The 9th entry in the popular Call of Duty series, Black Ops 2 lives up to all of its promises and offers insanely high replayability and entertainment value thanks to its jaw dropping campaign, fast paced multiplayer and diverse Zombies mode.
Black Ops 2 tries to be different than its predecessors without losing that distinct COD feel. This year, developers Treyarch introduced a wide variety of changes including the new Pick 10 system, branching storylines in the campaign with possibilities of different endings and even a Zombies story mode just to name a few. These changes are what makes Call of Duty fresh again and let me tell you right away, Black Ops 2 is not “just another mindless shooter”, its much more than that.
If you’re like me, you’ll jump straight into the Campaign mode. As mentioned earlier the choices you make and objectives you complete in the story and Strike Force missions greatly affect the ending and which characters survive. The campaign takes places both in the Cold War Era playing as characters from the original Black Ops including Alex Mason and Frank Woods and in 2025 i.e the future where you take control of various characters including Alex Mason’s son David Mason.
The main villain of Black Ops 2 is Raul Menendez, who’s been at it for the whole of Black Ops 2′s timeline. Menendez is not an evil character though, he’s a man broken down by war and on a vengence against the world for taking someone close to him, I’m not gonna go into too many details but a particular mission will have you really rooting for the guy.
The dynamic Campaign mode is a first in a Call of Duty game and I was worried that it wouldn’t fit the series, but after I started the game and ended it a first time around I immediately wanted to play it again which is very rare for a Call of Duty game. Failing certain objectives will often give you a new mission to complete rather than a restart screen. All these changes make Black Ops 2 your own personal story, with changes you would make.
Talking about making things personal, you can now customize your weapons and loadout in the campaign, this is once again a first for a Call of Duty game. You can put on camos, attachments, choose the guns you want and even carry other items in your bag like the Access Kit which lets you access unlocked areas in the campaign.
You may have noticed me mention Strike Force missions in the review and you may have been wondering what they are. Strike Force missions are optional missions in the Campaign mode which directly impact the story, they’re different from normal missions as they have a smaller objective that you would have to complete, like defending an area for a set amount of time. In the Strike Force missions you have control over squads and drones which you can control RTS style and give them certain commands, you can join them in battle or even choose to stay on the sidelines and let them do all the work if you want. Strike Force missions are fun and all but the AI can act really stupid at times and the RTS style input is really annoying to use. Its a good attempt at adding variation to the Campaign but you won’t see me playing it a lot, hell I even skipped most of them during my first playthrough.
The voice cast for this game includes the likes of Sam Worthington (Avatar, Terminator Salvation) and Michael Rooker (The Walking Dead, Jumper) who you will definitely notice during the game. Being a huge fan of The Walking Dead series I immediately noticed Michael Rooker’s distinctive voice as Harper.
The guns work great, they sound noticeably better than the original Black Ops and handle just as well as any other Call of Duty game. But Black Ops 2 is not all about gun warfare, the drones play an important part in the firefights. Treyarch’s representation of the future is just great!
If you thought the Campaign is innovative, wait till you get a load of the multiplayer. The Create a Class system is now completely gone and replaced by Treyarch’s new Pick 10 system. You basically have 10 points to select what weapons, attachments, perks, lethals and secondary equipment you want. Don’t want to carry a secondary? Drop it and use the point elsewhere, want to go knife only? Grab extra perks and equipment with the points left over! The possibilities are endless, and this new system allows you to completely customize your class and tailor them around specific game modes.
Now that’s not all that has been changed, the Perks has received a major makeover. Long gone are the pro perks and perks which affect your guns, yes perks like Sleight of Hand and QuickDraw are no longer perks and have been moved to the weapons attachments section. The Pointstreak system from Modern Warfare 3 has also been scrapped and replaced with the Score Streak system, now you get “Killstreaks” by earning points, this greatly encourages players to go for the objective. This will also reduce incentive to play kill only game modes like Team Deathmatch and Free for All. These changes will force slayers and players who want a high k/d to play the objective.
The leveling and Prestiging system has also been changed, in previous games after Prestiging you would lose all your equipment and weapon levels. Now after Level 55 (max level in Black Ops 2) when you Prestige you only lose the equipment you unlocked and not the levels. After Prestiging you also get a Prestige token which you can use to unlock any Pick 10 item forever to use in future prestiges, get a refund of your Unlock tokens or reset your states altogether. After each level up you get an Unlock token, 55 total in each prestige to unlock Pick 10 items during that specific Prestige. This also means that you cannot unlock everything in a single Prestige, giving another incentive to Prestige.
The Game Modes in Black Ops 2 multiplayer include the classics Free for All, Team Deathmatch, Search and Destroy, returning modes like Kill Confirmed from Modern Warfare 3 and new modes like Hardpoint which is a tweaked version of Dropzone where you have hold a point for as long as you can. The Party Game Modes also make a return with modes like Stick and Stones and One in the Chamber. Offline players can also enjoy the multiplayer by playing against bot in Combat Training, I know its not the same experience but good to have nonetheless. You can also play against bots in Combat Training to get multiplayer experience, but you will only get half the experience after reaching level 10.
Black Ops 2 also includes League Play, a new game mode which connects you with players of equal level to make for more balanced matches. Call of Duty Elite is also making a comeback for Black Ops 2, and was recently announced to be completely free. COD casting is a new feature in Black Ops 2 which allows you commentate over a recorded video clip and shoutcast it from different sides of the map.
Treyarch with Black Ops 2 is aiming to make Call of Duty a competitive game again, thanks to the including of League Play, COD Casting, Call of Duty Elite and Live Streaming with YouTube direct from the console, I think they can achieve their goal quite easily.
Lets get on to the Zombie mode shall we? In Black Ops 2 the Zombies mode is the biggest Treyarch have made, with modes like Tranzit, Grief and Survival the Zombies mode can be considered a whole seperate game.
Tranzit is Zombies’ story mode, where you and your friends go from area to area in a bus driven by a robot driver in an attempt to survive the apocalypse. The Survival mode is classic Zombies which you might have played from the original Black Ops. And the Grief mode couples two teams of two against each other to see who can survive the longest, you cannot harm the other teams directly but you can make things harder for them by throwing stuns and meat to attract the Zombies to them.
Overall Black Ops 2 is just the game Call of Duty as a series needed, it brings just enough change to be innovative but not change the tried and tested formula. You’ll get hours and upon hours of replayability with this one. Black Ops 2 is definitely the best shooter of 2012 so far.
TechDeville awards Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 4.5/5 stars.