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Five things to know about Call of Duty: Black Ops

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Call of Duty: Black Ops

The biggest name in military games gets its next installment on November 9 -- but how much do you really know about this hotly-anticipated, Cold War-era shooter? In a few minutes, you'll know plenty.

1. It might be a Call of Duty game, but it doesn't have all that much in common with Modern Warfare 2.

Yup -- different era, different characters, but most importantly, an entirely different developer. Black Ops comes from Santa Monica-based Treyarch, the firm responsible for Call of Duty: World at War, Call of Duty 2: Big Red One, and (looking further back) well-regarded ports of the early Tony Hawk games. It's probably fair to say they're not held in quite the same regard as Infinity Ward, Modern Warfare's now-gutted developer, but nevertheless expectations are high for Black Ops.

2. The character animations use similar motion-capture techniques as Avatar

Normally, recording voice-overs and producing character animations are two separate processes. Not so with Black Ops. For maximum realism, Treyarch employed the services of LA-based studio VICON House of Moves to record voice, body movement, and facial animation all in one take. VICON's tech employs an array of over 100 cameras to spot even the most subtle of movements in its actors' faces.

3. It has actors, you say?

Oh yes. Gary Oldman, Ed Harris, Emmanuelle Chriqui,  and Ice Cube all lend
their voices to Black Ops characters. The soundtrack is equally
star-studded, including period-appropriate tracks from the Rolling
Stones and Creedence Clearwater Revival...and not-so-period-appropriate
tracks from Eminem.

4. It's already a best-seller

Modern Warfare 2 smashed sales records last year, earning over $550 million in just five days of sales and becoming the world's most lucrative entertainment launch in history. But Black Ops, at last count, is well on its way to sell even better: recent comments from several top retailers at home and overseas indicate Black Ops preorders are outpacing even Modern Warfare 2. Can it one up the year's other top sellers, like Red Dead Redemption and Halo: Reach? It's certainly in with a shot.

5. The special editions are really, really special

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Jeep's Wrangler Call of Duty: Black Ops Edition

Call of Duty has a history of cool, premium-priced special editions, and Black Ops is no exception. Check out the $149.99 Prestige Edition, which packs a real-life, fully functional  reproduction of the game's remote-controlled surveillance buggy. But if even that's not swanky enough for you, consider picking up the special edition to end all special editions: a Jeep Wrangler Call of Duty: Black Ops Edition, yours for just over thirty grand. The Black Ops Jeep is also said to be appearing in the game, although exactly how they're going to give a 2010 vehicle a cameo in a Cold War-era shooter is beyond us. Maybe Eminem will be driving it.

Correction:
The article above has been adjusted to correctly attribute VICON House of Moves.
We apologize for the error
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