Format: PS3, Xbox 360(reviewed), PC
Release Date: November 13, 2012
ESRB Rating: M
Another year, another Call of Duty. Black Op 2 is the direct sequel to the best selling game of 2010, Black Ops, and it looks like its not gonna disappoint as well. The sequel proves to be the most ambitious COD yet, and easily one of the best shooters this year.
Story and Presentation:
I've always enjoyed the stories in most of the COD stories, although they've been pretty shallow, they always have a knack for creating those huge and intense set piece moments. If you back to COD4, the famous moment when you have a chopper crashing down right in front of you, that paralyzes your comrade, forcing you to carry him with enemy soldiers and dogs chasing you. Black Ops 2's narrative is filled with these intense moments, and the story manages to keep you engaged from the beginning. The campaign keeps you jumping between multiple characters and their respective times. When you're in the 80's, you continue the story of Alex Mason and Frank Woods. When you make the jump to 2025, you'll be jumping in the shoes of the Alex Mason's son David. Both of their stories are interlaced, and have the same villain, Raul Menendez. Menendez proves to be a memorable villain, which is rare in a first-person shooter, and he is driven on a blinding revenge. The game even makes you agree with some of his issues, I ended up not wanting him dead all the time, and thats what makes this the best tale in a COD yet. The game is definitely dramatic, and thanks to some Hollywood calibur voice talent, the narrative is believable. Sam Worthington(Avatar) gives another powerful performance as Alex Mason,while newcomers like Michael Rooker(The Walking Dead) breathes life into new characters. The visuals are familiar, to say the least, the engine has become a bit outdated. Now this doesn't mean that the game looks bad, it just means you've seen it many times before. There are a few improvements in the graphics, but there are still a number of rough textures and bland areas scattered throughout the game's many levels. The campaign takes place in a vast array of varied locales, as you jump forth between the two time periods. The music is just as heart-pounding as the game, from mission to mission, the soundtrack booms in the background as you mow down waves of enemies all in grand fashion. The presentation, although a bit dated, still gives you great visuals and some top notch voice talent.
Core Gameplay and Multiplayer:
Gameplay is what made the Call of Duty franchise so famous, and Black Ops 2 continues the tradition of the series. The game's tight controls are still front and center, with a smooth 60fps framerate behind it. BO 2 has finally done what I've been wanting from a COD game, extend the single-player campaign. BO 2 introduces player choices and consequences to the campaign, and its executed very well. During certain missions, you're given different choices on how to play out a particular encounter in a mission. Finding intel finally plays a different role, rather than achievement or trophy hunting, it can play a pivotal role in how your story will play out. There are multiple endings, so you finally have an obligation to go back to the campaign. The difference in endings are pretty dramatic as well, certain characters might not make it one scenario, so don't be surprised when one of your favorite characters gets axed. The new Strike Force missions are incorporated into the single-player campaign, where you'll be controlling squads of soldiers and drones while trying to achieve an objective, and they can have a direct effect on your story. The Strike Force adds a new strategic dimension to the COD formula, me being a fan of RTS games, I felt comfortable ordering around soldiers and drones from an overhead view. This new mode turned out to be one of my new favorite modes, and I hope its included in additional games. When you take your game online, Black Ops 2 gives you an even more robust online component. The biggest addition to the online has to be the new Pick 10 system when you're creating a class. Instead of forcing you to fill every category of a class, you can mix up your choices while filling up the 10 point scale. If you don't want any tactical or lethal grenades, you don't have to get them. You can spend the extra points on extra perks or more attachments for your primary weapon. Its a welcome change, and can have spending hours trying to find the perfect loadout for you. The Zombies component is back, and its bigger than ever. You still have your traditional Survival mode, but the new Transit mode brings a new element, as you're moving from one location to the next, while trying to find new items and weapons to help you survive. Its a great mode, and its just as addictive as ever.
Call of Duty Black Ops 2 is a great game, and a sequel thats worth every penny. Treyarch continues to push the limits of the FPS genre, with a truly dynamic single-player campaign, and some innovative new multiplayer features, its a complete package. Ambition is what this franchise needs, and Black Ops 2 delivers on all fronts.
S&S Rating: 8.75/10 @whatsPlay
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