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Five Things You Need to Know About “Call of Duty: Black Ops”

Five Things You Need to Know About “Call of Duty: Black Ops” (photo)

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Ever since dev studio Infinity Ward put out “Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare” three years ago, Activision’s contemporary military first-person shooter games has electrified gamers all over the world. Prior to “Modern Warfare,” the “Call of Duty” games re-visited various sides of World War II conflicts. Then, “COD4” transported gamers into a stunningly photorealistic world that had them tracking and taking out terrorists in a post 9-11 fictional construct. Sucessive games have upped the ante either in the graphics, gameplay or controversy departments so “Black Ops” has an intimidating legacy to live up to. If you’re a “COD” noob, here’s what you need to know.

1. No “No Russian”, No Problem
Since the game came out on Tuesday, “Black Ops” has already shattered the sales record set by 2009’s “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2.” That game sold 4.7 million units at launch but the U.S. and U.K. day 1 sales numbers for “Black Ops” have been reported at 5.6 million. It’s also on track to out-perform “Halo: Reach” and “Medal of Honor,” too. In the first hour alone, about one million players logged onto Xbox Live to play the game online. Guess they were excited, huh?

2. Deep Cover
The single-player campaign for the new “Call of Duty” unspools a fictional account of the birth of the “Black Ops” program, which specializes in fully deniable military actions done in secret. The plot follows several characters as they skirmish in Vietnam, Russia, Cuba and other politically sensitive hotspots. A paranoid plot about a biological weapon conspiracy loosely ties the missions together, but mostly it’s about globe-hopping and terminating bad guys with extreme prejudice.

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3. Ich Bin Ein Zombie-Killer

Like many a game of late, “Black Ops” lets players face off against hordes of the undead. In fact, developer Treyarch introduced zombies in “Call of Duty: World at War,” the last game in the series that they made. Unlike many games of late, the characters blowing holes into the re-animated corpses are John Francis Kennedy, Richard Nixon, Fidel Castro and Robert McNamara. The mode in question obviously isn’t as deadly serious as the single-player stuff in “Black Ops.” And, if zombies make everything better, then killing them as iconic Cold War heads-of-state just makes this game presidentially better.

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4. Coming at You in 3D
Unlike some of this year’s other high-profile releases–like “Halo: Reach,” “Medal of Honor” or “Fallout: New Vegas”–“Black Ops” ships with full support for 3DTVs. If you’re one of the few, the proud who own a fancy, added-depth flatscreen, that means you can enjoy the entirety of the single-player and multiplayer content with all manner of blood, snow and shrapnel flying right at your face. In particular, the enhanced multilayer visuals are of note in the various multiplayer modes because what happens on the screen when you’re playing against other humans isn’t scripted in advance.

5. Basic Training
Speaking of multiplayer, “Black Ops” offers several new modes designed with both “COD” veterans and ew recruits in mind. For those dipping their toes into the ultra-competitive waters of online firefights for the first time, the new Combat Training mode puts you in one of the multiplayer environments and populates it with AI-controlled enemies so you can practice your skills before going up against other players. If you already know the basics and want new challenges, players can dare each other with variable mission types in the new Wager Matches. You can put up some CODpoints (the game’s fake money) as a stake and bet on the successful outcome of a mission. Meet the objectives and you’re that much closer to buying sweet new rides or even deadly weapons. Finally, in one of the most technologically impressive aspects of the game, every online game is being recorded and you’ll be able edit and share a video of a play session with other “Black Ops” enthusiasts.

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A-O Rewind

Celebrating Portlandia One Sketch at a Time

The final season of Portlandia approaches.

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Most people measure time in minutes, hours, days, years…At IFC, we measure it in sketches. And nothing takes us way (waaaaaay) back like Portlandia sketches. Yes, there’s a Portlandia milepost from every season that changed the way we think, behave, and pickle things. In honor of Portlandia’s 8th and final season, Subaru presents a few of our favorites.

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Put A Bird On It

Portlandia enters the pop-culture lexicon and inspires us to put birds on literally everything.

Colin the Chicken

Who’s your chicken, really? Behold the emerging locavore trend captured perfectly to the nth degree.

Dream Of The ’90s

This treatise on Portland made it clear that “the dream” was alive and well.

No You Go

We Americans spend most of our lives in cars. Fortunately, there’s a Portlandia sketch for every automotive situation.

A-O River!

We learned all our outdoor survival skills from Kath and Dave.

One More Episode

The true birth of binge watching, pre-Netflix. And what you’ll do once Season 8 premieres.

Catch up on Portlandia’s best moments before the 8th season premieres January 18th on IFC.

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WTF Films

Artfully Off

Celebrity All-Star by Sisters Weekend is available now on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Sisters Weekend isn’t like other comedy groups. It’s filmmaking collaboration between besties Angelo Balassone, Michael Fails and Kat Tadesco, self-described lace-front addicts with great legs who write, direct, design and produce video sketches and cinematic shorts that are so surreally hilarious that they defy categorization. One such short film, Celebrity All-Star, is the newest addition to IFC’s Comedy Crib. Here’s what they had to say about it in a very personal email interview…

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IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Celebrity All-Star is a short film about an overworked reality TV coordinator struggling to save her one night off after the cast of C-List celebrities she wrangles gets locked out of their hotel rooms.

IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Sisters Weekend: It’s this short we made for IFC where a talent coordinator named Karen babysits a bunch of weird c-list celebs who are stuck in a hotel bar. It’s everyone you hate from reality TV under one roof – and that roof leaks because it’s a 2-star hotel. There’s a magician, sexy cowboys, and a guy wearing a belt that sucks up his farts.

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IFC: What was the genesis of Celebrity All-Star?

Celebrity All-Star was born from our love of embarrassing celebrities. We love a good c-lister in need of a paycheck! We were really interested in the canned politeness people give off when forced to mingle with strangers. The backstory we created is that the cast of this reality show called “Celebrity All-Star” is in the middle of a mandatory round of “get to know each other” drinks in the hotel bar when the room keys stop working. Shows like Celebrity Ghost Hunters and of course The Surreal Life were of inspo, but we thought it
was funny to keep it really vague what kind of show they’re on, and just focus on everyone’s diva antics after the cameras stop rolling.

IFC: Every celebrity in Celebrity All-Star seems familiar. What real-life pop personalities did you look to for inspiration?

Sisters Weekend: Anyone who is trying to plug their branded merch that no one asked for. We love low-rent celebrity. We did, however, directly reference Kylie Jenner’s turd-raison lip color for our fictional teen celebutante Gibby Kyle (played by Mary Houlihan).

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IFC: Celebrity seems disgusting yet desirable. What’s your POV? Do you crave it, hate it, or both?

Sisters Weekend: A lot of people chase fame. If you’re practical, you’ll likely switch to chasing success and if you’re smart, you’ll hopefully switch to chasing happiness. But also, “We need money. We need hits. Hits bring money, money bring power, power bring fame, fame change the game,” Young Thug.

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IFC: Who are your comedy idols?

Sisters Weekend: Mike grew up renting “Monty Python” tapes from the library and staying up late to watch 2000’s SNL, Kat was super into Andy Kaufman and “Kids In The Hall” in high school, and Angelo was heavily influenced by “Strangers With Candy” and Anna Faris in the Scary Movie franchise, so, our comedy heroes mesh from all over. But, also we idolize a lot of the people we work with in NY-  Lorelei Ramirez, Erin Markey, Mary Houlihan, who are all in the film, Amy Zimmer, Ana Fabrega, Patti Harrison, Sam Taggart. Geniuses! All of Em!

IFC: What’s your favorite moment from the film?

Sisters Weekend: I mean…seeing Mary Houlihan scream at an insane Pomeranian on an iPad is pretty great.

See Sisters Weekend right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib

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Reality? Check.

Baroness For Life

Baroness von Sketch Show is available for immediate consumption.

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Baroness von Sketch Show is snowballing as people have taken note of its subtle and not-so-subtle skewering of everyday life. The New York Times, W Magazine, and Vogue have heaped on the praise, but IFC had a few more probing questions…

IFC: To varying degrees, your sketches are simply scripted examples of things that actually happen. What makes real life so messed up?

Aurora: Hubris, Ego and Selfish Desires and lack of empathy.

Carolyn: That we’re trapped together in the 3rd Dimension.

Jenn: 1. Other people 2. Other people’s problems 3. Probably something I did.

IFC: A lot of people I know have watched this show and realized, “Dear god, that’s me.” or “Dear god, that’s true.” Why do people have their blinders on?

Aurora: Because most people when you’re in the middle of a situation, you don’t have the perspective to step back and see yourself because you’re caught up in the moment. That’s the job of comedians is to step back and have a self-awareness about these things, not only saying “You’re doing this,” but also, “You’re not the only one doing this.” It’s a delicate balance of making people feel uncomfortable and comforting them at the same time.

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IFC: Unlike a lot of popular sketch comedy, your sketches often focus more on group dynamics vs iconic individual characters. Why do you think that is and why is it important?

Meredith: We consider the show to be more based around human dynamics, not so much characters. If anything we’re more attracted to the energy created by people interacting.

Jenn: So much of life is spent trying to work it out with other people, whether it’s at work, at home, trying to commute to work, or even on Facebook it’s pretty hard to escape the group.

IFC: Are there any comedians out there that you feel are just nailing it?

Aurora: I love Key and Peele. I know that their show is done and I’m in denial about it, but they are amazing because there were many times that I would imagine that Keegan Michael Key was in the scene while writing. If I could picture him saying it, I knew it would work. I also kind of have a crush on Jordan Peele and his performance in Big Mouth. Maya Rudolph also just makes everything amazing. Her puberty demon on Big Mouth is flawless. She did an ad for 7th generation tampons that my son, my husband and myself were singing around the house for weeks. If I could even get anything close to her career, I would be happy. I’m also back in love with Rick and Morty. I don’t know if I have a crush on Justin Roiland, I just really love Rick (maybe even more than Morty). I don’t have a crush on Jerry, the dad, but I have a crush on Chris Parnell because he’s so good at being Jerry.

Jenn: I LOVE ISSA RAE!

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IFC: If you could go back in time and cast yourselves in any sitcom, which would it be and how would it change?

Carolyn: I’d go back in time and cast us in The Partridge Family.  We’d make an excellent family band. We’d have a laugh, break into song and wear ruffled blouses with velvet jackets.  And of course travel to all our gigs on a Mondrian bus. I feel really confident about this choice.

Meredith: Electric Mayhem from The Muppet Show. It wouldn’t change, they were simply perfect, except… maybe a few more vaginas in the band.

Binge the entire first and second seasons of Baroness von Sketch Show now on IFC.com and the IFC app.

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