Call of Duty Black Ops: Cold War (PS5)

Ronald Reagan’s first appearance in Cold War makes the former President appear worthy of sainthood. It’s a dramatic, postured moment for the man staged as someone standing up to the Iron Curtain, dramatically stopping nukes, and taking down that wall.

Mostly though, it’s a conspiratorial grab bag, more illusory than Oliver Stone, if avoiding a dive into Alex Jones’ nonsense. Stupid, but with character. Being set the in ’80s makes a journey into Vietnam period correct given the decade’s want for wartime revisionism. Flashbacks go even further, setting this story’s origins deep in the Manhattan Project, and then sweeping through Eastern Europe to track an escaped bomb.

Winding and twisting CIA scare tactics punch up the dialog through alpha male Patriotism, preposterously glorified through men with scarred faces and grisly pasts. Neatly archetypal, and the same for the shooting too, glorifying violence with a slow motion napalm strike so, in first-person, someone can watch flames consume another someone at 60fps. Rudimentary stealth usually means ignoring rules, creating international incidents in each level, which somehow remain quiet in history.

Cold War deifies an American President, latching on to conservative values to lift Reagan’s legacy via a fight to whittle communism. Of course, he does little – Reagan appears in only one story scene. It’s primarily centered on the guys with guns who shoot a lot of stuff. And, in true Call of Duty fashion, it’s mere minutes until the brown people begin to fall by the dozens, before there’s even context. If nothing else, Cold War sums up American wartime values pretty openly.


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