Review of Call of Duty: Black Ops 2

by Paul

As previous instalments of the series have shown, you either love the Call of Duty franchise or hate it. Perhaps Black Ops 2 has something to cater for the masses?

It's a game notorious for burning hours of your time as well as making your whole house sound like it's under fire and it's back.

Featuring a campaign which spans both the past and the future, as well as the return of the well polished multiplayer we've all grown to love, Black Ops 2 is set to exceed expectations.

And as always with Treyarch leading the design, we can expect to see the zombie hoards flooding back onto our screens.

The Campaign

Call of Duty's campaigns have always been high octane and extremely linear and Black Ops 2 doesn't really diverge from this at all. It's sticking to what it's best at and continuing down the same line as its predecessors.

The campaign is an extension to the first Black Ops which was set during the Cold War. Black Ops 2 however is split between the ending years of the Cold War and a futuristic setting during 2025.

The Cold War part of the campaign sees you continuing to play as Alex Mason, providing the backing story as to how the villain of the future side of the campaign, Raul Menendez, came to power.

The future side of the campaign is played by David Mason - Alex's son. Futuristic technology features heavily in a new Cold War between the United States and China.

There are new types of level - Strike Force missions. The player is given the chance to switch between playing Call of Duty as a RTS rather than FPS which is a change and personally I feel it didn't work as the mechanics aren't really balanced and I spent most of the time in FPS mode doing the job myself as my squads were severely underpowered. 

It's likely that you've played one of the previous instalments of Call of Duty and you can expect the campaign experience to feel pretty much the same. Personally, the characters didn't seem as developed as say, Soap and Price from Call of Duty 4 though.

One slight difference is that Black Ops 2 also features 5 different endings which are based around several binary decisions throughout the game. The endings are mostly significantly different, but it doesn't really change any of the actual storyline - just how it ends.

It feels like an arcade game combined with an action movie, but that's essentially the definition of a Call of Duty campaign and Black Ops 2 doesn't prove to be any different when it comes to this.

Opening cutscene

Graphics & Audio

In terms of graphics, Treyarch seem to have brightened everything up. Recently, the CoD series has seen everything be either orange or grey, but Black Ops 2 seems to be more vibrant, which is always a good thing.

All of the locations in Black Ops 2 seem to be extremely similar as well. I've played through the campaign a couple of times now as well as playing the multiplayer and to me it all seems pretty much the same, which is a disappointment.

The gun sounds are a little lackluster. Everything sounds very similar which is a little bit of a shame, but it's been a long time since we've had varying gun sounds in a Call of Duty game, so perhaps it's what should have been expected.

While we're at it, the announcers seem to have "given up" and seem to be extremely unenthusiastic and while it's not exactly the crux of the game, when comparing it to its competitors such as Halo 4, it's dismal.

Multiplayer

As you're probably aware, Call of Duty's main attraction is the endless hours of multiplayer and as they bring one out every year, they've plenty of chances to tweak and change it.

However, the phrase "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" springs to mind and thankfully, it seems that Treyarch thought the same too.

The feel of the multiplayer is as you'd expect, fast paced gameplay in the usual categories you'd expect - team deathmatch, kill confirmed, domination etc.

The one major change to the Call of Duty multiplayer is the create a class system. It borrows features from the previous instalments which allow you to unlock guns horizontally rather than vertically using tokens.

The new system is deemed "pick 10" and no longer focuses on choosing one item per slot, instead, you can choose 10 items for your entire loadout.

This means that you don't need to carry a secondary weapon if you don't want to, you can decide to carry an extra attachment for your primary weapon instead.

I have conflicting opinions on this system. It's good because it means that people's classes are vastly different, but it means that people are most likely going to miss out on a ton of content, especially if they don't take a secondary weapon.

As for the game's overall balance, I think it's better than the previous versions of the game - the maps are better than the likes of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 and 3, but perhaps not as well designed as those in Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare.

One of my main issues with most Call of Duty games is that guns are either massively overpowered or severely underpowered to the point of uselessness. Black Ops 2 seems to have found some sort of middle ground.

There's definitely weapons that seem to be better than others (I've noticed the FAL and pretty much any SMG) and there are also guns that are useless (most assault rifles), but for the most part, each has their own strengths and weaknesses which is what most Call of Duty games lack.

Zombies

Call of Duty's zombie mode was more than enough to warrant buying Call of Duty: World At War on its own. The expansions were great and introduced a lot of interesting mechanics.

Call of Duty: Black Ops added to this - the mechanics were more ambitious, but they worked. The storyline from the original zombies mode was continued and ended on somewhat of a cliffhanger.

And it ended there really. It's seemed weak and not relevant. It might all change with the DLC, but for the maps that come with the disk, the story has seemed lackluster. The characters you play aren't satisfying.

However, other modes added to the game such as the 8-player "grief" mode which allows you to  play 4 vs 4 on a zombie map working together, but with the ability to sabotage the other team. Whoever's team survives the round in which the entirety of the enemy team dies is the winner.

The Easter egg songs are back, which is good, as they're definitely a great addition to zombies as well as intricate storyline Easter eggs. They're fun to attempt, especially as you've got hoards of the undead running after you.

Summary

Overall, I believe Black Ops 2 to be the best Call of Duty game since World At War. They've changed the muliplayer slightly and perhaps weakened the zombies mode, but for the most part, it's a solid game.

If you treat it as it was designed, an arcade game, you'll have plenty of fun. It's hard to be serious about a game which involves a lot of spontaneous occurrences.

Yes, if you separate it into its components, it doesn't sound too good of a game, but when they're all combined, they each seem to mask over the others' flaws.

Call of Duty: Black Ops II

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Call of Duty: Black Ops II

Pushing the boundaries of what fans have come to expect from the record-setting entertainment franchise, Call of Duty: Black Ops II propels players into a near future, 21st Cent...

View on Amazon

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Call of Duty: Black Ops II Care Package

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Updated: 01/19/2013, Paul
 
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Seelyon on 06/20/2015

It's one of the better modern CoD games for me personally but I'd still like to see a return to the WWII era.

Paul on 01/19/2013

Hollie - If she enjoys arcadey style FPS games, she'll enjoy it. :)

Paul on 01/19/2013

Jo - It's surprising how hyped everyone gets about the CoD series, especially since there's definitely others out there that are equally as good!

HollieT on 01/19/2013

I'm pretty sure this game is something that my daughter would be interested in. Great review. :)

JoHarrington on 01/19/2013

I've never played this, but I've seen the excitement all around me, when each new one comes out.

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