It is a new year and with it comes a new iteration of the Call of Duty series. Since the series constantly changes hands between developers, it is time for Treyarch to once again step into the spotlight. Black Ops 2 takes place between two different periods, with players fluctuating back and forth between the Father and Son of the Mason Family. In the future players will take on the role of David Mason, who is intently looking for a man named Menedez. In the past, we follow the escapades of Alex Mason, who is in search of Woods from the first game.
The story is everything you would expect out of a Call of Duty title. Action takes precedence and the actual story is predictable and full of machismo. If you think someone is about to die after the next word from a characters mouth, chances are you are entirely correct. The storyline is as far as can be from the original games dip into mystery and intrigue. Be prepared for ridiculous surprises like a tree being struck by lightning that falls on the cord your character is using to swing across a mountain. The main enemy is a master tactician that simply knows what everyone is going to do beforehand. It is a James Bond villain in a title with none of the espionage.
As usual, set pieces string along the entire campaign. Players will fly about through the air with wing suits, or ride across the desert on horseback taking out helicopters. It has always been a staple of the series to make these wild action movie moments. So if you are actually expecting a variation on the formula… well you have another thing coming to you buster. The only real difference in place is the multiple endings that extend the longevity of the single-player. Unfortunately, the story is so ho hum that I do not think many people will actually care to try to play again.
The best inclusion in the series is the option to make life or death choices for people. Certain choices will affect who will be with you in the next fight, or even how the outcome of the game eventually pans out. It is a nice addition, but unless you have been paying attention to websites… it is not clear that doing certain things will change which endings you receive. So unless you are checking out gamefaqs, or reviews like this one. You will think that the pop-up prompts are the only thing that changes endings.
Beyond the humdrum storyline, the gameplay in single-player is extremely varied. You can take to battle on foot while gunning down any enemy in your way, while in another sequence you will control an elite squad of troops in a Real-time FPS style mission. Players frequently switch between vehicles and run and gun tactics, these consistent changes stop the game from being tedious even after the storyline has lost its luster.
When it all comes down to it though, nothing has changed for the franchise in the single-player department. A.I. still runs around corners so they can be mowed down by automatic fire. Much like a shooting gallery, enemies pop-out or stand in the middle of a room waiting to for their turn to be bullet fodder. If you are looking for a challenge other than dying faster at higher difficulties, I wish you luck in finding it in Black Ops 2.
At one point, the COD series was one of the most impressive looking games on any system. That time has come and gone and the models are starting to show their age. Even when utilizing real actors to portray the characters in game, it still comes off looking like a title in need of a new graphical system. Still, Call of Duty games have always been technically sound in delivering a lot on-screen. Planes will fly out of the sky, bridges crumble, and even buildings will fall without dropping the frame rate. I cannot complain though, I get to see both Merle from the Walking Dead and the Candyman in the same place.
Let us move on to the multi-player, which is the reason people buy these games, right? As you would expect, not much has changed here in terms of slaying your opponents. A few new game type changes have been sprinkled into the pot, but it is still the Call of Duty experience that gamers all over the world adore. Earn ranks, create emblems, level up weapons… it’s all there waiting to be taken advantage of. The new futuristic weapons from the campaign do not make too much of a drastic difference in multiplayer.
New perks were made to purposely off-set the overuse of targeting systems and weapons that can see through walls. Pro perks have been removed and replaced with a multi-structured greed system, this allows players to sacrifice weapon slots to have the option to use more perks. So if you want to have both Engineering and Extreme conditioning you can. On top of that, you can sacrifice more equipment to open up two more perk slots; the choice is really up to you. Players have fewer reasons to switch from their favorite.
Players can participate in a variety of modes ranging from the popular Team Deathmatch, to the variation on Capture the Flag named Hard Point. Players reach a target and have to stay in the vicinity until the timer is over. If the other team is in the area, the location cannot be captured until one team has been flushed out. It is an exciting game type and an impressive hybrid of Capture the Flag and King of the Hill. Multi-Team mode is also new, and it allows three teams to match up against each other.
Some modes are gone to my disappointment. Mercenary Team Deathmatch goes the way of the dodo in exchange for Mercenary Mosh Pit. In an attempt to get players to spread out into other game types, Treyarch has removed the Mercenary option from the most played mode in the game. Serious players can move up an actual ranking system with the new “League Match” mode. Every single perk is unlocked, so that the challenge remains even and players are placed on servers by equality of skill level.
Map cycling has slightly improved, but small maps like hijacked popup excessively. I swear that I repeat this map at least 15 times, and it is hard to get some kind of variety in one sitting. It could also just be me, but spawn points tend to favor enemies appearing extremely close to the area they died in, and yes, that is without using the famous Tactical Insert gadget.
Of course, the all too famous Zombies is still a part of the experience. It still plays the same as it always has and its fun for a distraction from the normal MP experience. Fight off the waves of the undead as they try to drag you down to hell. New obstacles such as flaming fault lines and exploding zombies will keep the tension up. Players can choose from Tranzit with a Z or Survival. Survival is the standard fare mode, but Tranzit tasks you with the collection of various parts to build new items.
Call of Duty is a shooter that people love to hate but secretly play in the dark. Even with the new futuristic setting and weapons, this is still the same title that you have been playing forever. The single-player has some replay value but that is if you are up to finding all of the endings. If not the Multi-player is the veritable smorgasbord of fun that it has always been. Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 receives a B from Half-Ass Gaming, it has not changed much but fans of the series are not really asking for that. The new maps, weapons, and customization system is just enough to keep people playing Multiplayer until the next iteration drops.