After such a long time of turning my back on a beloved (and loathed) series, eventually, curiosity got the best of me. That’s a line I’ve heard many times since Black Ops 2 released, and now I’ve finally succumbed to the series. Surprisingly, Black Ops 2 delivers, plain and simple. Going into the campaign, I expected a similar approach from Treyarch when it came to graphics. Frame rate is great as expected, but overall other aspects of the usually plain, outdated game have improved. Online multiplayer is incredibly fun, and of course, the zombies! Seems like there’s a lot to love about this game, but under its stellar cinematic approach and addictive online game modes, lies a few problems.
You’ll follow the efforts of David Mason and his team, trying to stop a man named Raul Menendez from unleashing something a bit inferior to the likes of Skynet on “Imperialist” countries. Meanwhile, Frank Woods will fill you in from the comfort of his wheelchair on how we got to such an unfortunate situation with another crazy terrorist. I have to admit though, Menendez is a strong antagonist in this game, blurring the lines between good and bad for quite a while. The game’s futuristic approach is a good spin, as there are some moments where that new technology will be used in the game’s missions.
The campaign in Black Ops 2 follows the same recipe of the previous game, but with a small twist. For example, an RTS element is included, where you have to fend off, and protect your base. Think of it as an advanced tower defense game. Refreshing, yes, but good execution.. ? Maybe not. These missions feel rushed, and if you choose not to complete them, it has an effect on the game’s storyline/ending. This brings us to that other twist, your actions in the game really do make an impact on the storyline and ending. This is something I welcome with open arms in most games, and Black Ops 2 does a phenomenal job at it. Unlike other games where your decisions only make minor changes in the plot, your actions in the campaign could save one of the main characters from death. Now, Black Ops 2 doesn't really carry much strength emotionally in its characters. Aside from David Mason and his father, the rest just follows, and I hate to say this, a top budget Bay movie approach. Explosions and jaw-dropping moments seem to be the focus here, not so much emotion.
With this great approach to a cinematic angle, Treyarch also made a game with decent graphics. No, they’re not as impressive as other console games we've seen, but for a Call of Duty game, you got to give these guys some credit for at least making some improvements. The frame rate is, as expected, wonderful. However, it seems that with so much linear and scripted gameplay, the graphics could actually be better. Yes, the lighting and facial detail is great, but some environments seem greatly lacking in this department. You would think the game follows the same formula online, but no, the graphics seem even more outdated. Perhaps all those explosions, and middle of gameplay- cut scenes distract the player from this fact in the campaign.
Online, the game’s maps all have this recycled look. Strange, because the maps are very small, so you would think there’d be some nice detail here and there. Still, who cares about graphics when talking about a Call of Duty game’s online multiplayer? Right? Well, online is where this game shines the most. I could go on and on about the different game modes including Demolition, Hardpoint, Free for all, Team Deathmatch etc. There’s also a few new features in Black Ops 2, such as Wildcards, letting you have more guns or perks in your loadouts, but of course at the cost of points. There’s a theater mode, league play, and a few more features that really show why this game is such a phenomenon when it comes to its online competitive gameplay. Even the kill streaks are fun, although some will find that it takes a bit of skill required away from the game. Still, everything else such as guns and perks are very well done. Unfortunately, the community seems tangled in a web of egotistical FPS craze, there’s not much teamwork, no strategy, just corridor shooting, an arcade shooter in every sense of the way. Does this mean the game isn’t fun? No, the Call of Duty franchise still has its reputation for its amazing online experience, and Black Ops 2 is doing a great job of keeping it that way. Not to mention the added experience of zombies, with the game modes such as Tranzit and Grief, adding quite a spin to the undead gameplay.
There’s so much strength in this game’s online multiplayer, that it’s hard to just pass it by, without taking a moment to recognize its success and its drawbacks. With campaign, the game is still in need of a little more freedom, improved graphics, and more gameplay, less scripted events. Still, I praise Treyarch for stepping up their game even further, and adding some flavor to a franchise that has had quite a plain taste in the recent years.