Welcome to my first review! This review will focus on the multiplayer mainly(not zombie multiplayer). However, I will touch on the game as a whole. That said, lets get to it. Black Ops 2 takes the Call of Duty series to the year 2025. Where most of us won't recognize quite a few of the weapons at our disposal. Some of them like the MP7, and the Vector make a return. Boy do they ever. Before we delve into that, lets talk campaign and zombies.
The Campaign: As a fan of the Call of Duty series since it started on PC, I've finished nearly all the campaigns to date with the exception of Call of Duty 3 and Black Ops. As somebody who is cursed with being a completest, I always play on Veteran from the start. Which can make it a grueling experience. This Call of Duty campaign will feel familiar as usual, with enough explosions for me to insert a Michael Bay reference. If you played the first Black Ops campaign, it is going to help some ties in this campaign. There are plenty of new faces, but there are some old familiar ones as well. Literally old. As somebody who never finished Black Ops though, I wasn't left out in the cold. You can still play this one completely independently. This campaign adds a few new features never before seen. These include Strike Force missions, and custom classes in the campaign. Strike Force missions are essentially like a mini real time strategy game. Instead of controlling the main character, you control squads and units in a "sandbox" kind of map with various objectives. The outcomes of these missions alter the campaign in different ways. The second feature is being able to set up classes you start missions with similar to create a class online. Without spoiling anything these features do add something fresh, and the overall consensus is that this campaign competes with the best of them for story. I'll agree with that possibility, but the overall mechanics of enemy AI and mostly linear play still makes it kind of stale. If you only play Call of Duty for the campaign, (uh..?) I'd give it a rent. I could never see justification in purchasing these games solely for the campaign however.
Zombies: As always with Treyarch the ever popular zombie modes return with noteworthy changes. For you aspiring Daryl Dixon's (had to get my TWD nod in) out there changes comes in the form of stats tracking, improved leaderboards, new modes, and a sort of a true skill matchmaking online. Now you can compare all kinds of zombie killing stats with friends and others alike. Online you will now be grouped with people who are similar in their abilities in zombie modes. Exciting for those of us that truly admire that guy going down in round 3. Really guy? Sorry if you're that guy. This installment includes essentially 3 new modes. Tranzit, Grief, and Custom. In Tranzit you travel on a bus from place to place with other players each round. The point is to build various things at stops, and discover story elements about the characters while piling up the kills. The second mode is Grief. It's called grief for good reason. This mode features 2 teams of 4. You can't directly kill the other 4 people, or revive the other team. What you can do is certain things to try to get zombies to kill the other team instead of yours. It's an interesting addition that brings a new competitive aspect to zombies. The last addition is exactly as it says. You can customize zombie modes like regular custom games. This will probably prove to be the biggest addition for people who love to play with friends. Any way you slice it, there are more zombie slaying possibilities than ever. That brings me to the biggest and most detailed section of this review, the part 95% of us play Call of Duty for. The competitive online. Nothing against that 5% of course.
As a very competitive Call of Duty player myself, this game gives you a nasty wake up call pretty early. It was evident that there is definite need of balance to come. It seems to be the sub machine gun show right now, and I'm sure some of it will be adjusted. To what extent remains to be seen. I'm going to highlight a few things not covered by the "score" section of the review. Stay with me, as I'm sure the way I write these will evolve. I'm open to comments and suggestions.
Maps: I'm not a big fan of any of them so far. There are about 10 entrances to every possible area, which causes the ability to control and dominate a map seem nearly uncontrollable. You can't seem to not get shot in the back, because it's too easy for people to slip through cracks. It causes things to be nearly chaotic. For example, I spawned in range to knife an enemy once. Wish I was kidding. Which brings me to the next point.
Spawns: Depending on the game type you are playing, spawns can play a huge role. There are some maps on Domination for example, where there is a sickening advantage if you hold a certain side. Slums and Turbine stand out in my mind for objective based games. With that in mind, sometimes on certain game types it spawns you TOO far away from things. In some matches of Hardpoint for example, you can just watch the score run up while it takes your team 20-30 seconds to even get back and compete for the point. In good old TDM, or tri-team 3 on 3 a good thing to keep in mind is "watch your back". Most likely that's where they are.
Weapons: As mentioned above several of the sub machine guns are really, really powerful. Many of the assault rifles are pretty lackluster, as you will find yourself being outdone by sub machine guns even at medium to long ranges. This isn't always true, as the burst assault rifles are really the stand outs in the assault section. They can be brutal at distance. Overall there is NO consistency in gun fights though. Forget about your KDR, and SPM if you are used to having high stats. This game will test your patience.
Equipment: Not a whole lot to say here. I'm going to lump lethal / tactical grenades in. Some of the usual equipment returns in the Claymore, Bouncing Betty, Semtex, and Tomahawk to name some. A few new friends have joined the party though. The Shock Charge tactical grenade takes the cake here. Everybody is using these things, and they are nasty. Think a concussion grenade you set off like a Claymore. Yeah, it's bad. Lets talk about some good.
League Play: This is new to Call of Duty. Team Tactical is gone, and this new 4 v 4 ladder is here instead. You get 3 friends together, form a team, name the team, and go play 5 games in this category. After 5 games your team will be ranked against all the other teams. You can continue to play games to get wins, which ultimately allows you to try to reach that number 1 seat on the ladder. The coolest thing about this is that no matter what rank you are, when you enter League Play you have everything in the game unlocked. You set up 5 classes specifically for this ladder using any unlock-able at your disposal. The catch is that you gain no XP to advance your rank off the ladder. Strictly for competing. Think Halo 3 team matches for those of you familiar. You win, you go up. You lose, you go down. Except every team has a different rank depending on where they are on the ladder. I love this addition as a competitive player, probably much less appealing for casual players.
Create a Class: I like the way this new system works. It took me a minute to figure out the layout, and learn what everything did. After that I grew to like it. It is based on a system where you have 10 points per class to build that class. Say you don't want a secondary weapon, but you want 2 lethal grenades? You can remove your secondary altogether, and have 2 Semtex. Or you can remove your secondary weapon, and remove your lethal grenade to equip more than 3 perks. These are just a few examples of the configurations, and this system is brand new to the Create a Class layout.
Overall: This Call of Duty seems to push for more run and gun play. The prime example is with the changes to Ghost. Even with Ghost to stay invisible to UAV, you have to be moving. In my opinion this kind of alienated a fraction of the player base. UAV spam right now is one of the best things your team can do. Stealth classes that promote more camping are in fact a legit way to play shooters. Shooters have always been this way. There are 2 clearly defined styles of player. The first style is camping / patrolling. The second style is run and gun. Whether you agree or disagree, they are both legit styles of play. For Treyarch to force out a certain style in essence, is just poor design. People who don't like to run and gun will find this game more frustrating than some of the older titles.
On that note, this concludes my first review. I hope you found some information helpful. There will be more in the score section of the review for graphics, sound, and so on. Be warned, I grade games harshly. If you are looking for a 10/10 review to help you decide to buy games, this won't be the place. I never understand 5/5 or 10/10 reviews. We strive for perfection, but if you call something perfect then what more would we strive for? I will look to be as objective as possible, and grade accordingly. Comments, tips, discussion, and feedback always appreciated! Don't forget to check out my blog for more Call of Duty talk!