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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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SO EXCITED!!!

Reminders that the ’90s were a thing

"The Place We Live" is available for a Jessie Spano-level binge on Comedy Crib.

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Unless you stopped paying attention to the world at large in 1989, you are of course aware that the ’90s are having their pop cultural second coming. Nobody is more acutely aware of this than Dara Katz and Betsy Kenney, two comedians who met doing improv comedy and have just made their Comedy Crib debut with the hilarious ’90s TV throwback series, The Place We Live.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Dara: It’s everything you loved–or loved to hate—from Melrose Place and 90210 but condensed to five minutes, funny (on purpose) and totally absurd.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Betsy: “Hey Todd, why don’t you have a sip of water. Also, I think you’ll love The Place We Live because everyone has issues…just like you, Todd.”

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IFC: When you were living through the ’90s, did you think it was television’s golden age or the pop culture apocalypse?


Betsy: I wasn’t sure I knew what it was, I just knew I loved it!


Dara: Same. Was just happy that my parents let me watch. But looking back, the ’90s honored The Teen. And for that, it’s the golden age of pop culture. 

IFC: Which ’90s shows did you mine for the series, and why?

Betsy: Melrose and 90210 for the most part. If you watch an episode of either of those shows you’ll see they’re a comedic gold mine. In one single episode, they cover serious crimes, drug problems, sex and working in a law firm and/or gallery, all while being young, hot and skinny.


Dara: And almost any series we were watching in the ’90s, Full House, Saved By the Bell, My So Called Life has very similar themes, archetypes and really stupid-intense drama. We took from a lot of places. 

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IFC: How would you describe each of the show’s characters in terms of their ’90s TV stereotype?

Dara: Autumn (Sunita Mani) is the femme fatale. Robin (Dara Katz) is the book worm (because she wears glasses). Candace (Betsy Kenney) is Corey’s twin and gives great advice and has really great hair. Corey (Casey Jost) is the boy next door/popular guy. Candace and Corey’s parents decided to live in a car so the gang can live in their house. 
Lee (Jonathan Braylock) is the jock.

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Dara: Because everyone’s feeling major ’90s nostalgia right now, and this is that, on steroids while also being a totally new, silly thing.

Delight in the whole season of The Place We Live right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. It’ll take you back in all the right ways.

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New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

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Jenny Jaffe has a lot going on: She’s writing for Disney’s upcoming Big Hero 6: The Series, developing comedy projects with pals at Devastator Press, and she’s straddling the line between S&M and OCD as the creator and star of the sexyish new series Neurotica, which has just made its debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib. Jenny gave us some extremely intimate insight into what makes Neurotica (safely) sizzle…

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IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon.

IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. You’re great. We should get coffee sometime. I’m not just saying that. I know other people just say that sometimes but I really feel like we’re going to be friends, you know? Here, what’s your number, I’ll call you so you can have my number!

IFC: What’s your comedy origin story?

Jenny: Since I was a kid I’ve dealt with severe OCD and anxiety. Comedy has always been one of the ways I’ve dealt with that. I honestly just want to help make people feel happy for a few minutes at a time.

IFC: What was the genesis of Neurotica?

Jenny: I’m pretty sure it was a title-first situation. I was coming up with ideas to pitch to a production company a million years ago (this isn’t hyperbole; I am VERY old) and just wrote down “Neurotica”; then it just sort of appeared fully formed. “Neurotica? Oh it’s an over-the-top romantic comedy about a Dominatrix with OCD, of course.” And that just happened to hit the buttons of everything I’m fascinated by.

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IFC: How would you describe Ivy?

Jenny: Ivy is everything I love in a comedy character – she’s tenacious, she’s confident, she’s sweet, she’s a big wonderful weirdo.

IFC: How would Ivy’s clientele describe her?

Jenny:  Open-minded, caring, excellent aim.

IFC: Why don’t more small towns have local dungeons?

Jenny: How do you know they don’t?

IFC: What are the pros and cons of joining a chain mega dungeon?

Jenny: You can use any of their locations but you’ll always forget you have a membership and in a year you’ll be like “jeez why won’t they let me just cancel?”

IFC: Mouths are gross! Why is that?

Jenny: If you had never seen a mouth before and I was like “it’s a wet flesh cave with sharp parts that lives in your face”, it would sound like Cronenberg-ian body horror. All body parts are horrifying. I’m kind of rooting for the singularity, I’d feel way better if I was just a consciousness in a cloud.

See the whole season of Neurotica right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

The-Craft

The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

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Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”

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Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).

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Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.

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And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.