Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 Review
System: 360, PC, PS3, Wii U
Call of Duty: Black Ops II is a first-person shooter video game, developed by Treyarch and published by Activision (Square Enix for Japan). It was released on November 13, 2012 for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and Microsoft Windows and on November 18, 2012 in North America, November 30, 2012 in Europe and Australia and December 20, 2012 in Japan for Wii U. Black Ops II is the ninth game in the Call of Duty franchise of video games and a sequel to the 2010 game Call of Duty: Black Ops. The game was launched at 16,000 stores worldwide at midnight on November 13, 2012.
*Note: This is the old type of review with criteria
Call of Duty Black Ops 2 plays very similar to other games within the franchise however as always when new weapons and abilities are added it affects the gameplay ever so slightly. Keep in mind that the speed of the gameplay is what truly makes COD so popular and such an innovator as a franchise. Something else to note is that this is the first game to allow the player to make choices in which case some of them will affect the story line. Essentially this is less linear then any other COD campaign and that is a welcomed change in my opinion. One other thing to point out is that even though the story can change the campaign has you playing both sides similar to the original Black Ops. That is, you get to play as the villain for a chapter (a short one at that) but even still you get to kind of experience both sides which is always a fun aspect of things. One of the biggest and welcomed changesis the addition of “Strike Force Missions”. These are new mission types that you only have a limited number of times to try and complete them. Doing so will help you get the good ending but if you fail any of them your ending won’t be the best possible one. Also, these missions play out almost like an RTS game where you direct the NPCs where to go from an overhead map but at anytime you can jump into any NPC and be the one doing the fighting. Truthfully, I felt that I had to do more fighting on the ground rather then directing from the overhead map. It’s a neat idea but it feels like it could’ve been implemented better or had a better balance. Overall the gameplay is good, even though not much has changed just enough has to still keep you interested.
Black Ops 2 is not by any means a graphical powerhouse but that’s not to say it isn’t pretty to look at. The HUD is not overbearing in that it doesn’t seem to ever really get in the way. On top of this, the environments are nice to look at but aren’t really all that dynamic. By dynamic I mean that most the time when you are in cover your cover can’t be destroyed and truth be told most the time you aren’t in cover unless you are playing on a higher difficulty. All the same, the guns look good and the characters look ok. At times with the guns being so good looking it actually makes the characters themselves look worse with the lack of detail. The cutscenes are in-engine and do look pretty darn good but when the gameplay starts you can see enough of a difference to be disappointed in the least. Overall though you can’t complain about the graphics too much considering the game engine for COD has been the same since practically Modern Warfare. Looking at the screenshot below from in-game, you can see it doesn’t look bad by any means.
Black Ops 2 has you progressing through the story by playing the past, present, and future. The environments, weapons, and acting is reflected in this. The past feels like the past and looks like the past so it helps sell it. However, the future weapons don’t really feel all that futuristic, other then the sniper that can see through walls and shoot through them. That gun and ability isn’t in mutliplayer thankfully as it would be way overpowered. Even still, the game tries to set the mood based on the environments more then anything else. The menu system is very intuitive and easy to browse through. This includes before jumping into the campaign, going from campaign to multiplayer and of course customizing every bit of your weapon loadout as possible. You can even customize your loadout before entering campaign missions which helps you decide in the kind of gameplay you want to achieve. Overall the design looks and feels like Call of Duty but would you expect anything less.
The one thing Call of Duty has consistently done well is the sound of the weapons, environment, and the voices of the characters. Black Ops 2 is no exception as it has some top notch voice overs by actors such as Sam Worthington (Alex Mason), Michael Rooker (Harper/Nelson) and even Nolan North (Richtofen / Bus Driver / Bus PA / Survivors) and Tony Todd (Briggs). So as always the voice overs are phenomenal, as well as the acting of getting the emotion in their voices. The environment offers a lot of ambient sounds outside of the characters voices. It usually has a lot of screaming, explosions, and bullets whizzing by. Truthfully, you feel like you are in what could be a Michael Bay film for Call of Duty. This isn’t a bad thing but at times it feels overwhelming and kind of takes away from the story aspect of things. Speaking of bullets whizzing by though, the gun sounds are well done as always. By well done I don’t necessarily mean that they are realistic but rather they each feel and sound differently. So much so that you can determine, at times, what kind of gun someone has and how close they are to you simply from the sound of the reload (yes some gun reloads sound different but not all) but more often the sound of the weapon being fired. Only thing that makes it difficult to tell is when someone throws on a suppressor which can be put on any weapon, even snipers (but on snipers it brings the damage down quite a bit). Overall the sound is pretty darn good.
Well one of the main reasons people buy COD games is the replayability moreso the multiplayer. I personally like to play through the campaign of any and every game before diving into the multiplayer. However with the leveling system of COD this caused me be paired up with high levels when I first started out and it was slow going but now I am nearing my 2nd prestige. Clearly with the ability to prestige 10 times, never having trouble finding games (except late at night with some of the less popular modes), and having the largest online community for a shooter, this game offers a lot of replayability. The thing is though, everyone comes to expect that from the multiplayer so it’s really nothing new. However, the nice new change is the ability to replay the campaign and get up to 5 different endings based on how you play. Beating all the strike force missions will help you towards getting the good ending but if you fail too many of them you have a permanent death and can’t retry them. This, along with an addictive multiplayer and a full separate campaign for the zombies made makes Call of Duty Black Ops 2 a great game to keep playing.