Review: Call of Duty: Black Ops 2
By Carlos Ottino on November 21st, 2012 (7 comments)
It's that time of year again.
For better or worse, November is Call of Duty month and while some are delighted to get their hands on the new game, others roll their eyes and wonder when and if it will ever end.
November 2012 brings us Black Ops 2 (henceforth referred to as BLOPS 2), by Treyarch, a sequel to 2010's Black Ops.
While you may be quick to dismiss BLOPS 2 as yet another Call of Duty game, and not be willing to give it the light of day, hear me out first. Please.
Title: Call of Duty: Black Ops2
Release Date: November 13 2012 (PC, 360, PS3)
BLOPS 2 is a sequel to BLOPS 1 (DUH), its setting making a jump from the first game's Cold War late 60's to the near future of 2025, where a new Cold War and the prospect of global conflict is on everyone's minds.
Something that I recommend to those willing to pick up this game for its story is to play through the first one beforehand. There are plenty of characters and situations referenced, and both games end up coming together as one big saga of deceit and globe-hopping adventure.
The game begins when Alex Mason's son, David, tries to obtain information from a really, really old (according to my calculations he is around 95) James Woods. And seemingly, there is a new new-bad-guy; Cyber-terrorist/political activist Raul Menendez.
Menendez plans to seize control of the world's automated systems to spark a world-wide conflict that will bring down the capitalist infrastructure. Woods, apparently is the only one that can help find and put this man away before his plans come to fruition. This is because he and Menendez have clashed in the past, and thus it turns out that this is not only a tale about saving the world, but also one about personal revenge. Woods and Mason are out to get Menendez; who also has some pretty compelling reasons to strike back at his pursuers.
Gameplay is standard FPS fare for the most part. Missions go back and forth between the game's present and the 1980's, where we see Woods and dad Mason conducting missions during the Cold War and their first encounter with Menendez. This is all I'll say for now; I want to keep the plot details light, as there are plenty of twists and turns.
Every couple of levels there will be a strike-force mission. In these, the player takes control of a group of units: Soldiers, quadrocopters, and even some cool walking tanks known as CLAWS. These missions have varied objectives (defend an area, escort a VIP) and a time limit. Units can be moved around and ordered to attack through an overhead view or the player can jump to any unit at any moment and proceed in regular first person view. Credit is given for attempting something new, but any real amount of strategy that could be required is quickly scrapped in favor of plain-ol' running and gunning. The missions are too frantic and the units can't really get their priorities together when ordered around. You only get one chance at suceeding at these missions, and they can be ignored alltogether. Win, lose or skip, the game's story moves on and will reflect the outcome of these missions in later events and may also even change the ending.
Changing the ending? Whaaaaaat? In my Call of Duty?
Not only do those strike force missions play a part in the campaign's ending but at other moments you will be presented with choices. Some of them will be of the obvious press X for this, press Y for this variety whereas others are very subtle. In fact, I didn't know I had a choice in several events in the game until the mission debriefing told me. While this is not a true branching storyline with wildly different outcomes, actions you take may lead to characters dying down the line or even alter the playstyle or difficulty of later missions. A small complaint with this is the lack of consistency. Sometimes failing at completing an objective would get me a fail state and revert to my last checkpoint. Other times, the game would move along and take into account my failure for narrative purposes.
Another change which I enjoyed is you are now able to customize your loadout before each mission. One of the items you can bring along is an 'access kit' which lets you take alternate strategies or routes through a level. If you find yourself in one of those traditionally Call of Duty segments where you are facing unsurmountable odds, you no longer have to hunker down and pop out of cover 300 times just to get some shots out. Just run away from the action and explore a bit, then use your access kit to cut a whole in a fence and bypass that giant group of enemies undetected. Or even better, you could find and hack an enemy drone with which to make short work of your opponents.
Throughout the campaign there are many amazing set pieces, some of which involve cool-looking futuristic gadgets. While control is taken away from the player a lot during these sequences, I don't have any real complaints as they gave me a chance to take a break from the frenzy that is playing through a mission. Not all is good with the pacing and presentation, though; I have a particular issue with this game that I had with the original BLOPS. There are several moments that are overtly violent. While this sort of explicit violence helps enhance the game's gritty covert ops feel, it is at times taken too far and thus ends up feeling really out of place. It is a minor complaint though, and falls in the realm of "That sequence was one second too long" or "The use of slow-mo wasn't necessary during that sequence".
Despite these issues, the game's plot, interactive narrative and an appealling villan that borders on the cheesy just enough to be awesome, make for a fantastic campaign. Overall one of the best I've seen in a Call of Duty game or any other fast paced FPS for that matter.
Now for the Multiplayer...
BLOPS 2's online offering is recognizable and easy to get into for anyone who has played another one of the games in the series. What's interesting is that there are a couple of changes that might make even some veteran players readapt their tried and true strategies.
The biggest change is the class system. Rather than being limited to picking one primary weapon, secondary weapon, 3 perks, and lethal and tactical item, players now have 10 points which they can allocate freely. Special options called Wildcards allow you to bend the rules a little bit. Doubling up on perks requires the use of a Wildcard (costing a point) to free up a perk slot which can then be assigned another perk. With this system it's possible to do things such as having a fully decked out primary weapon, with four perks total at the cost of no secondary weapon or equipment.
The flexibility provided by the system allows creating classes that are truly specialized to specific situations. With a bit of tweaking you can figure out specific loadouts that cater to many playstyles, be it either the perfect class for 1 on 1 battles, defending objectives against rushers, defending objectives against teams that are leaning too heavily on the use of explosives or even a class designed to take out as many of the enemies scorestreaks and equipment in one life as possible.
Another noticeable change is killstreaks have been replaced by scorestreaks. For example, rather than having to get three kills to call in a UAV, now you must earn 300 points. You can do this through kills, assists, captures, etc. In a great decision, kills gained through a scorestreak (an attack drone, for example) only grant a fraction of the score which would otherwise be earned by a player kill. This prevents a player from calling in a scorestreak and immediately earning the next one.
With my 20+ hours of multiplayer behind me, I can say that the maps in BLOPS 2 are very well designed. Most of them seem to favor close quarters combat which keeps everyone moving and the action frantic. Many of the maps really shine in objective modes. There are often several flanking lanes which allow a smart player to circumvent a big exposed area and sneak towards the objective without fear of being sniped by eight dudes simultaneously.
My biggest issues with multiplayer aren't even gameplay related:
Due to BLOPS2's integration with Call of Duty ELITE, the in-game Combat Record which I LOVED in the first game is now really barebones and lacking a lot of information. If you want the kind of in-depth detail that the original Combat Record gave you (paper dolls showing where you have been landing your shots, map layouts with indicators for player activity) you will have to exit the game and open ELITE. Lame.
Secondly, with how unlocks work, once a player has reached maximum level, there will still be things that are unaccesible. The only option then is to enter prestige mode to unlock other equipments to try out. This kind of makes it necessary to prestige if one wants to try out all the different items. BUT, let this con brings me around a very remarkable pro: Treyarch has implemented League Play, in which everything is unlocked and you compete in seasonal tournaments with a team or solo to climb up the ranks. This is done after playing qualifying matches so you are placed against players of similar skill. While the season hasn't started (it will in Dec. 1) playing games competitevly against opponents of similar skill with no one having the advantage of unfair unlocks should be a real blast.
With all that said, right now I'm having a great deal of fun playing online. Of course, as with any other online offering things could change. But unless serious exploits are uncovered and never fixed I don't see this game losing appeal for a very long time.
And oh, yeah. Zombiiiiiiiiiiiiies. I've never been a fan of the zombie mode in Treyarch's games but I still gave this one a try with the help of some experienced players. It has plenty of secrets, what seems to be some pretty basic crafting and an interesting mode in which you ride around in a bus (that can leave you behind, hilarious!). I still don't plan on playing any of the Zombies mode but I can say that at least it's not as godawful dark as it was in previous games. If you LOOOOOVE zombies then you are getting even more bang for your buck, and if you don't like zombies then everything else is still well worth the price of admission.
Score: 80% (8L0PS)
(Great - Only very minor issues get in the way of greatness.)
|Follow Us||Back to the Top|
Log in or sign up