Review: Call of Duty Black Ops 2
Call of Duty, a name that used to be attached to the occasional PC release is now the name attached to one of the biggest entertainment franchises out there. Since Call of Duty 4, the series has become insanely popular and has blast it’s way into the mainstream. With it earning hundreds of millions of dollars, recruiting celebrities for voice-overs and breaking all sorts of online records, there’s always a little bit of a buzz when it hits November and the next game is released. This time it’s Black Ops 2, made by Treyarch and it’s set to become the best selling Call of Duty game so far.
Black Ops 2 follows the story of the evil, terrorist leader Raul Menendez across two different time lines. The game is set in the year 2025, Black Ops Sergeant Frank Woods is on his death bed at the age of 90 and is in charge of delivering the story’s narrative as he chats to David Mason. The missions flick back and forth between 2025, where you control David Mason, son of Alex and past years when Frank Woods and Alex Mason – star of Black Ops 1 – are in their youth and still shooting people. The story is, as you’d expect, a bit ridiculous but that’s not why you’re here, is it?
The missions themselves have a little bit more give than previous games. The stuffy corridors and alleyways have been opened up to larger, more expansive areas – which gives the player a bit more freedom when trying to complete the task at hand. Unfortunately the tasks still involve following people and clearing out areas, much the same as previous titles.
Of course, there’s the set pieces and this year Treyarch have taken them to a new level. One moment you’ll be firing rockets off the back of a horse, the next you’ll be flying through a cavern in a wingsuit. As the majority of the game is set in the near future you’ll have plenty of funky gadgets to mess around with, scopes that can mark out enemies, camouflage suits, attack drones and many, many more.
The whole campaign reminded me of a video game version of Expendables 2 – since the second one is the better film – tons of cheese, insane action scenes and a story that only really exists to hold the action together. Thankfully, Stallone isn’t in this but there’s a few famous faces who crop us to lend their voice talent. Sam Worthington from Avatar and Michael Rooker of Walking Dead fame are the two most noticeable. This time round Treyarch have tried to build a bit of variety into the campaign by giving you a few subtle choices throughout the game – these can affect the storyline which will lead you to one of the six different endings.
The game mode that’s become the staple of Treyarch’s titles is of course, Zombies and as you’d expect, it’s back. However, this time it’s had a bit of a overhaul with its new Tranzit mode. Tranzit basically turns Zombies into a small story-less campaign. You start off in the bus stop where you must either buy or use the new crafting system to get out. From here you jump on a bus and you’ll travel to a variety of different sections to fight off the horde and find little secret bits-n-bobs.
This mode isn’t the greatest, it’s a bit too overcomplicated and there’s no explanation whatsoever of what you’re supposed to be doing. Plus, watching the bus drive off without you has to be one of the most demoralising experiences out there but that’s your own fault. Another new mode to Zombies is the Grief mode, this is where two teams of four are pitted against each other in a zombie battle of death. You’ll have to decide whether to fight off the zombies in your area or try to lure zombies towards your opponents. Finally, there is of course, the standard survival mode akin to Black Ops and World at War, so you can stick to that if you prefer but the maps aren’t anywhere near as enjoyable as the previous titles.
Of course, the main reason a lot of people buy the Call of Duty games is for the multiplayer and this time round it’s definitely a more polished experience. The main change is the Pick 10 feature, this gives you much greater control over your weapon loadouts. You have 10 available slots and each gun/attachment/perk etc. takes up a slot. So you could have one weapon with three attachments, three perks and a couple of grenades or no weapons and six perks. This is because of the new Wildcards, these allow you to use a slot to have two Perk 1s, three weapon attachments and so on.
Also Killstreaks are gone, sort of. They’ve just had a bit of a name change and they’re now Scorestreaks, this is because to acquire them in a game you have to get a certain number of points rather than kills. This means that players who like to complete objectives rather than sit around killing people will also get a chance to use their Scorestreaks. As you’d expect there’s some new Scorestreaks in the mix, what with this game being set in 2025 and everything. There’s remote control drones, Lightning strikes and all other sorts of futuristic goodies – one of the best has to be the handheld minigun a la Predator/Terminator 2.
Maps wise, there’s 14 in total or 15 if you’ve pre-ordered and received the Nuketown 2025 map. There’s a decent variety but little that stands out to be the map of choice – some maps are a little small which means that the enemy can spawn behind you leading to some frustrating deaths. As for modes the main difference is the inclusion of Party modes, these include games types such as One in the Chamber and Sticks and Stones – these provide a nice break from the usual pressures of playing. On top of that there’s league play where the hardcore can battle against each other and try to fight their way up their leagues. There’s also a ton of recording, commentary and live streaming features built in for the Youtube community.
So there we have it, Black Ops 2, the latest and greatest Call of Duty game of recent years. The campaign is the most enjoyable and balls to the wall crazy experience that it has been for years. Zombies is a bit of a let down this time round but it’s still a blast with friends even though the zombies seem a lot tougher than they have in previous titles. Lastly, the multiplayer is fantastic, whilst the maps may not be the greatest, the new Pick 10 system is great and allows from some real flexibility in your loadouts. There’s a few downsides, the main one is that the Call of Duty engine is definitely showing it’s age and could do with a complete overhaul, which will probably come when we hit next-gen. If you haven’t been a fan of the recent Call of Duty games then this is unlikely to change your mind, the rest of you will undoubtedly enjoy.