An update to the game caused Xbox 360 logos and information to appear... on the Play Station 3.
    • In the Xbox version, the napalm killstreak will sometimes result in a lower frame rate when outdoors and facing the fire. Even after it has been extinguished, the framerate in certain areas will be noticably lower.
  • The Password Is Always Swordfish: Mason's password on the computer system is "password". There's also an email from Hudson in his inbox telling him to change it.
  • Product Placement: Hey everyone! Let's get in the brand new 2011 Jeep Call Of Duty Black Ops Edition! Has its own Dualvertisement and everything. It is also shown, wrecked, on the Multi-player map "Nuketown" for more anachronistic fun.
  • Rare Guns:
    • Possibly winning an award here: in several missions and the multi-player, you're able to find the China Lake shotgun-style grenade launcher. This is an actual weapon, of which 20 to 30 made it in to service, and never in the MACV-SOG. Say what you want about the G11 being in the game, the China Lake is possibly the rarest represented gun in any game series.
  • Recursive Ammo: A secondary grenade in the form of a traditional Russian Doll. It can explode four times.
  • Reverse Grip: The standard reverse-grip knife attack returns, but it gets amped up when using the Ballistic Knife weapon- your character holds both the ballistic knife and your regular one this way. While you have both out your knife attacks are faster and have a shortened cooldown.

Campaign Tropes

  • All There in the Manual: If you collect pieces of intel throughout the game, you unlock Intel documents that you can read to get more info on the characters and locations in the game.
  • And Now for Someone Completely Different: You play as Reznov during the mission "Project Nova". You also control the USAF members Neitsch and Mosely as they guide Hudson's squad in the early part of the mission WMD.
    • Earlier in the game your perspective shifts to Hudson during the mission to capture Clarke. Given that the game has been told exclusively from Mason's perspective up to this point, it's quite jarring.
  • Arc Words: "Dragovich... Kravchenko... Steiner... All must die..."
    • "What are the numbers/What do the numbers mean?!" with your choice of obscenity added for flavor.
  • Atomic F-Bomb: Woods, upon being forced to play Russian Roulette by his NVA captors, screams one while pulling the trigger... luckily for him, he got an empty chamber.
  • Back for the Dead: Dimitri Petrenko.
    • Technically, Reznov too.
  • Badass Bookworm: Jason Hudson; in addition to being a double-major in psychology and political science prior to his service, he is described as an excellent tactician with genius-level IQ.
  • Badass Beard: Viktor Reznov, Frank Woods and Bowman.
  • Badass Grandpa: According to intel, Reznov is 51 in Black Ops.
  • Behind the Black: The Viet Cong that blindsides Swift from the rat tunnel in "Victor Charlie" clearly wasn't visible by the player until he made his move, but Swift himself really should have seen it coming when he turned his head back after scolding Mason for talking to someone who wasn't there. Of course, Swift wasn't the one holding the flashlight, but that just calls into question why he was taking point.
  • Bilingual Bonus: Dragovich. Drago is a prefix taken from the Russian Drakon meaning "dragon". Vich means "Son of". so his name means "Son of the Dragon" (Dracula, Transylvanian for "Son of the Dragon"). In Slavic folklore "dragon" is used to indicate the Devil. So Dragovich's name actually means "Son of the Devil".
    • During one sequence you are required to commandeer a helicopter. When you approach the helicopter, you can overhear an unsubtitled exchange in Russian by the two soldiers guarding it that the rear rotor has a tendency to jam, and it will be fixed in about ten minutes. You are expected to immediately kill them and fly off in it.
    • A rusalka is a Slavic mythological creature that haunted waterways and entranced men, typically to their deaths. A rather fitting name for the in-game ship, given its purpose.
  • Bloodier and Gorier: This series continually tries to one-up itself with this, now featuring fully-detailed sliced throats. It goes without saying that it's much gorier than the last Modern Warfare game, but compared to World at War, gibs are actually less common, even when explosives are used - unless you use guns like the Colt Python or any machine gun or shotgun. You can't even decapitate anyone at all!
  • Book Ends:
    • In the Khe San level, the phrase "You look like hammered shit."
    • The Rusalka, which appears both towards the beginning of the campaign and by the end, as Dragovich's true base of operations.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: Mason. Reznov arguably saved him from the Crazy part. Maybe.
  • Break the Badass: Bowman, he was broken and had a severe Heroic BSOD when captured by the Viet Congs.
  • Broken Faceplate: One mission requires you to wear an NBC suit during a chemical attack. You're still fighting, though, and as you take damage, your faceshield will crack. While your health will regenerate normally, your faceshield won't, meaning that if you take too much damage in the entire sequence, you'll die from exposure to the chemical agent. It can be very disorienting to have to worry about your health in a game series famous for Regenerating Health.
  • Bulletproof Human Shield: Mason uses a Vietnamese soldier as a shield while escaping a POW camp.
    • Made a little more noticeable because during gameplay, bullets penetrate various objects, including enemy soldiers.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The cargo ship Rusalka is briefly seen at the end of the first mission. It later turns out that the numbers broadcast is being transmitted from there.
  • The City Narrows: Kowloon Walled City, and it really did look like that in real life.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: There's a lot of foul language in the interrogation scenes, with the subtitles only sometimes censoring it.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: Your mysterious interrogators are very liberal with the electrocution early on.
    • And when you're in Kowloon the level opens with Hudson torturing Clarke by inserting a shard of broken glass in his mouth and repeatedly punching him in the jaw. This would have gone on, if the Russians hadn't arrived.
  • Cold War: The first Call of Duty game set in it.
  • Collapsing Lair: Near the end of the final mission.
  • The Conspiracy - The main plot and the intel plot. Turns out, Mason isn't just being used by the Russians, and JFK was assassinated by an even more mysterious organization.
  • Conspiracy Kitchen Sink: It's a game set during the Cold War. JFK. Mysterious third parties threatening various US Government officials. Nuff' said.
  • Cool Shades: Hudson wears these all the time. When he does take them off, it's plot relevant...
  • Crazy Prepared: Dr. Clarke has a mind boggling number of escape routes and weapon caches prepared in the event that someone tries to kill him, and even has mattresses on rooftops in case the escape requires Roof Hopping.
    • How crazy is he? At one point, a Russian helicopter flies in to grab what's left of Clarke's research, which wouldn't have been very predictable in Hong Kong. Seeing this, Clarke pulls out a detonator and destroys the helicopter with explosive charges planted in his laboratory. This isn't just Crazy Prepared, this is So Crazy It's Awesome.
  • Cutscene Boss: Dragovich and Kravchenko.
  • Darker and Edgier: This takes a more bleak, underhanded, and State Beer-styled approach than the Modern Warfare and prior Call of Duty series, which plays out more like traditional action movies and heroic WWII war movies, respectively.
  • Dead All Along: Reznov. Turns out he was dead after the escape from Vorkuta and he was just a hallucination in Mason's mind - though he does successfully enact his revenge via Mason.
  • Deadly Gas: The cloudy, green, near-instantly fatal Nova-6, the cornerstone of Dragovich's planned genocide and invasion of the US.
  • Death by Disfigurement: Averted with Weaver. He is knifed in the eye by Kravchenko, but he survives right to the end.
  • Defcon Five: The DEFCON meter is shown to (correctly) click down towards "DEFCON 1" during cutscenes.
  • Dirty Coward: At the end of WWII, Dr. Steiner defects to the Soviets by offering up his chemical-weapons research, just to save his own hide. He then tries to defect again to the CIA when he realizes he's outlived his usefulness to Dragovich.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Mason: "Too late to back out - Slam it in!"
  • Doomed by Canon: Double subverted, the tutorial mission has you assassinating Fidel Castro making it seem like it's Alternate History. Turns out Castro was using a double
    • JFK, on the other hand, is played straight.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Kravchenko gets one during "Project Nova", as he kills a group of surrendering Germans who are on their knees literally begging for their lives. One by one he executes them with a single shot to the head. As he turns to kill the last German he finds he's out of ammo, so he grabs a comrade's knife and slits the German's throat.
  • Every Car Is a Pinto
  • Expy: Hudson -> Hummel is pretty clear.
  • Eye Scream: Weaver takes a knife to the eye during the mission to the Cosmodrome. Fortunately, he survives (unlike the last guy who got a knife to the eye in a Call of Duty game), and spends the rest of the game with an eyepatch.
  • The Faceless: Finally averted with respect to the main character, who can be seen clearly on monitors in the interrogation room between levels and in every opening Cutscene.
  • Fast Roping: Naturally. It's even featured prominently in the trailer. Just as in Modern Warfare 2, rappelling too fast will get you smashed.
  • Foregone Conclusion: With Reznov prisoner in Vorkuta and Dimitri nowhere to be seen, it's clear "Project Nova" will end poorly.
  • Foreshadowing: Similar to Dead Space's NICOLE IS DEAD message, all of the mission start briefing messages contain a word from the NATO Phonetic Alphabet, with XRAY hinting at spaces. Subtracting these XRAYs, the "letters" chronologically spell REZNOV IS DEAD.
    • And according to the The Maverick Code, the numbers listed after each alphabet ultimately spell out in alphanumeric code Or is he?
      • And at one point after a conversation with Reznov, Swift will angrily ask Mason "what the fuck is wrong with you?"
    • During the scene where Mason receives his mission from JFK, there is a moment where Mason quickly hallucinates pointing a gun at JFK's head.
  • Foreign Cuss Word: Lots, in Spanish and Russian (and they are not subtitled), most notably the Cuban officer in the first mission calling the girl in the bar 'Puta Capitalista' ("capitalist whore").
  • Friendly Fireproof: To a degree. You can't even point your gun at allies if they're very close, and melee is disabled. However, if your allies are far enough away you can shoot and kill them for the usual "Friendly fire will not be tolerated!" game over.
  • Gas Mask Mooks: Some of the enemies at Vorkuta and Rebirth Island. Justified, since the guards at Vorkuta use tear gas on you and Rebirth Island is a chemical weapons research facility... where NOVA 6 just got released.
    • Also, the CIA strike team assaulting Rebirth wear Level B Hazmat Suits.
  • Get a Hold of Yourself, Man!: Mason's entire interrogation was pretty much to get him to snap out of his MK-Ultra brainwashing he had endured at Vorkuta.
  • Give Me Liberty, or Give Me Death!: Achievement achievable by escaping Vorkuta.
  • Gollum Made Me Do It: Mason and Reznov, though the former insists the latter is his friend.
  • Glasses Pull: an incredibly epic one in the "Revelations" mission. YEEEAAAAAAHHHHHHH
  • Godzilla Threshold:
    • As befitting Nazi Germany's Wunderwaffen, Nova-6 was originally intended to be this for the Germans, until Steiner decided to throw his lot in with the Soviet Union and Dragovich specifically.
    • The harsh interrogation Mason suffers through over the course of the story at the hands of Hudson and Weaver is also revealed to be a desperate attempt at deprogramming him, and the Nova-6 strike imminent, their last chance to find Dragovich, especially with Steiner dead.
  • Gorn: The single player campaign adds mutilation on the death animations if the weapons have enough damage output.
    • In one mission, you get an auto-shotgun loaded with Dragon's Breath incendiary rounds, which gib close-up enemies and burn the ones that don't die immediately.
  • Gotta Catch Em All: In the style of the Modern Warfare games, you can collect intel hidden in various places through the maps, in the form of tape recorders. Collecting pieces of intel unlocks extra material you can read to get background on various characters and places in the game.
  • Great Escape: After the tutorial level, you execute a plan to stage a mass breakout from a Russian prison. The plan has been in the works for months, but the player only sees it as it plays out.
  • The Greatest Story Never Told: Something very bad was about to happen in 1968...
  • The Gulag / Hellhole Prison: Vorkuta. And it actually existed in real life, too!
  • The Gump: Alex Mason bumps with some of the most prominent figures in the 1960s (Robert McNamara, John F. Kennedy, Fidel Castro), and takes part in some world-changing events (the Bay of Pigs invasion, the Battle of Khe Sanh, the Tet Offensive, and assassinating Kennedy).
  • Hero Antagonist: The SAS soldiers in the second half of "Project Nova".
  • Heroic Mime: Averted after many games in the series played it straight: Alex Mason speaks both in interrogation scenes and in the levels themselves, as do Hudson and Reznov when you play as them.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Woods dies to save Mason from Kravchenko's Taking You with Me.
    • Reznov leads the Army away during the bike chase so Mason can escape Vorkuta, but he survives. Turns out Reznov was actually killed, and his later appearances were hallucinations.
      • Concerning both of the above sacrifices, hacking into the terminal and checking Mason's, Hudson's, and Weaver's emails, all three receive messages from a Mr. X telling them Reznov, Woods and other unmentioned but All There in the Manual loved ones may still be alive.
  • Hero-Killer: Dragovich. Kravchenko tried to be one but is foiled by Woods.
  • His Name Is--: Clarke's death.
  • Historical In-Joke: In the "Five" cutscene at the end of the game, Nixon freaks out when he hears a crash, assuming it's a break-in. It actually is.
    • In one portion of the level "S.O.G.", the player has to rescue Woods from a VC soldier who is about to kill him. The sole reason Woods didn't shoot the guy himself? His rifle jammed. [1]
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Both Kennedy and Dragovich are killed by Mason, after sending him to kill the other.
  • Hold the Line: The defense of Khe Sanh in Vietnam. A tide of NVA troops rush at you throughout the mission.
  • Homage: The Russian Roulette scene in the Payback mission is a homage to The Deer Hunter, and the Spetsnaz operator's presence is one to Rambo: First Blood, Part Two.
  • Hellish Copter: Not even considering the various choppers that get shot down through the course of the game, there is the helicopter that gets taken out by a harpoon tethered to a railing at one point. One level starts out in a freshly crashed one.
  • Human Shield: Double Subverted. "Castro" tries to use his mistress as a hostage when you burst in. It barely slows you down, as you just shoot him in the head anyway. Then she grabs his rifle and starts shooting.
    • Played straight later, Mason uses this to break out of the rat tunnel he and Woods are held in.
    • Earlier, Mason also did this with a Viet Cong on a sampan. Still subverted since the other VC open fire anyway.
  • Ink Suit Actor: Alex Mason, Jason Hudson, and Joseph Bowman are dead ringers for Sam Worthington, Ed Harris, and Ice Cube.
    • Averted with Reznov, Petrenko, and Kravchenko.
  • Insurmountable Waist-Height Fence: Zig-zagged. There are plenty of doors you can open on your own, along with doors you can't open until your superiors order you to do so, some good old-fashioned NPC-only doors thrown in for good measure and some that are just part of the level art and can't be opened in any way by anyone.
  • Interface Screw: During the mission in which Hudson is wearing a NBC suit to protect against nerve gas exposure, taking damage will crack the faceshield.
  • John F. Kennedy: Appears in campaign (voiced by a So Bad It's Good impersonator), authorizing the assassination of a primary villain. Also appears as one of the four playable characters in a bonus Zombies level.
  • Just Add Bitch: "Payback, ya sons of bitches!"
  • Lampshade Hanging: When reminiscing about the Battle of Berlin, Reznov says of Dmitri Petrenko, "The wounds he sustained ensuring our victory should have earned him a hero's welcome to Russia." That battle takes place in World at War, in which Dmitri is the player character with Regenerating Health.
    • Not to mention the wound he took at the end of the game when he is shot by the German soldier near the flag.
      • And when the flaming log falls on him, and when he was almost drowned in a subway tunnel, and when he jumped 3 stories into a Nazi infested street, and when he was blown up by friendly fire, twice, and...
  • Large Ham: Reznov, the incredible scenery-chewing Soviet from World at War, returns, and he's still as awesomely hammy as ever.
  • Leap of Faith: At one point during the Kowloon mission, Dr. Clarke tells Hudson to jump from one rooftop to the balcony of an apartment about three stories below to evade the incoming Spetznaz. Clarke, as Crazy Prepared as he is, had already piled mattresses on said balcony.
  • MacGuffin: The numbers.
  • Meaningful Echo: In "Vorkuta," a prisoner asks if they can trust Mason because he's American. Reznov vouches for him. Subverted when later, Mason vouches for Reznov in the same fashion, but he's dead and being hallucinated by Mason himself.
  • Mind Screw: When Mason blindly wanders through the Pentagon, hallucinating badly as his Russian brainwashing begins messing with his sense of reality.
    • Not to mention the ending cutscene of the game. Mason rattles off a series of phrases and names (Texas, Kennedy, 6.5 millimeter) and we see films of the day that Kennedy came to Dallas, Texas. Eventually it stops at a crowd shot and focuses on one man. Mason. He was there, though whether or not he even assassinated Kennedy is still in question.
    • Unlocking all the intel and reading all the e-mail makes the plot into this.
  • Mood Whiplash: The ending to Black Ops. After a brief sequence that might as well be from the music video to "America, F**k Yeah!", a chilling cutscene reveals that Mason might have assassinated Kennedy, and the game seems to end with a pithy quote by Kennedy summing up the story ("those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future")... which suddenly transitions into the hilarious "Five" cutscene with Kennedy, Castro, McNamara, and Nixon facing a horde of zombies inside the Pentagon.
  • Morally-Ambiguous Doctorate: Dr. Steiner and Dr. Clarke, both know exactly what Dragovich plans to do with the nerve agent they are creating for him, neither one cares about the consequences. Clarke's dossier specifically describes him as a "malignant narcissist" who defected to the Soviets when his peers snubbed him for his politics.
  • Musical Nod: Play through the first third or so of Reznov's reminiscence mission and the Soviet March from World at War's endgame starts playing. Glorious.
  • My Name Is Inigo Montoya: "My name is Viktor Reznov. And I will have my revenge!"
  • New Meat: The "kid" manning the PBR bow gun in "Crash Site". He dies, and Woods has a miniature BSOD.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Mason when he killed Steiner.
  • No Plans, No Prototype, No Backup: Averted. The original Nova-6 stocks are destroyed, but Dr. Steiner spends the next 20 years re-creating them with facilities provided by Dragovich. They even manage to improve on the original formula while they're at it with help from Dr. Clarke.
  • Not Quite Dead: Mr. Mason — Woods is alive and remains the sole remaining American guest at the Hanoi Hilton. Thought you should know. --X--
  • Obligatory War Crime Scene: Plenty, Execution of surrendering soldiers, execution of civilians for collaboration, exposing non-combatants to chemical/biological agents just to see if they're effective, Cold-Blooded Torture, attempts at brainwashing, nobody's hands are clean by the time it's over.
  • One-Man Army: Mason in the final mission where Mason and Reznov go to assassinate Steiner once and for all. Then you play from Hudson's point of view, and find out Reznov is all in Mason's head. Which means Mason has been tearing through the entire facility by himself.
  • One Mission Wonder: Dimitri Petrenko.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Sam Worthington voices the protagonist in Black Ops. It appears he has come no closer to perfecting an American accent since Avatar. It's most notable in the scene where Bowman dies in "Payback"
  • Pineapple Surprise: The protagonist is almost killed by an enemy pulling a suicidal version of this trope until the villain is tackled out of a window by a self-sacrificing friend.
    • Also used against a NVA soldier during "S.O.G" after he jumps on the player and attempts to kill the player.
  • Playing the Player: Might be considered an example, as the player only sees through Mason's eyes unless the mission centers around Hudson, making the reveal of Mason actually being brainwashed even more shocking to the player.
  • Precision F-Strike: "DO NOT FUCK WITH ME, Mason! I know when you're lying!"
  • Previous Player Character Cameo: Dmitri Petrenko shows up in the flashback mission "Project Nova". He then dies a horrible death by chemical agent.
  • Press X to Not Die: In Khe Sahn, a Vietcong soldier gets into a brief hand-to-hand altercation with Mason which is won by pressing a button as fast as you can. It's a Shout-Out to a similar event in Call of Duty 3, where a Nazi ambushes you in the same exact way. You also have to mash buttons to open a stuck side door on a crashed helicopter before it sinks in a river.
  • Railing Kill: On the Soyuz mission, players have the option of sneaking up on one sentry and shoving him off the roof of the building.
  • Rashomon Style: The penultimate act is portrayed from two different perspectives.
  • Regenerating Health: Averted in "Rebirth," as while Hudson wears the gas mask, the hazmat suit's integrity does not regenerate, as represented by any cracks on the mask visor, and if it's compromised he dies from Nova-6 exposure. An achievement/trophy requires the player to successfully clear that portion without dying and without the usual regenerating health; failure requires the player to restart the level and play through Mason's portion again as well in order to try again. Otherwise played straight, as is standard for a Call of Duty game.
  • Renegade Russian: Dragovich's plot in Black Ops is said to be operating outside the knowledge of the Kremlin (or so hallucination-Reznov claimed. Supplemental "intel" you find indicates that the Soviet government undoubtedly endorsed the development of Nova-6, but leaves the question of whether they approved Dragovich to initiate a surprise first-strike use ambiguous).
  • The Reveal: At the start of Black Ops, the guys interrogating Mason seem to be total assholes who are pissed at Mason for no good reason. And then you find out they are Weaver and Hudson, and they have very good reason to be pissed at him, especially Weaver since Mason shot him in the abdomen, albeit he wasn't exactly sane at the time.
  • Revolvers Are Just Better: Mason seems to think this, as he keeps a Python revolver as his sidearm rather than the usual M1911.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: The mission "Payback". Hint: It's the Hind mission. You shoot down three other Russian choppers, blow up a shitton of NVA structures, supply routes, and pipelines, and eventually murder Kravchenko
  • Rousing Speech: Reznov gives one in Vorkuta:

"Brave comrades of Vorkuta, the time has come to rise against our oppressors! Today, we show them the hearts of true Russians! We have all given our blood for the Motherland. We have answered her calls without question. We gave our youth, our hearts, our very souls for her protection..As brothers, we fought side by side against the German fascists. We crawled through dirt and blood and sand to achieve our glorious victory..Not for medals, or glory...but for what was right. We fought for revenge...When Berlin fell, how did our leaders repay us? We returned not to the rapturous welcome...but to suspicion and persecution. In the eyes of our leaders we were already tainted by the capitalist West. Torn from the arms of our loved ones, we found ourselves here... this place... this, this terrible place. Here we have languished, with no hope for release... No hope for justice. We have toiled in Dragovich's mines until the flesh peeled from our bones... We have watched our comrades succumb to sickness and disease... We have been starved. We have been beaten. But we will not be broken! Today, we will send a message to our corrupt and arrogant leaders. Today, my comrades... Vorkuta - BURNS!!!"

  • Roof Hopping: In Kowloon. Hudson is not pleased to discover this has become part of the plan.
  • Russian Guy Suffers Most: After the brutal Soviet campaign in World at War, things actually manage to get worse for Petrenko and Reznov.
    • You spend a lot of the levels kicking the shit out of Soviet personnel, including blowing up a Soyuz launch.
  • Schmuck Bait: One of the last levels has an enclosure in the middle of a lab that might make for a keen place to hide intel. If you go inside, you'll discover that you've entered a Death Trap and will be gassed to death.
    • only if you shoot inside the chamber.
  • Sequel Hook: Gathering all the intel in the final mission reveals a document detailing that Mason, Hudson and Weaver are considered to have gone rogue and that CIA analyst Ryan Jackson is gathering a team including a hugely talented young SAS trooper named Jonathan ????? [2] to travel to South Africa in order to hunt them down.
    • Which is either a Shout-Out, Call Back, or Take That at Modern Warfare 2, which ends with Price, Soap, and Nikolai going rogue.
    • There's also a computer accessible at the main menu telling you that as of 1978, Frank Woods is still alive and the sole remaining American prisoner at the Hanoi Hilton, North Vietnam's largest prison camp. Black Ops 2 shows he made it back to the United States, and managed to live to a ripe old age.
    • In addition, there's some sort of shadowy organization watching the CIA and are the real ones responsible for murdering JFK.
  • Semper Fi: Woods and Mason were Marines, before being assigned to Operation-40.
  • Shown Their Work: Yes, there IS a Gulag named Vorkuta, And yes, it WAS notorious for holding American Inmates. And yes, it was most famous for a prisoner uprising.
    • And there is a Rebirth Island which was used to test WMDs. However, it's not really an island anymore, due to the rapid drying of the Aral Sea.
    • Contrasting Anachronism Stew above, some of the guns fit right in. The Stoner 63 (seen in this game in machine gun variant) was only in active service from 1961-63, and some five-hundred Colt 629 Commandos were ordered by the real-life MAC V SOG in April of '67, under the designation of XM177E2 (Although the real XM177 has a longer flash-hider than the in-game model).
    • And Mount Yamantau (often spelled Yamantaw) is a real location as well. Several theories surround it. And, indeed, one of the main theories is that it is a "doomsday bunker", a title ascribed to it during the game. Another theory is that it is the Russian counterpart of NORAD's old Cheyenne Mountain facility, or maybe even the Russian Area 51.
    • The "intel" files are pretty well done too. Almost every non-fictional name and piece of background information in those has at least some sort of grounding in either reality or at least a realistic theory.
  • Shout-Out: "Fortunate Son" by Creedence Clearwater Revival plays on the radio in the background at the beginning of the first Vietnam level, as it does in Forrest Gump, Full Metal Jacket, and Battlefield Vietnam, making the scene feel like it was ripped right out of a war movie.
    • Many of the intel documents are written by a CIA analyst named Ryan Jackson. Tom Clancy wrote several novels featuring a CIA analyst named Jack Ryan.
    • NOVA6's effects are a lot like The Rock's version of VX, and the sequence in which Hummel is forced to leave one of his men behind when a VX capsule breaks, and see the man's skin boil off as he helplessly watches is similar to Reznov watching Dmitri dying.
    • The Vorkuta escape ends with the player driving a motorcycle while shooting a 1887 one-handed and flip-cocking it, similar to the Terminator's own car chase and rescue of John Connor in T2.
      • You also use a mobile Gatling Gun in that level.
    • In the Kowloon level, Hudson begins with Guns Akimbo and the player receives an achievement for using only dual weapons all the way through.
    • In Reznov's flashback, Dragovich says "We are here for one German and one German only".
    • One of the unlockable multi-player face paint is blue and black, recalling Braveheart.
    • The final section before killing Dragovich has you fighting alongside Pvt. Clarkson and Pvt. Hammond. The two also can show up in "The Defector".
    • The multi-player map "Nuketown" features a Double Rainbow.
    • The opening scene in "Payback", where Bowman and Mason and eventually Woods are forced to play a game of Russian Roulette by Viet Cong, which is nearly a shot by shot recreation of the Russian Roulette scene in The Deer Hunter, right down to the bandanas and the Viet Cong slapping the characters in the face
    • There is a quite blatant shout-out to "Apocalypse Now" in one of the intel files for the mission Crash Site. The names are censored, but the reference is clear.
    • The third mission is basically one long cut scene where President Kennedy briefs you at the Pentagon. Walking into the nerve center, with the multiple split screens, is reminiscent of 24.
    • In the mission "Payback", Woods and Mason escape from a Vietnamese prison camp, steal a Russian helicopter, and embark on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge. This mirrors the final act of the second Rambo film.
  • Silent Protagonist: Averted. Every character you play as speaks when you're in control, a first for a Call of Duty game.
  • Smug Smiler: You'd never guess that Dragovitch and Kravchenko weren't nice people.
  • Snub By Omission: Book Ends for the mission SOG, each time Agent Hudson introduces himself to one of Mason's team mates, they pointedly ignore him as if he weren't there, presumably because, not having worked with him yet, they are assuming he's simply trying to be The Ace.
  • Sociopathic Hero: At least a few of the members of Mason's team seem to fit this, particularly in Victor Charlie.
  • Soft Glass: Subverted in one mission where your character shoots a window multiple times and it still doesn't give way before you crash through it.
  • Sophisticated As Hell: Unintentionally done during "Op 40" due to a translation error. A Cuban soldier calls a woman in a bar a "capitalist whore" and tells her to leave, but uses the Spanish "formal" command to tell her to do so. [3]
  • Spy Speak: Reznov's escape plan. The steps are given code names both for secrecy and because they are awesome to yell.
    • Step 1 - Secure the Keys! Stage a fight and steal the key chain off the guard sent to break it up.
    • Step 2 - Ascend From Darkness! Fight your way out of the coal mine.
    • Step 3 - Rain Fire! Use a slingshot to fling homemade bombs onto the guard towers.
    • Step 4 - Unleash the Horde! Arm the prisoners with stolen guns.
    • Step 5 - Skewer the Winged Beast! Use a harpoon gun to bring down the camp's helicopter.
    • Step 6 - Wield a Fist of Iron! Steal a minigun.
    • Step 7 - Raise Hell! Use said minigun to kick ass.
    • Step 8 - Freedom!
  • Standard Pre-Ass-Kicking Snippet: "He ain't me, he ain't me, I ain't no fortunate one, no!"
  • Stealth Pun: Woods shoulders a rocket launcher and exclaims: "Let's rock it!"
  • The Stinger: ...wait, did Mason really kill Kennedy after all?!
  • The Stoic: Mason constantly refers to Hudson as "a fucking ice cube." This starts to fade after the mission at Rebirth Island.
  • Strange Minds Think Alike: "You look like hammered shit." Considering these quotes Book End the hardest mission in this game, it can count as Breaking the Fourth Wall too.
  • Surprisingly-Sudden Death: The level Victor Charlie shows a comrade ahead of you in a tunnel getting ambushed, with all you can do for him being killing his killer.
  • Taking You with Me: Kravchenko attempts to do this to Mason, but Woods subverts it at the last minute.
  • Thanatos Gambit Reznov.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: In the finale, Weaver has managed to call in a massive U.S. Navy fleet consisting of no fewer than four battleships, dozens of helicopters, and fighter jet support... to destroy a single Russian cargo freighter. Then again, there was also an underwater submarine pen/broadcast station to destroy as well...
    • Also, the finale takes place in the Gulf of Mexico, which is pretty much next door to the United States. It wouldn't be hard to muster a sizable fleet under the circumstances.
  • Those Wacky Nazis: Nova 6 was created by the Nazis as a last-ditch "Wunderwaffen" to throw at the Allies.
  • Turned Against Their Masters: Mason.
  • Unreliable Narrator: Mason. Makes all those anachronisms a little easier to swallow, at least.
  • Who Shot JFK?: It is implied in the ending that Mason was meant to assassinate JFK if Oswald (who was also hired by the Russians) was killed.

Mason: You tried to make me kill my own president!
Dragovich, smirking at the player: Tried?

    • Don't forget how "Sympathy for the Devil"- featured in the game- has the lyrics: "Who killed the Kennedys? When after all, it was you and me!"
  • Wham! Episode: The missions "Rebirth" and "Revelations."
    • Wham! Line: "Viktor Reznov has been dead for five years. For all this time, you though he was with you, but that was just in your mind!"
      • It's possible that he may not have died. That doesn't, however, change the fact that he was a figment of Mason's imagination for the majority of the game.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: What happened to Nevski, the only surviving teammate of Reznov in "Project Nova"?
    • Considering that Reznov was caught soon afterwards and imprisoned in Vorkuta, it's fair to assume that Nevski suffered a similar fate.
    • The numbers broadcast was stopped, but there are still hidden communist cells in the United States with stockpiles of Nova 6.
  • Where It All Began: The numbers station is on the ship Rusalka in Cuba.
  • You Have Got to Be Kidding Me!: Hudson's reaction when told to leap from a rooftop onto a balcony three stories below in Kowloon.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Dragovich does this to Clarke and later to Steiner.
  • Younger Than They Look: Dmitri Petrenko. Perhaps the war got to him...
  • Zerg Rush: The NVA's common tactic. Especially in missions like 'SOG', where you'll see NVA soldiers endlessly gushing out from a hill in the horizon like an army of pissed off red ants.

Multiplayer Tropes

  • Acceptable Breaks From Reality: The NVA weren't that well armed or trained in real life (as regular troops can curbstomp SOG in multi-player and can come equipped with G11s and PSG-1s), but then again, no one likes multi-player turning into a "hide and seek and pray to God the Americans don't bomb us/pray to God my M16 doesn't jam and I don't step on landmines" war.
  • Ascended Meme: The multi-player map Nuketown features a Double Rainbow.
    • The caption for a Headshot medal is "Boom! Headshot!."
    • The multi-player map "Hangar 18" includes an apple floating in an anti-gravity device.
  • Battle in the Rain: The First Strike DLC gives us "Kowloon", a rain-soaked romp across the rooftops of urban Hong Kong, echoing a similar level from the campaign. It features ziplines, which while a quick way to traverse the map will likely expose you to enemy fire.
  • Big Applesauce: The multi-player map "Stadium"
  • Bilingual Bonus: The non-American factions speaks in their native tongue (see Enemy Chatter), but the announcements are still in English.
  • Bling Bling Bang: If you get enough prestige levels in multi-player, you can buy Gold camouflage for any primary weapon. Serves no purpose other than Bragging Rights Reward and looking incredibly cool.
  • Boom! Headshot!: Name-dropped if you accomplish one.
  • Captain Obvious: If a bunch of killstreaks are launched at once (usually near the end of a round), the announcer can fall a little bit behind the action.
  • Jet flies over, bombs explode, player burns to death horribly.*

(Two seconds later) Announcer: Enemy napalm strike incoming.

  • Character Customization: The multi-player allows a great deal of character customization. You can change the way your character looks with the first perk, you can apply face-paint, you can emblazon your clan tag and emblem on your gun, and you can even change the color and shape of the crosshairs on your precision sights, to name a few.
  • Chirping Crickets: On some maps if there is a lull in the action, you will hear these.
  • The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: Combat Training mode features bots. Bots who have an ungodly reaction time when you're coming around a corner, and who can headshot a moving target from across a map with just the ironsights on an LMG, even on lower difficulty settings. However, they have a bit of an issue with actually noticing you, and sometimes don't even notice when you're shooting them. They're also different from actual players, in that they tend to move like actual soldiers instead of rushing up and down the map.
    • To clarify: Bots have instant acquisition (the millisecond any part of you becomes visible to them, they're aiming at it), perfect tracking (they can keep their cross-hairs/iron-sights on you no matter how oddly you move), can see through walls (though they won't fire until you're actually in line of sight; they will iron-sight early, however), aim perfectly with grenades (they can and will throw frags and semtex over walls and buildings and hit you square in the face with them), can turn faster than you can (on consoles, at least, they can do a 180 faster than you can if your sensitivity was turned up to 10), and last but definitely not least, they have no recoil (meaning they can snipe you with a full clip of LMG ammo). The only thing that makes these monsters beatable is the fact that they wait a good second or so before firing on you after they've acquired their target.
    • And that is just at Regular difficulty...
  • Deadly Gas: You can equip and throw Nova 6 Gas grenades. They deal middling damage, slow the movement of and blur the vision of enemies caught in the cloud. However, only one can be carried at a time, and it's easy enough to move out of the cloud's radius and the Tactical Mask perk completely negates its effects, though it can still be hard to see through the cloud itself.
  • Double Unlock: In multi-player, you have to reach a certain level requirement to unlock a gun, or meet certain conditions to unlock a perk's Pro version. In both cases, you still need to spend COD Points on the gun or perk to actually obtain it. There's also the final weapon in most categories, which isn't even revealed until you purchase every other weapon of that type.
  • The Elevator From Ipanema - The elevators on "Hotel" play a Suspiciously Similar Song version.
  • Enemy Chatter: Strangely, also applies to player characters in multi-player, which can be annoying since it gives your position away and if you're by yourself. On the other hand, also a good way to locate your enemies. Disabled in Hardcore mode.
  • Enemy-Detecting Radar: The Spy Plane and SR71 Blackbird (the former can be shot down and only shows where they are the moment the radar line sweeps over the map; the latter can't and shows location and direction of enemies at all times)
  • Hollywood Silencer: Averted hard, the silencer only reduces muzzle flash, preventing you from showing up on the enemy radar, and make it harder for the enemy to tell where the shots are coming from. Otherwise, suppressed weapons are still quite loud and can be heard by other players.
    • The sound suppressed weapons make is criminally pathetic though; it's a kind of pi-pi-pi instead of the dull bangs and thumps of other recent Call of Duty games.
  • Improbable Weapon User: Flamethrower attachments, RC Car bombs, Tomahawks, Exploding Bolt Crossbows, etc.
  • Just Plane Wrong: The U2 spyplanes and counter-spy planes apparently fly low enough to be hit by small-arms fire, which is incorrect as that plane was specifically designed to fly so high as to be above existing anti-air technology.
  • Kill Streak: Many killstreaks from Modern Warfare 2 return. The artillery strike and attack dogs from World At War return as well, the former in the form of a mortar strike, which can be targeted at three separate locations. Most notably, the much-hated Tactical Nuke is gone, replaced by a player-controlled Hind-A gunship.
  • Luck Manipulation Mechanic: Hardline Pro allows you to "re-roll" the results of a care package drop if the player doesn't like what it gives.
  • More Dakka: Gone is the damage-boosting Stopping Power perk, but there are other ways to boost your dakka. Almost any gun can be equipped with extended magazines. Typically you get 10 to 15 more rounds per mag, but it gets crazier with the machine guns. The mag-fed, 30-round HK 21 and Stoner 63, and the 40-round RPK get boosted to 60 and 80 round drums, while the already sizable 100-round belt for the M60 gets doubled with its unique "Big Ammo" attachment.
  • One-Hit Kill:
    • Dogs, Tomahawks, and Knives (ballistic or otherwise)
    • The bolt-action sniper rifles, if you hit your target in the chest or head.
  • Prestige Class: An option once you hit the max level, though also give you some bonuses, but you will be reset to level 1 and have to redo the pro perks challenges again.
  • RPG Elements: As always, you can level up for more perks and weapons.
  • Sentry Gun: Multi-player features gatling sentries that target enemy players and Surface-To-Air missile ones that target enemy spy planes and helicopters. The DLC map "Berlin Wall" has neutral ones that will fire on anyone who enters the "red" zones indicated on the minimap.
  • Up to Eleven: The game's sales. It even surpassed Modern Warfare 2.
  • Visual Pun: The Counter-Spy Planes orbit the battlefield counter-clockwise.
  • You Have Researched Breathing: A literal example with the perk "Scout". It lets you hold your breath longer while sniping.
  1. The earliest M16 model was notoriously unsuited for the environments of Vietnam. It's rather appropriate that this was the one time in the series a character's weapon jammed.
  2. It's five letters long and his first name's Jonathan. Who do you THINK they're implying it is?
  3. He says "Salga de aquí, puta capitalista." It would probably be better to use the "informal" sal.