Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 Review : More of the Same
Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 offers very little in terms of innovation, but Veteran players will feel right at home.
It’s another year, and that means it’s time for yet another Call of Duty title. 2012 is Treyarch’s turn with Call of Duty: Black Ops 2. Treyarch hopes to bring some fresh content like new Strikeforce missions to the Call of Duty mix, and at the same time offer Call of Duty veterans an experience they know and love.
Black Ops 1 was such an amazing game. There was just something about it that felt right. The campaign was very focused and didn’t consist of character jumping every other mission, and had a story that was really intriguing. The multiplayer felt incredibly balanced, and the map design was the best the series had ever seen. Black Ops 2 had quite a big name to live up to.
The Campaign in Black Ops 2 is very average.
Players take control of a few different characters, some that are new and some that are familiar. The main character is David Mason, son of Alex Mason from Black Ops 1. David is in pursuit of Raul Menendez, and believes that Frank Woods, Alex Mason’s partner and friend, can lead him in the right direction. From there Woods tells a story through a series of flash backs detailing events that took place when David was just a child.
The issue with the campaign is the length combined with the story that is trying to be told. Black Ops 2 starts off very slow and confusing. For the first few hours you will see how Alex Mason gets back into the whole military aspect, but it really serves no purpose except to introduce the villain. I am all for back story to make characters more fleshed out, but Black Ops 2 never gives the player time to really know any of the characters it introduces since the game is about 6 hours long. There are some twists that happen along the way that try to give the usual “oh my god” moment found in the franchise, but those moments feel rushed and don’t get proper attention.
Once you finally get an idea of what your mission truly is, Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 feels excellent. The middle section of the game feels like Black Ops 1. The missions are direct and very straightforward, and don’t try to be overzealous. There isn’t a lot of unneeded explosions or moments that try too hard to impress.
Then when it comes time to start the final mission, players will probably not even realize they are about to finish the game. Black Ops 2 ends way too quickly and depending on your ending will feel either somewhat satisfying or extremely rushed. Throughout the campaign the player will have to make choices which will ultimately decide their ending. If you perform “correctly” the end of Black Ops makes a lot of sense, but if you decide to do things “wrong” then the ending is just flat out bad and makes the conclusion completely unsatisfying. The problem with the choice system is the player has no idea if they are making the “correct” choice. Usually in games that have different endings depending on choice, there is some sort of system to steer the player into a good VS. bad ending. In Black Ops 2 it’s just a tossup. If the “bad” ending had more to it than simply leaving the player with a sense of failure it would be different, but sadly it ends up being a nasty way to force the player to replay the story and get the “correct” ending.
The ending can also be determined by the new Strikeforce missions as well. These missions are a new addition to the Call of Duty franchise, and Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 tries really hard to make Strikeforce be something fun and different. The idea is to bring a style of RTS game play for optional missions during the campaign. The goal is to command your soldiers and mechs by swinging the camera to an isometric review, and defend or attack areas the game thinks worthy. Strikeforce, sadly, is broken and totally unsatisfying. The AI is utterly dumb, the RTS controls don’t work very well, and each mission boils down to just running into a building shooting everything in sight with no real strategy.
Overall the campaign of Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 is very average. There are some really cool missions combined with some neat story telling aspects, but the lack of character development and broken Strikeforce missions hold it back from being something memorable like the original Black Ops.
But let’s be honest, most people don’t play Call of Duty for the campaign.
The multiplayer aspect of Call of Duty Black Ops 2 is great in some ways, but bad in others. Every year, gamers have been playing Call of Duty in November. It’s a franchise that continues to grow every year. Black Ops 1 was the game that brought myself, and many others I know, back to the franchise. The map design, weapons, and balancing that made Black Ops 1 so memorable, seems to be somewhat forgotten in Call of Duty: Black Ops 2. Everything in the competitive multiplayer aspect of Black Ops 2 just feels typical.
The customary features are here. Players will still spend a majority of their time leveling up their rank, only to hit level 55 and prestige. An arsenal of weapons will be unlocked along the way, and new perks will allow players to have a little customization to their character. Everything that has made Call of Duty the king it is today is in Call of Duty: Black Ops 2, but there are also some things that hold it back.
The map design ranges from excellent, all the way down to “What were they thinking?” The biggest problem is the lack of detail when it comes to different types of play. I am a huge fan of Domination, and some of the maps design for flag placement is downright stupid. Multiple maps have this issue with objective based game play. Then there is the flipside where some maps feel much better for objective based game play, but then lack in the standard deathmatch type of affair. There seems to also be an issue with the spawn system that may cause some people to break a few controllers. No matter what map you are on, it seems that the spawn isn’t afraid to spawn enemies behind you. There isn’t a game on the planet that has perfect maps for every game type, or has a spawn system that is 100% fair, but Black Ops 2 is so inconsistent it’s infuriating.
The weapons is an area that will be different for every gamer. Every person has that one gun that connects with them, and once they find the sweet spot very rarely let go. I was able to find that particular gun, but it took me awhile to unlock it. At first I was having a terrible time, but once I finally got the gun that clicked I obviously had more fun. The weapons of Black Ops 2 feel just like every other game in the franchise, but that is not a bad thing.
The Pick 10 system is Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 is easily the best new addition in the franchise.
Probably the finest new addition to the series in the pick 10 system. In the past, players were able to select certain aspects of their classes such as a perk or type of sidearm they would like to carry. There was always a predetermined set of changes a player could make. Now with the Pick 10 system that all changes. If you don’t want to carry a side arm and instead add another attachment to you gun, go for it. Do you really like the perks in the first set? Sacrifice a few things and you can stack up on perks from the same set. This new mechanic takes class building to a whole new level, and players will find themselves with tons of different ways to make classes. In fact, being able to try so many different things is my favorite part of Black Ops 2. There are many different ways to play Call of Duty, and being able to create classes with specific needs and wants changes the game tremendously.
Zombies also makes its return in Call of Duty: Black Ops 2, and brings some changes along with it. Zombies now supports up to 8 players for co op or versus. A new Tranzit mode gives players a chance to take a bus to different locations instead of just sitting in the same level. Zombies is still a ton of fun in Black Ops 2, and it is easy to see that Treyarch put a lot of effort into making Zombies better than it ever has been.
The engine behind Black Ops 2 isn’t anything new. Obviously some changes have been made to the IW engine, but it’s nothing earth shattering. Lighting has been improved, and PC players can take advantage of Direct X11, but when you compare it to Modern Warfare 3 or Black Ops 1, there isn’t much of a difference. Again, this isn’t really a dire thing. One of Call of Duty’s major strengths is the fact it runs at 60 frames constantly, and very rarely skips a beat. Major changes at the closing stages of a generation isn’t really probable.
So what else is there to really say about Call of Duty: Black Ops 2? Treyarch hasn’t really done anything to change the game drastically, but how can you when so many people buy a game expecting to know how it plays. If Black Ops 2 is guilty of anything, it’s being unoriginal. The campaign feels rushed at some points, but manages to tell a story that some people will enjoy, but doesn’t stray from the Call of Duty formula. Sure, there is the new Stirkeforce missions, but they are horribly broken and add nothing to the game play. The engine powering everything isn’t really anything new, and doesn’t bring exciting graphics to the mold. The Pick 10 system and changes to the Zombies mode are the only areas that seem to have truly made a difference in Call of Duty Black Ops 2, but that just isn’t adequate. If you want another Call of Duty game that is similar to Modern Warfare 3 then Black Ops 2 is right for you, but if you were hoping for something new and exciting then you will not be pleased. Call of Duty Black Ops 2 is indeed, just another Call of Duty title.