Yet another Call of Duty…
We can see where fans are coming from, CoD is a franchise which is just going on-and-on at the moment, with no sign of there being much in the way of innovation nor a definite end to the series and rather like Final Fantasy, the next game is never the last. Yet we actually quite like this iteration of CoD since we enjoyed Black Ops a lot.
Black Ops 2 is a definite step in the right direction for the CoD franchise and there are several reasons why. As per usual you won’t find any story based spoilers here and all you get are the facts about the game. A game which is built on an older engine which is starting to show its age a lot now, yet still manages to be the most fun out of all of the Modern Warfare style games out there.Story
The story is going to change at various points during the game based on what you do and the choices you make in the campaign. There are reoccurring characters and themes from Black Ops and rather than make you play the son of Alex Mason from Black Ops, you get to play as Mason x2 one in the 1980’s and the other in 2025. The narrative is a bit sketchy but works overall and the game introduces actions/consequences as you play and make key choices which will lead to numerous multiple endings.Gameplay
The core shooting mechanics of CoD Black Ops 2 have not changed since CoD Black Ops or Modern Warfare. They remain the same and rely on a mix of corridor based shooting, open battlefields, set pieces and a few surprises here and there which we won’t spoil at all. The shooting mechanics might not have changed but the way in which the player is engaged into the various levels has been altered to provide a change-up to the old style gameplay, keeping things fairly fresh and providing a much more interesting single player campaign this time around.
The leap between the 1980’s and 2025 lets you experience the old school weapons of the 80’s and play around with some emergent future-tech of 2025. There’s also a pre-mission customisation screen which lets you build a solid arsenal of favourite firearms and customise them to your own play style. You can add select fire to a weapon, a new scope, and so on – with challenges during the campaign providing a way to unlock further features.
Challenges vary between the simple kills, to taking down a helo without using a lock-on feature of a rocket launcher and so on. Levels can be replayed to unlock more features through challenges.
There are also key points during the game where you need to make choices which will affect the game later on, as well as defining moments for the ending - this does hint to the game having a branching storyline. Similar, but not as a complex as the Witcher 2 in that regard, it is a welcome step towards a better game for the series. Treyarch seem to be firmly in control of this iteration of CoD compared to the Modern Warfare stable and have attempted something different with Black Ops 2.
We’re talking about Strike Force missions, sadly they’re not as engaging as we’d hoped and they do provide a tangible bonus to the campaign later on in the game. So they’re not something that you can skip lightly, whilst you can engage with them at any time until x-missions have passed in the single player, you can’t opt to skip out of them completely and just get on with the story without losing their reward. The problem with Strike Force is that RTS and shooters are a tricky thing to manage and when you have very basic AI it becomes a pain in the ass to play, compared to being a fun diversion you can enjoy.
In the case of Strike Force missions – the RTS style controls are a let down and you need to assume direct control of units to get the job done. This leads to a feeling of frustration since you’re not being backed up by competent allies.
Apart from these changes Black Ops 2 is a slick shooter with a lot of nice new toys to play with. The game uses solid set pieces to provide a break in the corridor/outdoor battles rather than prolonged turret sessions which seem to be the staple of games like these.Graphics
Black Ops 2 and the CoD engine are showing their age these days compared to other titles, yet they’re still pretty decent looking games which offer a fairly reasonable level of visuals. The human characters are looking a bit better than they did before, but the shadows in the game could do with a lot more work. The level of special effects and lighting isn’t bad but again the engine is showing its age sadly. Some of the textures lose their fidelity over distance and there’s definitely some tearing now and then.Animations
The animations for Black Ops 2 are solid, there’s a good level of detail to the movement and interaction between characters, environments and vehicles. The weapon reloads and animations are also pretty good with a lot more detail to the various weapons themselves.Physics
The engine has been tweaked to allow for water-flow physics in some levels, vehicle handling is much better and the physics in general are improved from Black Ops.