Call of Duty: Black Ops II review
Treyarch hit us with another installment of their version of the Call of Duty series but is it just another rehashed game or is there some bite to be had?
The future’s past…
The main story is set in both the past (1986-1989) and the future (2025) and is also a continuation of the story between Woods and Mason from the first game. In the future you play as Mason’s son, David, who is part of a team with a mission to capture Raul Menendez, the villain of the story, who has become a serious threat in recent years. Menendez is the tie between the past and the future as his life is intertwined with both Masons and Woods and the game switches between the eras as the story unfolds.
There are several splits in the story where your actions at certain points will result in a slightly different ending. Although minor, this is the first Call of Duty game to have such a feature. In order to change the ending there is a rewind feature in place which will reset all story progress to that point and the player will have to play through each mission again from there to see the alternate endings.
In addition, there are some optional strategy style Strike Force missions that take place during the story. During these you command control ground units, turrets and other mechanical fighters as well as directly taking control of them all to defend several key targets from swarms of enemies. Most interesting about these missions is they’re only available for a certain amount of time during the campaign and the player can fail them (avoiding them counts as a fail) but still continue the story. The outcome of the missions can affect the ending.
My only gripe would be that I found this to be the easiest Veteran campaign out of the entire Call of Duty series so I was slightly disappointed in that respect. I would attribute that to not only being able to take more damage from enemies as well as being able to customise your loadout for each mission, but also being able to use the future weapons which allow for a thermal scanner attachment to every weapon as well as a special weapon that allows you to shoot through walls. However, I still enjoyed the new additions as they added to the game but I would have preferred an increase in difficulty to help balance the advantage being gained.
Just give me a gun!
The multiplayer mode of the game is quite expansive. The normal Core playlist features several modes including Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, Domination, Demolition, Capture The Flag, Headquarters and many more. For the elite players there’s a Hardcore playlist which features some of the Core match types but with more handicap on the player. For new recruits there is a Combat Training playlist which allows only players up to and including rank 10 for the Bootcamp mode so it’s a nice feature to help welcome new players. For those above rank 10, players can still participate in this playlist but in the Objective mode only. The main difference between this playlist and the others is there’s a mix of human and bot players. There is also a Party Games playlist which contains Free-For-All modes to be played only for fun. And of course if you really don’t feel like playing against other people, you can play in a Local mode which is bots only and the matches can be customised.
In addition, there is also a new League Play mode which allows players to play with others within their skill range. Once you enter you will play in five placement matches which then determines which league you will be placed into which will continue for a certain amount of time in its current season. Current league choices include the Moshpit Series which is a mix of objective modes with standard rules, the Champions Series which is the same as Moshpit but with competitive rules and the Team Deathmatch Series which is what it says on the tin with standard rules.
Unlike in previous games where there was just one open map, in TranZit there are now five different areas in which there is a bus station, a diner, a farm, the power room (which is underground) and the city. They are all separated by a fog where small creatures, called denizens, live. If you venture out into the fog you will be attacked by one denizen at a time. Most attacks can be survived, the denizens only slow you down and stop you from shooting. You journey between the areas through the use of a robot controlled bus which stays in each zone for a certain amount of time before moving onto the next. You can be attacked by zombies on the bus, which can come from the front window, the roof and through the boarded-up windows. You can also take a stand on top of the bus, which is interesting to say the least.
I have to say there’s nothing quite like missing the bus and having to run after your teammates through a dense fog while being chased by zombies and denizens and hoping like crazy that you’re going the right way.
There is a new perk, called Tombstone, which creates a save of all perks and weapons the player had before dying. Upon returning to the game in the next round the player can then pick up their Tombstone to regain all equipment. This perk also gives you the choice of killing yourself while downed by holding the correct button with the rather brilliant message of “Don’t feed the zombies”. One of the most interesting things in this mode is that you can store money in the bank located in the city as well as storing a weapon in the fridge located in the house at the farm. These then can carry over into other games that you play at a later date and be used which is a bonus if you’re chasing after one of the Easter eggs.
Believe it or not there is a story in this as well but after this is done you can also try the pure Survival mode in which you can fight with certain perks or just the mystery box. There is also a Grief mode in which you fight both zombies and other players in a four vs. four vs. zombies marathon of carnage! The idea is to last the longest and although you can’t directly harm the other team, you can prevent them from reviving their teammates.
What I thought was brilliant with both Multiplayer and Zombies is how all matches are recorded. You can play them back, take screenshots and put together highlight reels and upload them for the community to see. I commend this feature as you never know when you’re going to have an amazing match so it’s quite awesome to be able to look back and relive it.
A refreshing take on the Campaign and Zombies modes with more features being added plus a great choice of playlists for the Multiplayer mode makes this a fantastic entry in the Call of Duty series. I definitely enjoyed all aspects of the game and although it is a yearly franchise, Treyarch have added in quite a lot to make the game stand out.
Miss; Call me mad but I like to be punished when playing on Veteran in any Call of Duty game. Really I just enjoy the challenge. If the players are being given an advantage with better weapons I would have expected the Veteran difficulty to increase.
Need; The game is very well rounded on all modes but if I had to be picky I would say it would have been nice to have been explained in more depth in-game how the Strike Force missions worked with the Campaign. It wasn’t immediately obvious when first encountering one and involved some research to realise what their role was.