Platforms: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC
Reviewed by: Darryl Linington
Developed by Treyarch and published by Activision, Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 is the latest first-person-shooter to be released in the Call of Duty franchise. While the original Black Ops and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 have pretty much set a massive benchmark for the franchise… does Black Ops 2 successfully expand and add innovation to this much loved franchise… or is this title one that truly deserves to be bombarded by a massive nuclear strike? Well, instead of sitting around and waiting for a Care Package… let’s find out!
Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 (Blops 2 for short) kicks things off in the year 2025 when a Special Forces unit, headed up by David Mason, arrives at a secret location called “The Vault”. The Vault is currently the home of one Frank Woods who Mason believes may have information on the location and activities of Raul Menendez… who just so happens to be this titles new leading antagonists. Menendez plans to spark a massive war between the US and China that is fuelled by the power of military graded drones. While Menendez may seem like your everyday garden variety terrorist… he is nothing of the sort. Menendez has a much darker side to him, which spans from a tragic childhood that saw his life change for the worst at every corner he turned. You see, Menendez is a character that you start off completely despising; however, further into the storyline of Black Ops 2 you tend to see his point of view and start to understand why he seeks such brutal revenge against those that caused him to be the person he is in the game.
The storyline of Black Ops 2 is one that goes further into the realm of storytelling, rather than setting one linear path… Black Ops 2 intertwines past events with future occurrences, which ultimately lead to different endings within the game depending on the choices you make. While most players will tend to speed through the campaign without even blinking, they will soon realise that certain irrelevant factors that were featured in past titles will now have a massive impact within this title. You see, various events lead to various endings… so be careful when you decide to pull the trigger especially when it comes to certain key enemies or situations as this may just come back to haunt you at a later stage. Additionally, keep an eye out for those hidden Intel packages as they will also result in a helping hand. To be honest, this is what previous Call of Duty titles lacked as most first-person-shooters merely incorporate a campaign mode in order to service players that have no access to the internet or online features.
With all of this combined, ultimately leads up to a storyline that is something we have not seen in past Call of Duty of titles. It is a fresh approach to the franchise and something that we would like to see incorporated within future titles. This is due to the fact that players will want to replay the campaign and see exactly what happens in each of the alternative endings within this well thought out, carefully crafted title.
When it comes to gameplay, the campaign featured within Blacks Ops 2 mixes things up by switching between various events that are either in the past or in the future. Surprisingly the developers have added in some rather interesting gameplay factors within Black Ops 2, which even include riding a horse to various locations and controlling various future tech weapons and vehicles. These are moments that are truly exhilarating and really show that the developers have taken the time to craft Black Ops 2, rather than just slapping something together just to get it on the retail shelf as soon as possible. Furthermore, the new addition of the Strike Force Missions is most welcomed in Black Ops 2.
Strike Force missions have been designed to bring some strategy to the world of Black Ops 2. You will have the opportunity to command an array of units and place them in key positions in order to hold off waves of enemy soldiers and drones. Additionally, as this is more like RTS style gameplay, the player will gain access to reinforcements in order to fill up and replace lost soldiers and drones. Furthermore, each wave of conflict is time-based, which means you will have to hold enemies for a certain period of time in order to progress. One thing that I quite enjoyed about strike force is the fact that you can zoom in and out of the action while controlling each unit at the same time.
While Strike Force is a brilliant addition to the Call of Duty franchise… it does seem to suffer from a few issues. You see, without input from the player, the A.I seems slightly hopeless when it comes to completing the task at hand. There were various occasions where taking control of the whole unit was my option to getting things done properly. Furthermore, the maps could have been a little bigger… while these were my only issues with Strike Force it is still something that is most welcomed and unique when it comes to Black Ops 2. As mentioned before, certain actions have a large effect on the storyline of Black Ops… This is also apparent when it comes to the Strike Force missions, so choosing to skip them may have an adverse effect on the overall ending of the game.
Switching back to the campaign, and moving on to multiplayer, you will have access to various weapons which include some of the following items: MTAR fully automatic assault rifle; SMR semi-automatic rifle; Five-seven semi-automatic pistol; KSG pump action slug shotgun and various other weapons and tactical items. For those of you are looking to venture into the online multiplayer action of Black Ops 2, don’t be surprised when you notice that a lot has changed.
Pick 10 allows you to choose 10 elements in order to build your custom class. These elements include: your primary weapon, secondary weapon, attachments, perks, wildcards and tactical equipment; however, be warned that as the name states… you can only pick 10 items. This can be beneficial as you can approach online matches with various combined perks, double the tactical equipment or even two primary weapons. You can even do away with your secondary weapon in order to equip yourself with double the perks. It is a system that has been thought through well and will allow players to truly customise their overall online experience. To be honest, Pick 10 is a give or take system, which means that you will benefit in certain areas and suffer in others, which is actually awesome at the end of the day as the scales have now been tipped.
Venturing further into the online world of Black Ops 2 you will come across the Score Streak system. Score Streaks have replaced Kill Streaks, which means that killing enemies, assisting team mates and completing various objectives will counts towards the use of various Score Streak items. To break it down for you, A UAV can be called in for 350 points; however, you will need to at least kill enemies and assist your team on capturing objectives in order to rack up points. So, in essence the more points you earn the more you can use your 3 selected Score Streaks; however, be warned, if you are taken out you will lose your Score Streak. This is another welcomed addition to the Call of Duty franchise as players who are new to the franchise will find it easier to gain upper hand now. On a personal note, I prefer Score Streaks even though I am a seasoned Call of Duty player… I could never rack up the insane kill counts that the previous titles forced you to get in order to use Kill Streaks.
For those of you who have no idea what the Score Streaks actually consist of here are a few that you can look forward to: UAV which shows enemies on the radar as red dots for 30 seconds. The UAV can be shot down by the enemy; RC-XD which allows you to remote control a small car that’s packed with explosives. The RC-XD can be detonated at will – enemies can also shoot to destroy it; Swarm which calls in a swarm of Hunter Killer drones that search and destroy enemies on the map.
When it comes to the online modes Black Ops 2 is packed to the brim with them, which include the following: Core Modes: Team Deathmatch, Multi-Team, Mercenary Moshpit, Free-For-All, Domination, Ground War, Demolition, Kill Confirmed, Hardpoint, Headquarters, Capture The Flag and Search & Destroy. Hardcore Modes: Team Deathmatch, Free-For-All, Search & Destroy, Capture The Flag. Combat Training Mode: Bootcamp and Objective. Party Game Modes: Gun Game, One in The Chamber, Sharpshooter, Sticks And Stones. There is quite honestly a variety of game modes to choose from, which will keep online players entertained for hours on end.
Another nice addition to Black Ops 2 is the CODcast feature, which will allow a player to enter into a spectator mode that allows them to commentate on a match by using the CODcast interface. Within this mode the player will be able to watch all the onscreen action and switch to different views during the course of a match.
Zombies have also made a return in Black Ops 2! This time around players will have the ability to enjoy the original Survival mode with the addition of Grief Mode and TranZit Mode. TranZit allows 1 – 4 players to team up and explore an open world while defending themselves against the never ending onslaught of those groaning, moaning flesh eating Zombies. Furthermore, the bus and new Buildables gameplay elements help players move through and gain access to each area to find clues that reveal why they are there and what they must do to survive. Grief Mode will allow you to team up with your friends to challenge another group of up to 4 people in a Humans vs. Humans vs. Zombies scenario. Play on the various griefing mechanics to side-track the zombies or slowdown the opposing side. The team with last humans standing wins. Overall, Zombies is a great way to pass the time as well as gain some really great combat experience within this title.
Graphically, Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 looks superb… it features some rather beautiful environments, great looking character models and authentic looking weapons. Additionally, Black Ops 2 has some really nice lighting effects and some rather stunning cut-scenes with the additional bonus of well-crafted multiplayers levels. Unfortunately, Black Ops 2 does suffer from a few graphical and gameplay glitches… such as players getting stuck in walls, characters passing through other characters like they were ghosts and the occasional vehicle getting stuck between objects.
When it comes to sound, Black Ops 2 features a great voice cast with the likes of Sam Worthington as Alex Mason, James C. Burns as Frank Woods and Kamar de los Reyes as Raul Menendez. The voice overs have been done in a professional manner and each character sounds unique and charismatic. Additionally, the in-game audio effects of the weapons, bomb blasts and environments will put your speakers/headsets to the test.
Black Ops 2 has certainly set a much higher benchmark for future Call of Duty titles. It is great to see that the developers have taken an idea and completely overhauled and improved upon it. Furthermore, it would be great to see what the team can pull off when they eventually develop and design any future Call of Duty titles.
Overall, Black Ops 2 features a great storyline which should last between 10 – 15 hours depending on play style. Furthermore, this title features genuinely great gameplay online and offline, visually appealing graphics and a voice cast that certainly sets the mood for all out warfare. It is just slightly unfortunate that Black Ops 2 does suffer from a few graphical glitches and slight textured pop in certain areas.
Lasting Appeal: 9.5/10
Predominantly reviewed on Xbox 360