I'd wager that it is relatively hard to introduce anything truly new into an FPS title. We've seen it all before, from stunningly good AI to destructible terrain, so what really separates our older titles from newcomers, aside from small design improvements and better graphics? In the case of Black, the answer is unfortunately little. The one major and in my opinion incredibly fun difference is that Black takes you out of the hands of the stealth game, shepherding you into a nice little place that I like to call total annihilation. Quite famously centered on creating massive destruction and chaos, Black is trying to carve out a new style of FPS, something that's a compromise between our real-world stealth and the unending splatfest of games like Serious Sam. The question is how well did they do it?
Like Goliath, Black falls under the weight of nothing more than a little stone. This stone is a series of small problems that ultimately left me feeling unsatisfied, but somewhat intrigued. First off, this isn't the game to play for a story. Your character spends a good portion of the time speaking to himself on certain levels, but manages to never say anything entertaining. With the focus on action, I was also really surprised to see how bad the AI in this game was. It can take advantage of cover, but not much else. Your movement options are limited by lacking the ability to jump, but this is partially made up for with massive spanning levels that let you take a variety of paths to your objective. Finally, for as actiony as the game is promoted to be, it actually seems to take a lot to kill any one individual guy. I'm reminded of Soldier of Fortune here; in terms of what punishment some of the enemies in the game can take, they seem invincible at times.
On the other hand, there is reason to praise Black. First, the concept should be lauded. We get so many imitators that it seems like we wait a while to see a real innovation come along. Black is geared to be big, explosive, and fun, and I want to see this sort of game again. The UI for Black is wonderfully pretty, looking clean, tight, and professional. And in terms of visceral quality, I think that this game has few rivals in making you 'feel' the gunplay. Definitely a truly gutwrenching experience. Happily, this game also sounds great, and has a traditional epic symphonic score.
Unfortunately, Black can be summed up in one phrase. One dimensional. It plays like a great action movie, with a few problems, and literally doesn't give you anything but that. Unapologetic is also another word I'd use to describe Black, and for that reason, I'd say it at least deserves a look, if not a buy. For my money, I want a little less blow up and a little more refined gameplay.