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Call of Duty: Black Ops II Review

Treyarch's Blockbuster On Wii U Is Mostly Unchanged
by Dan Ryckert on Nov 21, 2012 at 06:43 AM
Reviewed on Wii U
Also on PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC
Publisher Activision
Developer Treyarch
Rating Mature

A week after its launch on Playstation 3, Xbox 360, and PC, the Wii U version of Black Ops II has made its way to the office. Considering that it’s mostly the same experience, I’ll direct you towards my main review for notes on the campaign structure, new multiplayer loadout system, and zombie mode. Here, I’ll focus on the elements that make the version on Nintendo’s new console differ from the others.

How developers utilize the GamePad should prove to be the defining difference for Wii U versions of multiplatform games. Treyarch uses it in a few smart ways with Black Ops II, but nothing that changes the game at its core. During single-player, you’ll be able to see mission objectives and change controller settings on the GamePad. If you’d rather see the action in full, it’s possible to shift the entire campaign presentation to the screen in your hands. Everything looks sharp, and I didn’t notice any drastic change in visual quality.

Multiplayer offers a few new uses for the GamePad, including the ability to change your classes on the fly. If you’re playing with the action on the television, the GamePad displays a full overhead map of the area, as well as options in the interface to deploy your scorestreaks. It’s nice to be able to see enemy locations at any time, and it’s not confined to the tiny area shown by the standard minimap. 

Taking the fight online (or locally with Zombie mode) is great with two players, as each receives a dedicated screen. This was the only time we saw a real change in visual quality, however; with the Wii U hardware having to send out two separate screens, it appears to struggle a bit on the TV side of things. GamePad visuals are smooth, but the player on the TV usually suffers from a slight framerate drop. Despite this, the responsiveness of the controls doesn’t seem to be affected much.

One of the main complaints about the Black Ops II experience on Wii U is something that Treyarch can’t do much about. A look at the overall online players list usually reveals somewhere between 300 and 500 players on the servers. Because of this, most modes are completely barren and impossible to play. It’s launch week, and the only modes that have any players in them as of this writing are team deathmatch, free for all, and domination. Fans of modes like kill confirmed, demolition, capture the flag, or several others will be disappointed to learn that they won’t be playing them anytime soon if this keeps up.

Most of the positive elements of Black Ops II make their way to Nintendo’s console unchanged. Visuals are sharp, the campaign offers great branching paths, and multiplayer is deep. No amount of multiplayer depth matters if people aren’t playing, however, so this version of the game lands just a little shy of the mark set by its brothers on Playstation 3 and Xbox 360.

Introduce minimal GamePad elements to the newest Call of Duty
On par with the other versions, outside of some stutter when playing local multiplayer
Campaign features some Hollywood-caliber voice acting, and the shootouts sound appropriately chaotic
I actually found myself preferring the GamePad over the pro controller
Multiplayer issues aside, fans of the franchise will find plenty to like

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Call of Duty: Black Ops IIcover

Call of Duty: Black Ops II

Wii U, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC
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