Generally speaking, console gaming has never been my cup of tea unless playing competitive racing or sports games. Nevertheless, I have played my share of console games on current gen consoles as well as those dating back to the SNES.
Never did I expect to see the day that I, Eissa Jamil, would write an article about a Call of Duty game, and more so surprising is the fact that this article is referencing Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 which I played on the Xbox 360. Initially, Black Ops 2 was not on my wish list for games to play, but it just so happened that the Black Ops 2 release date landed on the same day as my birthday, thus a friend of mine bought me the game which resulted in me purchasing XBL for a full year (one thing led to another and now I am down $50, hopefully for the better). Now the game has been out a week and I have put a fair quantity of time into it and, truthfully, it’s become my go-to down-time game (when not playing PC games); for me to say that means that I really do enjoy playing the game and that I am willing to say that Black Ops 2 is a good game…my friends and colleagues will vouch for my credibility.
Beginning with positive aspects of the game I will say that Black Ops 2 is definitely an entertaining, hectic war game with chaos culminating all around the gamer. The game is enjoyable no matter the mode in which you play. Whether it’s the semi-strategic gameplay of campaign to the online multiplayer, the run-and-gun style gameplay of all the COD franchise games always puts you on the edge of your seat and Black Ops 2 does not fail to follow in step.
Black Ops 2 introduces awesome new features to the franchise including: future warfare tech, branching storylines based upon gamer decisions, and interestingly enough, a 3D display option. Black Ops 2 is the ninth game for the franchise and on release (November 13, 2012) broke 24 hour sales records becoming the biggest entertainment launch to date. The storyline is just good in my opinion, and to clarify on rating a story, it is extremely difficult to construct a story for a war game that really satisfies a gamer’s desire to emotionally become part of the game. Normally, with war games you do not find that emotional connection with the story, and I feel like the characters in this game lack in those aspects. Thus the story of this game is not excellent, but it is good enough to keep me willing to finish the campaign.
For the sake of really giving you a review, let’s get a little more detailed and do some hating…
Black Ops 2 is a good game, but technically speaking the game isn’t much of an improvement over Black Ops. It’s using a “further iteration of the IW engine” which to me doesn’t seem to have been visually upgraded as Black Ops 2 just isn’t very appealing to my eyes. The character models themselves at times still seem block-like, the transitions during the death of enemies is very generic, boring, and uneventful to watch. The general maps are fairly uneventful without much going on in the background, furthermore resulting in a lack of entertainment while playing the game. Additionally, both the general and campaign maps have horrible texturing when considering the size and money of this franchise.
Another thing to note about Black Ops 2 is the unintuitive menu system and lack of instructions in-game; when jumping into Black Ops 2 you go head first into the action and are expected to understand and know the general console shooter mechanics. This really isn’t an issue to me (your more than casual gamer) as I have played games all my life, but it’s something I would’ve liked to see made available for those looking to get their toes wet and expecting to do so with Black Ops 2. For those of you that are giving the COD franchise a first shot, I highly recommend that you tolerate the frustrations of figuring out the buttons, anger when maneuvering the menus, and desire to rage-quit after being massacred playing multiplayer; because I promise you that it will get better!…NO! YOU WILL get better and sooner than later the game will become more intuitive and you’ll be getting crazy killstreaks and be the person that the all the “noobs” hate.
That may have seemed like a long block of bashing on Black Ops 2 and its franchise, but don’t get me wrong I believe the game is enjoyable and one that people should play, so bear with me as I dive into the better aspects of the game!
Let me start with the campaign, it has been well made with a variety of mission types. Each mission type brings in a form of “entertainment” or challenge to the game. Additionally, I find that COD has always done a good job making their missions the “perfect” duration, meaning that it requires roughly 10 minutes per mission which is perfect for little spurts of COD here and there throughout the day (given that you don’t fail the mission over and over again). Although the missions are meant to be short, sometimes it does become a marathon and bore when you get to a mission that keeps beating you, for those situations I recommend taking a break and come back to the game later.
Don’t let the infuriation get to you.
The missions in Black Ops 2 are referred to as Strike Force missions and you really begin to see the branching storyline aspect of the game when you reach the year of 2025 in the game. At this point you begin seeing ramifications to the overall storyline due to your actions, thus giving you a slight sense of urgency on missions as you can lose something for making a mistake during a mission.
When talking about storyline, my rating for it is “satisfactory”. The reason (as I described above) being that it is very hard to create an excellent war game storyline, but at the same time it’s easily done wrong; and to the credit of Treyarch, Black Ops 2 is not bad nor excellent but it is satisfactory. The game seams together two storylines; that of Alex Mason (1970’s and 1980’s) and of David Mason (2025). From the start of the story to the end you are interested and tend to question yourself about why, what, and how you are going to change the world. For past Black Ops players we begin somewhat traditionally with our in-game persona being that of Alex Mason (The games protagonist), then when the game crosses into the 2025 section of the game we get the new persona of David Mason, the son of Alex.
Moving on to the real reason people get any COD game, the multiplayer action never fails to amuse! Black Ops 2 carries the franchise’s well known insanely entertaining yet frustrating and enraging online chaos known as multiplayer mode.
When jumping online you are greeted by several different choices from a variety of difficulties to a plethora of game modes like free for all, team matches, and search and destroy. These options alone make the multiplayer of this game such a huge success, as the casual player can play for fun or slightly competitively without too much hassle, when on the other side of the country that hardcore serious player can be playing competitively in a strategic Headquarters match. Black Ops 2 brings with it the traditional class load out system which enables the gamer to customize how they want to create havoc and massacre enemy players. Additionally the franchise continued its high debated killstreaks rewards, which gives you the ability to use current and future warfare technology to gain an advantage over other players and eradicate enemies. A pleasant change introduced to Black Ops 2 is that you can gain killstreaks rewards not only through kills but also by gaining points from completing objectives like capturing a HQ in Headquarters mode. Although this doesn’t necessarily even-out the fact that killstreaks rewards are rigged, it does give you hope that you might get a reward someday in a game and maybe…just maybe…that reward will be the weight that swings the pendulum your way and fixes you k/d ratio.
Last but not least I want to mention the Zombies mode, which when first mentioned and introduced in COD: World at War left me somewhat skeptical as to where the franchise was going with the idea. Although i questioned the concept at first, the actual gameplay of the mode left me frequently desiring more zombie annihilation! With Black Ops 2 we once again see Zombies mode and it’s the same old fulfilling zombie crushing fun but with improvements as the mode now uses the multiplayer engine! This means that each and every bragging right you deserve after eliminating hoards of zombies is displayed with the multiplayer stats-tracking and leaderboards system. Two niftier new features to Zombies mode is the introduction of new gameplay modes, including TranZit mode similar to Survival but different in that it’s dynamic with your team moving through locations and customizing equipment. The next new mode is known as Grief, which places two teams of four against each other in a survival type mode to see which team last the longest! To finish all this talk about Zombies mode, because I am getting an itch to start up the game and play it myself, I want to mention that Black Ops 2 now allows you to modify options for Zombie mode such as: changing difficulties, the ability to start the game on a round of your choosing, optional magic powers, headshot only zombie kills, and the decision if you want to be frustrated with those hellhounds chasing after you.
All In All
Call of Duty: Black Ops 2’s mix of war, explosions, and technology was enough to captivate my interests and I believe it’s enough to captivate yours as well. It is a well-made game that fulfills its sole job as being entertaining. One impressive feature of this game to me is the diverse robots, UMV’s, and cyber warfare which are seen throughout the game and much of the time used in campaign and multiplayer. Although I do hate on COD a lot as I am a big Battlefield 3 PC guy, I still give the COD franchise a lot of credit for making a game that is still fun and enjoyable for me. Another great property of Black Ops 2 is Zombies which reminds me a lot of playing left 4 dead with friends and just having a blast. The game in campaign is alright, but its Multiplayer and Zombies gameplay modes are extremely fast-paced and an absolute hit when you are you want to play a no-thinking type game or just want to play a crazy hectic blast of a game with a bunch of friends.