Hey GND, it’s that time of the year again. Call of Duty has been released again! This years release is Call of Duty: Black Ops 2, and it’s the best selling and possibly the best game yet. Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 thrusts you into a mixed story continuing Woods and whatever the hell your forgettable playable characters name was, Mason? As well as introducing a few new characters to play as, one notable one is Masons son.
As per Call of Duty, there’s a lot of shooting involved, but Black Ops 2 mixes it up a bit. Lets find out how, we’ll start with Campaign…
Well, let me start out with a little statement, in case you didn’t pick it up from the title. This review is only focusing on the Single Player portion of the game. MP will not be mentioned at all.
Call of Duty: Black Ops 2’s story is just as ridiculous as Black Ops 1 and basically every other CoD game since MW2. Any sort of plausibility was lost after CoD 4.
Black Ops 2 may surprise you though, it’s Campaign formula is quite different than every other Call of Duty to date. It’s very reminiscent of the Ghost Recon series, in a sense that before each mission you get a screen where it shows your current player character, customizable loadout and other missions details. Then at any time you can choose to start the mission.
The missions themselves seem much larger and less restrictive than previous incarnations of the series, but it’s still in every sense a linear game. It seems to mostly unchain its self from the endless wave of soldiers checkpoints and button press to proceed moments.
Still, despite these changes, it plays just like the past 5 Call of Duty games. Full of action and interactive cutscenes.
One of the biggest changes, and my favorite parts of Black Ops 2 is the strike force missions, essentially side quests. In the main mission there are certain things you can do and by doing them you have access to a new strike force mission after that mission is over.
These missions are very cool, they’re like a mixture between RTS and FPS gameplay. In these missions you get a few objectives, whether it be to eliminate a target, protect a convoy or secure 3 zones. You get ground units, air vehicles, land vehicles and other stuff depending on the mission.
You can view the battle from an isometric view, dubbed Tactical View, this basically transforms the game into an RTS. From this view you can control all units from above and command their every move, and even take control of any unit on the battlefield. By taking control of a unit, the game then becomes an FPS and you can play directly on the ground.
This combination of game types is very interesting and actually very fun. It’s totally different than anything ever offered by Call of Duty.
Now I’ll touch on the gameplay you’ve come to expect from Call of Duty.
Gameplay in Call of Duty has remained very similar since Call of Duty 2, Black Ops 2 keeps the same formula but has a few things that make it stand out.
Most people should know that Call of Duty is the epitome of arcade shooter by now. Black Ops 2 doesn’t change that, but it adds in a few things to make it more interesting and not so stale. Like I mentioned in the previous section of the review, the combination of RTS and FPS gameplay provided by the Strike Force missions is very unique, not many games have attempted this before.
Even though it’s only available in certain missions, it gives Black Ops 2 a little bit of a tactical edge. Instead of just mindlessly shooting, you need to think of where to send your units, and if things aren’t going well, or you just feel like getting in the action, you can deploy as any of your soldiers at any time.
So besides the cool addition of RTS elements into the CoD formula Black Ops 2 also gives you little choices through out the game, and some larger ones.
Some of the smaller ones are found in various locations on a mission, they are labeled by an ‘Access’ marker. These locations have mission related items, sometimes it’ll be a unique weapon, or some information on the mission that can affect later missions. These are small additions but they help change up the aging CoD formula.
Some larger choices in the game can have fairly consequential effects, none of them are game changing necessarily but they’re a great addition. One event in the game happens if you fail to dodge a burst of flames in a vehicle section of the game(which is not nearly as pathetic as the early ‘vehicle’ section of Black Ops 1).
If you fail to dodge the flames, you’re squad mate gets a very bad burn on his face and it’s there the whole games, characters even make comments about it. This all could have been avoided if I dodged that burst of flames.
That’s about it in terms of gameplay, even those who don’t play CoD know what it’s like. I think these highlights I picked out set it apart from other CoD games, and even other games in general. Now I’ll see how the audio and visuals stack up.
Call of Duty has never been a graphical powerhouse, and just like the gameplay..Black Ops 2 doesn’t change that.
Just like Black Ops 1, Black Ops 2 seems to be on an older version of the Call of Duty engine. MW3 looked noticeably better than this game. Black Ops 2 makes the most of what it has though, particle effects and lighting have been improved but some how texture quality seems to have decreased in quality. It’s still passable but it just doesn’t fit the bill for a 2012 game, especially with their budget.
Most of the time the game looks fine since it’s always in motion, but if you take the time to soak it in, it’s not very pretty. Black Ops 2 does offer a wide variety of graphical options though, so if your performance isn’t where you want it, you can configure it to how you want. It also comes with an FoV slider which is great. More games need the amount of options Black Ops 2 gives you.
Despite the subpar graphics, Audio for the most part is well done.
Voice Acting is better than ever, with some very notable names such as Michael Rooker. The Soundtrack is better than before, but it’s still not my style(Thankfully you can lower music volume for once in the series).
The one lacking aspect of Black Ops 2s audio presentation is the gunshots, which is surprisingly because MW3 finally stepped it up and made the weapons punchy. Guess they don’t collaborate?
Overall the graphics and audio presentations are decent at best. At least the game gives us tons of options which is nice. Now for the conclusion and score.
Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 takes the long lasting CoD formula and adds in a few needed additions. These changes to the formula really give that Black Ops 2 that needed edge to be seen as a memorable CoD game.
When it comes to the Campaign, Black Ops 2 surely stands out among the series and even from other games due to it’s small, but meaningful changes.
Presentation: Steamworks ensures easy installation, it even gives you optional parts to install. I didn’t even need to install multiplayer. Graphical, Audio and Gameplay options are plentiful. Controls are fully configurable. Not 1 bug throughout the campaign. 5/5
Storyline: It’s over the top like it’s predecessor but some how feels more plausible. It ties up loose ends between the time of Black Ops 1 and now, which leads to a more realized story. 3.5/5
Gameplay: While it still retains the standard CoD formula, the mix in of RTS elements made the game more unique and enjoyable. 4/5
Visuals/Sound: Black Ops definitely doesn’t stand out in the graphical or audio department, maybe it stands out as one of the worst looking games this year. It’s not very pretty, but the improved lighting and particle effects help you look past it. 2.75/5
Lasting Appeal: Due to the nature of the campaign and the choices you’re prompted, this leads to much greater replay ability than any other CoD game. The ending even varies based on your choices in the game. 3/5
Overall Score: 73