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Black Ops 2
Black Ops 2 suffers from some of the issue of predecessors, but does it do enough new to keep you playing?
For the ease of the review lets break it down into five sections; presentation, gameplay, story, multiplayer, and zombies.
Black Ops 2 starts you on an adrenaline high and never lets you off. Explosions, aircrafts, and bullets paint the sky, and set the overall tone of anarchy in Black Ops 2. This can lead to some headache as it can be hard to see what you want, or truly enjoy the world when its bombarding you with visual smut.
This is one of my main issues with the game, it acts like a child deprived of attention. Constantly throwing some new explosion in your face, and never really having a peacefully moment that better Call of Duty's have created.
The game runs at the typical 60 frames pre second, which is great it makes for seamless gameplay, and solid visual performance. But, I would argue that the 60 fps aspect of Call of Duty, is becoming a crutch to its graphical areas. To be frank Black Ops 2 isn't up to par with shooters like Battlefeild 3, Medal of Honor, or Halo 4, and Avtivision's excuse seems to be that if it runs at 60 fps its visuals don't mean as much.
That's not to say it looks bad, it just looks ok. Cut-scenes are realistic, and facial animations are detailed. Like any Call of Duty, some scenes look great, and others look like they were put together at the last minute. One thing I should mention is how good explosions look. With this being such a big part of the game it only makes sense Treyarch would put some extra effort into them.
Level design is diverse, from the bigger desert level, to the tight cornered air craft carrier, Black Ops 2 does a good job of varying not only the scale, but also the types of levels.
Some new gun animations are also a welcome sight in Black Ops 2. Loading and unloading guns looks realistic and cool, there's now an animation for crawling with a weapon, and guns sway depending on how you move.
One note that I want to make is that there is an option to install textures to the hard drive on the PS3 version, and I highly recommend this as visual quality is greatly increased.
This is Call of Duty, if you've played it once you've played it a thousand times. Don't expect too much in the innovation category here, you will run, jump, throw grenades, and of course shoot the hell out of everything.
That's not to say that Treyarch, hasn't done anything new. You can pilot drones, tank-like walkers, and a few other ships along the way, and I have to say flying around in an AR drone shooting up bad guys can be alot of fun.
Treyarch, has added what they call "Strikeforce Missions," in which you are taken out of the story mode and placed in an arena type mini game. The basic concept is you can control or play as any character on the map, while trying to complete objectives. An interesting top down, third-person view can be used to see the entire map and select which character to play as. While these are fun, they feel disjointed to the main story, and a lack of polish in teammate AI makes me feel like I'm in the fight alone.
The so promised "futuristic" weapons in Black Ops 2 really boil down to new scopes on old weapons. Some are cool, like the marker scope that will pinpoint the location of an enemy when you've had them in your cross hair once, and the scope that will create an x-ray type layer on the screen that helps you see through the world crumbling around you.
A few brand new weapons and equipment are featured in the game such as, a sniper rifle that can charge up to shoot through walls (my personal favourite), shock grenades, fully automatic hand guns, and a wrist mounted grenade launcher. Had Black Ops focused more on the futuristic weapons instead of just slapping new coats of paint on the old ones this could have made for some really interesting gameplay.
In Black Ops 2 you play as multiple characters mainly revolving around David Mason, the son of Black Ops protagonist Alex Mason. David, is the leader of a Special Forces unit in the year 2025, however you will also play as his father sometime during the 1980's.
The interesting thing about Black Ops 2's story is that it tries to make you see a different side to the standard hero and villain roles. Sometime in the past Raul Menendez, the antagonist, captures Woods and tortures him for vital information on the CIA. Woods, refusing to give up any information is left to die, but luckily are there to swoop in and save him.
This leaves Woods with a deep seeded hatred for Menendez, and a good reason for vengeance. You, Woods, Hudson, and Noriega (the commander of the Panamanian Defence Force) go on a mission to Panama, to take Menendez down. The plan is going well until Woods inadvertently kills Menendez's sister during the raid. Menendez himself manages to escape due to secret assistance from Noriega.
The short of it is Menedez is angry, and he is going to take it out on the world. What's different about this Call of Duty story is that it allows players to make some choices that will effect how the story plays out. Each decision you make will lead to a unique ending, nevertheless the choices are few, and lead to only two variations in the end result.
More often then not I found myself wondering what was going on, and who I was playing as this time. Adding choices to the story makes for some diversity from the usual cookie-cutter script, however it doesn't do enough for me to care, or really understand what's happening. If your looking for a deep plot look elsewhere.
As a fan of Call of Duty I can say with pride that the muiltiplayer is as good as ever. Throughout the multiplayer you use the futuristic weapons and equipment, which is a nice change of pace from previous instalments.
There are a lot of new score-streaks and perks to build up your characters performance and prestige, not to mention a totally new create a class mode. This mode goes by "pick ten," and with it you can choose any ten weapons, perks, and/or equipment. The great thing about it is if you don't want a secondary weapon you can swop it out for another grenade or perk. This gives way more customization options to players, and is a great new tool to see in the game.
In Black Ops 2 multiplayer Killstreaks have been replaced with Scorestreaks, which are earned by killing enemies, assisting teammates, and completing different objectives. For example, a normal kill gets you 100 points, but capturing a flag gives you 200 points - you will also get points when your teammates kill enemies while your UAV is active.
The UAV, for example, can be called in at 350 points, but you will need 1600 points to call in the powerful VTOL Warship. You can equip a maximum of 3 Scorestreak rewards at the same time.
Your Scorestreak resets to zero once you die. The equipped Scorestreak rewards in Black Ops 2 can be earned multiple times in one life, but they need to be used before the Scorestreak loops around for the second time or each Scorestreak reward is replaced/wasted with the same reward again.
Ranked leaderboards have also been added into the multiplayer experience, however it is separate form the standard modes, so your progress on one does't count or even matter on the other. While I do like the idea of ranked leaderboards they should be integrated into the entire experience. One last thing to mention is that all the weapons, perks, and equipment are unlocked from the start of the leaderboard side, so its not as much about levelling up your load out, as it is about focusing on reaching that next division.
Multiplayer is fast, frustrating, and as fun as it's ever been!
Zombies has always been a fun retreat from the standard modes of multiplayer, and a great co-op mode to play with friends. Zombies in Black Ops 2 is the biggest its ever been, but does that make it good?
For the most part, yes. Zombies mode now uses the multiplayer engine which allows for stats-tracking and a better online experience with other players. You can play zombies with up to four friends either online or split screen, and up to eight with the new grief mode.
There are four modes available in Zombies, as well as four maps.
For maps there is Nuketown Zombies, Green Run: Bus Depot, Green Run: Farm, and Green Run: Town. While these are all good maps, Nuketown Zombies and Bus Depot are the best of the group.
Modes include, Tranzit, Treyarch's take on a zombie campaign. Grief mode, where two teams of four players fight for survival on one map and the last team standing wins. Survival mode, where players try and fight as long as they can against increasingly difficult waves of zombies. And finally, custom zombies, where players can alter game rules like which round to start on, head-shots only, or the difficulty setting.
While some modes like Tranzit are simply a survival mode with the worst story ever (the story is you are on a bus), others like grief mode add great new dynamics to the stale design. I especially like the addition of custom zombies, so players who are bored by the first few waves can begin wherever they choose.
Visual quality on the zombie maps is the worst in the game, and fog is used extensively to hide distant objects. That being said, zombies look better than ever, have cooler animations, and who doesn't like blowing their heads off.
Get this game. Though there are problems with visuals and lack of innovation the sheer quantity of content in this game is reason enough to buy it. The campaign won't blow you away, but it does enough to keep you engaged. Multiplayer is as good as it's ever been with the new "pick ten" system. And, Zombies packs a punch in content and new modes like grief are fun.
+ Multiplayer is great
+ New weapons & modes
- Story is lacking
- Visuals are dated
7.0 out of 10
Thanks for reading,
Check out my Assassin's Creed 3 Review